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Al-Imam al-Hakim Public Library (Najaf)

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The gate of al-Imam al-Hakim Public Library.

Al-Imam al-Hakim Public Library (Arabic: مکتبة الإمام الحکيم العامة; Maktabat al-Imām al-Ḥakīm al-ʿĀmma) is a scholarly and cultural center in Najaf near the Shrine of Amir al-Mu'minin. The library was built by al-Sayyid Muhsin al-Hakim, and was later expanded and developed. The library consists of two sections: manuscripts and published books. Today, it has numerous branches in Iraq and other countries. The mausoleum of Ayatollah al-Hakim is located inside the library.

Foundation

The library was built in Najaf in 1377/1957 by the Shiite marja', al-Sayyid Muhsin al-Hakim. The initial building of the library consisted of a small chamber in Masjid al-Hindi, and was later expanded after the purchase of two adjacent houses. The present building of the library in five floors was officially opened in 1387/1967. It keeps a variety of books on numerous fields.

The mausoleum of al-Sayyid Muhsin al-Hakim is located in a corner of Masjid al-Hindi inside the library.

Collection of Books

The initial library consisted of Ayatollah al-Hakim's personal books. Later, more books were purchased or donated. For example, some personal libraries such as 450 books from the personal library of al-Shaykh Muhammad al-Samawi, who was a passionate collector of manuscripts, were purchased. Other personal libraries that were purchased include the library of Sayyid 'Abd al-Sahib al-Hakim (son of Muhsin al-Hakim), the library of al-Shaykh 'Abd al-Hadi al-Hamuzi, the library of al-Sayyid Muhammad Hasan al-Ghadiri, the library of Haj Muhammad Kazim Muhammad Hasan, and the library of Haj Hamza Shinan.

Number of Books

The library contains over fifty thousand books. About forty thousand books are published and indexed, and about 3600 books are manuscripts, some of which contain more than one book. Some manuscripts kept in the library include al-Muntaha by al-'Allama al-Hilli, Nahj al-balagha transcribed in 676/1277, and Mukhtasar al-khilaf by al-Tabrisi transcribed in 699/1299.

Shutdown of the Library

In the period of Saddam's government, the library was shut down for eight years and a half from 1983 to 1992 because of the work by Imam Khomeini, Ayatollah al-Hakim, and Sayyid Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr and after the imprisonment of the Hakim family. During the Iran-Iraq war and the Kuwait war, the library was not very active. During the Kuwait War, the library turned into headquarters of the Iraqi army, but the manuscripts were not damaged.

Branches of the Library

The Library of Ayatollah al-Hakim has over hundred branches in different cities of Iraq and some branches outside Iraq. The branches inside Iraq were founded in order to be centers for the gathering the youth, so that they could be indirectly taught the proper Islamic culture. Today the central library is located near the Shrine of Imam 'Ali (a) at one end of al-Rasul Street, adjacent to Masjid al-Hindi.

Publication of the List of Manuscripts

The list of the manuscripts in the Library of Ayatollah al-Hakim was published with the support of the Cultural Attaché of the Islamic Republic of Iran in cooperation with the Ayatollah Mar'ashi Najafi Library.

References