57 results in English
The Precious Book on Noteworthy Dates
This short work, entitled Kitāb al-yawāqīt fī ma‘rifat al-mawāqīt, and copied by an anonymous scribe in Shawwāl in June-July 1775 (AH 1168), is attributed to Ḥusayn (or Ḥasan) b. Zayd b. ‘Alī al-Jaḥḥāf, who is said to have dedicated it to Abū ‘Alī Manṣūr al-Ḥākim bi Amr-Allāh, the sixth Fāṭimid ruler (died 996). The manuscript lists the 12 months of the year, each on one sheet, in the form of an almanac. The last page is a one-page guide to the interpretation of dreams, reportedly prepared at the behest ...
Treatise on the Craft of Weight Measurement
This work is a treatise on the construction and use of the weighing balance (qabān, also qapān). It brings together geometric, mechanical, and arithmetic knowledge needed to construct and utilize measuring devices for weighing heavy and irregularly-shaped objects. The author’s name is unknown, but excerpts from another work by an already-deceased Shaykh ‘Abd al-Majīd al-Shāmulī al-Maḥallī are quoted in the treatise. The last page of the manuscript contains a sheet of verses that describe the basics of using a weighing balance, in a form that is easy to remember ...
Guide to Operations on Irrational Radicals for Neophytes
This mathematical treatise by Muḥammad b. Abi al-Fatḥ Muḥammad b. al-Sharafī Abi al-Rūḥ ‘Īsā b. Aḥmad al-Ṣūfī al-Shāfi‘ī al-Muqrī, was written in 1491-92 (897 AH). It begins with a "General Introduction," followed by two main parts, with a concluding section on the study of cubes and cube roots. Part I, "Operations on Simple Irrational Radicals," is divided into four chapters. Chapter 1 covers simplification of radicals. Chapters 2, 3, and 4 deal respectively with the multiplication, addition and subtraction, and division of radicals. Part II, on "Operations with Compound ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 Keeping Shop: A Guidebook for Preparing Orders
This highly informative work, compiled by a Jewish apothecary in 13th century Cairo, provides a wealth of information on his craft as practiced at the time. The author, Abu al-Munā Ibn Abī Nasr Ibn Hafāż, known as Cohen al-Isra’ī'lī al-Hārūnī, completed the work in 1260 (AH 658), shortly after the Mongol sacking of Baghdad in 1258, an event that reverberated throughout the Arab world. The manuscript contains notes by the author, to be passed to his son and descendents, who would be taking over the apothecary shop after ...
Book of Royal Gemstones
This work, by Abu al-‛Abbās Ahmad b. Yūsuf al-Qaysī al-Tīfāshī, a 13th-century writer and mineralogist who was born in Tunisia and worked in Egypt, describes precious gems found in the treasuries of kings and rulers. The author lists 25 gemstones and dedicates a chapter to each. They include the ruby (yāqūt), emerald (zumurrud), topaz (zabarjad), diamond (almās), turquoise (fīrūzaj), magnetite (maghnātīs), agate (‛aqīq), lapis lazuli (lāzward), coral (marjān), and quartz (talq). In each chapter, the author discusses the causes of the gemstone’s formation, provenance, criteria for appraisal of ...
The Book of Remedies from Deficiencies in Setting Up Marble Sundials
This work is a treatise for timekeepers (singular muwaqqit), and discusses the telling of time from such astronomical observations as the sun’s angle of inclination (mayl), altitude (irtifā‛), as well as the direction (samt) and length of cast shadows (zill). In 14 chapters, the author goes through methods for the computation of these factors, determination of the direction of prayer (qibla), and time of the day. He observes that using instruments (ālāt), such as markings on the ruler (mistara) and the compass (bargār, from the Persian pargār), and geometric ...
