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Islamia College library still stands with past glory

Islamia College library still stands with past glory

PESHAWAR: Spread over 13,000 square feet area, the central library of Islamia College University still stands with its past grandeur. With its splendid Mughal architecture, it was set up in 1913 soon after the inauguration of the historic institution the same year.

It is considered one of the oldest and richest academic libraries in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The library houses a precious asset of around 2,061 rare manuscripts written in Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Pashto and Hindko in addition to other 90,000 titles on variety of topics. Scholars from around the world doing research on the classical age of South Asia consult the old library.

Located on the main road of the campus which is accessible on equal distance to all the departments as well as hostels, the central library of ICU consists of two big halls and nine adjacent rooms.

One hall and four rooms had been added to the old library in 1972 while two computer labs, one each for boys and girls, became operational recently for reaching out to e-books and online research journals.

Tahsinullah, head of the central library of ICU, told this scribe that over 2,000 rare manuscripts and some printed books had been gifted to Islamia College Peshawar by family members of a noted religious scholar, Hafiz Ghulam Jilani, a resident of Mohallah Aasia Peshawar city.

Mr Tahsinullah said that after the death of Jilani, the then Afghan king had approached his family to sell out the old manuscripts for Rs250,000 for the Afghan royal library. “The wife and daughter of Jilani turned down the offer of the Afghan king to sell out the rare treasure trove of knowledge and instead generously donated it to Islamia College Peshawar which is a pride for the historic institution,” he remarked.

He said that many luminaries including Quaid-i- Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Hakim Mohammed Saeed had paid visits to the library.

A brief comment about the old library during Quaid-i-Azam’s third visit to Islamia College Peshawar on 12th April, 1948 had been preserved in his own hand writing which states: “I was very pleased to visit the library and was much interested to see rare old manuscripts and books.”

Mr Tahsinullah said that the library had some rare books and manuscripts that could not be found in any collection in India and Pakistan. He said that most of the books were related to religious topics. He said that late Jilani had preserved that treasure, handed down to him by his parents.

“He would never allow anybody to even see or touch his rare collection unless he was sure of the person being an avid reader,” he said.

A source privy to the matter at Islamia College University told this scribe that after the college gained the status of a full-fledged university in 2007, its old library could no longer cater to the needs of thousands of its students. He said that since then, the administration had been trying to provide funds for its upgradation and expansion.

“Our wish has been answered and we are now able to build a new a state-of-the-art three-storey modern library adjacent to the old one at an approximate cost of Rs1,500 million covering an area of 36,000 square feet. The funds are being provided by the federal government,” he said.

The old central library, the source said, would be reserved only for the students of intermediate while the new library would be used by the students of BS, MS and decorate programme.

Published in Dawn, September 26th, 2017

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