44 results in English
Poetry Collection of Ṣafī al-Dīn al-Ḥilli
Scholars consider al-Hilli one of the leading poets of postclassical times, that is, the period following the fall of the Abbasid Empire in 1258. His Diwan (Collection of poems) is in 12 chapters, which cover a variety of personalities and occasions and recount in verse vignettes his travels with the Egyptian Mamluk ruler Qalāwūn (died 1290) on his campaign to Mardin in eastern Anatolia. The poems are preceded by an autobiographical note in saj’ (rhymed prose). Al-Hilli was a recognized master of all forms of classical and popular poetry as ...
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Poetry Collection
Born in what is now the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia, ‘Ali ibn al-Muqarrab (1176 or 1177−1231 or 1232) had an adventurous life that included political intrigue and involvement with trade as well as literary accomplishment. Writing in the early 13th century, he is said to have been one of the last poets before modern times to have composed in the classical style. His Diwan (Poetry collection) is lauded for its historical as well as literary qualities. It is considered a primary source for geography and history as well ...
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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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Pearls, or Selections of Fond Memory and Immortal Imprint
Al-Durar wa-hiyya Muntakhabat al-Tayyib al-Zikr al-Khalid al-Athr (Pearls, or selections of fond memory and immortal imprint) is a memorial volume that collects the political and literary writing of the influential Arab nationalist Adib Ishaq (1856−85). Born in Damascus, Ishaq was a precocious youngster who received his formative education in Arabic and French at the French Lazarist school there and under the Jesuits in Beirut. His family’s strained circumstances forced him to leave school for work as a customs clerk. Excelling at languages, he supplemented his income by writing ...
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Emanations of Musk from Beiruti Verse
Al-Nafh al-Miski fi-al-Shi’r al-Bayruti (Emanations of musk from Beiruti verse) is a collection of verse by the prolific Lebanese poet Shaykh Ibrāhīm al-Aḥdab. The author was first and foremost a traditionalist in his literary as well as his legal career. The poems are of various rhyme schemes and meters and display mastery of classical prosody. They are primarily madh (praise) commemorating the achievements of public figures or personal acquaintances. Examples include “Commending His Excellency Muhammad Rushdi Pasha, Governor of Syria,” “Praising Prince ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jaza’iri on the Festival ...
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The Pillar Regarding Creation and Critique of Poetry
This book is a printed edition of Al-‘Umdah fi Sina’at al-Shi’r wa-Naqdih (The pillar regarding creation and critique of poetry), a foundational text of Arabic literary criticism. The author, Ibn Rashīq al-Qayrawānī, covers poetic history and prosody up to his lifetime in 11th century Qayrawān, the center of intellectual life in Tunisia, then called Al-Ifriqiya. The work is universally known as Ibn Rashiq’s Al-‘Umdah (The pillar). It is also cited as Al-‘Umdah fī maḥāsin al-shiʻr wa-ādābih. Scholarly judgment of Al-‘Umdah holds that although ...
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Explaining al-Khansa’ in Delightful Stanzas
This book is a printed collection of the verse of Tumāḍir bint ʿAmr ibn al-Ḥarth ibn al-Sharīd al-Sulamīyah entitled Anis al-Julasāʼ fī Sharḥ Dīwān al-Khansāʼ (Explaining al-Khansa’ in delightful stanzas). Known to history as al-Khansā’ (she of the snub-nose or of resemblance to a gazelle), the author is regarded as one of the leading poets of late pre-Islamic Arabia. After meeting the Prophet Muhammad, who is said to have admired her poetry, she became a Muslim. Contemporary and subsequent appreciation of her poetry owed much to the power of her ...
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The Superabundance of the Commendable and the Reinforcement of the Yet-More Commendable: Poetry Collection
This diwan, Al-Faydh al- Muhammadi wa-al-Madad al-Ahmadi wa Huwa Diwan (The superabundance of the commendable and the reinforcement of the yet-more commendable: Poetry collection), is a book of poems, mostly in praise of the Prophet Muhammad or in supplication of his blessing and assistance. Some of the verses vary from this theme, for example, poetic prayers addressing Ahmad al-Rifa’i, founder of the famous Sufi order of which the author, Abū al-Hudá al-Ṣayyādī, was a prominent (and controversial) leader. Abu al-Huda was a prolific writer who rose from humble origins ...
