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Rand­glosse ein­er jemeni­tis­chen ara­bis­chen Hand­schrift der SBB

The Zay­di lit­er­ary tra­di­tion is among the rich­est and most var­ie­gat­ed tra­di­tions with­in Islam­ic civ­i­liza­tion and at the same time one of the least stud­ied. The lit­er­ary pro­duc­tion by Zay­di schol­ars stretched over more than one thou­sand years cov­er­ing a wide spec­trum of tra­di­tion­al dis­ci­plines, such as law and legal the­o­ry, exe­ge­sis, Qur’an­ic sci­ences and tra­di­tions, geog­ra­phy and ency­clo­pe­dias, med­i­cine and math­e­mat­ics, his­to­ry and biog­ra­phy, gram­mar and philol­o­gy, the­ol­o­gy and lit­er­a­ture (prose as well as poet­ry). More­over, Zay­dis were at all times inti­mate­ly famil­iar with the rel­e­vant intel­lec­tu­al strands beyond the con­fines of Zay­dism and active­ly engaged in them, and the typ­i­cal library of a Zay­di schol­ar would com­prise not only works belong­ing to his own reli­gious tra­di­tion but also an array of titles of authors from oth­er com­mu­ni­ties (Sun­ni, Twelver Shii, Ismaili).

It is for­tu­nate that the major­i­ty of Zay­di lit­er­a­ture is still extant, most­ly in the form of man­u­scripts. On the down­side, the Zay­di man­u­script tra­di­tion is wide­ly dis­persed. The most sig­nif­i­cant and by far largest col­lec­tions of Zay­di man­u­scripts are housed by the many pub­lic and pri­vate libraries of Yemen (esti­mates range between 40,000 to 100,000 man­u­scripts). In addi­tion to this, sev­er­al Euro­pean libraries own con­sid­er­able num­bers of Zay­di man­u­scripts (about 10,000 man­u­scripts), as is also the case with North Amer­i­can libraries (less than 1,000 man­u­scripts). Of great impor­tance are also the many libraries of the Mid­dle East, espe­cial­ly in Egypt, Sau­di Ara­bia, Turkey, Iran and Iraq, and oth­er places. In view of the poor state of schol­ar­ship in the area of Zay­di stud­ies, the chal­lenges that result from the sig­nif­i­cant dis­per­sal of the mate­r­i­al, and the dis­as­trous sit­u­a­tion in present-day Yemen, the tasks at hand are three­fold, name­ly “pre­serv­ing” and “study­ing” the Zay­di man­u­script tra­di­tion, and “democ­ra­tiz­ing” the access to these mate­ri­als. To vary­ing degrees, the Zay­di Man­u­script Tra­di­tion (ZMT): A Dig­i­tal Por­tal address all three of them.

Zulet­zt wur­den z.B. 214 Hand­schriften aus der Staats­bib­lio­thek zu Berlin ergänzt.

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