Critical Examination of the Summary of al-Qazwini


Al-Miftāḥ al-ʿulūm (The key to the sciences) by Persian polymath Yusuf ibn Abi Bakr al-Sakkaki (1160−circa 1228) is a monumental work covering 12 sciences of the Arabic language. Generally divided into three areas (morphology, syntax, and rhetoric), al-Miftaḥ (The key), as the work is known, became the subject of numerous commentaries. One of the main commentators was Jalal al-Din Muhammad al-Qazwini (1267 or 1268−1338), better known as al-Khatib al-Qazwini (the Preacher al-Qazwini) and sometimes as Khatib Dimashq (the Preacher of Damascus). As is the case with many pioneering works in the Arabic language, al-Qazwini’s commentary itself became the subject of a new commentary (or supercommentary), which is preserved in this manuscript by Hasan Kafi al-Aqhisari (1544−1616). A scholar and judge of Balkan origins, al-Aqhisari later moved to Istanbul, where he studied Islamic jurisprudence and Qur’anic exegesis and mastered Turkish and Persian. He mostly wrote in Arabic. In this brief commentary, he highly commends al-Qazwini on his summary of The Key but states that the summary “is not without objections that distract students.” Like the two works it is based on, this commentary covers grammatical topics, such as subject-predicate agreement, and stylistic matters, such as brevity, prolixity, and proper balance. It is written in a simpler language than the parent works, with examples from better-known sources of Arabic literature to facilitate learning. The text is in black, un-rubricated naskh. No completion date or scribe name is given. A partially legible ownership stamp in two places gives the name “al-Sayyid … Muhammad Saʻid” as a possible former owner.

Date Created

Subject Date


Title in Original Language

تمحيص التلخيص

Type of Item

Physical Description

42 folios ; 14.5 x 10 centimeters sheets on 14 x 14.8 centimeters


  • This copy is bound with Risāla fī 'ādāb al-baḥṯ (Tract on the methods of enquiry), a work on dialectics by Shams al-Din Muhammad ibn Ashraf al-Husayni al-Samarqandi (active 13th century).


Last updated: January 10, 2018