Islamic Scientific Manuscripts Initiative

Islamic Scientific Manuscripts Initiative (ISMI)

Other involved Scholars: 

Jamil Ragep (McGill University, Canada), Sally Ragep (McGill University, Canada), Urs Schoepflin (MPIWG), Dirk Wintergrün (MPIWG), Robert Casties (MPIWG), Jorge Urzua (MPIWG)

Cooperation Partners: 

Institute of Islamic Studies at McGill University, Canada, an agreement with the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin to digitize circa 1,000 Islamic manuscripts, American Council on Learned Societies, Canada Foundation for Innovation, and Gouvernement du Québec


Title page of Al-Tabṣira fī ʿilm al-ḥisāb (Insight into the Science of Arithmetic) by Ibn Yaḥyā al‐Maghribī, Ahlwardt 5962, Staatsbibliothek Berlin. Open access via ISMI

Member Institutions of the ISMI Board: Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilizations, Aga Khan University, London, U.K.; Archimedes Project, Harvard University, U.S.A.; Filologia Semítica, Universitat de Barcelona, Spain ; Encyclopaedia Islamica Foundation, Tehran, Iran; Institute for the History of Arabic Science, Aleppo University, Syria; Institute for the History of Science and Technology, Moscow, Russia; Institute of Ismaili Studies, London, U.K.; Warburg Institute, London, U.K.;The Written Heritage Research Center, Tehran, Iran


ISMI is a component of the Rational Sciences in Islam (RaSI) project centered at McGill University, including an object-relational database created to store information on the rational sciences within the scientific, philosophical, and theological traditions of Islam before 1900 CE. ISMI catalogues basic metadata and content data of all manuscripts in the exact sciences in Islamic (astronomy, mathematics, physics, geography, mechanics, and related disciplines). Through the internet, this material will be accessible without charge both to researchers and experts in the field and to the educated public worldwide. This online database will contain the works of some 2,126 people (authors, annotators, copyists, correctors, dedicatees, illuminators, illustrators, inspectors, owners, patrons, students, readers, teachers, translators) who span the entire Islamic world from Islamic Spain to India and the borders of China, beginning in the eighth century and continuing until the nineteenth. To date images of circa 3,400 codices from throughout the world (from repositories that include Turkey, Iran, Europe, the Middle East, and North America) have been collected and are ready to be linked to the database with information on 3,741 titles and 12,901 witnesses to these titles.

Please use the following link to access the ISMI website.