16 March 2022: Stefanie Brinkmann “Tracing a Forgotten Tradition"

“Tracing a forgotten tradition: Commentaries written on al-Baghawī’s post-canonical hadith collection Maṣābīḥ al-sunna”

On March 16, 2022, Stefanie Brinkmann gave a presentation at the webinar series “Pre-modern Islamic Manuscripts”, organised by the NoMansLand Project at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna, PI: Dr. Bruno de Nicola.

Why did certain literatures survive while others fell into oblivion? Much has been written about the erratic transmission of literatures, focusing on reasons for the loss of books and/or different parameters and sources to reconstruct their transmission. In line with these questions, this lecture wants to discuss how we systematically can trace the production and transmission of works, and possibly map their circulation and popularity. It will be illustrated by the case study of the rather forgotten commentary tradition that evolved from al-Ḥusayn b. Masʿūd al-Baghawī’s (d. 516/1122) post-canonical “digest” ḥadīth collection Maṣābīḥ al-sunna. This commentary tradition reached a peak in Mongol and post-Mongol Iran, Iraq, and Azerbaijan, with a limited production in Mamluk Syria, before moving on to the Ottoman Empire. The necessary interplay of different sources and parameters to reconstruct this once vivid commentary tradition shows the potential, but also the challenges for ongoing and future research.

Link to the recorded presentation:

CFP: Workshop together with NoMansLand (ÖAW) The Mongols' Baghdad


Call for Papers 2022

The main concern of the workshop is to explore the production, dissemination and consumption of knowledge in Baghdad from the perspective of manuscript studies. We aim to investigate what the production and circulation of manuscripts can tell us about the cultural life of Baghdad and its environs before, during and after the Mongol conquest. Papers should consider either individual manuscripts or collections of codices that shed light on different aspects of continuity and change in the intellectual life of the region. The workshop is organized jointly by the projects

 (Austrian Academy of Sciences) and
 Bibliotheca Arabica
 (Saxon Academy of Sciences and Humanities).
Papers are invited to discuss aspects covering, but not limited to, the following topics:


  • Agents: authors, copyists, and patrons.
  • Localities: places of production, distribution, and consumption.
  • Types of knowledge: religious, secular, or scientific.
  • Networks: the interaction of Baghdad with other centres of knowledge.
  • Characteristics of specific literary genres and their manuscripts. 
Submission of abstracts: Abstracts should be no more than 300 words and sent to:
Deadline for submissions: 28th February 2022.

10 February 2022 Prof. Verena Klemm "Bayerisches Orientkolloquium"

Heterodoxe Literaturgeschichte(n): Fatimidische und ismailitische Überlieferung regional und überregional

Link zum Programm

29 Dec 2021: Boris Liebrenz Teaches on Islamic Seals

In an advanced course on Arabic codicology, Boris Liebrenz joins a cast of renowned experts to teach about the history and characteristics of Islamic seals in manuscripts. Teaching language is Arabic.


1 December 2021: Boris Liebrenz presents "The Arabic Aristotle in Constantinople" at MESA

On December 1, 2021, Boris Liebrenz gave a presentation at the MESA Annual Meeting 2021 in Montreal. 

The political and cultural relations between Byzantium and the nascent Ottoman realm were often marked by hostilities. However, that substantial contact on all levels nonetheless happened is also true. The reception of classical Greek authors such as Aristotle in Arabic literature by means of a number of early translations is well known. However, the converse presence of Arabic literature in the Byzantine capital is much less attested, nor is it widely expected. Could Aristotle have returned to the center of Greek culture in an Arab garb? Who would have been the audience of this translation? Who would have brought it there and for what purpose?

A manuscript now preserved at the Bibliothèque national in Paris shows that, indeed, at least one early Ottoman scholar studied his Aristotle in Constantinople long before it was conquered by the a descendent of his sultan. This talk will showcase the use of minute manuscript notes as means to provide broader context, sometimes a surprising one, for the literature that scholarship tends to study as disembodied texts. The trajectories of manuscripts, but also the lives of their owners and readers, can reveal unexpected connections or complicate modern assumptions of textual histories.

