Arabic Manuscripts from West Africa
This collection contains over 5,000 items collected from Africa and donated to the library by several Northwestern professors. Original, hand-written manuscripts make up more than 60 percent of the content, which also includes “market” editions (photocopies of handwritten works that are often sold in African marketplaces), printed editions, and photocopies. Most are in Arabic, though some are in ajami—African languages such as Hausa, Fulfulde, and Wolof written in the Arabic script. It is especially strong in works from northern Nigeria (Kano in particular) but also includes items from Ghana, Senegal, and Mali. The works cover a wide range of subjects, including poetry, Arabic grammar, history, theology, Sufism, law, astronomy, and numerology. Highlights include the collection’s rich body of work on the Tijâniyya Sufi order, fine examples of Hausa poetry, and writings on medicine and healing.