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August 18, 2014

Memorandum on the Question Posed by the Jew about Divine Fate (Zikr Su’al al-Yahudi min al-Qadha’ wa-al-Qadr)

Memorandum on the Question Posed by the Jew about Divine Fate (Zikr Su’al al-Yahudi min al-Qadha’ wa-al-Qadr)

This short manuscript contains manzumah (replies in verse) to questions about fate, destiny, and predestination. The work is anonymous. This eternally vexed area in metaphysics was said to have been raised by an unnamed Jewish religious scholar of predestinationist tendencies. The author of this work sets out arguments against strict determinism by those he calls ahl al-sunnah (orthodox thinkers). He brings to bear in rebuttal verses and quotations from several sources, two in particular, which he quotes at length. The first of them is by Ibn Lubb al-Gharnati and is sometimes titled Taqyid fi Masa’il al-Qadha’ wa-al-Qadr (Inquiry into the issue of divine destiny). The second manzumah is attributed to Jahm ibn Safwan, a controversial personality of early Islam. This is a doubtful ascription, first because Ibn Safwan is not known to have left any literary traces, and second because he himself was excoriated by the ahl al-sunnah. The primacy of divine destiny over free will has been a subject of debate and discussion since the birth of Islamic philosophy. The main text of the manuscript is accompanied by marginal notes and comments at the end.

Careful Study of Authentic Revelation

Careful Study of Authentic Revelation

This 14th-century manuscript of a work by Abu Ishaq Ibrahim ibn Qurqul (1111−74) is an analysis of lexical problems arising from the canonical hadith texts of al-Bukhari and Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj. Ibn Qurqul’s work is modeled after the better known work by Qadi ‘Ayad, Mashariq al-Anwar `ala Sahih al-Athar (A dawn light upon authentic revelation). This is the third and final portion of a set that begins with the letter ‘ayn and continues to the end of the alphabet. The text typically begins with a review of the morphology of a word, followed by instances in which the word is used by hadith authorities and other writers, and ends with a few examples of how the word is used in context. Ibn Qurqul was born in Andalusia (present-day Spain) and taught, preached, and wrote in cities in Iberia and Morocco. He died in Fez. This work has been reprinted several times, but it has never been critically edited. This manuscript has 193 numbered leaves with folios 19 to 27 missing. The first leaf is decorated with a gilt frame around a bold ornamental text, which unfortunately is so damaged as to be illegible. The rest of the text is in a careful naskh script. The numbering of the leaves is not contemporary with the copying. Repairs and restorations are apparent throughout the volume. The title and author note and the table of contents were supplied at a later date.

Commentary on Grammatical Distinctions

Commentary on Grammatical Distinctions

This manuscript, the Sharh al-hudud al-nahawiyah (Commentary on grammatical distinctions) by Jamal al-Din Al-Fakihi (1493 or 1494−1564 or 1565), is a summary clarification of grammatical issues. The author, a Meccan, spent part of his life in Cairo. Not much else is known of his life, travels, or teaching. He was praised by contemporaries, but his scholarship was limited to a few works on grammar, which do not appear to have had a lasting impact on the field. The Sharh is known by the alternative titles Sharh Kitab al-Hudud fi al-Nahw (Commentary on the book “Distinctions in grammar”) and Hudud al-Nahw (Grammar distinctions). This manuscript has remained unknown to scholars. The biographical and bibliographical notes accompanying the edition of the Sharh published in 1993 by Egyptian scholar Mutawalli al-Damiri, for example, contains no mention of this manuscript. Other copies of the Sharh are held in Egyptian and Saudi Arabian libraries. The text is in a clear naskh script with frequent rubrication. No copyist or date is given. The manuscript is bound with three other works: the fragment of a treatise on “In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful;” Treatise and Notes on Prayers; and Witnesses: Ibn ‘Aqil’s Commentary on the al-Alfiyah of Ibn Malik.

The Hidden Secrets to Clear Thinking

The Hidden Secrets to Clear Thinking

Kashf al-asrar ‘amma khafiya ‘an al-afkar (The hidden secrets to clear thinking) covers numerous topics of a scriptural, devotional, and ritual nature. The author, Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad Ibn al-ʻImād al-Aqfahsī (1378−1462), states in his introduction that in the book “I provide responses to problematic issues and obscurities hidden from the rational mind of the learned and the wise whose thinking is confused about them.” He uses a question-and-answer format in which he poses a question, which is then followed by citations from earlier authorities and explanations or interpretations of his own. Few details are known of al-Aqfahasi’s life or career, beyond that he was born in the Middle Egyptian village of Aqfahas (or Iqfahas), and moved to Cairo, where he studied with the scholar and teacher ʻUmar ibn Raslān al-Bulqini (1324−1403). Al-Aqfahsi followed the Shafi’i legal tradition. He died in Cairo. He is said to have been kathir al-ittila’ (intelligent and knowledgeable), which his extant works confirm. His writings touch on a variety of topics. They include pastoral works on marriage, works on food and the etiquette of dining, a natural history of animals, and a work on the history of the River Nile. This manuscript of Kashf al-asrar is written in the maghribi (North African) script with much rubrication. At the beginning of the volume is a page of notes in differing scripts made in the year 1689. The last page of the manuscript has notes on prayer ritual in the naskh script. Unfortunately, there is no colophon with information about where or when the work was copied. It is bound with other, shorter, works, also in a maghribi hand.

