The Lesser Compilation of Hadiths of the Consecrated Messenger


This manuscript dating from the late 17th century is a collection of hadiths, or sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, by the Egyptian polymath Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti (1445−1505). The work is carefully written in naskh script. The title is enclosed in a decorative headpiece, not exquisitely drawn but nonetheless colorful yet restrained. In contrast to his comprehensive Jamiʻ al-jawamiʻ  (Compilation of compilations), in this work al-Suyuti promises “the short, abbreviated essence of hadiths and early records, ignoring the shell and taking only the nut.” He accomplished this objective by providing only brief quotes from each hadith and abbreviations for its sources. He was expressly writing for students rather than fully formed experts. He arranged the work alphabetically by the first word of the quotation, listing Muhammad's supposed manahi (thou shalt nots) under the letter nūn for the verb naha (to forbid). Al-Suyuti is known for his prodigious memory, which assisted him in his specialized work on hundreds of thousands of hadiths, some 11,000 of which are included here. Brilliant, combative, controversial, and self-assured as he was, Al-Suyuti aroused hostility on the part of his scholarly competitors, which ultimately drove him from public life. He spent the last decades of his life in seclusion at Rawdah, an island in the Nile at Cairo, where he continued to work on his books and carried out an influential correspondence. Although best known for his works on hadith and other Islamic subjects, he also wrote on the natural sciences, medicine, and the Arabic language.

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Title in Original Language

الجامع الصغير من حديث البشير النذير

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  1. E. Geoffroy, “Al-Suyuti,” in Encyclopaedia of Islam (Leiden: Brill, 1997).

Last updated: June 9, 2015