34 results in English
Brief Principles of the Arabic Language
Philippo Guadagnoli (1596–1656) was a Franciscan priest and Italian orientalist. A native of Magliano in the province of Tuscany, he joined the Franciscan order in 1612 and devoted himself to studying Arabic and other languages of the Middle East. He served as professor of Arabic and Aramaic at Università “La Sapienza” in Rome. His writings include an Arabic translation of the Bible (said to have taken him 27 years to complete) and a polemical work entitled Apologia pro Religione Christiana (In defense of the Christian religion), published in Rome ...
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Fabrica, or Dictionary of Vernacular Arabic and Italian Language
Dominicus Germanus de Silesia (1588–1670) was a German priest and missionary. Born in Schurgast (present-day Skorogoszcz, Poland), he entered the Franciscan order in 1624 and devoted himself to learning Arabic, Persian, and Turkish. In 1630 he went to Palestine as a pastor, where he continued with his language studies. In 1635 he returned to Rome where he joined the Sacra Congregatio de Propaganda de Fide (Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith). In 1636 he became a teacher at the Mission of San Pietro in Montorio, Rome, and ...
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Coptic Language Primer
This manuscript is a basic introduction to the alphabet, pronunciation, and grammar of the Bohairic dialect of the Coptic language written for Arabic speakers by Iryan Moftah (1826–86). It is copied in a commercial notebook. The author divides each page vertically with text in Coptic script on the left and Arabic translation or explanation on the right. The manuscript is written in a bold black ink. Title and author are given on a label pasted on the front cover. The work is undated, but it is most likely from ...
Coptic Grammar
This manuscript consists of a portion of a Coptic primer by Iryan Moftah (1826–86). It lists useful phrases, with the Coptic in the left column and the Arabic on the right. Moftah avoids explanation of linguistic complexities or conjugations. This, along with the simple, everyday phrases, leads to the conclusion that the book is aimed at schoolchildren or young seminarians rather than advanced learners. Although the textbook is aimed at Arabic speakers, there is no assumption that students are acquainted with the complexities of classical Arabic grammar. There are ...
Untitled Notebook of Coptic-language Lessons
This manuscript contains a Coptic grammar and vocabulary notes compiled by Father Girgis Murqus of Akhmīm, Upper Egypt. It includes lists of common phrases in Coptic with Arabic translation.  It probably was used by the author as a teaching guide for beginning Coptic classes. It is similar to the primers of Iryan Moftah (1826–86), a prominent teacher of Coptic and linguistic reformer, but it also includes verb exercises. The notebook is missing several pages and the binding is in poor condition. Arabic words are occasionally misspelled. The exact date ...
Arabia: The Cradle of Islam
Samuel Zwemer (1867–1952) was an American Protestant missionary who lived for nine years in Bahrain and became a student of the Arab world and, especially, the Arabian Peninsula. Published in New York in 1900, Arabia: The Cradle of Islam contains detailed chapters on the geography of Arabia; the holy cities of Mecca and Medina; the Prophet Muhammad and the rise of Islam; the contemporary political scene on the Arabian Peninsula, including the rivalries among the British, Turks, and other powers; and the Arabic language and poetry. The book concludes ...
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Zigzag Journeys in the Camel Country: Arabia in Picture and Story
Samuel Zwemer (1867–1952) was an American missionary who became known as the “Apostle to Islam” for his strenuous, if not always successful, evangelization efforts in Islamic countries. He attended Hope College in Holland, Michigan, and the New Brunswick Seminary in New Jersey. In 1889 he and a classmate founded the American Arabian Mission, which later received sponsorship from the Reformed Church, and the next year he departed for the Arabian Peninsula. In 1896 he met and married Amy Wilkes (died 1937), an Australian fellow missionary and nurse. Together, the ...
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Lanterns Burning for Students Discerning
This mid-19th century publication is a basic textbook of Arabic grammar and syntax. Originally written by Jirmānūs Farḥāt (1670 or 1671−1732 or 1733), it was edited by the famous Lebanese teacher and scholar Buṭrus al-Bustānī. Jirmānūs, Maronite bishop of Aleppo, composed his work at a critical time in the history of the Maronite rite of the Catholic Church as it sought to develop a national identity. With the help of scholars and writers such as Jirmānūs, a solution was found in the Garshuni script, that is, the native Arabic ...
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Literary Essays by Classical Arab Authors
Jesuit scholar Louis Cheikho was born in Mardin, Turkey, and educated at the Jesuit school in Ghazīr, Lebanon. He remained associated with the seminary and its successor institution in Beirut, Université Saint-Joseph, throughout his life. Cheikho studied in Europe and eventually gained a world-wide reputation as a Semitist and authority on Eastern Christianity. Al-Machriq, the journal he founded in 1898, is a principal resource for scholars in these fields. It is supplemented by Melanges de l’Université Saint-Joseph and Proche-Orient Chrétien from the same publishers. The work presented here, ‘Ilm ...
