The Perfect Guide to the Sciences of the Qur'an


Egyptian jurist and philologist Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti (1445−1505) was one of the most prolific Muslim authors of late medieval times. He was born and died in Cairo; the nisba (name indicating provenance) attribution in his name to the city of Asyut in Upper Egypt fits his family better than him. He was best known for his works on hadith and other Islamic subjects, but he also wrote on the natural sciences, medicine, and the Arabic language. It is not exactly known how many books al-Suyuti wrote—Brockelmann’s History of Arabic Literature estimated them at 415, Katip Celebi (also known as Hajji Khalifa) at 576, and al-Suyuti’s student Ibn Iyas at 600. Starting at the age of 17, al-Suyuti continued to write for more than 43 years, of which about 20 or more were solely dedicated to writing, when he lived in seclusion at Jazirat ar-Rawdah, an island in the Nile outside Cairo. His works, mostly compilations, range from short legal opinions and booklets to works in multiple volumes and encyclopedias. Al-Suyuti is known for his prodigious memory, and his compilations are credited with preserving parts of earlier works that are now lost. Al-itqān fī ʿulūm al-Qurʾān (The perfect guide to the sciences of the Qu'ran) is one of his best-known works. It is a treatise on the study of the Qurʾan, and is divided into 80 nawʿ(subfields), covering such issues as the places and times of revelation, narration chain, unusual language, similar language, and the doctrine of abrogation. The book builds on previous works on the subject, including the similarly titled Al-burhān ʿulūm al-Qurʾān (The proof in the sciences of the Qu'ran) by Muhammad ibn Bahadur al-Zarkashi (circa 1344−92). Neither the name of the scribe nor the place where the manuscript was copied is provided. The work is on a heavy, cream-colored paper without visible chain lines or watermarks, and it is written in black ink with rubrication, in naskh script and 35 lines per page. The title page, its verso, and the colophon are illuminated and have an elaborate ‘unwan (decorative panel) in gold and blue ink. There are a few marginal notations and corrections; catchwords appear on rectos.

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كتاب الإتقان في علوم القرآن للشيخ الإمام العالم العلامة جلال الدين الأسيوطي

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198 pages, bound : paper ; 27 x 18.5 centimeters

Last updated: April 14, 2017