The province of Al-Najaf is home to one of Iraq’s cultural landmarks, Al-Huwaish Market, for its role as a refuge of literature. Inside the Al-Huwaish market, whose main corridor does not exceed three meters wide, and close to the shrine of Imam Ali, in the center of Najaf, Ali Muhammad, the owner of a bookstore, showed the Iraq International News Agency the books he offered.
Muhammad said, “During the time of the previous government, religious works constituted the vast majority of the books in my library, but now, I can say that non-religious books constitute the majority, adding that “there is a great demand from young people and intellectuals for cultural, scientific, political and intellectual books.”
Although the city of Najaf has been famous for hundreds of years for its libraries, including those home to rare manuscripts and books, the Al-Huwaish Book Market has, in recent years, occupied the forefront among the most famous and largest well-known Najaf libraries, in terms of the number of books that it holds.
The author, Dr. Badr Nasser, a professor of media at the University of Babylon, who frequents the old libraries in Al-Huwaish market, pointed out that “Najaf’s public and private libraries contain thousands of diverse and rare books, some of which are hundreds of years old, in addition to many rare manuscripts.”
Nasser explains that “some libraries in the Al-Huwaish market specialized in one type of book, some of them are specialized in foreign books and dictionaries, and some are specialized in educational books, or novels, poetry and literature.” He explains that “some books are printed in Najaf, while others are imported from Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.”