Untitled Outline in Verse of Islamic Obligations

Untitled Outline in Verse of Islamic Obligations

This untitled Arabic manuscript is an urjūza (versification) of Muqaddimat Ibn Rushd (Ibn Rushd’s introduction). It is a work on Mālikī Islamic jurisprudence by Ibn Rushd al-Jadd (the grandfather), otherwise known as Abū al-Walīd Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad (circa 1058−circa 1126), not to be confused with his famous grandson, the philosopher Abu al-Walid Ibn Rushd (1126−98). This versification, commonly known as Naẓm muqaddimat Ibn Rushd (The versification of Ibn Rushd’s introduction), is ascribed to ʻAbd al-Rahman ibn ʻAlī al-Ruqʿī al-Fāsī (died in Fez, in present-day Morocco, circa July 2, 1455). The poem describes the duties of the Muslim in accomplishing the fundamental rituals of religion, such as prayer, fasting, alms-giving, pilgrimage, and the procedures for ablution before praying. The prescriptions are detailed. For instance, the stanzas on al-zakat (alms-giving) include the proper portion of profit to be set aside from agriculture and husbandry, with instructions specific to such products as dates, olives, olive oil, cattle, and camels. The sections on al-wudhu’ (ablution) give specifics on the parts of the body to be cleansed and in which order, purity of the water used in washing, and what to do in waterless locations. The poem is 19 pages long and in maghribi (North African) script with simple ornamental borders and topic headings in red. The manuscript is bound with three other works: The Hidden Secrets to Clear Thinking; Fatwa on the Millennium; and Memorandum on the Question Posed by the Jew about Divine Fate.

Fatwa on the Millennium

Fatwa on the Millennium

Kashf ‘an mujawazat hadha al-ummah al-alf (Fatwa on the millennium) is a portion of a more comprehensive genealogical work, Lubb al-Lulab fi Tahrir al-Ansab (The essence of constructing genealogies). It treats the Last Days in Sunni eschatology. The fatwa (legal opinion) was stimulated by a question brought to the author, al-Suyuti (1445−1505), regarding the resurrection of the Prophet Muhammad within a thousand years of his death. Al-Suyuti states that many people are interested in the question of the millennium. He dismisses this belief, saying that it is based on a batil (faulty) tradition. He bases his ruling on the testimony of many trustworthy hadith transmitters, or those who heard the Prophet speak. In Islamic eschatology, the Last Days occur at an unspecified time. The end of the world includes sequences familiar to Christians but differs by introducing the figure of al-Mahdi. The Prophet Muhammad takes no part in the final events. The belief is baseless too, al-Suyuti claims, because the signs of the Yawm al-Qiyamah (Day of Resurrection) are lacking or have been altered by historical events. This manuscript is bound with three other works: The Hidden Secrets to Clear Thinking; Untitled Outline in Verse of Islamic Obligations; and Memorandum on the Question Posed by the Jew about Divine Fate. As with other works bound in this volume, the manuscript includes a page of jottings not associated with the author or subject of the text. In this case they pertain to the medical properties of roosters, with prescriptions for use of blood or body parts as remedies for barrenness, impotence, and other afflictions.

Correction of “The Method,” i.e., “Minhaj al-talibin” by al-Nawawi

Correction of “The Method,” i.e., “Minhaj al-talibin” by al-Nawawi

This manuscript comprises five volumes of a six-volume work (volume two is missing) on Islamic law. It is a practical manual for judges of the Shafi’i legal tradition. It offers principles and precedents, with few of the linguistic and other digressions often found in legal writing. The work covers many topics including treatment of prisoners of war, alcoholic drinks, and chess. The manuscript is ascribed to jurist ‘Umar ibn Raslan al-Bulqini (1324−1403), but it may have been written by another of the several scholars of his family, there being no indication of exact authorship or even title. The legal opinions in the work are based on numerous sources, but are rooted in the Kitab al-Umm (al-Umm means “the exemplar”) by Muhammad ibn Idris al-Shafi’i (767 or 768−820) and al-Nawawi’s Minhaj al-Talibin (a 13th century manual of Shafi’i inheritance law). This work has never been edited. The supposed author was the progenitor of a family of prominent jurists who are sometimes confused with one another in the biographical literature. He is reputed to have been the most celebrated jurist of his age, whose opinions were so constantly in demand that he did not have time to finish many of the works he began. Except for volume four, each volume is headed by a waqf (endowment) inscription by one ‘Abd al-Basit ibn Khalil al-Shafi’i. The volumes are well bound with marbled endpapers. The text is written in different scribal hands. The fourth volume was probably copied separately and at a different time. It is badly damaged by worms and tears and lacks the endowment statement.