Seasonal Almanac Based on the Coptic Calendar
The author of this work, Shaykh al-Islām Ahmad al-Bashtakī, lived in Bashtak near central Cairo. The work goes through the 13 months of the Coptic calendar: Tūt (Thout), Bāba (Paopi), Hātūr (Hathur), Koihak (Koiak), Tūba (Tobi), Imshīr (Meshir), Baremhāt (Paremhat), Barmūda (Paremoude), Bashons (Pashons), Bawna or Būna (Paoni), Ibīb (Epip), Misurī (Mesori), and the Days of Nasī (ayyām al-nasī; also known as the Little Month, Pi Kogi Enavot, or El Nasii). The work gives the corresponding months in the Roman and Persian calendars, notes the astrological significance of days, and ...
A Guide for the Perplexed on the Drawing of the Circle of Projection
The author of this work, Ibn al-Majdī (1366-1447 [767-850 A.H.]), was a renowned mathematician, geometrician, and astronomer. He was linked with the influential Marāgha School through his teacher, Jamāl al-Dīn al-Māridīnī, who in turn had studied with Ibn al-Shātir al-Dimashqī’. As a descendant of a powerful local family with Mamlūk ties, Ibn al-Majdī served as the official astronomer and timekeeper at Al-Azhar. The work is divided into three chapters and a conclusion. Chapter 1 covers the procedure for projecting the circle of projection (fadl al-dā’ir) onto planes that ...
Comprehensive Reference on Algebra and Equations
This manuscript is a didactic work on arithmetic and algebra, composed in versified form, as a qasīda of 59 verses. It was composed by Ibn al-Hā’im al-Fardī in 1402 (804 A.H.). The beginning of the work also names ‛Alī b. ‛Abd al-Samad al-Muqrī al-Mālikī (died Dhu al-Ḥijja 1381 [782 A.H.]), a scholar and teacher who had come to Egypt and taught at the ‛Amr b. ‛As madrasa for several years. The main part of the qasīda begins by introducing and defining key terms in arithmetic and algebra ...
Arithmetic Conventions for Conversion Between Roman [i.e. Ottoman] and Egyptian Measurement
This treatise, written on ten folio pages for an Ottoman official and patron of books known as Ismā‘īl Afandī, is on the inter-conversion of units of measurement. It is a useful guide for merchants and others engaged in the measurement of quantities. It provides instructions for converting arṭāl (plural of raṭl) into uqaq (plural of auqiya), and back; darāhim (plural of dirham) into mathāqīl (plural of mithqāl) and back; and converting the number of Ottoman (referred to as Roman, rūmī) loading bags into the number of Egyptian loading bags ...
Sakhāqī’s Book [of Arithmetic]
This work is a tutorial text on elementary arithmetic, in 20 folios. It is divided into an introduction, 11 chapters, and a conclusion. In the beginning, the sign for zero is introduced, along with the nine Indian numerals, written in two alternative forms. This is followed by a presentation of the place system. The first four chapters cover, respectively, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Chapter five introduces operations on non-whole numbers. The remaining six chapters discuss fractions and operations on them.
Treatise for Observers on Constructing the Circle of Projection
This work is a treatise on the important subject of timekeeping. It is a work of technical astronomy, in 19 folios, that begins by emphasizing the religious significance of knowledge of time. It is divided into an introduction, two chapters, and a conclusion. Comprehensive procedures for the construction of tables and their use are provided. The work was completed in 1473 (878 A.H.).
Easing the Difficulty of Arithmetic and Planar Geometry
This work is a comprehensive tutorial guide on arithmetic and plane geometry, in 197 folio pages. It also discusses monetary conversion. The work is composed in verse form, and is meant as a commentary on existing textbooks. The author gives the following personal account of the writing of this guide: In Rajab 827 A.H. (May 1424) he traveled from Damascus to Quds al-Sharīf (in Palestine), where he met two scholars named Ismā‘īl ibn Sharaf and Zayn al-Dīn Māhir. There he took lessons on arithmetic, using an introductory book ...
