Reviving the Past: DREAMSEA Digitised Jamiat Kheir Foundation’s Collection of Manuscripts

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The DREAMSEA programme has successfully digitised thousands of ancient handwritten manuscripts left by the Habaib, who lived hundreds of years ago, at the Jamiat Kheir Educational Foundation in Indonesia. The manuscripts contain studies of religious sciences, science, astronomy, and even metaphysics. The effort to save these ancient manuscripts resulted in at least 5,000 pages being digitised.

Umar Alhaddad, Chairman of the Jamiat Kheir Foundation, stated that “there are around 5,000 pages of ancient manuscripts written in Arabic and Arabic script. Some were written on imported European paper. Their contents are very diverse, ranging from the world of education to historical facts related to the role and intellectuality of the Habaib in Indonesia.” From the initial search, at least ten volumes of handwritten ancient manuscripts written by those who had established and received an education at this institution hundreds of years ago were found and neatly stored in the library. Umar hopes that the legacy of his ancestors can be useful for current generations.

Since its launch in 2018, DREAMSEA has assisted 128 communities in Indonesia and Southeast Asia in preserving their ancient manuscripts. Not less than 6,500 volumes of ancient manuscripts have been successfully saved, and 400,000 pages of them are available in digital ancient manuscript form.

Oman Fathurahman, Principal Investigator of DREAMSEA, expressed strong support for the effort to save the ancient manuscripts of the Jamiat Kheir Educational Foundation. The works of the scholars will be transformed into digital form to anticipate physical damage to the ancient manuscripts in the future. “This digitalisation is carried out at the Jamiat Kheir office in Jakarta. The digitisation team is not allowed to move the physical manuscripts from their original location. After that, they will be stored back in their original location with better storage methods,” said the Professor of Islamic Philology at the State Islamic University of Jakarta.

Digitalisation is the best way to take care of the physical condition of ancient manuscripts that are becoming increasingly fragile due to age. The most important thing is that this programme will trigger many people to gain access to the knowledge stored in these ancient manuscripts. The Jamiat Kheir Educational Foundation’s efforts, supported by DREAMSEA, ensure that these ancient manuscripts will be preserved for future generations.

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