The Central Library of Astan Quds Razavi
The History of The Central Library of Astan Quds Razavi
The Central Library of Astan Quds Razavi, which has been so far entitled,"The Sacred Library of Astan Moqaddasah","The Library of Mashhad-ar-Reza", "the Sacred Library of Rozeh Mardhiyah Razaviyyah," The Sacred Library of Razaviyyah" and "The Library of Astan Quds Razavi", is one of the most ancient and largest Islamic libraries, that has still remained firm as a precious and grand heritage passed on from the ancient centuries to the Muslim people of Iran.
And also there is an endowment deed end endorsed on one of the glorious Qurans preserved in the treasury of the library related to the year 421 A.H.exactly one thousand years ago.
This endowment deed recommends: This glorious Quran is dedicated, may this holy tradition remain eternal over the years and centuries. The writer of this endowment deed-Abul Barakat-devoted the mentioned holy Quran to Mashhad-e-Imam Abul Hasan Ali Ibn Musa-ar-Reza(A.S.) on the condition that authorities do not take it away from the hall of the Holy Zarih (burial chamber).
This glorious Quran was granted to Ali Ibn Husoolah, who was apparently the custodian of Astan Quds Razavi, in the original form on the holy month of Ramadhan in 421 A.H."
This manuscript of the glorious Quran is secured in the Library of Astan Quds Razavi under the No. 1501.
Owing to the lack of documents, it is impossible to clearly mention the history of the beginning and the establishment of the Library of Astan Quds Razavi. The history that has been briefly mentioned in this research, is in fact the record which has been confirmed by the previous researchers.
Some of the researchers believe that the history of establishing the Quran Khanah (Quran Room) and the Library of Astana is exactly the same date when the most ancient manuscript of the glorious Quran was dedicated to the Holy Shrine by "Abul Hasan Ali ibn Naser-ud-Dawlah Abul Hasan Muhammad ibn Ibrahim ibn Simjoor", in 363 A.H.
According to some researches, there have been obtained a few works related to the period of "Seljuk" dynasty in the library of Astan Quds in which the history of establishing the library has been stated to be the fifth century of Hijrah.From the essay entitled "The Part of Iranians in Establishing Islamic Libraries" - written by Dr Ismail Hakimi in the periodical of the "Seminar" entitled "Book and Librarianship", in 1402 A.H.
According to an endorsment of a copy, which dates back to the ninth century of Hijrah, and preserved in the library entitled "the Commentary of Shaykh Abul Futooh-e-Razi", It has been stated that the devotee has written and recommended in his endowment deed.":
((Owing to this reason that there were many copies of the glorious Quran in the Holy Shrine, and there was not an absolute commentary to be helpful to explain all of the Quranic meanings, so the mentioned devotee has endowed this copy of the commentary accompanied with other three ones, to the Holy Shrine of Imam Reza (A.S.) in 861 A.H.))"
It is deduced from the contents of the mentioned endowment deed that the library of Astane-ye-Moqaddase-ye-Razavi has been in running order, and being used by public since 841 A.H.
Furthermore, it enjoyed various kinds of the glorious copies of the Quran, commentaries, encyclopedias and the like.
In the latter years of the eighth century, and the beginning of the ninth century of Hijrah (in the reign of "Shahrokh,the Timurid monarch"), when the mosques, seminaries and religious assemblies were brisk, the library of Astanah has been of great importance.
The glorious copies of the Quran, and religious books including commentaries and prayer-books, and other scientific books of the library were increased in the course of time. Mashhad - as a large religious fortress - was gradually developed and expanded; consequently, the library of Astanah was taken into consideration even more than before. The title of "Khazanat-al-Ketab" (treasury of book) which has been recorded in the context of the endowment deed of a book entitiled"Ghayat-al-Wosool" compiled by "Jamal-ud-Din Hasan Ibn Motahhar-e-Helli (Allamah Helli)", is the main proof of the importance and elevation of the library. So, this proves that there has been an important library, adjacent to the Holy Shrine of Imam Reza (A.S.), at that time.
The attacks and invasions of the Uzbek to Khorasan which happened on the latter years of the tenth century, and the beginning of the eleventh century of Hijrah, are among the destructive events and damages caused to the library. The library of "Astanaye Moqaddasah" was encroached by "Abdul Moamen Khan-e- Uzbek".
According to a narrative from the history of "Alam Aara-e-Abbasi" during Safavid era, while explaining the events of 998 A.H., the historian narrates:"
((Among the glorious copies of the Quran, those manuscripts which have been ascribed to the holy hand writings of the Immaculate Imams (A.S.), and the distinguished professors in calligraphy including: "Yaqut-e-Motasami", and other competent figures of Persian and scientific books being innumerable, were looted and plundered by the Uzbeks. They bargained that precious and valuable pearl among each other as a worthless potsherd.))"