Fragment of a Treatise on “In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful”

Fragment of a Treatise on “In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful”

This manuscript is a 40-page portion of a work on the pious ejaculation “bi-ism Allah al-Rahman al-Rahim” (“In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful”) formally referred to as bismillah or basmalah. The manuscript contains extensive hashiyah (marginal annotation) by an unknown author on the anonymous sharh (commentary) on a larger untitled work also by an unknown author. To intone the bismillah is for the Muslim more than simply to remember God’s name. The bismillah is argued by some classical commentators to be an integral part of the Qur’an itself, as each chapter of the Qur’an (with one exception) begins with this prayer. This point is discussed in the manuscript. The author of the commentary covers such topics as the use of the term in al-kutub al-samawiyah (the Bible), and its linguistic characteristics. Today, the pious Muslim begins each day with the phrase and repeats it at the beginning of each activity. The bismillah is also an artistic and architectural motif that has been used from the earliest days of Islam to the present. The manuscript is written in maghribi (North African) script and contains remarks on ownership.

Commentary on Witnesses: Ibn ‘Aqil’s Commentary on “al-Alfiyah” of Ibn Malik

Commentary on Witnesses: Ibn ‘Aqil’s Commentary on “al-Alfiyah” of Ibn Malik

This manuscript is a copy of the commentary by Ibn ‘Aqil (circa 1294–1367) on Ibn Malik’s famous al-Alfiyah, a 1,000-line poem on the principles of Arabic grammar. Both al-Alfiyah and the commentary are standard texts in the traditional Islamic curriculum. The title of the commentary, “Witnesses,” refers to the search by scholars for ancient and dependable shawahid (witnesses) on whom to rely for authentication of the grammar and lexicon of Arabic. Ibn Malik (died 1274) intended his poem as a teaching tool rather than a work of research. The fact that students were to memorize the 1,000 lines has led to controversy in modern times regarding the role of rote memorization and the proliferation of commentary in medieval pedagogy. Not much is known about the commentator, Ibn ‘Aqil. He seems to have been something of a bon vivant, who died in debt. The manuscript is in North African script with numerous annotations. It is incomplete, lacking the first and last pages. Some pages are stained and the marginalia have been badly damaged in binding. Frequent smudging obscures the text in places. The content differs significantly from the first printed edition of the Bulaq Press in Cairo. The manuscript is bound with three other works: Treatise and Notes on Prayers; Commentary on Grammatical Distinctions by al-Fakihi; and a fragment of a treatise on “In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful.”

Treatise and Notes on Prayers

Treatise and Notes on Prayers

This manuscript treats prayers used universally by Muslims. The first section covers al-hamdu lil-Allah, recited on many occasions when recalling God’s grace for some benefaction, such as safe arrival from a journey. The phrase literally means “Praise be to God,” and is used in various forms by people of all faiths. After discussing meaning and usage in light of grammarians Sibawayh and Khalil ibn Ahmad, eighth-century pioneers of Arabic linguistics, the author distinguishes between “proper” use and everyday speech. The work includes discussion of mutaradifat (synonyms) of praise, such as shukr (thanksgiving), which have vexed commentators because of their perceived redundancy but which enjoy widespread use in some Arabic dialects to this day. The contrast between common parlance and strict adherence to grammatical and lexical rules is a theme in the text. The second section of the volume covers another prayer, specific to Muslims, namely Salat ‘ala al-Nabi, (Benedictions on the Prophet), used on many occasions in remembrance of Muhammad’s priority in creation. The prayer is enjoined on Muslims by the Qur’an itself (33:56). It has occasioned controversy because of the paradox of offering prayers to the Prophet in contrast to simply recalling to mind his virtues. The careful study of formulaic prayers has a well-developed literature and includes the great names in Islamic scholarship, preaching, and mysticism. The manuscript is written in maghribi (North African) script. It lacks title, author, copyist, and date. The marginalia are in the form of notes rather than full commentary. The manuscript is bound with three other works: the fragment of a treatise on “In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful"; The Shawahid of Ibn Aqil with Commentary; and the Commentary on Grammatical Distinctions by al-Fikihi.

A Pleasing Supplement to the Excellent Coverage Contained in the Essay “The Intellectual Hearth and Awakener of the Drowsy”

A Pleasing Supplement to the Excellent Coverage Contained in the Essay “The Intellectual Hearth and Awakener of the Drowsy”

This manuscript, Tadhyil latif bi-dhikr masa’il hisan min risalah “Mawqid al-idhhan wa mawqiz al-wasnan” (A pleasing supplement to the excellent coverage contained in the essay “The intellectual hearth and awakener of the drowsy”), by an unknown author is a commentary on, or supplement to, a short grammatical treatise by the famous scholar Ibn Hisham al-Ansari (1309−60). The text about which this commentary is written, Mawqad al-Izhan (The intellectual hearth), treats of difficult points of Arabic grammar. Ibn Hisham was not a widely travelled person, having made only two recorded trips to Mecca, on one of which he drafted the magisterial Mughni al-Labib (The sensible approach), which he lost during his return journey home. He rewrote the complete text when he arrived in Egypt. Later he made what appears to have been an opportunistic move from the Shafi’i to the Hanbali sect, perhaps in order to obtain a teaching position at one of the Hanbali academies in Cairo. The core text was printed in 1837 at the famous Bulaq Press in Cairo. The commentary or Supplement appears to be a unique manuscript. It is not cited in major references nor has it been published. The text is in a tight, clear naskh script. The colophon is damaged and illegible except for the date and the first name of the scribe, which indicate the manuscript was copied on January 11, 1854 by Muhammad.

