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Interest in the Middle East and the Islamic world is at an all time high, generating a corresponding increase in demand for specialized teaching, learning and transmitting critical knowledge and perspectives on this part of the world. Understanding this region involves learning about the social, political, religious and cultural issues – past and present – that shape the Islamic world of today. Studying Middle Eastern cultures and peoples across all time periods provides a crucial framework for understanding the complex relationship between Islam and the West today.
The University of California, Los Angeles Library holds one of the two largest collections of Near Eastern manuscripts in the United States.1 The UCLA collections include approximately 7,000 manuscripts written in Ottoman Turkish, Persian, Arabic, and Armenian, primarily in the fields of medicine, literature, philology, theology, law, and history, and ranging from the 11th through the 19th centuries. These collections rank among the most important in North America, both in extent and scholarly interest. Inquiries about the collections come from around the globe and in a variety of fields, even though the collections are little known and lack adequate bibliographic access.
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