Short film: “A Library for All Who Seek Knowledge”

December 6, 2022

SANDY, United Kingdom — The Bahá’í World News Service has released a short documentary about the Afnan Library, which houses an outstanding collection of over 12,000 books, manuscripts, original letters, and other materials.

The Afnan Library Trust was established in 1985 at the request of Hasan Balyuzi (1908 – 1980), a Hand of the Cause and a distinguished historical scholar who wrote important biographies of the Central Figures of the Bahá’í Faith. Mr. Balyuzi’s wish was that his personal collection would be made available "for the benefit of all who seek knowledge.”

Mr. Balyuzi was a member of the Afnan family, being a great-grandson of a brother-in-law of the Bab, one of the twin Prophet-Founders of the Bahá’í Faith.

Moojan Momen, one of the library’s trustees, says, “Mr. Balyuzi stated in his will that he wished for his collection to form the core of a research library.”

Although the Library Trust was established in 1985 and various temporary locations were used, it was not until 2015 that the present building was found to permanently house the collection.

Dr. Momen explains that the Afnan Library has continued to grow its collection with books that reflect the subject areas in Mr. Balyuzi’s collection, including on the Bahá’í Faith, Persian and Middle Eastern history, culture, and the study of religion.

He adds: “The Library also includes a set of one hundred volumes of manuscripts of the sacred writings of the Bahá’í Faith, which were published by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Iran in the 1970s.”

The library has worked closely with the Research Department of the Bahá’í World Centre to make digitized transcripts of these volumes—titled the Iranian National Bahá’í Archives—available on the Afnan Library website.

“Having these volumes available as digitized typescripts as well as digital images of manuscripts makes them accessible to people who read Persian and Arabic but might have had difficulty reading 19th century manuscript handwriting,” says Holly Hanson, coordinator of the Research Department.

Dr. Hanson adds that the digitized volumes contain some 4,000 works of Bahá’u’lláh, more than 3,000 works of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and many writings of the Báb. “This provides a tremendously valuable resource for those who wish to study the Bahá’í writings thematically or to search for a particular passage among these thousands of tablets.”

The short documentary about the Afnan Library can be viewed here.

Photo credit: Historical photos of Hasan Balyuzi used in the film provided by the Afnan Library Trust and the Bahá’í National Spiritual Assembly of the United Kingdom