Accessible Introduction to the Prophets Mentioned in the Qur’an. Essay on the Rules for Use of “la-siyyama,” (“Especially”)

Accessible Introduction to the Prophets Mentioned in the Qur’an. Essay on the Rules for Use of “la-siyyama,” (“Especially”)

This Arabic manuscript contains two short works by the 18th-century Egyptian scholar Ahmad ibn Ahmad al-Suja’i. The first work, of seven pages, deals with prophets mentioned in the Qu’ran, who are described in verse with commentary. The individuals mentioned include some of the Old Testament prophets, such as Moses, Aaron, and Isaac. The second tract, of three pages, is entitled Risalah fi ahkam la-siyyama (Rules governing use of “especially”). It is a discussion of the meaning and proper usage of this idiom. Both works have been published in modern critical editions. Al-Suja’i was born in a town north of Cairo and received his early education in language and religious studies from his father, a distinguished religious figure. Al-Suja’i is the author of dozens of works in the Islamic sciences and Arabic language. His biography appears in the major historical works of the chronicler and biographer 'Abd al-Rahman al-Jabarti (1754−1822) and of Ali Mubarak Basha (1823 or 1824−93), a cabinet minister and influential reformer. The manuscript is in a clear but unartful naskh script.

Poem

Poem

This manuscript is an undated poem by ‘Ali ibn ‘Abd al-Haqq al-Qusi (1788−1877). The poem is a qasidah (lyric poem). The author was from al-Qus, a town in Upper Egypt. He studied there and at al-Azhar in Cairo. After early travels, he settled in Asyut, a town on the Nile approximately 320 kilometers south of Cairo, where he taught for the rest of his life. His known writings include works of religion and astronomy. This qasidah, of which an autograph copy is held in the library of King Saud University in Saudi Arabia, is his only surviving poem. None of al-Qusi’s books have been edited in critical editions. The copy represented here is written in a clear naskh script. The copyist is not known and the place and date of copying are not given.

Selections from al-Bukhari’s Work, with Commentary on its Unusual Sections

Selections from al-Bukhari’s Work, with Commentary on its Unusual Sections

This two-volume manuscript is an abridgement of the hadiths of the Prophet Muhammad, as set down by al-Bukhari (810−70), made by Ahmad ibn ‘Umar ibn Ibrahim Al-Qurtubi (1182−1258). The first volume is incomplete, lacking both title inscription and colophon. The author’s approach is to select and comment on certain hadiths from al-Bukhari’s canonical collection al-Sahih (The genuine), emphasizing unusual interpretations that may have grown up around each quotation. Selections are grouped into topics of faith and practice, such as fasting, zakat (alms giving), pilgrimage, peacemaking, and inheritance. Dispersed throughout the work are many details concerning such topics as belief and superstition, sexual practice during the holy month of Ramadan, angels, heaven and hell, and celestial phenomena, such as eclipses. Not much is known about Al-Qurtubi, apart from the fact that he lived, taught, and died in Alexandria, Egypt. His name indicates that he or his family came from Muslim Spain, a supposition supported by his adherence to the Maliki school of law. It appears from the scattered notes in the biographical literature that he concentrated his life on teaching and did not write many books other than this selection from al-Bukhari and a similar collection from Muslim [ibn al-Hajjaj]. He was known in his lifetime as Ibn al-Muzayyin, or “Son of the barber.” A note at the end of the second volume indicates planning for a third volume. The books have the Khedival Library ownership stamps and a notation that they were part of a waqf (charitable bequest).

Collection of Five Tracts on Various Subjects by al-Suyuti

Collection of Five Tracts on Various Subjects by al-Suyuti

This undated manuscript contains five short essays by the prolific scholar Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti (1445−1505). The longest work in the volume is a 20-page collection of hadiths (sayings attributed to the Prophet Muhammad) pertaining to dreams, visions, and other extraordinary occurrences. The shortest work is a two-page note on al-hamd (praise), its grammar, and usage. Other titles pertain to various grammatical points in the form of questions and answers. The treatises are ordered as follows: 1. Tanwīr al-ḥalak fī imkān ruʼyat al-nabī wa al-malak (Shedding light on the possibility of seeing the Prophet or angels, folios 1−21); 2. Al-fatāwa al-naḥwiyya (Grammar edicts, folios 22−33); 3. Fajr al-thamd fī iʻrāb akmal al-hamd (Shedding light on the conjugation of akmal al-hamd, folios 33−35); 4. Rafaʻ al-sinah fī nasb al-zinah (Explaining why zinah should be an object, folios 35−45); and 5. Al-ajwiba al-zakiyya aʻn al-alghāz al-subkiyya (The good answers to al-Subki's riddles, folios 45−54). Al-Suyuti, who lived much of his life in seclusion after briefly teaching in Cairo, is recognized for his commentaries on the work of earlier scholars. His major works of reference are Tafsir al-Jalalayn (Commentary on the Qur’an by the two Jalals, i.e., Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti and Jalal al-Din al-Mahalli) and Jami’ al-Jawami’, a standard reference on hadith. His historical work on the caliphs is still in print. He also wrote a history of Rawdhah, the island in the Nile at Cairo, where he lived and wrote. The manuscript is in a clear, bookish script. Some of the works are incomplete. The name of the copyist and the date are not given.

