Find Arabic manuscripts

The traveller and the camel jinn from ‘Ajā’ib al-makhlūqāt
The traveller and the camel jinn from ‘Ajā’ib al-makhlūqāt ‘The Wonders of the Creation’, by al-Qazwīnī, 13th century (Or.14140, f. 101v)

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)

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)