The Khalidi Library sits unassumingly on the Road to the Chain Gate, between the Jewish and Muslim neighborhoods of Jerusalem
, on the way to the Wailing Wall, the Dome of the Rock, and the Haram al Sharif. Run today by the direct descendant of an ancient line of intellectuals, the library has been based in Jerusalem since the city's recapture by Salah el Din in 1187.
The idea of the library started with Muhammad Sun' Allah al-Khalidi in 1721, who placed not only his 600 manuscripts but also his substantial properties in a family trusteeship called waqf dharriya
. After centuries of expansion, with books coming from Al-Azhar University in Cairo, book merchants in Istanbul, and holy pilgrims from Mecca and Medina, the Khalidi Library today holds 6,000 printed documents and 1,278 manuscripts.
The keys today are guarded by Haifa Al-Khalidi, whose father Haida fiercely defended the library during the tumultous years in Jerusalem since the 1967 war, staving off expropriation by the Israeli army and former Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren and keeping the library open to scholars throughout the first Intifada
Today the library's future is uncertain, funding is unstable and, despite luminary Khalidis like Columbia Unversity's Rashid and Harvard's Walid, it faces a modern, digitized world under occupation.
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