NELC graduate student, Brooke Baker, makes remarkable finds in UCLA’s “Encountering Arabic Manuscripts” course with Professor Luke Yarbrough

Published: September 26, 2022

The Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures is proud to share the news that while studying an untitled text as part of UCLA’s “Encountering Arabic Manuscipts” course,  Brooke Baker, NELC graduate student, discovered that it contained a work by by Abd al-Wahhab al-Sha’rani, the 16th-century mystic and scholar who founded an Egyptian order of Sufism, a mystical branch of Islam. Thinking she might have stumbled onto something rare, she showed it to Associate Professor Luke Yarbrough, who teaches the course.

“On a hunch, Brooke and I shared this discovery with Adam Sabra, the King Abdul Aziz Ibn Saud Chair in Islamic Studies at UC Santa Barbara, who has worked extensively on Sha’rani,” Yarbrough recalled. The verdict? “He knew of only three other manuscripts of this type in the world — two in Egypt and one in Saudi Arabia — and was unaware of UCLA’s.”

This remarkable discovery is just one of several that have been made in the course, an ongoing collaboration between UCLA’s Islamic studies program and UCLA Library. Library Special Collections, which houses a world-class assortment of archives, books, manuscripts, photographs and other materials available to students, faculty and the public, provides an invaluable resource for such partnerships.

Read more about the discovery here.