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An Introduction to the Study of the Eloquent Speech of the Arabs
Muqaddama li dirāsat balāghat al-ʻArab (An introduction to the study of the eloquent speech of the Arabs) is a work on Arabic literature or belles lettres. The author, Aḥmad Ḍayf, was an instructor at the Egyptian University (later renamed the University of Cairo). The book was intended for students at the university and was to serve as a study guide for their understanding of literary eloquence. It includes a brief description of the modern Arabic literary movement. Other topics covered are belles lettres and society, and the different categories of ...
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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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
The Book of Aroodh
This manuscript, by an unknown author, is an incomplete work that endeavors to apply Arabic poetry metrics to Ottoman Turkish poems. It starts with the seas (or metrics) of al-mutaqarib, ar-ramal, and al-munsarih. The transcription is possibly from the 17th century. 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 ...
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 ...
Commentary by Islam's Sheikh Zakariyya al-Ansari on Ibn al-Hā’im's Poem on the Science of Algebra and Balancing Called the Creator's Epiphany in Explaining the Cogent
This work is a commentary on a versified, 59-line introduction to algebra, entitled Al-Muqni‘ fī al-jabr wa al-muqābila, by the prolific and influential mathematician, jurist, and man of letters Abū al-‘Abbās Shihāb al-Dīn Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad ibn ‘Alī al-Maqdisī al-Shāfi‘ī, known as Ibn al-Hā’im (circa 1356-1412 [circa 753-815 AH]). It clarifies the nomenclature and explains the basic concepts of algebra, and provides succinct examples. The manuscript, completed on Thursday night, 8 Sha‘bān 1305 AH (March 21, 1888), is in the hand of Tāhā ibn Yūsuf.
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The Burdah Poem
This illuminated small codex contains a famous poem in honor of the Prophet Muhammad popularly known as “Qaṣīdat al-Burdah” (The poem of the mantle), which was composed by Sharaf al-Dīn Muḥammad al-Būṣīrī (died 694 AH [1294 CE]). This copy was executed in a variety of scripts, probably in Iran, by Ḥabīb Allāh ibn Dūst Muḥammad al-Khwārizmī in the 11th century AH (17th century CE). The first page (folio 1b) of the manuscript features an illuminated rectangular headpiece with five inner panels of text executed in the following scripts: muhaqqaq (gold ...
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The Desire of the Students for an Explanation of the Calculator's Craving
This manuscript offers a clear example of the liveliness of the North African mathematical tradition under the Muslim-Berber dynasties that ruled over the Islamic West from the 12th century to the first half of the 17th century. They were the Almohads (12th–13th centuries), the Marinids (13th–15th centuries), the Wattasids (15th–16th centuries), and the Saadis (16th–17th centuries). While there was little scientific advance in other fields in this period, the mathematical sciences kept on developing, as reflected both in the composition of original works and in commentaries ...
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The Illumination of Inheritance Calculation
Islamic law goes into great detail on the subject of the division of inheritances (farā'id) among heirs. For this reason, inheritances have received extensive treatment in books of fiqh (Islamic law) and been a subject of study for mathematicians as well. Qabas al-Daw' fī al-Hisāb (The illumination of inheritance calculation) was copied by its author, ‘Abd al-Raḥman ibn Aḥmad ibn 'Ali al-Ḥamidi, in this 1589 manuscript. The work, which he dedicated to the son of the Šāf‘ī jurist Šams al-Dīn Muhammad al-Bahwašī, is an example of a genre ...
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The Selection of Treasures Regarding Precious Stones
Kitāb nuhab al-dahā'ir fī ahwāl al-jawāhir (The selection of treasures regarding precious stones) is a treatise devoted to precious stones and, in particular, to the different kinds of hyacinth (a precious stone of the ancients, sometimes held to be the sapphire). The work opens with a draft of a poem on precious stones on the title page, probably copied at the same time as the manuscript, and proceeds with brief notes on the different kinds of hyacinth, on pearls, and on other precious stones found in water. The author ...
