Gloss on al-Lari’s Commentary on Philosophy


Muslih al-Din al-Lari (died 1571 or 1572) was a philosopher and scientist who hailed from Shiraz, in present-day Iran. He was initially active in India but later lived in Istanbul, where he enjoyed the patronage of the Ottoman court. A prolific author who wrote in many fields, al-Lari is best known for his interest in “rational sciences.” Some of his works became textbooks in the Ottoman curriculum. The manuscript presented here is a gloss on a commentary by al-Lari on logic and dialectics. The author of the gloss is Muhammad al-Kaffawi, also known as al-Aqkirmani, an 18th-century theologian and linguist who was a judge in Mecca. Al-Lari’s commentary concerns a work entitled Hidāyat al-ḥikmah (Guidance through philosophy) by 13th-century logician, mathematician, and astronomer Athir al-Din al-Abhari (died circa 1265). Like its parent works, this gloss deals with issues pertaining to nature, philosophy, and logic. It begins with a definition of the notion of hikmah, often translated as philosophy or wisdom. Further issues discussed include al-wujud al-dhihni (conceptual existence), mutlaq al-faḍaʼil (ultimate virtues), and al-kulliyat (The principles). The text, framed in brown and black outlines, is in black, well-executed nastaʻliq script, with 21 lines per page, and numerous commentaries in the margins. The title page displays a panel with flowering vines. This manuscript copy was completed on or around December 22, 1764, only three or four years after the author’s death, suggesting the likelihood that it was based on the original. Some biographies, such as al-Zirikli’s al-Aʻlām (The notables), maintain that al-Lari’s commentary was not based directly on al-Abhari’s work, but rather derives from yet another commentary by 15th-century Persian philosopher Qadi Mir Husayn al-Maybudi.

Last updated: January 10, 2018