The Path of the Vexed Towards Achievement

The Path of the Vexed Towards Achievement

This manuscript is a qasidah (poem) of eight pages by Zayn al-Din Sha’ban ibn Muhammad al-Athari (1364−1425) praising the Prophet Muhammad. The poet lists the perfections of the Prophet and his stature above all of God’s creatures. He then proceeds to the miracle of the Isra and Miraj, Muhammad’s night journey to heaven. He addresses the Prophet directly, asking him to “take him by the hand.” He exalts ahl al-bayt (the family of the Prophet) and declares that prayers are “blocked and nugatory” if they do not include Fatima, Hasan, and Husayn. The first four caliphs are also eulogized, with emphasis on ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib. The poet concludes with personal reflections upon his unworthiness. The manuscript is undated and has no colophon. Although al-Athari was recognized as a calligrapher, this copy, perhaps written in the 19th century, is in a workaday hand of no particular distinction. Al-Athari was a scholar of repute. He left many works of religious commentary, Arabic grammar, and calligraphy. Born in Mosul, Iraq, he moved to Cairo to study with leading scholars and penmen. Like many intellectuals, he traveled widely. At one time or another he lived in Damascus, Medina, and Mecca. Several of his writings, including The Path of the Vexed Towards Achievement, have been published in modern editions. He is claimed by Mosul as a native son, and a graduate thesis on his contributions as a grammarian was written at the University of Mosul. This manuscript is bound with two other titles, Curiosity Abated by Wonders of Old Related by al-Suyuti, and Fundamentals and Rules by al-Nawawi. Also bound in the same volume is the first page of a manuscript ascribed to the Sufi saint ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (died 1166).

Fundamentals and Rules by Imam al-Nawawi

Fundamentals and Rules by Imam al-Nawawi

This short manuscript, Usul wa Dawabit lil-Imam al-Nawawi (Fundamentals and rules by Imam al-Nawawi), by the leading Shafi’i jurist known as al-Nawawi (1233−77), outlines the principles to be applied and the procedures to be used in personal conduct and ritual. The tract is divided into several parts. The first defines the limits of human action and argues against the “exaggerations” of the Mu’tazalite school of philosophy and its deviance from text-based orthodoxy. The work then covers rules for everyday living, including business transactions, marriage contracts, and gender relations, requirements for travelers, and formulations of prayer and ritual cleansing. The author cites authorities for his opinions, including the well-known 11th-century Shafi’i jurist al-Juwayni, commonly known as Imam al-Haramayn. Born in the village of Nawa near Damascus, al-Nawawi was and remains an important authority for the Shafi’i school of law. His most famous work, Al-‘Arba’in (Forty hadiths, i.e., sayings of the Prophet), has been reprinted and translated into many languages. This manuscript was copied in a strong hand by one Ibrahim al-Darajili al-Shafi’i.

Curiosity Abated by Wonders of Old Related

Curiosity Abated by Wonders of Old Related

This manuscript, Mushtaha al-‘Uqul fi Muntaha al-Nuqul (Curiosity abated by wonders of old related), is a list of extraordinary facts, or marvels, compiled by al-Suyuti (1445−1505), one of the most prolific Muslim authors of late medieval times. The facts concern religion and history. The first entries cover the wondrous size and power of angels. These are followed by entries on such disparate topics as a census of Baghdad, the size and expense of the Umayyad army, the feats of learning and preaching of early Muslim scholars, and short extracts from the Qur’an about Moses and Aaron. One entry reveals that Satan served the Lord for 90,000 years before pride earned him his eternal punishment. Modern scholars have concluded that al-Suyuti compiled his “facts” to amaze and entertain the reader. He usually did not see fit to provide sources for his claims. Although al-Suyuti was born in Cairo, his family roots were in the Upper Egyptian town of Asyut. He was orphaned at age five and raised by a foster father who directed him toward religious studies. In his autobiography, al-Suyuti states that by the age of eight he had memorized the Qur’an and wrote his first book at 17. He is credited with nearly 700 works, only a fraction of which are mentioned in his autobiography. Many of his works have been reprinted in scholarly and popular editions. This is a 24-page manuscript without colophon. It is bound with two other titles, The Path of the Vexed towards Achievement by al-Athari, and Fundamentals and Rules by Nawawi. Also bound in the same volume is the first page of a manuscript ascribed to the Sufi saint ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani (died 1166).

