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['Aalim Network QR] Burning of the Library in Alexandria


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|       In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the All-Merciful       |\
|  Greeting of Allah be upon Muhammad and the pure members of his House |\
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Salamun Alaykum

The following question was kindly answered by Mulla Bashir Rahim.

Regards

Abbas Jaffer
Moderator - 'Aalim Network

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Question:

Could you please provide me with some information and references regarding the
burning of the library of Alexandria and Imam Ali's objection to this
incident. 

Thank you. Was-salaam

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Answer:

The questioner appears to presume that the famous Library of Alexandria
existed at the time when the Muslims during the reign of Khalifah 'Umar conquered
Egypt.  Philip K. Hitti clarifies the position with regard to the Library of
Alexandria in his 'History of the Arabs', fourth edition, p.166 where he states as
follows:

"The story that 'Amr [that is 'Amr bin Aas, who conquered Egypt to prove
that he was a better general than Khalid ibne Walid] by the order of the Caliph for
six long months fed the numerous bath furnaces with the volumes of the Alexandrian
library is one of those tales that make good fiction but bad history. The
great Ptolemaic library was burnt as early as 48 B.C. by Julius Caesar. A later one,
referred to as the Daughter Library, was destroyed about A.D. 389 as a
result of an edict by the Emperor Theodosius. At the time of the Arab conquest,
therefore, no library of any importance  existed in Alexandria and no contemporary writer ever brought the charge against  'Amr or 'Umar.'

While 'Amr and his masters were guilty of many crimes, the burning of the
Library of Alexandria was not one of them. The suggestion was first made by a
Muslim historian writing as late as 1231 A.C. However no historical evidence
exists to support the charge.  

With salaams and du'aas from a humble servant of Ahlul Bayt and their
followers, and with a request to be remembered by you in your prayers,

Bashir Rahim






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