Since the inception of the Center of the Revival of Islamic Heritage at the College of Shari`ah and Islamic Studies in 1396 A.H., and to this very day, Umm Al-Qura University (UQU) has been a pioneer in caring for and maintaining Islamic heritage in terms of its compilation, verification, and publication. Soon after its establishment, the center started to collect references of Islamic manuscripts, and has collected more than 20,000 references to date from all around the world, serving many professors at the Saudi and international universities as well as the postgraduate students inside and outside the Saudi Kingdom. Initially, the center’s main specialties included Islamic studies, Arabic language, and historical and civilization studies, in addition to its primary role, namely: the revival of Islamic heritage.
The center had successfully published about 60 publications, including books and a heritage encyclopedia, since its inception up to the issuance of the royal decree in 8 Muharram, 1406 A.H., corresponding to 23 September, 1985 A.C., which stipulated the establishment of the Institute of Scientific Research and the Revival of Islamic Heritage and the inclusion of the Center of the Revival of Islamic Heritage in its research centers.
In 27 Jumada Al-Thani, 1437 A.H., the Higher Education Council issued a decision to change the name of the Institute of Scientific Research and the Revival of Islamic Heritage into the Institute of Manuscripts and the Revival of Islamic Heritage. The institute is responsible for the manuscripts and revival of Islamic heritage in terms of compilation, indexation, and verification, and also forms a link between the university and the Saudi society.
Heritage publications have always been, and still are, the focus of concern for researchers, visitors of local and international exhibitions, and the local and international publishers due to their high scientific value. The most recent publications in this regard are the encyclopedia of “Al-Maqasid Al-Shafiyah” in 10 volumes and the encyclopedia of “Al-Jamea`” by Ibn Yunus Al-Maliki in 24 volumes, besides the manuscripts of the institute available in other sections in the university, such as the original and digital manuscripts kept at the sterilization and renovation labs, given that the right to electronically publish such manuscripts is owned by the Deanship of Library Affairs. All such manuscripts can be transferred to the institute upon the issuance of an approval to change its name, making the institute a specialized unit of high value and great importance.
It is well-known that the UQU exerts outstanding and lauded efforts in the verification, publication, and maintenance of the Islamic heritage manuscripts. The most prominent and most obvious example in this regard is the huge number of scientific papers on this subject that are registered at different scientific departments of the university, exceeding 2,000 master's and doctoral theses.
The enormous advancement and development witnessed by the Department of Manuscripts, which has been reflected in providing the microfilm library with more copies from original resources wherever they may be located, whether inside or outside the country, in order to facilitate the verification of Islamic heritage by researchers, including faculty members, undergraduates, and postgraduate students in various universities, was a valid reason and a great motive to establish an independent and separate institute. Another reason for the establishment of this institute was the great attention given to those valuable collections by the successive leaders of the Institute for Research and the Revival of Islamic Heritage, as well as the care extended to the indexing, classifying and printing of indexes in order to facilitate manual and online access while providing the most recent reading and copying devices. The institute's responsibilities involve maintaining and caring for the manuscripts and the verification of Islamic heritage to ensure due attention and support to these valuable resources. The following are more reasons for the establishment of the institute:
Firstly: The UQU has been a pioneer and leader in the field of maintaining and caring for the Islamic heritage since the establishment of the Center of the Revival of Islamic Heritage in 1396 A.H.
Secondly: There is a lack of scientific or educational institutions specialized in the compilation, verification, maintenance, and publication of heritage masterpieces in Saudi Arabia.
Thirdly: The importance of this institute lies in achieving the mission of the educational sector in Saudi Arabia in general and UQU in particular, with regard to the care of Islamic culture and science, and linking them with the Islamic heritage.
Fourthly: The importance of establishing this institute is further emphasized by its vital role in graduating specialized, qualified and highly-trained cadres who are able to maintain, collect, examine, arrange, study and verify Islamic heritage, besides providing these manuscripts with the necessary sterilization and renovation.
Fifthly: This institute will work toward establishing specialized heritage research centers in various fields of knowledge.
Sixthly: The institute will play a significant role in supporting and enriching the King Abdullah Initiative for Arab Content, launched by the late Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz (may Allah have mercy on him) with the aim to increase and enrich the online Arab content.
Seventhly: The Institute of Scientific Research and the Revival of Islamic Heritage has an integrated infrastructure represented in the following: