The Book of Proof of the Secrets of the Science of Weights and Measures (Part 3)


This manuscript consists of a section of Kitāb al-burhān fī asrār ‘ilm al-mīzān (Book of proof of the secrets of the science of the weights and measures) by the Persian alchemist Aydamur ibn ´Alī ibn Aydamur al-Gildakī (also seen as al-Jaldakī, died circa 1342). His name indicates that he was born in Jaldak, in present-day Afghanistan. Over the course of 17 years, al-Gildakī  traveled to Iraq, Asia Minor, West Africa, Egypt, Yemen, Hejaz, and Syria. These journeys are recounted in another of his works, Kitāb nihāyat al-ṭalab fī sharḥ kitāb al-muktasab (The limits of pursuit in regard to the explanation of the book of acquired [knowledge]). Al-Gildakī' is considered one of the last outstanding Islamic alchemists. The first part of his Book of Proof largely concerns the relationship between the Creator and the world of creation, as well as the relationships between the higher and lower planes of existence in their various manifestations. The second part is on ‘Alī (the Prophet’s son-in-law and a central figure to the esoteric traditions of Islam) and the Greek philosopher Apollonius of Tyana. The third part is a commentary on Nihāyat al-ṭalab wa aqṣā ghāyāt al-arab (The utmost pursuit and the remotest scheme) by the Persian-born Jābir ibn Ḥayyān (circa 737–circa 815). The work also contains information on the relationship of metals to their corresponding planets and other chemical data. The present manuscript consists of the third part of al-Gildakī's work. The first several pages of text are missing, however. The colophon tells us of “the completion of the writing of this third part of the book by ... Aḥmad ibn Aḥmad ibn Ibrāhīm Jarībāt al-Shāfi‘ī al-Kātib al-Azharī from the copy of the Shaykh ... Muḥammad ibn Abū al-Khayr al-Mālikī al-Miqātī al-Sharīf." The colophon also indicates that the scribe concluded the manuscript on the 29th day of Muḥarram, 998 AH (December 8, 1589 AD). The first surviving page bears the stamp of the Ministry of Religious Endowments (awqāf), as item number 828 from the Zakiya library, thus identifying the manuscript as a bequest from the Egyptian statesman Ahmad Zaki Pasha (1867–1934).

Last updated: May 20, 2015