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 his own. Few details are known of al-Aqfahasi’s life or career, beyond that he was born in the Middle Egyptian village of Aqfahas (or Iqfahas), and moved to Cairo, where he studied with the scholar and teacher ʻUmar ibn Raslān al-Bulqini (1324−1403). Al-Aqfahsi followed the Shafi’i legal tradition. He died in Cairo. He is said to have been kathir al-ittila’ (intelligent and knowledgeable), which his extant works confirm. His writings touch on a variety of topics. They include pastoral works on marriage, works on food and the etiquette of dining, a natural history of animals, and a work on the history of the River Nile. This manuscript of Kashf al-asrar is written in the maghribi (North African) script with much rubrication. At the beginning of the volume is a page of notes in differing scripts made in the year 1689. The last page of the manuscript has notes on prayer ritual in the naskh script. Unfortunately, there is no colophon with information about where or when the work was copied. It is bound with other, shorter, works, also in a maghribi hand.

Last updated: August 24, 2016