Research Projects





Sufi Manuscript Cultures, c. 1200 – 1800

The pre-modern Islamic world has a thriving, artistic and intellectual culture which was above all articulated through manuscripts, long after the invention of printing. Scotland possesses collections of Islamic manuscripts of international importance which, owing to the poor state of cataloguing, are often unknown to researchers. This project aims to investigate a crucial but neglected aspect of Islamic manuscript cultures, the role of Sufis in the production and circulation of manuscripts, for which Scottish collections provide especially rich evidence. We will contextualise this with material from other major collections in conjunction with international partners in Germany, Austria and Turkey. This project will reach a new understanding of the formation of the Islamic manuscript tradition and also the western manuscript collections which play a critical role in modern views of Islam and Islamic culture. It will also lay the groundwork for future research on Islamic manuscripts in Scotland.

This project is primarily funded by The Royal Society of Edinburgh, and is being conducted in partnership with the Centre for the Study of Manuscripts Cultures, University of Hamburg, the Institute of Iranian Studies at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna, and the Nafi Baba Centre for the Study of Sufism, History and Cultural Heritage, Boğaziçi University, Istanbul. The Islamic Manuscript Association will also collaborate in the knowledge transfer and outreach aspects of the project

Decorated page from a late 17th century copy of the Divān of Qasim al-Anvar (ms29(o), St Andrew’s Library)






















The project consists of a series of workshops conducted with partner organisations, bringing together an international team of scholars to consider the specified research problems. A series of workshops will be held in St Andrews, Hamburg, and Istanbul, culminating in a peer reviewed collective volume of articles by participating researchers.

First workshop 8-9 October 2021, St Andrews. View programme here


Second workshop 5-6 June 2023, Istanbul. View programme here



Partner Institutions