The Dependable Book of Islamic Rulings; Forty Hadiths on the Virtues of Ascetics and Sufis


This volume preserves manuscript copies of two treatises that are bound together. The first, Al-ʻUmdah fī al-aḥkām (The dependable book of Islamic rulings), is a compilation of hadiths found in the collections of both Muhammad ibn Isma‘il al-Bukhari (810–70), and Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj (circa 821–75), generally regarded as the two most authoritative hadith scholars in Sunni Islam. The author is Hanbali scholar ʻAbd al-Ghani ibn ʻAbd al-Wahid (1146–1203), better known as ʻAbd al-Ghani al-Maqdisi. The treatise is divided into 17 “books,” each containing hadiths stipulating the prophetic guidance on a certain aspect of Muslim life. The books are: purification, prayers, burials, almsgiving, fasting, pilgrimage, financial dealings, divorce, sworn allegation of adultery, baby nursing, requital, hudud (limits of God) punishments, foods, beverages, clothing, jihad, and emancipation (from slavery). Al-Maqdisi provided no commentary, except for the explanation of some uncommon vocabulary found in the hadiths he selected. The title page has an elaborate ʻunwan (decorative opener) in gold, blue and dark red inks. This copy of Al-ʻUmdah, written in a fully voweled naskh script, was produced in 1401, probably in Egypt. The second manuscript copy preserves Arbaʻūn ḥadīthan fī faḍāʼil al-fuqarāʼ wa-al-Ṣūfīyah (Forty hadiths on the virtues of ascetics and Sufis), a treatise by Ahmad ibn Abi al-Hasan al-Tusi, a Sufi scholar who was the imam of the Grand Mosque of Mecca. The treatise is part of the “Forty Hadiths” genre, of which more than 500 works were written on various subjects over the centuries, beginning as early as the third century AH (tenth century). The basis for this genre is a hadith that encourages Muslims to learn and memorize forty hadiths of benefit to the Muslim community. Al-Tusi chose to omit the isnad (chain of transmission) for his hadiths to “facilitate reading … and memorization.” But he claims that they all have a sahih (authentic) chain of transmission, the highest degree of authority in hadith classification. This manuscript copy was also written in a fully voweled naskh, probably in Egypt, and produced in 1541.

Last updated: April 14, 2017