The Stanchion of Divine Precepts


ʻUmdat al-farāʼiz̤ (The stanchion of divine precepts) is a 1914 book on the laws of inheritance as described in the sharia (Islamic law). In the opening pages, the author, Nik Muhammad, formally praises the Afghan ruler Habibullah Khan (reigned 1901–19). He states that the book was written by decree of Prince Muʻin al-Saltana (i.e., Habibullah’s son, ‘Inayatullah Khan, who in 1929 would serve briefly as ruler of Afghanistan), and that it was printed by lithography at the Dar al-Saltana printing press in Kabul. The book includes a discussion of the different categories of inheritors and of the inheritance share for each, as well as several sections on mathematical operations dealing with fractions. Interspersed within the text are poetic verses generally containing a précis of the topic under discussion. Included at the end of the work are a tabṣira (clarification) and a taqrīẓ (eulogy). The tabṣira is a moral commentary on the transience of life, wryly expressed from the viewpoint of a dead person. The taqrīẓ, which praises Habibullah while making no reference to ‘Inayatullah, includes the first mention of the author’s name, and lists as well the name of his father (a certain Hajji Muhammad of the mountainous Parwan Province to the north of Kabul). It also recommends the text for use by second- and third-year students at the Habibiya School founded by Habibullah Khan.

Last updated: September 30, 2016