Their Sound Spreads in Every Land and Their Words Reach Every Border of the Earth

Their Sound Spreads in Every Land and Their Words Reach Every Border of the Earth

This map, published in Rome in 1927, shows the locations of the Franciscan missions around the world in 1926. Each mission is marked on the map, and a numbered key is used to provide the name and area of geographic responsibility of the mission. Symbols indicate the type of mission and the rank of its leading prelate. The areas of historical mission activity are shown by shading. The map is in Italian, with the title banner in Latin: In omnem terram exivit sonvs eorum et in fines orbis terrae verba eorum (Their sound spreads in every land and their words reach every border of the earth). The locations of the missions include Wisconsin and Michigan, Northern Arizona and New Mexico, and Southern Arizona and California in the United States; many countries in Latin America; several European countries; numerous cities in China; Siberia (i.e., Harbin, China); and Sakhalin Island (present-day Russia, but at that time divided between the Soviet Union and Japan). The map is part of the collection of historical maps of the Slovak National Library.

Dismantling the Essences of “The Most Wondrous of Existences”

Dismantling the Essences of “The Most Wondrous of Existences”

This 40-page manuscript, Tahdim al-Arkan min Laysa fi-al-Imkan Abda’ mima Kan (Dismantling the essences of “The most wondrous of existences”), by Ibrāhīm ibn ʻOmar al-Biqāʻī (1406 or 1407−80) concerns a philosophical dispute in the Islamic world over the possibility of the Creator fashioning a more perfect world than the one that exists. This issue had been raised by the renowned philosopher-theologian al-Ghazzali (1058−1111), who answered in the affirmative. In this text, al-Biqāʻī refutes al-Ghazzali, stating that “it is impossible for God’s creation to be more perfect than it is.” The author makes his point by relying on the sacred texts, the Qur’an and the hadith (sayings of the Prophet Muhammad), while dismissing the arguments of other earlier philosophers. His strongly worded argument suggests that this debate between philosophers and textual traditionalists was still alive three centuries after al-Ghazzali’s writings were thought to have ended this intellectual struggle. Al-Biqa’i was one of the most controversial figures of his time. Called a polymath and polemicist, he was known as a combative scholar who was eager to pick fights with his colleagues. His writing and preaching roiled not only fellow jurists but also the Mamluk rulers of Egypt. He made many enemies and eventually was expelled from Cairo. He returned to his native Damascus, where he died. This work, from the collections of the National Library and Archives of Egypt, is bound together with two other manuscripts.

Commentary on al-Busti’s Poem “To Rise in One’s World is to Decline”

Commentary on al-Busti’s Poem “To Rise in One’s World is to Decline”

This manuscript was composed by Hasan al-Burini (1555 or 1556−1615 or 1616). It is a commentary on a qasidah (poem) of moral aphorisms by al-Busti entitled “To Rise in One’s World Is to Decline. Al-Burini is best known for his commentary on the mystical poetry of Ibn al-Farid and for his biographical dictionary of Damascus. He is also recognized as a poet, mathematician, and logician, although few of his works in these fields have survived. In this commentary on al-Busti’s poem, he generally follows a pattern of quoting a stanza and then furnishing a brief explanation followed by a longer grammatical and morphological discussion. Ali ibn Muhammad al-Busti was born in the once-prosperous town of Bust, in southern Afghanistan, and served at the Ghaznavid court. After falling out with his patron, he took refuge in Central Asia, where he died in 1010. He is known for his love of wordplay, as demonstrated here. This poem has several titles: “Ziyadat al-Mar’ fi-Dunyahi Nuqsan” (To rise in one’s world is to decline), “Nuniyat al-Busti,” a poem featuring the Arabic letter nun at the end of each couplet, and “‘Unwan al-Hukm” (Banner of adages). The manuscript is in an inelegant hand with marginalia and is carelessly trimmed. It is from the collections of the National Library and Archives of Egypt and is bound with two other manuscripts. Details concerning  its copying are obscure, but it appears to have been written by the same scribe who copied one of the titles with which it is bound, Notes of Those Rooted in Understanding and Verification in the Matter of Hadiths and Their Abrogation by Abū al-Faraj Ibn al-Jawzī. The work has never been edited and may be a unique copy.

Notes of Those Rooted in Understanding and Verification in the Matter of Hadiths and Their Abrogation

Notes of Those Rooted in Understanding and Verification in the Matter of Hadiths and Their Abrogation

This manuscript is a critique by the 12th-century jurist Abu Faraj ibn al-Jawzi of 21 hadiths, or sayings, of the Prophet Muhammad. A significant issue in the study of hadiths is the verification of the chain of transmission back to the Prophet himself. In this work as well as in others, Ibn al-Jawzi comments on the transmission of sayings and on the  misinterpretation or misclassification of companions or relatives of the Prophet, such as ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, Ibn ‘Abbas, and Abu Hurayrah. The topics of the hadiths discussed include matters of prayer, personal hygiene, and the receiving of gifts. Ibn al-Jawzi was one of the most influential writers and preachers of the Hanbali school of Islamic law. He was the author of dozens of writings, some of which are still in print. The incipit of this text lists those who claimed to have heard it from Ibn al-Jawzi or his students. The work is from the collections of the National Library and Archives of Egypt and is bound with two other manuscripts. The date when it was copied is indistinct as is the full name of the copyist, who appears to be the same scribe who produced one of the manuscripts with which it is bound, Commentary on al-Busti’s poem “To Rise in One’s World is to Decline.