29 November 2021: Boris Liebrenz presents at "The Turkish Wars and the Study of Islam in Early Modern Europe"

The books of Andreas Acoluthus: Building up an Islamic Manuscripts Library in the Wake of the Great Turkish War The books of Andreas Acoluthus: Building up an Islamic Manuscripts Library in the Wake of the Great Turkish War

More information on the panel series here: 

Find the program here: 

27 - 29 Oct 2021: Workshop on Authority Control in Libraries and Digital Humanities Projects

 We are happy to announce our upcoming hybrid workshop

Authority Records and Manuscripts in Libraries and Research

which will be held at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin from 27 to 29 October, 2021

The workshop is co-organised by the “Orient-Digital” project at Berlin State Library and “Bibliotheca Arabica” (Saxon Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Leipzig).

More information in this blogpost:




7 October 2021: Nadine Löhr "Three Egyptian Horoscopes in Florence" Sternwarte Erlangen

7 October 2021 Nadine Löhr gives a talk on the international conference "Writing the Heavens" organized by Aura Heydenreich, Florian Klaeger, Klaus Mecke, Dirk Vanderbeke, Jörn Wilms ELINAS (Center for Literature and Natural Science) and held at the Observatory of the University of Erlangen

This talk gives insights in the story of a 1000 year old Arabic text on astrology transmitted in more than 100 Persian, Turkish, Latin and (Judeo-) Arabic manuscripts.
Nadine Löhr investigates the social and literary history of Ptolemy’s Tetrabiblos in the Arabic speaking world. The treatise was translated into Arabic in at least two different versions between the 7th and 9th century and spawned several commentaries, most of which were lost in time. However, a commentary by the Fatimid physician and astrologer ‘Alī Ibn Riḍwān’s (d. ca. 1061), Tafsīr al-Maqālāt al-arba’ fī l-qaḍāʾ bi-l-nujūm alʿā l-ḥawādith was studied, read and copied for many centuries and throughout cultural and linguistic boundaries. Apart from an accessible textual and interpretational guideline which serves likewise as a safeguard for a correct understanding of the ancient Greek text, Ibn Riḍwān gives three concrete examples for the interpretation of planetary constellations. He provides a detailed study of his own horoscope, as well as the horoscopes of an Egyptian boy and a native whom Ibn Riḍwān observed from the beginning of his life until the end.
These three examples for natal interpretations shall be the focus of this study. We examine the marginal annotations and textual variations - we want to know:
– what can reader’s annotations tell us about the reception of these three horoscopes in different cultures?
– was the text updated in time or adapted to other cultures on linguistic or technical levels?
– what do we know about the dissemination and prominence of the text in certain regions throughout the centuries?

3 October 2021 Prof. Klemm - Gotha Manuscript Talks

Die Forschungsbibliothek Gotha der Universität Erfurt lädt alle Interessierten herzlich zur nächsten Online-Veranstaltung in der Gesprächsreihe „Gotha Manuscript Talks“ am Mittwoch, 3. November, um 18.15 Uhr ein.

Soziale und politische Faktoren, wie Mission, Auswanderung, Verfolgung und Diaspora, trugen wesentlich zur weiträumigen Verbreitung und zur Diversifizierung von Lehre und Literatur der heterodoxen Gemeinschaft der Ismailiten bei. Anhand einer Gruppe von Sammelhandschriften (maǧmū'āt) befasst sich der Vortrag mit der Literaturgeschichte der Ismailiten in Syrien, deren Überlieferung weitgehend verborgen, nicht erfasst oder zerstört worden ist. Multiple text und composite manuscripts erweisen sich hierbei als wahre Fundgruben, die Einblick in die Zirkulation und Rezeption von Texten sowie in die Bedingungen und Formen ihrer Tradierung und Bewahrung bieten können.

Link zur Veranstalung

30 Sep 2021: Thomas Efer & Konrad Hirschler: "The Audition Certificates Database"

Presentation by  Thomas Efer & Konrad Hirschler (Hamburg University) at Symposium Future Philology: Digitization and Beyond, 30 Sep. to 1 Oct., 2021
Organized by The Invisible East Programme, the University of Oxford

29 September 2021: Stefanie Brinkmann and Nadine Löhr - Working Session on Prefaces

Examining prefaces – the commentators‘ voices (working session)

Talking about commentaries often implies that we approach the texts with our contemporary 21st century notions, concepts, and terminology. We would like to draw the attention to those text passages where the author expresses their intention to write the commentary. In many cases, the preface offers such insights, besides other potential instances.

