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 as shukr (thanksgiving), which have vexed commentators because of their perceived redundancy but which enjoy widespread use in some Arabic dialects to this day. The contrast between common parlance and strict adherence to grammatical and lexical rules is a theme in the text. The second section of the volume covers another prayer, specific to Muslims, namely Salat ‘ala al-Nabi, (Benedictions on the Prophet), used on many occasions in remembrance of Muhammad’s priority in creation. The prayer is enjoined on Muslims by the Qur’an itself (33:56). It has occasioned controversy because of the paradox of offering prayers to the Prophet in contrast to simply recalling to mind his virtues. The careful study of formulaic prayers has a well-developed literature and includes the great names in Islamic scholarship, preaching, and mysticism. The manuscript is written in maghribi (North African) script. It lacks title, author, copyist, and date. The marginalia are in the form of notes rather than full commentary. The manuscript is bound with three other works: the fragment of a treatise on “In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful"; The Shawahid of Ibn Aqil with Commentary; and the Commentary on Grammatical Distinctions by al-Fikihi.

Last updated: August 24, 2016