Antiphonarium Bratislaviense

Antiphonarium Bratislaviense

This illuminated folio with Metz Gothic musical notation comes from the liturgical codex of Canon Jan Han, who was a client of the Bratislava Chapter and the purchaser of this antiphonary. The illuminated initial “S” (Sanctum) with the first two martyrs of the Christian Church, Saint Stephen and Saint Lawrence, accompanied by Saint Vitus, is supplemented by the label Illorum effusus nos in patientia firmet (Their patience enabled us to stream forth), which dates the fragment to 1487. The bottom part of the acanthus decoration on the left margin contains the motif of the marten and the bird; typical plants are complemented with hallmarked gold targets. These signs make it possible to identify the studio where the manuscript was made. In this period, the Bratislava Chapter and some burghers ordered illuminated manuscripts from the Salzburg painter Ulrich Schreier, who was working in Vienna and Klosterneuburg at that time. A number of the illuminated manuscripts of Bratislava clients of Schreier indicate that he may even have operated a workshop in Bratislava. The illuminated codices from the library of the Bratislava Chapter House were inscribed in the Memory of the World Register of UNESCO in 1997.

Canonical Book of Hours

Canonical Book of Hours

This book of hours from Slovakia originated in France. Features that reflect French influence and provenance include the script, its decoration, and the initial letter “D” (Domine) with the motif of the Virgin Mary holding a book, and a heraldic shield bearing the arms of the white cross with the heart (the arms of the Order of Crucigeri) carried by two angels. Similarly, the content of the codex, mainly the structure of its calendarium, indicates that it arose within the milieu of an Augustinian monastery or of the Crucigeri Friars. The feasts of certain saints, including Saint Elisabeth, were added to the calendarium at a later date, indicating that the book was also used in Slovakia. The binding of the two silver-gilded plates is evidence of West European production of the 15th and 16th century. The parts of the binding do not form a consistent whole. They come from two different sources and were brought together only to bind this book. On the front are enamel figures of the four Evangelists situated at the corners; in the center medaillon, framed with a filligree ornament made of wound wire, can be seen a depiction of the resurrection of Christ. The back is covered a depiction of the crucifixion of Christ. This scene involves only the Virgin Mary and Saint John, but it is complemented by a view of the town on the horizon. At the foot of the cross a skull can be seen (the grave of Adam) and over the arms of Jesus are the symbols of the sun and moon (representing Christ’s promise of salvation). The inscriptions are a combination of Latin acronyms (INRI, MP) and Greek names (OX, Joannos). The spine of the binding is decorated with sculpted floral ornamentation.

Chronicle of the World

Chronicle of the World

Weltchronik (Chronicle of the world) is a German translation of an original Latin text attributed to Joannes de Utino (also seen as Giovanni da Udine, died 1366). This copy was produced in the second half of the 15th century and features extensive decorative colored drawings by an unknown painter. It most likely was created in Bratislava sometime after 1458, during the period of Matthias Corvinus´s accession to the Hungarian throne. It was preserved in the library of the Bratislava Capuchins. The chronicle is a didactic work that would have provided the contemporary reader with an elementary explanation of the history of the world as told in the Bible, with extensions covering later historical periods. The chronicle is in three parts. The first part contains biblical history. The second part consists of short biographical portraits of emperors and popes, up to Pope Pius II (1458–64). The third part contains biographical portraits of the rulers of Hungary, starting with the reign of Gejza (972–97), Stephen I (1000–1038), and ending with Matthias Corvinus (reigned 1458–90), with a mention of Friedrich III, the Hungarian anti-king elected in 1459. Joannes de Utino wrote probably only the first part of the chronicle; the authors of the second and the third parts are unknown. The decorative drawings (in colored pen) are of two different types. One set of drawings consists of the genealogical trees of both biblical and secular figures. The genealogy of Jesus Christ has an important place here. Portraits of German emperors, kings of Hungary, popes, and biblical characters are inserted into larger and smaller rings. Some rings were not completed by the illuminator and remain empty. These medaillons are mutually interlinked to form relationships among figures. The figures are identified with labels. The other type of decorations are scenes and motifs from the Old Testament, including David and Goliath, Noah´s ark, Abraham´s sacrifice, and the Ark of the Covenant.  No more than 20 copies of the work by Joannes de Utino are known to exist; most of them are from 15th century. This manuscript preserved in Slovak National Library is a unique resource for the history of art and for research into the development of illustrated books in the territory of the former Kingdom of Hungary.

Protocol of the Convent of Bratislava (Heraldic Codex)

Protocol of the Convent of Bratislava (Heraldic Codex)

Protocollum Venerabilis Conventus Posoniensis (Protocol of the convent of Bratislava) is a heraldic codex containing a list of the patrons and donors of a religious institution in Bratislava with 67 full-page painted miniatures of their respective coats of arms. The last listing was created in 1763. The armorial book was begun in 1710 in Bratislava at the request of Ľudovít Kirkay, the superior of the local Franciscan convent, who most probably was inspired by a model of the Historia Domus protocol of the Bratislava convent dated 1709. The coats of arms are arranged according to the social status of the persons listed. The first coat of arms belongs to Christian August, duke of Sachsen-Zeitz and archbishop of Gran, followed by the coat of arms of Palatine Pál Esterházy, the rector of the brotherhood, then the coats of arms of princes, counts, barons, and so forth. In the lower sections are more or less extensive legends in Latin with information about the persons listed. The excellent quality of the illustrations reflects the involvement of at least two armorial painters, who might have worked in the offices responsible for issuing titles and deeds to create coats of arms.