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Soothing the Desire to Learn About Speech from Other Languages
This publication is a dictionary of words, idioms, and proper names taken into Arabic from other languages. It includes personal names from scripture and literature, their supposed derivations, and examples of usage. Place-names are included, along with guides to variant pronunciation. With its intriguing title, Shifa’ al-Ghalil fi-ma fi-Kalam al-‘Arab min al-Dakhil (Soothing the desire to learn about speech from other languages)  is a fascinating lexical history of classical and colloquial Arabic. The author, Shihāb al-Dīn Aḥmad Al-Khafājī (1571 or 1572−1659), was born in Egypt and received his ...
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The Commentary of al-Allāma Ibn ʻAqīl on “al-Alfiya” by al-Allāma Ibn Mālik
This work is a commentary by Ibn ʻAqīl on the famous 1,000-line poem on the principles of Arabic grammar, al-Alfīya by Ibn Malik. ʻAbd Allah ibn ʻAbd al-Raḥmān ibn ʻAqil was born in Cairo in about 1294 and died there in 1367. He was a leading grammarian of the Arabic language and wrote prolifically, but not much is known about his life. In addition to his commentary on al-Alfiya, his works include Taysīr al-istiʻdād li rutbat al-ijtihād (The facility of preparedness for the capacity of independent reasoning ...
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Contentment of the Seeker Regarding the Most Famous Arabic Compositions Printed by Eastern and Western Printing Presses
Edward Van Dyck was an American diplomat and author who served as consular clerk and vice-consul in Lebanon and Egypt from 1873 to 1882. He was the son of the missionary Cornelius Van Dyck, a medical doctor who was professor of pathology at the Syrian Protestant College (which became the American University of Beirut), but who is well known for his Arabic edition of the Bible. Kitāb iktifā' al-qanūʻ bimā huwa matbuʻ min ashhar al-ta'ālīf al-arabīya fī al-maṭābiʻ al-sharqīya wa al-gharbīya (Contentment of the seeker regarding the most famous ...
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Ethnic and Language Map of the Near East
This map, produced in 1943 by the Geographic Service of the Auswärtiges Amt (Foreign Office) of Germany, shows the ethnic, linguistic, and religious makeup of the Middle East. Included are the Caucasus and other parts of the Soviet Union, Afghanistan, and parts of present-day Pakistan and India. The map and the explanatory text reflect the Nazi-era obsession with race and ethnicity. The long note at the top of the key states that the map "endeavors to show the Lebensraum [living space] of those oriental peoples located in Europe’s area ...
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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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
On the Art of al-Aroodh
This manuscript book from 1554 is in two sections. The first section is a grammatical work by an unknown author that compares the conjugation of verbs in Arabic and in Farsi, indicating changes in the forms each time a different tense is used, and that also contains a list of the singular and plural forms of many Arabic nouns. The second section of the book is a brief article, in Ottoman Turkish, by an unknown author, on the metrics of Arabic poetry. The manuscript is from the Bašagić Collection of ...
The Second Art: the Science of Expression
This work by Isma’il bin Mustafa bin Mas’ud al-Kalanbawi deals with proper usage in the Arabic language. The work takes the form of a list of 20 questions and answers about different aspects of the language. The book was transcribed in 1805 (1220 AH). The manuscript is from the Bašagić Collection of Islamic Manuscripts in the University Library of Bratislava, Slovakia, which was inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World register in 1997. Safvet beg Bašagić (1870-1934) was a Bosnian scholar, poet, journalist, and museum director who ...
Excerpts from al-Kulliyyat
Transcribed in 1805, this manuscript is comprised of excerpts from al-Kulliyyat, a dictionary of terminology and language differences compiled by Abu l’Baqa al-Husseini al-Kafawi al-Hanafi (died 1683 [1094 AH]). The manuscript is from the Bašagić Collection of Islamic Manuscripts in the University Library of Bratislava, Slovakia, which was inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World register in 1997. Safvet beg Bašagić (1870-1934) was a Bosnian scholar, poet, journalist, and museum director who assembled a collection of 284 manuscript volumes and 365 print volumes that reflect the development of ...
Comments on the Summary of al-Miftah
This early 19th-century work by Qara Hafiz Efendi on Arabic rhetoric (balaagha) is a commentary on Talkhis al-Miftah (The summary of al-Miftah) by al-Khateeb al-Qizweeni (died 1338 [739 AH]). Talkhis al-Miftah was itself a commentary on Miftah al-Uloom (The key to knowledge), by Abu Yaaqoob as-Sikaki (died 1228 [626 AH]). Al-Qizweeni was a student of as-Sikaki, and both men were important scholars of Arabic rhetoric. Efendi’s work also contains excerpts from another work, a dictionary of language usage, figurative speech, and simile by Abu l'Baqa al-Husseini al-Kufawi Al-Hanafi ...
