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Retired Olean physician donates his extensive library to SBU’s Center for Arab and Islamic Studies

Apr 09, 2024

PHOTO: Fr. Michael Calabria (left) and Dr. Adil Al-Humadi examine an ancient Qur’an from the Rare Books Collection at St. Bonaventure’s Friedsam Memorial Library.

Calabria and Al-HumadiDr. Adil Al-Humadi, a retired Olean physician who helped establish the Center for Arab and Islamic Studies (CAIS) at St. Bonaventure University, has donated his extensive personal library to the center.

The collection, some 1,500 volumes in Arabic and English, includes multivolume works in Islamic history, poetry and literature, theology, science, medicine, and political science.

“It’s a really diverse collection comprising many specialized and out-of-print items that you would find only in very good research collections, if you were to find them at all in this country,” said Fr. Michael Calabria, O.F.M., associate professor of Arab and Islamic studies and CAIS director.

A native of Iraq, Al-Humadi came to the United States in 1968 and moved to Olean in 1974. He helped establish the Islamic Society of the Southern Tier and for more than 20 years directed a weekend school to teach children basic principles of Islam. A colorectal surgeon of more than 50 years, he retired from his Olean practice in 2016 and now lives in Ashburn, Virginia.

His relationship with St. Bonaventure began shortly after his arrival in Olean, when he was asked to examine books in Arabic in the university’s Friedsam Memorial Library collection. The relationship flourished, and in 2015 he and his son, Dr. Mohaned Al-Humadi, an orthopedic surgeon in Olean, donated funding to establish the CAIS.

“Given my relationship with St. Bonaventure University and the Center for Arab and Islamic Studies, it gives my wife, Jehan, and I, as well as our children and grandchildren, great pleasure to donate my library to the center for the benefit of students and faculty who wish to research topics related to Islam and Arab culture,” Adil Al-Humadi said.

The collection, much of it in Arabic, was built primarily through the elder Al-Humadi’s travels to Iraq and the Middle East.

“Dr. Al-Humadi’s a real bibliophile,” Calabria said. “Among these books are several multi-volume sets of important reference works, and they run the gamut of Arab studies. In addition to the biographical, historical and theological works, particularly noteworthy are the classic texts of Islamic medicine. Due to Dr. Al-Humadi’s background in medicine, he was very interested in finding those medieval texts on medicine from the Islamic world, which became foundational for European medicine during the Renaissance.”

The Center for Arab and Islamic Studies, located in the university’s Plassmann Hall, was established to promote an understanding of Arab and Islamic cultures and to foster respectful relations between Muslims and Christians. Its creation was inspired by the historical encounter between St. Francis of Assisi and Sultan al-Malik al-Kamil of Egypt during the Crusades in 1219.

A number of volumes in the Al-Humadi collection have already been moved to CAIS bookshelves, Calabria said. 

“It’s unique for an institution our size and in this location to have a Center for Arab and Islamic Studies,” he said. “How fortunate we are to have the support of Dr. Al-Humadi and his family, and how fortunate we are that he chose the center to receive his personal library.”

For more information about the Center for Arab and Islamic Studies, go to


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