An evening with rare manuscripts collector Prof Stewart at Anjuman Taraqqi-i-Urdu.

PRESIDENT of the Anjuman Taraqqi-i-Urdu Pakistan Wajid Jawad held a session on Wednesday evening at local press club with Prof Dr Andrew Stewart to introduce him and his work to a select number of members of academia in the city interested in preserving manuscripts.

Mr Jawad on the occasion said Dr Stewart is Executive Director of the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library, Saint John's University in Minnesota. (He was addressing him as Father Columba because Dr Stewart 'professed vows as a Benedictine monk of Saint John's Abbey, Collegeville in 1982, and was ordained to the priesthood in 1990'.)

Mr Jawad said a few years back the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library signed an MoU with the anjuman for digitising manuscripts which the Baba-i-Urdu Dr Abdul Haq had brought from India under difficult circumstances. 'We have 2,500 manuscripts in Arabic, Persian and Urdu, and some of them date back to 500 years. Dr Stewart has a knack for tracking manuscripts all over the world. I have great appreciation for his organisation and him as they're doing a great service to the world by discovering and making it available online for free. He is here to see what the anjuman has been doing. He provided us with two labs for digitisation and we have already digitised 744 manuscripts.'

Dr Stewart said, 'This is my first visit to Pakistan. We began the project in early Covid. I always wanted to come because you cannot work in the professional world without meeting people. I've been to India several times, mainly to Kerala, and more recently to Hyderabad (Deccan).

Manuscripts are voices of our ancestors; we have 2,500 manuscripts in Arabic, Persian and Urdu, and some of them date back to 500 years, says host...

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