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Type of Item
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
Burning and Melting
This manuscript is an illuminated and illustrated copy of the poem Sūz va gudāz (Burning and melting) by Naw’ī Khabūshānī, who died in 1019 AH (1610 AD). It recounts the love story of a Hindu girl who burns herself on the funeral pyre of her betrothed. The codex was written in Nasta’līq script in black ink by Ibn Sayyid Murād al-Ḥusaynī and illustrated by Muḥammad ‘Alī Mashhadī in 1068 AH (1657 AD). According to the colophon, Ibn Sayyid Murād al-Ḥusaynī copied the manuscript for the painter Muḥammad ‘Alī ...
This manuscript, which probably dates from the 16th century, contains Mušḥātā (Poems) by Gregory Bar ‘Ebraya (also seen as Bar Hebraeus, 1226–86), a Syriac Orthodox bishop and a major author in the later Syriac tradition. He wrote prolifically, mostly in Syriac but also in Arabic, on philosophy, theology, spirituality, and history. His works also included commentaries on scripture, devotions, moral treatises, logic, the sciences, and humorous stories. Bar Hebraeus was renowned for his justice, integrity, great learning, and principled leadership. A few recent pages (mostly blank) have been ...
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 ...
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 ...
The Book of Misers
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-bukhalaa (The book of misers) is considered a ...
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 ...
The Book of Songs
Abu Al-Faraj Al-Isbahani (or Al-Isfahani, 897–967 AD) was a literary scholar, poet, and genealogist who was born in Isfahan, in present-day Iran, but lived much of his life in Baghdad and Aleppo. Kitab al-Aghani (The book of songs) is often considered his masterpiece. A dozen or more other works by him are known. Most of them describe the indulgent social life of his times, a topical choice that prompted considerable criticism especially from clerics, some of whom went as far as to question his scholarly rigor and authenticity. Al-Isbahani ...
The Philosophy of ibn Tufail and His Treatise the Self-Taught Philosopher
Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn Tufail (also known by a Latinized version of his name, Abubacer Aben Tofail, 1105–85 AD) was an Andalusian Muslim polymath who was born near Granada, Spain, and died in Morocco. Apart from fragments of poetry, Hayy ibn Yaqzan (Alive, son of awake), also called Philosophus Autodidactus (The self-taught philosopher), is his only surviving work. Considered the first philosophical novel, it is often seen as an earlier Arabic version of Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. The book had much influence in the West. It takes place ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
Ottoman Turkish Version of “Sindbād-nāmah”
This work is an Ottoman illustrated and illuminated copy of the Tuhfet ül-ahyār, which is an Ottoman Turkish version of the well-known story of Sindbad (Sindbād-nāmah). It concerns Sindbad the Wise (not Sindbad the Sailor), who was tutor to the son of an Oriental king. It was written by ‘Abdülkerīm bin Muhammed during the reign of Sultan Süleyman I, called the Magnificent, who ruled from 1520 to 1566. The text is written in black naskh script with incidentals in gold and red, and the chapter headings are in gold. The ...
The Story of Dhu al-Qarnayn (Better Known as Alexander the Great)
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. Kitab Qiṣṣat Dhū al-Qarnayn is a 12th-century rendition of the Alexander romance (legends about the mythical exploits ...