On Substantiation Through Transitive Relations
This work by the prominent Shafi’i theologian Muhammad al-Amidi (died 1233 [631 AH]) consists of three parts. The first part, on pages 1 and 2, discusses the difference between metaphors and similes in figurative speech. The second part, on pages 3–10, deals with the use of analogies and transitive relations to prove a case. Al-qiyas, or the use of transitive relations to substantiate a case, is one of four pillars in Islamic jurisprudence. It is also widely used by grammarians. The last part, on page 11, is the ...
Comparisons in Arabic Grammar
A considerable portion of this untitled work by an unknown author is devoted to a discussion of al-qiyas, or comparison, in Arabic grammar. The work also contains excerpts from a work by Muftizade and disquisitions about logic, as well as other references to Muftizade. The manuscript was transcribed by Abdallah al-Hamshini. The manuscript is from the Bašagić Collection of Islamic Manuscripts in the University Library of Bratislava, Slovakia, which was inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World register in 1997. Safvet beg Bašagić (1870-1934) was a Bosnian scholar, poet ...
Letter Exercise
This calligraphic fragment includes an exercise in nasta'liq script that consists of mufradat (combining letters) in various formations. Albums of mufradat exercises include al-huruf al-mufradah or, in the Ottoman tradition, huruf-i muqatta'a (the single letters) of the Arabic alphabet in sequence, followed by letters in their composite form. Exercise books begin at least by the 16th century. They were used as books of exemplars of calligraphy to introduce students into the practice of handwriting and provide chains of transmission of calligraphic knowledge through the centuries. This particular fragment ...
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Arabic-Italian Dictionary
This mid-18th century volume, entitled Repertorio Arabo–Italiano in Italian, forms a kind of lexical vade mecum (a book for ready reference) for Arabic and Italian. Its principal components are an Arabic–Italian dictionary (Arabic on the right, Italian on the left) and a classified word list. The dictionary is the largest portion of the book, arranged according to the Arabic alphabet. The word list in the second part consists of 55 classified sections on various topics, including animals, clothing, precious stones, months and days, logical terms, and Christian themes ...
Grammatical Investigations
This clearly written manuscript, dated 1857, is a work on grammatical questions by Gabriel Germanus, or Jirmānūs, Farḥāt (circa 1670–1732), metropolitan of Aleppo and founder of the Lebanese Maronite Order. Maronite synod documents of the 16th century reflect a poor standard of Arabic and are often interspersed with Syriac words. Metropolitan Farḥāt was a writer of correct and elegant Arabic and a forerunner of the Maronite initiative in the 19th century Arabic revival. The work was written in 1705 and then printed in 1836 at the American Protestant press ...
Commentary on Ibn Malik's “Tashīl al-fawā'id”
This Arabic manuscript contains the commentary by Muḥammad Ibn Abī Bakr al-Damāmīnī (circa 1362–1424) on the Tashīl al-fawā'id (Simplification of the facts), a grammatical work of the famous Abū ʻAbd Allāh Djamāl Al-Dīn Muhammad, known as Ibn Malik (circa 1204–74). The manuscript is written in a tight Naskh hand and the wide margins have numerous annotations. The codex appears to have been used by Eli Smith (1801–57), an American missionary and one of the Protestant translators of the Bible into Arabic, who worked in Beirut in ...
On Correctness in the Arabic Language
This 16th-century manuscript is a copy of a famous lexicographical work by Abū Naṣr Ismā'īl Ibn Ḥammād al-Jawharī (died 1002) called Kitāb Al-Ṣaḥāḥ fī Al-Lugha (On correctness in the Arabic language). The manuscript is written in a tight Naskh hand profuse with vowel signs and 37 lines per page. These features combine to give each page a crowded appearance. Each lemma (headword) is noted in red in the text and also indicated in the margins for easy reference. Like "Commentary on Ibn Malik's 'Tashīl al-fawā'id'", also ...
The Book of the Interpreter
This 16th-century manuscript is an old copy of the classified Syriac–Garshuni glossary by  Elias of Nisibis (975–1046). Elias was an eastern Syriac scholar and monk, who was later a bishop and from 1008–46 metropolitan of Nisibis in northern Mesopotamia (present-day Nusaybin in southeastern Turkey). He was an important figure in Syriac and Christian Arabic literature and an early grammarian. In addition to this glossary, his literary output included a bilingual (Syriac–Arabic) chronicle, liturgical poetry, and letters. This work is prefaced by Eliya's address to the ...
Explanation of the Commentary of Ibn Zakur
Timbuktu (present-day Tombouctou in Mali), founded around 1100 as a commercial center for trade across the Sahara Desert, was also an important seat of Islamic learning from the 14th century onward. The libraries there contain many important manuscripts, in different styles of Arabic scripts, which were written and copied by Timbuktu’s scribes and scholars. These works constitute the city’s most famous and long-lasting contribution to Islamic and world civilization. Sharḥ ‘ala Ḥāshiyat Ibn Zakūr (Explanation of the commentary of Ibn Zakur) is by Ibrahim al-Fulani and was ...