India Ancient Muslim Library Goes Digital


Revealing the old treasures in one of the oldest libraries in the world history, Deccan Muslim Institute is going through renovation process to restore rate books, some as old as 150 years.

“The library was established in 1915 in a small rented room near MG Road. Since then it has been shifted many times finally settling here near Azam campus,” Mohammad Asif Shaikh, principal of the Deccan Muslim Institute, told The Times of India on Sunday, November 1.

“It’s the largest Urdu library in the state. It has over 30,000 books, of which 20,000 are in Urdu.”

Deccan Muslim Institute celebrated 100 years on Friday with explanations on the history of why Bhagwad Gita and the Guru Granth Sahib in Urdu and the Qur’an Sharif in Marathi were the most sought after books.

Through its history, it has served as a monument of Islamic history, scholarships information centre, medical welfare centre, self-help group centre, marriage bureau, language centre, career guidance cell and research centre.

“There is Tareekh-e-Palanpuri which is written in Urdu about the history of Palanpur. Then there is Kuliyat-e-Shams-wa-Tabrez which is an intense poetry in Persian. All these books are so old now that pages have become brittle. We started digitizing them a few years back. Around 1,150 books have been digitized. We do not allow people to read these books. Scanned copies are available on the intranet of the library,” said librarian Sana Pinitod.

The library history of supporting education and information was recalled by 85-year-old Abdul GaniSani.

“I have seen India, before and after the British. I used to be a businessman. In 1954, I joined this library with a membership fee of 4 anna (6 paisa or one sixth of a rupee). My love for books turned me into a school teacher. I was entrusted with the job of getting good magazines from Bombay (sic) for the library. I also segregated books to different sections,” he said.

Gani, who cannot read books anymore due to poor eyesight, still visits the library.

“All of us who came here were good friends. We used to discuss about religion, politics and society. Nowadays, the generation with all its technology is so busy that they don’t have time to debate about society and its problems,” Gani added.

Talking about the books, Shaikh said many non-Hindus could read Urdu before Independence and a group of Punjabis who had come from Pakistan also spoke Urdu.

“The library has Urdu versions of many ancient Hindu scriptures like the Bhagwad Gita, the Mahabharata, the Ramayana, has the entire Guru Granth Sahib in Urdu and also has the Bible in Urdu,”

“We also have the Qur’an Sharif in Marathi, Hindi, English and Urdu. People from one community used to read books of the other as they were eager to understand each other better.”

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