The Catalogue

The basic catalogue entries in FIHRIST were created using TEI/XML. Currently the focus is on the retrospective conversion of existing descriptions in printed or manual catalogues and hand-lists. Detailed manuscript descriptions that will include digital representations of the manuscripts themselves are a long term aim. The TEI/XML schema provides an extensible framework that will allow for these future enhancements. The application of TEI/XML descriptive standards to Islamic manuscripts in a union catalogue presents a number of challenges. Documentation showing how the standard has been applied to Islamic manuscripts can be found in our manual , the schema can be downloaded here, and a full record example is available for download (view here).

Most British and American institutions are using the LC transliteration system and general LC Subject headings. A transliteration system converter will be integrated in the search function allowing the recognition of the DMG and IJMES transliteration systems. Currently, only a portion of the records contain Arabic script elements.

Names occurring in the records have been standardised according to the LC Authority file and a link to the Virtual International Authority File is provided for further reference.

Fihrist was first developed by the OCIMCO project, with the aim of improving access to the valuable Islamic texts held in the Bodleian Libraries, Oxford and Cambridge University Library. This catalogue was created with a grant from JISC’s Digital Resources for Islamic Studies programme.

With an additional grant from JISC for the creation of an “Islamic Gateway”, FIHRIST aims to include records of manuscripts in Arabic scripts from other UK holdings. This Gateway will provide access to, and information about as many handwritten resources as institutions are willing to contribute.

The Collections

The combined holdings of the contributing Libraries of the UK are of considerable intellectual and cultural significance. All participating libraries have been collecting manuscripts written in the Arabic script from all subject areas, and of various geographical origins, dating from the rise of Islam up to the 19th century.

For information on ordering copies or to make appointments to study manuscripts in the collections, please consult the web-pages of the contributing libraries. You may also send an enquiry by using the comment option which appears at the bottom of each manuscript record.


Fihrist now has an OAI-PMH endpoint, you can find more information about this here. The data is available in Dublin Core or TEI.

Additional thanks to Mo Costandi for use of the image banner.