Islamic scientific heritage 'will boost cultural dialogue'
Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, emphasised that conserving the rich Islamic scientific heritage and propagating it around the world
are vital to promoting cultural dialogue, which in turn will inspire interest in Islamic civilisation and its scientific legacy.
In a speech delivered on behalf of Shaikh Mohammad by Mohammad Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs, at Al Azhar, Shaikh Mohammad observed that science can help restore the cultural and humanitarian leadership of the Arab world.
The speech was delivered at a ceremony held to mark the successful completion of the Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Project to preserve the manuscripts of Al Azhar and publish them online.
The project involved documenting and preserving up to 50,000 manuscripts of Al Azhar, comprising more than eight million pages and 63 sections in various arts and science disciplines dating back to the beginning of Islamic history, in addition to 53,000 printed copies, the most recent of which was printed 60 years ago.
The project not only archives the manuscripts, but also makes 125,000 references available electronically through a dedicated website, in addition to establishing an internal communications network to link the main Al Azhar institutes.
The ceremony, held at the convention centre of Al Azhar, was attended by Dr Ahmad Al Tayeb, Imam of Al Azhar; Mohammad Abdullah Al Gergawi; Emad Abu Gazi, Minister of Culture in Egypt, and senior officials from the UAE and Egypt.
The project is a humble contribution to preserving science and the rich legacy of Arab scientists as well as that of Al Azhar, which remains a beacon of knowledge and learning for Muslims around the world, observed Shaikh Mohammad.
"We extend our sincere gratitude to Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum for launching and funding this project, which we consider a valuable gift to the Islamic nation. The project will provide the opportunity for Al Azhar to reach the largest possible number of students and researchers all over the world wishing to take advantage of references from Al Azhar. There are more than 9,000 Al Azhar Institutes around the world with more than 70 faculties and 2.5 million students," said Dr Ahmad Al Tayeb.
"This project represents one of the glorious examples of cooperation and joint efforts between the UAE and Egypt for the good of the people in both countries," said Emad Abu Gazi on behalf of Egyptian Prime Minister, Essam Sharaf.
"The idea for preserving the manuscripts emerged during a visit of Shaikh Mohammad to Al Azhar a decade ago.
"He was told of the archived manuscripts and books as he discussed ways to provide an opportunity for all Muslims to take advantage of this Islamic intellectual legacy with the Imam of Al Azhar," explained Al Gergawi.
Al Azhar Institute has launched its electronic library that stores scientific books and references at the website www.alazharlibrary.gov.eg allows researchers and students around the world to browse a huge collection of Islamic intellectual reserves.
The initiative was launched to preserve the rare manuscripts using the latest technology, thus protecting the treasures of Islamic culture and scientific heritage without any damage for centuries and to provide an opportunity for all Muslims to take advantage of this Islamic intellectual legacy.
The technical infrastructure for the project will be developed by IBM.