29 November 2021 6:30 pm Stefanie Brinkmann and Nadine Löhr discuss the importance of prefaces for the study of commentaries with colleagues from the Commentarial Forms in Literature project (funded by the DAAD) and show some results of their research on prefaces and introductions to commentaries on Arabic hadith literature (Brinkmann) and astral sciences (Löhr).

5 August 2021: Boris Liebrenz Speaks at the Yahuda Collections Symposium

Boris Liebrenz | Abraham Yahuda and the Globalisation of the Middle Eastern Manuscript Market 

“The manuscript business of Abraham Yahuda could be framed as part of a long tradition through which thousands of volumes from the Middle East ended up in western European and North American libraries. Since the seventeenth century, travelers, consuls, merchants, soldiers, and scholars were able to assemble significant collections of such artefacts. The question of where, through whose agency, or by what means they acquired their libraries is the subject of much recent scrutiny and not always easy to answer.

And yet, when looking at his predecessors, one thing immediately stands out: there was hardly anyone even remotely as successful as Abraham Yahuda. Which begs the fundamental question of how he was able to amass such unparalleled treasures.
An analysis of manuscript notes is unlikely to bring any concrete results in this regard, but reveals general trends in the local and trans-regional book markets. Expectedly, the Yahuda section of Princeton’s Garrett collection reveals many overlaps with the books collected by earlier dealers. At the same time, it will be argued that his activities mark a new stage in how manuscripts were collected in both the Middle East as well as Western Europe and North America.

This talk will build on the cataloguing of provenance data for some of the major European collectors of Arabic, Persian, and Ottoman manuscripts up to the nineteenth century. Based on this source material, it will explore what sets Yahuda’s collecting apart from that of earlier periods and where he reflects trends in the manuscript market of the broader region.


26 July 2021: Nadine Löhr "An Almost Forgotten Contribution to the Arabic Tetrabiblos"

On 26 July Nadine Löhr will speak on the  International Congress of History of Sciences and Technologies (Prague) about marginal and interlinear glosses in the Arabic Tetrabiblos manuscripts

Symposium (Part 2/3) The Greek and medieval Ptolemy (CHAMA) - ID 92

Symposium organizer: Benno van Dalen (Germany), Nathan Sidoli (Japan)

Chair: Benno van Dalen (Germany), David Juste (Germany)

An Almost Forgotten Contribution to the Tetrabiblos


Nadine Löhr
Bibliotheca Arabica, Saxon Academy of Sciences, Leipzig, Germany

Abstract text

This talk looks back at the beginnings of the history of the Arabic Tetrabiblos in 9th-century Baghdad and reconstructs, based on manuscript notes, Thābit ibn Qurra’s (d. 901) comments on the text. The study of the early transmission of the treatise has been plagued by a severe lack of data. According to the current state of research, the Tetrabiblos was first translated by ʿUmar ibn al-Farrukhān al-Ṭabarī (d. 815). Another version probably based on a lost translation by Ibrāhīm ibn al-Ṣalt goes back to Ḥunayn ibn Isḥāq (d. 873). Individual manuscripts of this version contain quotes attributed to Thābit ibn Qurra, mostly in the form of annotations, in the margins of all four books. Some of the scribes even mention Thābit, contrary to popular opinion, as a revisor of Ḥunayn’s version of the Tetrabiblos. Historical biographical sources such as Ibn al-Nadīm, on the other hand, do not mention any corrections by Thābit but acknowledge his glosses to the first book. Other sources, like Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿa, mention a complete, but apparently lost commentary (Kitāb fī tafsīr al-arbaʿa) by Thābit. Thābit’s remarks are not transmitted in any derivative works: neither al-Battānī’s nor ʿAlī ibn Riḍwān’s renowned commentary includes references to Thābit. A close examination of the extant Arabic manuscripts of the Tetrabiblos with focus on marginal notes will give a better understanding of Thābit ibn Qurra’s contribution. This examination seeks to reconstruct parts of the lost text, to understand its purpose and to illuminate the circumstances of its fading prominence.