Explanation of the Gospels that the Sacred Mother Church Reads and Proclaims Throughout the Year on Sundays and Other Holidays

Explanation of the Gospels that the Sacred Mother Church Reads and Proclaims Throughout the Year on Sundays and Other Holidays

Az Evangeliomoknac, Mellyeket Vasarnapokon, Es Egyeb Innepeken Esztendö Altal, Az Anyaszentegyhazban oluasni es Praedicallani szoktanac, Magarazattyanac. Masodic Resze :  Mely Magaban Foglallya, Hvsvettvl Fogva, Adventig Valo Vasarnapi Evangeliomokat (Explanation of the Gospels that the Sacred Mother Church reads and proclaims throughout the year on Sundays and other holidays) is the second volume of a large multivolume work of sermons in Hungarian by church dignitary and religious writer Mikuláš Telegdy (also seen as Miklós Telegdi, 1535−86). The second volume also contains sermons for Sundays from Easter to Advent. The work was published by Mikuláš Telegdy himself in a press in Trnava (present-day Slovakia), which he founded in 1578. The production of the press was oriented to the needs of the Catholic Church and to the expanding Counterreformation underway at that time. Among the most important centers of printing in Hungary, the press operated until the death of Mikuláš Telegdy. After his death it became the property of Esztergom Chapter, the community of canons associated with the Esztergom Cathedral. (The chapter had moved to Trnava in 1543, after the Turks occupied much of Hungary.) The book features initial letters with ornamental background in framework, a title page with red-black print, direction words, and some handwritten remarks. Biblical references in the sermons are listed in the margins. The Renaissance binding has been restored with simple ornamental and figural blindstamp and has two new clasps.

Glagolitic Leaves in Hlohovec

Glagolitic Leaves in Hlohovec

These two fragments are among the oldest artifacts in the manuscript collections of the Slovak National Library. They are parchment folios, written on both sides, and are of Croatian provenance. It is believed that they came to the territory of Slovakia through the Franciscan friars or by the exchange of codices and printed books among Franciscan libraries or archives. They were discovered at the library of the former Franciscan monastery in Hlohovec in southwestern Slovakia in 1936. The folios contain parts of the Glagolitic service book from the end of the 13th century or early 14th century, and were preserved in the Italian book binding of a copy of Trattato dell'amore di Dio (Treatise on the love of God, Venice, 1642) by Saint Francis de Sales. Old Church Slavonic text is written in Croatian Glagolitic of the older type. The sheets contain the masses De communi apostolorum (Of the community of apostles) and De communi martyrum (Of the community of martyrs). Although there remain no autographs from the period of the Great Moravian Empire (circa 800−circa 900), it is likely that these texts derive from the ninth century, mediated by Glagolitic and Cyrillic transcripts from 11th century and later. The manuscript is decorated only by the scribal initials. Glagolitic refers to the alphabet invented during the ninth century by Saint Cyril and Saint Methodius to translate the Bible and other religious works into the Slavic language spoken in the region of the Great Moravian Empire.

The Krtíš Glagolitic Fragment

The Krtíš Glagolitic Fragment

This manuscript fragment contains part of an explanation of an unknown gospel. It was at one time bound into a Glagolitic copy of the manuscript book Historia Scholastica by Peter Comestor. The text of the fragment was written in the angular Glagolitic script invented during the ninth century by Saints Cyril and Methodius to translate the Bible and other ecclesiastical works into the language of the Great Moravia region. Around 1633 the folio was used to fill the book binding of the Czech translation of Pastorale Lutheri (The pastoral of Luther) by Conrad Porta. It was discovered by Samuel Zoch (1882–1928) in the Kálmár family library in the town of Veľký Krtíš in southern Slovakia. Samuel Zoch’s brother, Ivan Branislav Zoch, gave the text to Professor Vatroslav Jagič (1838–1923), one of the founders of the field of Croatian linguistic studies. Jagič proved the authenticity of the parchment and hypothesized that it was brought to the historical territory of Slovakia by Czechs living in exile after the Battle of White Mountain (1620). In 1930, Professor František Ryšánek (1877–1969) announced that the manuscript dated back to the turn the 15th century and indicated the Emmaus Monastery in Prague (the monastery of Croatian Benedictines at Slovany) as the place of the origin.

Antiphonary

Antiphonary

This document is a fragment of an antiphonary of unknown provenance, dating from the 12th century. It is written in Caroline minuscule. The initial letter “S” is an example of Romanesque codex painting. The scribe and the illuminator are unknown. The script is stylized into a band of palmette decoration. It is difficult to determine precisely the  historical context of the fragment, which could either have been produced in the Rhineland (Cologne) or the Danube River valley (Salzburg). The musical notation represents the German neume notation of the Salzburg circle. The fragment was preserved in the book binding of an early 17th century volume of philosophical and medical content from the Piarist library in Podolínec in northern Slovakia. It is now in the collections of the Slovak National Library.