On Bhatkal’s bookshelves

On Bhatkal’s bookshelves

Bhatkal’s research library for Islamic studies has over 40,000 books that allows an active give and take of knowledge, writes M Raghuram

At least 600 years old, this ‘Quran’ is handwritten ,and is the library’s prized possession. (Credit: M Raghuram)

Bhatkal, the coastal and historical trading town in Uttara Kannada district, has a quiet place for scholars.

Quiet, yes, like all libraries, where young scholars immerse themselves in the study of Islam in all its hues
including law, social values and its relations to other faiths.

It’s housed within the estate of Jamia Islamia, South India’s distinguished seat of Islamic study and research.

“We have books in Arabic and English, about philosophy, jurisprudence, religion, literature, Islamic law, and over 150 journals and periodicals that are useful for the students. It’s a collection of over 40,000 books,” says Maulana Maqbool Kobatte Nadvi, principal of Jamia Islamia. 

“Amassing the books was not easy, and we do not keep second copies. We had been earnestly moving towards creating a scholastic society in Islamic studies since 1962 and our facility is being used by scholars across the country,” Maulana Nadvi adds.

The library has been certified by the University Grants Commission (UGC) as a research-level facility for Islamic, Philosophy and Arabic studies after the panel looked around for a facility that could serve as the main research library.

Young Muzzammil, assistant librarian, talks passionately about the heritage books in the library.

He picks up a leather-bound, voluminous and weathered book from the shelf. The book, over 600 years, is a handwritten Quran. The in-house book-restoration cell takes up the upkeep of the books.

“But this one will only be checked for any wear and tear and restored with high precision without impacting its original form. Since it’s handwritten, it must be precise in delivery of verses and phonetics. Many scholars have referred to it,” adds Muzzammil. 

In a role reversal, the students of Jamia, after their graduate-level Islamic studies, wish to go to Lucknow for higher studies, but senior researchers, postdoctoral scholars, writers and intellectuals from top universities from North India come to Jamia Library. 

The knowledge bank on various subjects on religion, social values and Islamic laws are built by scholars the world over. The chairman of the apex body All India Muslim Personal Law Board is also the chairperson of the administrative set-up of Jamia Islamia.

Former chairman Abdul Aleem Khateeb Nadvi’s book The Prophet of Humanity’s Compassion has been published by a Lucknow-based printer, under the guidance of Moulana Abul Hasan Ali Nadvi Islamic Academy in Jamia Islamia, Bhatkal.

Late Vishwesha Tirtha Swamiji of Pejawar Mutt and the philanthropist from Dharmasthala D Veerendra Heggade have appreciated the collection of books at the library. 

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