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The Shimmer of Al-Māridinī in the Explanation of the Treatise by al-Yāsamīn
The present manuscript preserves a very elegant copy of a work by one of the most prolific authors of the second half of the 15th century in the field of mathematics and related subjects: Badr al-Dīn Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad ibn al-Ġazal, best known as Sibṭ al-Māridīnī ("the son of al-Māridīnī’s daughter") from the name of his famous maternal ancestor, who was also a mathematician. The Lum‘a al-Māridīnīyya is an extensive prose commentary on a famous poem on algebra composed by the Maghrebi mathematician al-Yāsamīn around the last ...
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The Shimmer of Al-Māridinī in the Explanation of the Treatise by al-Yāsamīn
The mathematical tradition that flourished in North Africa and Andalusia during the Middle Ages did not undergo the same decline that many scholars claim occurred in the sciences after the first half of the 13th century. The present work supports this point. The manuscript is a very elegant copy of a mathematical text by Badr al-Dīn Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad ibn al-Ġazal, best known as Sibṭ al-Māridīnī ("the son of al-Māridīnī’s daughter") from the name of his famous maternal grandfather, who was himself a mathematician. Sibṭ al-Māridīnī's mathematical ...
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The Shimmer of Al-Māridinī in the Explanation of the Treatise by al-Yāsamīn
The 12th-century mathematical poem known as al-Yāsamīnīyya fī ‘ilm al-Jabr (The poem by al-Yāsamīn on calculus) from the name of its author, al-Yāsamīn, is one of the most read and commented upon mathematical texts of its time. Its verses have been extensively copied, both in autonomous form and by incorporation into larger commentaries up to the 20th century. The present manuscript preserves an early 20th-century copy of the 15th-century commentary on the Yāsamīnīyya written by Badr al-Dīn Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad ibn al-Ġazal, best known as Sibṭ al-Māridīnī ("the son ...
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“The Instrument of the Beginners in the Science of the Beginning of the Months and of the Years” and “The Gem of the Disciples in the Explanation of the Instrument of the Beginners”
While in the West, particularly in modern times, poetry and science tend to differ sharply in their approach to describing the world, this is not the case in the Arabic-speaking world, where the use of the literary form of the poetical treatise has produced remarkable works in a variety disciplines, including mathematics, astronomy, alchemy, and astrology. The present manuscript shows that the tradition of the Arabic poetical treatise was not confined to the Middle Ages but was still alive in the 19th century. Aḥmad ibn Qāsim Al-Miṣrī (1814-1856) is the ...
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The Richness of the Meanings in the Medical Art
As the poem preserved in the present manuscript clearly shows, the tradition of didactic poetry never really died out in the Islamic world, at least until the end of the 19th century. Muġnīya al-Maʻānī Ṣināʻat al-Ṭibb (The richness of the meanings in the medical art) is a metrical compendium of medicine written in the second half of the 19th century by the erudite Ibrāhīm ibn Aḥmad al-Šhīwī al-Dasūqī al-Šhāfiʻī. The more than 1,000 verses of the Muġnīya are composed in a strict metrical form. The rhyming ...
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Anonymous Arabic and Persian Poetic Verses
This fragment contains an Arabic poem in eight verses in the center panel and Persian poetical verses in small rectangular registers arranged around the central panel and pasted above a light blue background. The Arabic poem stresses Muhammad’s ability to provide intercession for his community on the Day of Judgment. It is a kind of praise or request directed towards the Prophet that is seen in a number of other calligraphic panels meant either for public display or included in albums of calligraphies. The Arabic and Persian verses are ...
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Lines from “Qaṣīdat al-burdah” (the Poem of the Mantle)
This fragment includes a poem in Arabic written in black Naskh script on a beige paper. The words are fully vocalized in black and framed by cloud bands on a gold background. The text panel is framed in blue and pasted to a larger sheet of green paper backed by cardboard. On the final line, the calligrapher Vassal states that he has written the work on a Monday night during the year 1258 AH/1842. The calligrapher can be identified as the famous Naskh-revivalist Vassal-i Shirazi (died 1262 AH/1846 ...