15 July 2021: Stefanie Brinkmann presents “Analysis of Marginal Commentaries in Bukhari Manuscripts of the Timurid Period”

15. July2021 Stefanie Brinkmann: “Analysis of Marginal Commentaries in Bukhari Manuscripts of the Timurid Period”
International Online Conference Ancient and Rare Manuscripts of the “Sahih al-Bukhari” in World Libraries, Imam Bukhari International Scientific Research Center, Samarkand

The international online conference, organised by the Imam Bukhari International Scientific Research Center, Samarqand, was dedicated to the manuscript heritage of al-Bukhārī’s al-Jāmiʿ al-Ṣaḥīḥ. It addressed issues of important and less known holdings, conservation and preservation, and above all cultural contexts of the manuscript production and transmission, as well as al-Bukhārī’s place in ḥadīth scholarship.

Conference Programe

14 April 2021: Bibliotheca Arabica Webinar Hosted by the Institute for Advanced Study

Wednesday 14 April 6 PM CET Bibliotheca Arabica – A Digital Home for the Arabic Manuscript Tradition

The webinar, featuring Verena Klemm, Boris Liebrenz, and Thomas Efer, is hosted by the Institute for Advanced Study, School of Historical Studies (Near Eastern Studies).

Please register in advance  here

Arabic literatures are usually studied as purely creative products, a body of texts disembodied from their material life. Bibliotheca Arabica, in contrast, focusses on the context, the production, transmission, and reception of the manuscripts that for centuries carried the works we study today. Knowing what was copied, read, endowed, or owned when, where, and by whom, offers new perspectives on this immensely rich tradition. However, such a research agenda requires the collection, cross-reference, normalization, and visualization of widely diverse data created over more than one and a half millennia.
The long-term perspective of the Academy Program offers a unique environment to tackle such an ambitious task for an extended period. Over 18 years, the collection of data culled from biographical dictionaries, catalogues, and original manuscript research will enable sharply focused studies (the fate of single books or libraries) as well as broader overviews (literary trends and centers). The project’s database as a combination of bio-bibliography and manuscript reference, including a systematic collection and edition of manuscript notes, will provide a versatile tool not only for our own research agenda, but for the field as a whole.
This presentation will offer an overview of the scope, progress, and challenges of Bibliotheca Arabica, illuminated through exemplary case studies of libraries and marginal commentaries. It will showcase the database tools that are being developed as the backbone of our analytical endeavor.

26 March 2021: Stefanie Brinkmann "What’s in Genre? Defining Hadith Commentary"

Lecture: 26 March 2021, 14.00-15.30
Title: What’s in Genre? Defining Hadith Commentary

Starting with the definition of commentary by Eric van Lit, and hadith commentary by Joel Blecher, the presentation sheds a light on the restrictions of these definitions and illustrates problematic issues and border cases for the field of hadith commentary. The presentation is part of the lecture series of the working group “Practices of Commentary” (

19 March 2021: "Of Waqfs and Worms" Boris Liebrenz - Readings in the Khalidiyya

On Friday 19 March 2021 Boris Liebrenz gives a lecture at Columbia University within the series

Libraries in the late Ottoman and post-Ottoman Bilad al-Sham:
The Jerusalem Khalidiyya Library in Context


The lecture "Of Waqfs and Worms: The Khalidiyya Through Its Manuscript Notes" is followed by a commentary by Marina Rustow and a Q&A session.
A recording of the talk is available through the facebook page of the Center for Palestine Studies at Columbia University


24 November 2020: Nadine Löhr, Research Discussion "Networks of Lost Arabic Books"

Research Paper Discussion "Off the Record - Networks of Lost Arabic Books"

based on an analysis of the works mentioned in Ibn Abī Uṣaybiʿa's History of Physicians.

Virtual Forum  Communities of Knowledge Interreligious Networks of Scholars in Ibn Abi Usaybiʿa’s History of the Physicians

Publications for the collective volume: Jews, Christans, and Muslims as Colleagues and Collaborators in the Abbasid Near East

8 October 2020: Prof. Dr. Verena Klemm, Keynote Lecture "Bibliotheca Arabica and Transottomanica"

Evening Lecture (5-7 pm) by Prof. Dr. Verena Klemm at the Opening Workshop of the 2nd project period of the DFG Priority Programme Transottomanica (2020-23), Leipzig.