The compiler of the book entitled "Mashhad-e-Toos", writes in his research; "The library of Astan Quds, just like the endowed lands of Astanah, has been exposed to change quantitatively and qualitatively for the reason of unexpected calamities and ruinous invasion on the land of the Shining Sun"Khorasan".
And, owing to this reason that the manuscripts are among the movable properties, they were looted and plundered by the aggressors, even more thant the endowed lands. These movable properties were plundered for several times during the history by pillagers and looters. It means that at one time, the affairs of the library, its office and lists, being started from the "A" letter, and developed increasingly point again by an unexpected accident. and commenced once again from "A' letter. These swinging conditions have occurred to all of the organizations of Astanah, including the library, for several times in the course of time.
In short, the remainder of books, the copies of the glorious Quran and other books plundered by Uzbeks, were restored to the library of Astanah by Shah Abbas (monarch of Safavid dynasty) after repelling the invasion of the Uzbeks. In addition to these plundered books, other distinguished copies of the glorious Quran, and precious and uniqe books devoted to the Holy Zarih (burial chamber) by Shah Abbas (monarch of Safavid dynasty)and "Allamah Shaykh Bahauddin Ameli", were added to the list of the library's books. Furthermore, some of other books looted, and sold in India, were gathered and restored to the library of Astanah.
There is an explanation about this event in the book entitled "Shams-ush-Shumus" which states, (("Qadhi Noorullah Shushtari" himself has endorsed a book entitiled "Mokhtasar-ul-Bayan" preserved in the library of Astanah under the No. 198'. He has written: "Mashhad-e-Moqaddase Moallah" is one of the books of the library of His excellency Faydh Athar which was plundered by the Uzbeks tribe. This book was taken to India and sold to your humble servant- "Noor-ud-Din Sharif-ul-Husaini-al-Marashi-al-Shushtari" who needs the holy grains of dust of the foot steps of worshippers. And I have sent it, accompanied with other books which have been obtained through the endowment of the Holy Imam, to the holy city of Mashhad, with the view to win Allah's favours.
The Library During the Last Seventy years
The library of Astan Quds safeguarded its importance and credibility, and developed during this period. Even, from time to time, some of the deputies of the custodian like the late "Mohammad Wali Khan Asadi" who undertook and brought about basic reforms or the late "Sayyed Fakhrudin Shademan" and "Sayyed Jalaludin Tehrani" who had basic knowledge more than the others, and also some of the authorities of the library, all of them granted services to the library quantitatively and qualitatively, despite the conditions which ruled over during those periods.''
One of the affairs accomplished in these period, is in fact the process of printing and publishing the index of the library's books by the order of "Mohammad Wali Kahn Asadi" - the deputy of the then custodian.
Subsequently, the authorities of the library, continued printing and publishing the following copies of the mentioned index. Some of the steps taken by the library of Astan Quds Razavi in the field of publications, are as follows:
1. The foundation of the Quranic Encyclopedia through the efforts of the late "Dr Ahmad Ali Rajai'i Bukhara'i", during the recent years.
2. Printing and publishing of the Persian text related to the fourth century of Hijrah, entitled "The Introduction of the manuscript of the glorious Quran-Motarjam No.4".
3. A sample of the glorious Quran written in the form of Thulth script of the Iranian writing art-translated into the old Persian No.1
4. Printing and publishing the poetical work of "Hafez Shirazi", rectified by "Dr Sayyid Mohammad Reza Jalali Naini" and "Dr Nazir Ahmad." The original text has been written in 824 A.H., in other words, about 33 years after the death of Hafez (one of the most distinguished poets in the history of the Iranian Literature).
In order to become acquainted with the kind of affairs and activities and the organization of the library of Astan Quds Razavi run in the beginning of the 14th century of H.S(Solar Hijrah) (about 70 years ago), we have provided our reders with some samples of the statistics related to the organization of this library.
The statistics, and report of the affairs and activities accomplished in Astanah on 15th. Esfand. 1309 till the end of Bahman.1310 H.S:
1. Purchased Books:329 copies.
2. Presented Books (Gifts): 326 Copies.
3. Books written in the Library:1 copy
4. Books in trust: 662 copies
5. Documents, lease contracts and endowment deeds registered n the library:118 leaves
6. Inlaid book-rack granted to the library: 2 book-racks
During the years befor 1310 (H.S), the library of Astan Quds Razavi enjoyed a constitution. The original text is mentioned below as following: