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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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