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A Praise of Calligraphy
This calligraphic fragment includes several verses praising the practice of calligraphy. Beginning with an invocation of Allahu Akbar (God, the Great), the verses then read: “I have brought a small vow for you to be powerful like Asaf and Jam / I have used garnet, ruby, and emerald / They have said that beautiful handwriting is better than garnet and gems / I have brought (you) a house-full of gems as an offering.” The poet describes a fragment of a vow to be similar to a qit'a (fragment) of khatt-i khush (calligraphy ...
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'Id (Feast Day) Quatrain
This calligraphic fragment shows a ruba'i (iambic pentameter quatrain), written in nasta'liq script by the calligrapher Muhammad Qamar al-Din. He has signed the quatrain in the lower-left corner with the expression "katabahu [written by] Muhammad Qamar al-Din." Nothing is known about this calligrapher, although the steady nasta'liq script suggests that it was executed in Persia (Iran) during the 16th or 17th centuries. The text is framed by cloud bands executed in black ink and highlighted with gold paint, around which a blue frame with interlacing gold vine ...
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Bahram Gur in the Yellow Pavilion
This text describes an episode from the Haft Paykar (Seven thrones) of Niẓāmī Ganjavī (died 1202−3), the fourth book from his Khamsah (Quintet). In this romantic allegory of love and frustration, Sassanian ruler Bahram Gur (died 438) visits seven pavilions on each day of the week. Here, Niẓāmī describes the ruler's visit to the gunbad-i zar (yellow pavilion) on a Ruz-i yakshamba (Sunday), an anecdote represented on the folio's verso. In this tale, Bahram Gur is disappointed by his concubines and convinces a woman, who first refuses ...
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Verses on the Permanence of Good Deeds
This calligraphic fragment includes verses composed by the celebrated Persian poet Ḥāfiẓ (died 1388−89, 791 AH) on the futility of worldly goods. Beginning with a praise of God, huwa al-fard (the Unique), in the upper-left corner, the verses continue: “Oh wealthy one, soothe the heart of the indigent / Because the treasury of gold, riches, and coins will not remain / On this topaz canopy (the sky) they have inscribed in gold / That nothing will remain except the good deeds of the generous ones.” The verses are executed in black nasta ...
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Amplification of the Poem, the Burdah, Or the Expansion of the Bright Stars in the Praise of the Finest of Mankind, the Prophet Muhammad
This manuscript is a copy of the poem in honor of the Prophet Muhammad, which is popularly known as Qaṣīdat al-burdah (The poem of the mantle). It was written by Sharaf al-Dīn Muḥammad al-Būṣīrī (died 694 AH [1294 AD]). The poem has a takhmīs (amplification, or expansion of the poem) by Naṣīr al-Dīn Muḥammad al-Fayyūmī. The amplification and the text of the Qaṣīdat al-burdah were written in Naskh and Thuluth scripts respectively by Riḍwān ibn Muḥammad al-Tabīzī in 767 AH (1366 AD), probably for the Mawlawī (Mevlevi) Library in Konya ...
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Book of the Conversation of Wisdom, and Other Works
The major part of this 18th-century manuscript is taken up by the text of Ktaba da-swad sofia (Book of the conversation of wisdom), a philosophical work by the famous Syriac Orthodox bishop and author, Gregory Bar ‘Ebraya (also seen as Bar Hebraeus, 1226–86). Of special interest is the fact that the work was copied here not only in Syriac, but also in Garshuni (Arabic written in Syriac script) in a parallel column on each page. The manuscript contains numerous marginal and interlinear annotations in both Garshuni and Arabic. After ...
The Dove’s Neck-Ring
Abu Muhammad Ali ibn Ahmad ibn Said ibn Hazm (994–1064 AD; 384–456 AH) was a renowned Andalusian poet and religious scholar from Cordoba. He was born into an eminent family and, after receiving a distinguished and wide-ranging education, served the Umayyad caliphate in its decline. His political activities led to his imprisonment and banishment, and he wrote Tawq al-hamamah (The dove’s neck-ring) while in exile, in response to a friend’s request. The book is often considered the most detailed and insightful book on the nature of ...