The Transottomanica research programme can be found here

5 October 2020: "What's in a Seal" Boris Liebrenz on a Conference in Cairo

On Monday 5th October 2020, Boris Librenz gives insights into seals.

Maktabāt al-Shām wa Mir is hosting the conference "Libraries in Syria and Egypt in the Mamluk and Ottoman Periods based on Manuscript Notes", in cooperation with the Freie Universität Berlin and The Institute of Arabic Manuscripts.

The conference recordng can be accessed via here:

Part 1

Part 2


25-26 February 2020: Digitization of Books and Manuscripts, Cairo

Daniel Kinitz and Boris Liebrenz presented Bibliotheca Arabica at the Egyptian-German workshop "Digitization of Books and Manuscripts" (رقمنة الكتب والمخطوطات) at the National Libarary of Egypt in Cairo.

Programme Dar al-Kutub Workshop (English)

Programme Dar al-Kutub Workshop (Arabic)

2 – 3 December 2019: Workshop on Marginal Commentaries, Leipzig

International workshop “Marginal commentaries in Arabic manuscripts”, Saxon Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Leipzig, organized by Stefanie Brinkmann



4 – 5 September 2019: Workshop Manuscripts in the Digital Environment, Leipzig

Workshop Arabic Manuscripts and Collaboration in the Digital Environment, Saxon Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Leipzig, organized by Boris Liebrenz

The Academy Project Bibliotheca Arabica is honored to host a number of leading specialists in the fields of Islamic manuscript studies, bibliography, and prosopography who focus on different aspects of this large tradition, but share a common devotion to the written heritage of the Islamicate world. Each one represents a project that explores a particular niche in that larger field, be it a certain corpus, a certain regional or sectarian background, or a certain type of source.


In practice, we are all confronted with unlimited ambition but limited resources. It is, therefore, desirable not to plough the same ground twice but rather to coordinate our efforts. This workshop aims at exploring how we can manage to benefit from each other’s respective specialized knowledge and at the same time retain distinct profiles. For Bibliotheca Arabica in particular, the workshop is meant to provide an opportunity for learning from the previous experience of our guests and to build our research infrastructure with the utmost compatibility in mind.

It is, thus, highly desirable to come to a common understanding of how and in what format to store the data we collect. Many projects have already developed their own idiosyncratic repositories, some are in the process of doing so, while others are teaming up with larger networks beyond disciplinary boundaries.

The following questions should guide our presentations and discussions: 

  • Which (manuscript or biographical) collections do we / will we work on?
  • What kind of metadata do we collect?
  • How do we normalize names, titles etc.?
  • How could our respective systems exchange data?
  • How can we integrate other project’s data and findings while giving full credit to their creators?
  • How do we deal with the question of sustainability and re-use?



  • Phasif – Philosophie Arabe et Syriaque en Île-de-France (Dr. Jawdath Jabbour, Ècole Normale Supérieure, Paris)
  • Onomasticon Arabicum (Prof. Christian Müller and Muriel Roiland, CNRS / IRHT, Paris)
  • Kalīla and Dimna - Wisdom Encoded (Prof. Beatrice Gründler, Freie Universität, Berlin)
  • Orient Digital (Christoph Rauch, Director of the Oriental Department, Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin)
  • Prof. Dr. Astrid Meier (Martin-Luther-University Halle / Saale)
  • Bibliotheca Arabica – Towards a New History of Arabic Literature

15 July 2019: Presentation at Joint Science Conference (GWK)

Project presentation by Daniel Kinitz to expert committee of the Joint Science Conference (, meeting this year at the Saxon Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Leipzig

28 June 2019: What Manuscripts Can Tell us on the History of Arabic Literature (Academy-Colloquium)

The team, headed by Prof. Dr. Verena Klemm, will present its work, methodology, and outlook. The project, which launched in 2018, is concerned with exploring and gathering data on the literary production in Arabic between the 12th and 19th centuries. With manuscripts as a central source of this endeavor, we can pose fascinating questions: What were the regional trajectories of texts and books during their transmission throughout the centuries? What do manuscripts tell us about their former owners and readers? What can they tell us about libraries that have since been lost? And what are the new perspectives on the history of Arabic literature that a digital Bibliotheca Arabica offers by combining data from manuscript notes, manuscript catalogues, and other sources?


