The Guide to Benevolent Deeds and Other Sufi Prayers


This manuscript preserves an untitled compilation of Sufi prayers, mainly litanies of peace and blessings upon the Prophet Muhammad. It begins with Dalā’il al-khayrāt (The guide to benevolent deeds) by Shadhili saint Muhammad ibn Sulayman al-Jazuli (died 1465), and includes ten more devotional texts in both verse and prose, all written by Shadhili saints except as noted. These are al-ḥizb al-kabīr (The big supplication) and ḥizb al-baḥr (The sea supplication), both by Abu al-Hasan al-Shadhilī (circa 1196−1258), founder of the Shadhili Sufi order; ḥizb al-falāḥ (The successful supplication) by al-Jazuli; a supplication attributed to ʿAbd al-Qadir al-Jilani (circa 1078−1166), saint and founder of the Qadiri Sufi order; the Mashīshiyya litany by ʻAbd al-Salam ibn Mashish (circa 1140−1227), spiritual teacher of Shadhili; al-musabbaʻāt al-ʻashr (Ten prayers to be repeated seven times) by al-Jilani; the wazifa (prayer) of Ahmad Zarruq (1442–93), a contemporary of al-Jazuli; a devotional poem attributed to Um Hani, cousin of the Prophet Muhammad and sister of Imam Ali; another devotional poem by ʿAbd al-Qadir al-Fasi (1599–1680); and Qaṣīdat al-Burdah (The poem of the mantle) by al-Busiri (circa 1213–circa 1296). The text was written in North Africa in very small Maghribi script in black ink with some rubrication. In nine lines per page within a text frame of 4.7 by 4 centimeters, the text has highlights in blue ink with gold medallions separating verses on some pages. The manuscript has 13 illustrations preceding the text. They relate, among other things, to the lineage of Prophet Muhammad and the names of ten of his companions, known collectively in hadith literature as “the ten who were promised paradise.” Chapter headings have elaborately decorated ‘unwan (decorative section openers) in gold ink in the form of geometric illustrations in blue, gold, and red ink. There are catchwords on rectos. The North African origin, Maghribi script, and predominantly Shadhili content of the manuscript all suggest that it might have belonged to a Moroccan adherent of the Shadhili order.

Last updated: April 14, 2017