Maktabat al-Rawḍat al-Ḥaydariyya (Arabic: مَکْتَبَة الرّوضَة الحیدریّة , the library of the Shrine of Imam Ali (a)) is one of the oldest and most famous libraries of Najaf, located in the courtyard of the Holy Shrine of Imam Ali (a). This library which is also known with other names, has been the place for holding rare books and manuscripts since the past and during several centuries has received damages led to loss of the books. This library was revived and reopened by the order of Ayatollah Sistani after the collapse of Ba'ath regime.
There is no accurate information about its inception and founder; but, the evidences show that it dates back to 4th/10th century and the rule of Buyids, because this library was important to 'Adud al-Dawla al-Daylami (d. 372/982) and he dedicated many books to it. In 755/1354 Imam Ali (as)'s Shrine fire, this library was seriously damaged and an important part of the library including three copies of the Qur'an written by Imam Ali (a) were burned. Sayyid Sadr al-Din Sadr Awi, among the scholars of 8th/15th century, reconstructed the library by the help of Fakhr al-Muhaqqiqin and in 760/1359 named it "al-Khazanat al-'Alawiyya". Awi made a will that after his death, a third of his properties should be spent for buying books for this library.
The library of the Shrine of Imam Ali (a) has been known with different names during the history:
- Al-Khazanat al-Gharawiyya
- Maktaba al-Sahn al-'Alawi
- Maktaba al-'Alawiyya
- Maktaba al-Haydariyya
In the past, this library held many books and manuscripts, most of which were written by the original authors of the books. Also, many of rare and valuable copies which had gold-inlaid covers and fine papers were moved there from the treasury of rulers, kings and famous officials.
Since this library is located beside the shrine and some seminaries were around it, non-Iraqi students of Islamic studies who went to Najaf, brought precious books with them and upon their return to their homeland, gifted them to the library which enhanced the diversity and richness of the library.
In al-Sawa'ih, Shaykh Ali Hazin Gilani (d. 1154/1741) wrote, "in this library, old and new books are collected and books in every topic can be found there, indexing all of which is very difficult". Since the library is attributed to Imam Ali (a), around 2000 new and old books specifically about Imam Ali's (a) life, conduct and companions exist in this library.
There are also many books and articles about the value and credit of Haydariyya library, including:
- Khazana kutub al-Imam Ali (a) written by Kazim al-Dujayli
- "Wasf khazana kutub al-amir (a)" magazine of Lughat al-arab 1332/1914
- Khaza'in al-kutub al-qadima fi-l Iraq written by Kurkis Awad.
After the collapse of Ba'ath regime, the library was reconstructed in 1426/2005 by the order of Ayatollah Sistani and the efforts of the management of the shrine and Shaykh Faris al-Hassun and was reopened on Jumada al-Thania 20th, on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Lady Fatima (a).
Location of the library is at the end of the north side of the shrine (beside the western side). In the mentioned location, there is a three-storey building, on its first and second floors of which the library is located. Inscription on top of the entrance gate reads: Maktaba al-Rawda al-Haydariyya, tamma i'ada ta'sisiha 'am 1426 AH (Library of the Shrine of Imam Ali (a), its re-establishment finished in 1426/2005).
Sections of the Library
On the first floor of the library, the reading hall for men is located and its book shelves are accurately indexed and categorized. Beside this hall, the room for writing indices is located and beside that, the specialized library of Imam Ali (a) is located. The management section of the library is also located on this floor.
The second floor is divided to two halls. In the first hall, the visual and audio libraries are located, where many audio-visual CDs are kept. In this hall, the Internet management of the library and the section for typing the books compiled by the shrine are also located. The second hall is the reading hall for women; and its books, the same as the books in the reading hall for men, have indices and categories. Beside these two halls, there is a room for binding and repairing damaged books.
The sections for writing indices, transcribing and repairing old books, and audio-visual unit are among other parts of the library and the website of the library also provides services where many of the books are available in PDF format.
- The material for this article is mainly taken from مکتبة الروضة الحیدریة (نجف in Farsi WikiShia.