Prof. Dr. Verena Klemm
“Bibliotheca Arabica – Von Büchern und Menschen (Bibliotheca Arabica - Of Books and Men)”

Dr. Boris Liebrenz
“Drei Jahrhunderte im Leben einer Handschrift: Das Unikum von Ibn Hazms ‘Halsband der Taube’ (Three Centuries in the Life of a Manuscript: The Unique MS of Ibn Hazm's 'Neck-Ring of the Dove')” 

Dr. Stefanie Brinkmann
“Islamische Traditionswerke: Metadaten und Randkommentare (Islamic Works on Prophetic Traditions: Metadata and Marginal Commentaries)”

Dr. Daniel Kinitz / Dr. Thomas Efer
“Auf dem Weg zu einer digitalen Bibliotheca Arabica (Towards a Digital Bibliotheca Arabica)”

There will be time for questions and discussions.

6 - 7 June 2019: Workshop “Glossing from a Comparative Perspective”, Marburg

International workshop “Glossing from a Comparative Perspective”, Marburg University
Paper presented by Stefanie Brinkmann: Marginal Commentaries in Hadith Manuscripts


8 May 2019: Visit of Egyptian Delegation

Visit of an Egyptian delegation to Leipzig University Library and the Bibliotheca Arabica Project, organized by Prof. Dr. A. Fuess (Marburg University) in cooperation with Bibliotheca Arabica and Leipzig University Library. Guests were: Prof. Dr. Hesham Azmi (Head of the Cultural Council, Chairman of the Egyptian National  Library and Archives, Dār al-Kutub wal-Waṯāʾiq), Prof. Dr. Atef Mansour (Dean of the Faculty of  Archaeology at Fayoum University, Chairman of the  German-Egyptian Islamic Numismatics Center Fayoum  University/ University of Tübingen), Prof. Dr. Muhammed Younis (Islamic Archaeology  Fayoum University).

24 April 2019: Project Presentation, Marburg University

Lecture by Boris Liebrenz: „Bibliotheca Arabica – Was Handschriften und über die arabische Literatur verraten”, Centrum für Nah- und Mittelost-Studien, Philipps Universität Marburg

Akademienprogramm Gesamt

Übersicht über alle laufenden Forschungsprojekte im Akademienprogramm:

Zum AGATE-Portal, Forschungsinformationssystem der Wissenschaftsakademien:


Denkströme IconDas Open Access (Online-)Journal der Sächsischen Akademie der Wissenschaften:

Diffusion Fundamentals

Diffusion Fundamentals IconInterdisziplinäres Online Journal für Diffusionstheorie in Kooperation mit der Universität Leipzig:

Tagung: Mechanismen des Innovativen im klösterlichen Leben des hohen Mittelalters 23.06.2022 - 25.06.2022 — Kloster Scheyern, Schyrenplatz 1, 85298 Scheyern
Symposium: Weimar als Gedächtnisort und Ort der Gedächtnispolitik 07.07.2022 - 10.07.2022 — Bauhaus-Museum Weimar & Deutsches Nationaltheater Weimar
Gedenkkolloquium zum 100. Geburtstag von Herbert Beckert 01.09.2022 15:00 - 17:00 — Sächsische Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig, Karl-Tauchnitz-Straße 1, 04107 Leipzig
RSA Central and Eastern Europe Conference: Bridging Old and New Divides: Global Dynamics & Regional Transformation 14.09.2022 - 17.09.2022 — Leipzig und ggf. online
Internationale Konferenz: Diffusion Fundamentals IX 21.09.2022 - 24.09.2022 — Jagiellonen-Universität, Krupnicza 33, 31-123 Kraków, Polen
Akademientag in Leipzig: "Musik und Gesellschaft" 06.10.2022 10:00 - 21:00 — Paulinum, Gewandhaus zu Leipzig, Oper Leipzig und an zahlreichen weiteren Orten der Stadt