Contributed by Bibliotheca Alexandrina
The Diwan
Al-Waleed ibn Ubaidillah Al-Buhturi (821–97 AD; 206–48 AH) was a leading Arab poet who was born in Manbij, in present-day Syria, and lived in the early Abbasid dynasty. He was a companion of the Abbasid caliph, Al-Mutawakil, whom Al-Buhturi saw murdered before his eyes in 861. The violent incident weighed heavily on the poet’s psyche, sending him into self-exile and a period of seclusion. Often mentioned in connection with two other preeminent poets of the Abbasid era, Abu Tamman who preceded him and Al-Mutanabbi who succeeded him ...
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Zawzani's Commentary on the Seven Suspended Odes
The Muallaqaat (The suspended odes) are long, classical Arabic poems written in the pre-Islamic period. They are referred to by this name because it was believed Arab critics of the time chose to hang them on the walls of the Kaaba in Mecca (a holy place for the tribes of Arabia even before Islam) in deference to the greatness of these poems and to set the standards for all Arabic poetry to come. They typically start with a pause by the lover and his companions to memorialize the remnants of ...
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Book of Poetry and Poets
Abdullah ibn Muslim ibn Qutaibah (828–85 AD, 213–76) was an Arab literary historian and critic and an Islamic jurist and scholar. He was born in Kufa, in present-day Iraq, and spent much of his life in Baghdad, where he died. His Al-shiir wal shuaraa (Book of poetry and poets) is considered a major classic of Arabic literature and a pioneering work of literary criticism. It is a biographical encyclopedia of more than 200 leading Arab poets, spanning the pre-Islamic period to the early Abbasid era (the sixth century ...
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Al-Mutannabbi's Diwan with Al-Ukbari's Commentary
Abu Al-Tayyib Ahmed ibn Al-Hussein (915–65 AD, 303–54 AH), better known as Al-Mutanabbi (Self-proclaimed prophet), is arguably the greatest Arab poet of all time. He lived a short, turbulent life of about 50 years. He was born in Iraq but traveled extensively, crisscrossing Syria and Egypt, then returning to Iraq and Persia in search of political and monetary rewards. Proud to the extent of arrogance and critical of his enemies, he was assassinated in his birthplace of Iraq, on his way home from Persia. His poetry endured because ...
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The One of a Kind
Abdulmalik ibn Muhammad al-Thaalibi (961–1038 AD, 350–429 AH) was a leading linguist, literary figure, and poet. He was born in the trading and cultural center of Nishapur in Persia (present-day Iran). Yateemet al-dahr (The one of a kind) is the most famous of his more than 80 works. The book is a compilation of biographies of the poets of the time, divided into four main sections, each of which covers a region: the poets of al-Sham (Levant) and its environs; the Buwayhid poets (Western Persia and Iraq); the ...
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Collection of Poems
Abu Tammam Habeeb ibn Aws At-Taaee (circa 796–843 AD, 188–231 AH) was a pioneering Arab poet of the early Abbasid era. He was born in Jasim in present-day Syria and later lived in Damascus and Homs. He is the first of three Abbasid poets whose influence on Arabic poetry is still felt today, with the two others being Al-Buhturi and Al-Mutanabbi, who flourished respectively in the 9th and 10th centuries AD. His importance stems not only from the fact that he wrote splendid poetry, but he also theorized ...
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The Book of Eloquence and Oratory
Abu Uthman Amr ibn Bahr al-Kinani (776–869 AD; 163–255 AH), nicknamed Al-Jahiz for his bulging eyes, was a leading literary figure who lived during the early Abbasid era. He was born and died in Basra, Iraq. It was said that his grandfather was a slave from East Africa. Al-Jahiz was a prolific writer on subjects ranging from theology, to politics, to manners, who left many highly significant works. He is credited with having profoundly shaped the rules of Arabic prose. Al-Jahiz’s Al-Bayan wa al-Tabyeen (The book of ...
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Poem
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. In Qasīdah (Poem), Sayyid al-Mukhtār ibn Aḥmad ibn Abī Bakr al-Kuntī al-Kabīr instructs students of Islamic law about ...