Thesaurus Islamicus Foundation

The Thesaurus Islamicus Foundation is a non-profit academic organisation that was founded to support and advance the protection, preservation and study of the Islamic intellectual and artistic heritage. It specialises in scholarly publishing, fine book design, and the care and management of manuscript collections.

The Foundation has offices in Cairo, Egypt; the University of Cambridge, England; and Stuttgart, Germany. The principal projects of the Foundation are:

Through the Sunna Project the Foundation seeks to assemble the entirety of hadith literature – that is, the literature comprising narrations of the sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad – and to prepare and publish definitive critical editions of every hadith collection. In the Foundation’s Cairo offices, nearly one hundred scholars of hadith are engaged in the study and comparison of manuscript and printed copies of hadith collections from libraries and museums around the world.

To date, the Sunna Project has produced the nineteen-volume Hadith Encyclopaedia, which includes the six canonical hadith collections as well as the Muwatta of Imam Malik ibn Anas. The printed edition of the Hadith Encyclopaedia is supplemented by a CD-ROM and the International Hadith Studies Association Network website (IHSAN) – These allow for the full text of the printed edition to be searched according to various criteria.

The Foundation has recently published a new fourteen volume edition of the Musnad of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal. This edition contains over 200 hadith that have never before appeared in any printed edition of the Musnad, but which are present in the earliest and most reliable manuscripts.

The Sunna Project is affiliated with the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Centre of Islamic Studies, University of Cambridge.

The Islamic Manuscript Association is an international non-profit organisation dedicated to protecting Islamic manuscript collections and supporting those who work with them. It was formed in response to the urgent need to address the poor preservation and inaccessibility of many Islamic manuscript collections around the world.

The Association articulates standards and guidelines for best practice in cataloguing, conservation, digitisation and academic publishing so that Islamic manuscript collections may be made more accessible and preserved for posterity. It promotes excellence in scholarship on Islamic manuscripts, particularly Islamic codicology and disciplines related to the care and management of Islamic manuscript collections, and provides a platform for sharing this scholarship at its annual conference at the University of Cambridge.

The Association awards grants to support the care of Islamic manuscript collections and advance scholarship on Islamic manuscripts. It also organises short courses in cataloguing, conservation, digitisation and academic publishing, as well as an annual workshop on Islamic codicology in cooperation with Cambridge University Library.

The Islamic Manuscript Association is affiliated with the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Centre of Islamic Studies, University of Cambridge.

The Foundation has signed an agreement with the National Library of Egypt (Dar al-Kutub) and the Egyptian Ministry of Culture to assist with the preservation, conservation and curation of the National Library’s manuscript collection and to work with the National Library to establish it as a regional leader in collection care and management. The National Library possesses around 60,000 manuscript titles. It is the largest manuscript collection in the Arab World and one of the most important collections of Islamic manuscripts worldwide.

The goals of the project include re-designing and re-equipping the National Library’s two existing preservation and conservation laboratories, including imaging facilities; designing and equipping a new conservation laboratory; redesigning and reequipping the manuscript storage exhibition areas; the continued professional development of the National Library’s preservation, conservation and exhibition staff; cataloguing selected areas of the manuscript collection; and preparing publications and promotional materials for and about the National Library.

Editio Electrum is the Foundation’s design studio. The studio carries out the Foundation’s efforts to revive the traditional arts of the Islamic book. The studio combines traditional workshop techniques with the latest advances in digital design and printing technology to develop the visual language of medieval illumination in a new and exciting medium.

Fine art prints of Qur’anic illumination produced by Editio Electrum have been exhibited at the Museum of Applied Arts in Frankfurt, Germany; Beit Al Qur’an in Manama, Bahrain; the Dubai Chamber of Commerce in Dubai, United Arab Emirates; the King Faisal Foundation in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia; the National Library and Archives of Egypt in Cairo, Egypt; and the American Institute of Graphic Arts in New York, USA. In 2006, the Foundation’s Shama’il al-Nabi, designed by Editio Electrum, was the first Arabic book to win a place in the American Institute of Graphic Arts’ 50/50 annual book design competition.

The Islamic Art Network provides a number of important resources for Islamic art and architectural historians. Its online digital photo archive, which was prepared with the support and permission of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, contains over 9,000 images of the Islamic architectural monuments of Cairo.

In cooperation with the Rare Books and Special Collections Library of the American University in Cairo and Dr Alaa El-Habashi, the Network has digitised and made available online the 71 French and Arabic language issues of the Bulletin of the Comité de Conservation des Monuments de l’Art Arabe, the standard resource for the study of the Islamic architecture of Cairo. The Bulletin describes the restoration work carried out on the Islamic monuments of Cairo from 1882-1953. It includes full descriptions of the monuments and their histories as well as photographs, drawings, and plans. Some of the monuments recorded in the Bulletin have disappeared and others were disfigured by later restoration work. For this reason, it is invaluable. Only the Islamic Art Network and the University of Pennsylvania have complete collections of the Bulletin.

Additionally, the Network has digitised important out-of-print books and rare articles on Islamic art and architecture and made them available online. Among these publications are Max Herz Pasha’s 1899 monograph entitled Mosquee du Sultan au Caire and the Memoires of the Institut d’Egypte.

Onetradition is the imprint dedicated to the Foundation’s publications of spiritual and metaphysical writings from all major religious traditions. The onetradition project rests on the belief that the best way to understand and learn from the great religious traditions is through their most profound exponents. Current projects in production include the translation of the Tao Teh Ching into Arabic and a complete critical edition of Ibn ‘Arabi’s al-Futuhat al-Makkiya. Works that the Foundation hopes to publish in the future under its onetradition imprint include the Serial Elucidations of D.A. Freher and a Korean translation of the Hikam of Ibn ‘Ata’illah al-Iskandari.