The al-Aqsa Mosque Library, established in 1923, was founded with the hope that it would become a central Islamic studies library, as grand as the National Library of Cairo. Many of its thousands of manuscripts were donated at that time. While this vision did not materialize due to political developments, the library remains one of the most important in Jerusalem today. It is located in the Haram al-Sharif compound in the Old City of Jerusalem in the building known as the “Women’s Mosque,” which dates back to the 12th century.
The al-Aqsa Mosque Library is a reference library intended to serve the needs of researchers and students from Jerusalem and other Palestinian cities. The library contains monographs, periodicals, and manuscripts. Its collection of books alone numbers 10,000, including 200 rare titles. The books are on Islamic religion, Arabic language, Arabic literature, and Islamic history.
Importantly, the library also holds more than 70 titles of Arabic language newspapers and journals, published in Palestine and other Arab countries, as well as a selection of periodicals published by Arab communities in Europe and North and South America. The collection at the al-Aqsa Mosque Library includes major Palestinian newspapers and periodicals from the pre-war and the British Mandate periods, such as Filastin, Mirat al-Sharq, al-Jami‘a al-‘Arabiyya, al-Jami‘a al-Islamiyya, al-Difa‘, and others.
This historical periodical collection has now been digitized and made available online from anywhere in the world. The digitization process aimed at both preservation of the degrading materials as well as broadening access to those who cannot enter the country, the city, or the compound. For protection, multiple copies were made. Full details on the periodicals, magazines, and other materials digitized can be found here. Some historical manuscripts have also been digitized and can be viewed here.
If the video, made by the societal archival organization Khazaaen, sparks your interest, the library is open to the public between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., from Saturday to Wednesday. Visitors must first undergo security checks at the gates to the compound.