Dar Abul-Qasim: A Hidden Chest of Islamic Jewels

what's up-15-1 We love discovering gems around Jeddah, and this bookstore is one of those hidden gems we found recently that we thought of sharing with you.  Dar Abul-Qasim bookstore and publishing was started in 1980 by a Saudi businessman who wanted to create a channel to spread Islam to foreigners and expats living here in Saudi Arabia and abroad.  For about 16 years that Saudi businessman hired Mrs. Amatullah Bantley to edit Islamic books.  In 2005 the businessman decided to close the bookstore down since he was getting old and couldn’t continue running the business, but Mrs. Bantley wanted to pick the torch and continue what he started almost three decades ago.

What Mrs. Bantley wanted was to keep those books in the market for people to benefit from them, so she persuaded the businessman to take over the project and continue the journey.  Putting in a lot of hard work, feeding the project with all the passion in her heart to reach a wider audience to spread Islam, Amatullah Bantley gathered every penny she possessed.  With the help and support of friends who believed in her quest, she managed to buy the store and refresh the whole library again.

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Located off Sahafa Street, Dar Abul Qasim Publishing House is concentrating primarily on Islamic literature in English to serve the Muslim communities again.  We visited the store just to discover that Mrs. Bantley has managed to create an oasis for Islamic book lovers in the true heart of Jeddah, organizing books by subject and price, in a welcoming relaxed environment.  When we walked into the store, we sensed the relaxing welcoming atmosphere that gave the bookstore a charming feel.  The bookstore offers a diverse collection of books, tapes & CDs, prayer rugs, and ladies prayer wraps.  But what we really loved the most is her innovative gifts designed for newly converted Muslims with basic instruction books, and gifts for people who want to learn more about Islam packaged in a unique beautiful way worthy of the great religion.

“When I converted to Islam twenty years ago, I found these books to be very helpful and supportive.  It hurt me greatly to see them disappear from the market, and I was willing to do anything to keep the da‘wah going, helping people become good Muslims,” said Mrs. Bantley while she was giving me a tour around the bookstore.  I pointed out the comfy couches in the seating area.  She smiled and said, “Even if people can’t afford buying the books, I want them to sit, relax and read them.  I am trying to extend this section and create a separate wing where people can come sit and read.  I want to share the joy of Islam and what I have learned about it with everyone.”

Dar Abul Qasim offers a vast range of books to readers starting from 3 years old.  “We are working with an author on a new book for children, where they can relate to a super Muslim hero.  Our kids need to know more about the true role models we have in our Islamic history and we have to make it easier for them to relate to that.  We have been bombarded by the media about the latest singers and actors, so we need to give them a hero that can save the day.”

The bookstore offers books in English, Tagalog, Indonesian, French, Spanish, Bengali, plus Qur’an translations in 30 languages.  “Some people have said to me, ‘You’re prices are so low; why don’t you open a store in the northern part of Jeddah?’  I told them because if I do so I will have to charge more to pay the rent, and my intention is to spread the knowledge, so I try to keep the prices as affordable as possible.”

I personally think that since this is a library, you can come, grab a basket, shop your month’s worth of books and go…  Dar Abul-Qasim bookstore is located off of Sahafah Street on the north side of the Madinah Printing Press at N21 32.471 E39 12.647