Compendium on Using the Device Known as the Almucantar Quarter
This work, by a timekeeper at the Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo, is an important and comprehensive textbook on timekeeping. It introduces the useful device of dividing a quarter of a circle of projection into sections known as almucantars (muqanṭarāt). The work, comprising 100 folio pages, contains 30 chapters and a conclusion. The work was composed in 1440-1 (844 A.H.) and was copied in 1757 (1170 A.H.).
The Light of the Eyes and the Enlightened Landscape of Vision
This work is a noteworthy treatise on optics that covers such basic topics as direct vision, reflection and refraction, and the length of shadows. It discusses convex and concave mirrors and the physiology of vision, and has a section on optical illusions. It is a cogent work on geometrical optics. It is particularly significant because it was written under the Ottoman sulṭān, Murāt ibn Selīm (reigned 1574-95 [982-1003 A.H.]). The name of the author is illegible on the front page, and seems to have been deliberately wiped off for ...
The Travelers Guide on Drawing the Circle of Projection
This is a work on timekeeping and the determination of the direction of prayer (qibla), particularly intended for people who travel. The author, Abu al-‛Abbās Shihāb al-Dīn Ahmad b. Zayn al-Dīn Rajab b. Tubayghā al-Atābakī, known as al-Majdī or Ibn al-Majdī (1366-1447 [767-850 A.H.]), was descended from a powerful family with ties to Mamlūk rulers and was a renowned and prominent mathematician, geometrician, and astronomer. He served as the timekeeper of the Al-Azhar Mosque. This work is an abridgment of his other major book, Irshād al-ḥā’ir ilā ...
Maximum Benefit from the Knowledge of Circles of Projection on the 30 Degree Northern Latitude
This work, a treatise on practical astronomy, deals with such issues as timekeeping and determining the proper direction of prayer. The work begins with a brief introduction, but the bulk of the manuscript contains tables used to determine time. The introductory section contains illustrative examples on how to use the tables.
Deliverance from Error on Knowledge of Times of Day and the Direction of Prayer
This work on elementary knowledge of practical astronomy begins by emphasizing the religious significance of knowing how to keep the time and how to determine the proper direction of prayer (qibla). It describes the conventional correspondence between ordinal numbers and the letters of the Arabic alphabet. It then enumerates, and goes through, the names of the months in the lunar Arabic calendar and in the solar Coptic calendar. It highlights certain important dates, such as the beginning of the New Year, and introduces the 12 zodiacal signs. The front page ...
The Book of Instruction on Deviant Planes and Simple Planes
This manuscript is a work on practical astronomy and the drawing of the circle of projection and related concepts from spherical trigonometry. It is rich with geometric diagrams, tables of empirical observations, and computations based upon these observations. An interesting feature of the manuscript is the appearance on the margins of the cover, and on several pages in the manuscript, of edifying verses, proverbs, and witty remarks. One reads, for example, “It is strange to find in the world a jaundiced physician, a dim-eyed ophthalmologist, and a blind astronomer.” Most ...
A Friendly Gift on the Science of Arithmetic
This treatise deals specifically with basic arithmetic, as needed for computing the division of inheritance according to Islamic law. It contains 48 folios and is divided into an introduction, three chapters, and a conclusion. The introduction discusses the idea of numbers as an introduction to the science of arithmetic. Chapter I discusses the multiplication of integers. Chapter II is on the division of integers and the computation of common factors. Chapter III deals extensively with fractions and arithmetic operations on them. The author, an Egyptian jurist and mathematician, was the ...
The Book on the Properties of Precious Gems
The title page identifies this manuscript as a copy of Kitab khawas al-jawāhir (The book on the properties of precious gems), written by Yaqūb ibn Ishāq al-Kindī in the ninth century. The work has 25 chapters, which are titled “On the knowledge of gems in general,” “On knowledge of rubies,” “On knowledge of emeralds,” “On knowledge of lapis,” and so forth. Each of these chapters gives basic information about these precious stones and their properties, as understood at the time. Information on the pricing of gems and the location of ...