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Arabic language collections

We hold Arabic manuscripts, books and journals, popular and traditional music, maps, stamps, and a small number of DVDs and electronic resources. Our collection of Arabic manuscripts is world-famous. It is one of the largest in Europe or North America, comprising almost 14,000 works. The collection includes some of the finest manuscripts of the Holy Qur'an along with major legal, historical, literary and scientific works. The collection of Arabic printed books is among the largest in the UK with over 80,000 items, and over 600 periodical titles. Books, journals and newspapers are purchased from Arab and Islamic countries in the arts, humanities and social sciences.

Arabic manuscripts

Arabic printed books

Arabic newspapers

Arabic catalogues

Arabic books in Explore the British Library

Arab world internet links are included under 'Middle East' on the Asian Studies world wide web links pages

For information on Western language and other resources for the study of the Arab world see: Middle East: Resources for Middle East studies

For general information on resources for African studies relevant to countries in North Africa see: Africa: Resources in the British Library

Arabic items on the British Library website

Ibn Butlan's Taqwim al-Sihhah, a medieval medical manuscript, dated A.H 610/1213 A.D.

Taqwim-al-sihhah, a medical digest composed by Ibn Butlan (died AH 458 / 1066 AD). This copy is dated AH.610 / 1213 AD.
Or. 1347. Copyright © The British Library Board


Arabic items on the British Library website

The Online Gallery includes virtual books viewed through the Turning the Pages program, online exhibitions and features. Major Arabic items include:

Sacred (online exhibition)

Expressions of Faith: Islam

Sacred Texts 78 sacred texts of all faiths including Judaism, Christianity and Islam

Sultan Baybars’ Qur’an among the Sacred Texts on Turning the Pages

Hajj Certificate featured in the 'Maps and views' online exhibition

Images OnlineImages Online gives instant access to thousands of images from the British Library's collections which include manuscripts, rare books, musical texts and maps. The range of images available includes illustrations, drawings, paintings and photographs. There are a substantial number of images from Arabic manuscripts.

British Library publications available in our Online Shop

Major items of interest for Arabic studies include:

'Sacred' exhibition catalogue

Qur'an Manuscripts: Calligraphy, Illumination, Design, by Colin F. Baker

Turning the Pages: The Collection CD-Rom - includes Sultan Baybars' Qur'an.


Dr Colin Baker
Head of Section: in particular for: Arabic manuscripts; Manuscript catalogues; Qur'ans and Islamic enquiries; Classical Arabic literature; Islamic sciences and medicine; Judaeo-Arabic.

Dr Colin Baker, Head of Near and Middle East Collections
Asian and African Studies
The British Library
96 Euston Road
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7645


Daniel Lowe Curator: in particular for: Arabic printed books; Printed book catalogues; Newspapers and periodicals; Modern history; politics; sociology and culture of Arab Middle East & North Africa; Modern Arabic literature; Arabic documents in India Office Records.

Daniel Lowe
Asian and African Collections
British Library
96 Euston Road

Tel: +44 (0)T +44(0207) 412 7000 (ext. 4635)


PDF files

The links below are to Adobe PDF files. Accessibility solutions and free Reader software are available from Adobe.