Our Arabic manuscripts collection includes more than 15,000 works in over 14,000 volumes. Details are to be found in a number of catalogues
Newly catalogued Arabic manuscripts are included in the Library’s Explore Archives and Manuscripts. However, details of most of our manuscripts are currently only accessible in printed catalogues and handlists. Some of these are available online and others in our reading room.
We are gradually transferring the contents of the older catalogues into our online catalogue Explore the British Library. Until the recataloguing is complete, however, readers will need to consult the catalogues below to find detailed descriptions of our Arabic manuscript holdings. These have been arranged by collection in chronological order.
Arabic manuscripts acquired by the British Museum (before 1973) and the British Library (after 1973)
- Cureton, W. and C. Rieu, Catalogus codicum manuscriptorum orientalium qui in Museo Britannico asservantur. Pars secunda, codices arabicos amplectens (London, 1846-71)
- Rieu, C., Supplement to the catalogue of the Arabic manuscripts in the British Museum. London, 1894
- Ellis, A. G. and E. Edwards, Descriptive list of the Arabic manuscripts acquired by the Trustees of the British Museum since 1894 (London, 1912)
- Edwards, E. 'Some rare and important Arabic and Persian manuscripts from the collections of Hajji ‘Abdu’l-Majid Belshah now either in the British Museum or in the private collection of Professor Edward G. Browne' in A volume of oriental Studies presented to Edward G. Browne , ed. by T. W. Arnold and R. A. Nicholson (Cambridge, 1922)
- Hamarneh, Sami K. Catalogue of Arabic manuscripts on medicine and pharmacy at the British Library (Cairo, 1975)
- al-'Amrī, Ḥusayn 'Abd Allāh. Maṣādir al-turāth al-Yamanī fi al-Maṭḥaf al-Brīṭānī. Damascus, 1980
- Vassie, R., A classified handlist of Arabic manuscripts acquired since 1912. (v. 1: Islamic law; v. 2: Qur'anic sciences and hadith) (London, 1995)
- Stocks, P., Subject Guide to the Arabic Manuscripts in the British Library, ed. by Colin F. Baker (London, 2001)
A subject guide listing all Arabic manuscripts from the British Museum Library and the India Office Library and those acquired by the British Library
Manuscripts acquired by the British Museum after 1912 which are not in Vassie’s Handlist (being on subjects other than Islamic law, Qur’anic sciences and Hadith) are entered in the general catalogue of Manuscripts in Oriental Languages, available in the Asian & African Studies reading room.
Arabic manuscripts acquired by the India Office Library (before 1982)
- Loth, O. A catalogue of the Arabic manuscripts in the Library of the India Office. (Vol.I). London, 1877
- Ross, E. Denison, and Browne, E. G. Catalogue of two collections of Persian and Arabic manuscripts preserved in the India Office Library (London, 1902)
- Storey, C.A., A.J. Arberry, and R. Levy, Catalogue of the Arabic manuscripts in the Library of the India Office. (Vol. II). Fasc 1-4 (London, 1930-40)
- Storey, C.A., A.J. Arberry, and R. Levy, Preliminary unpublished descriptions of about 1,000 Arabic manuscripts on philosophy, tradition, science, poetry, literature and history, 1930-40 (Mss Eur D563)
- Arberry, A.J., 'Hand-list of Islamic manuscripts acquired by the India Office Library, 1936-8', Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1939, part 3 (July), pp. -396
- Arberry, A.J., 'Notes on Islamic manuscripts recently acquired by the India Office Library', Islamic Culture, 13 (1939), pp 440-58
- Sims-Williams, U., Handlist of Islamic manuscripts acquired by the India Office Library 1938-85 (London 1986)