August 11, 2011

Manifestations of Goodness

Dalā’il al-Khayrāt (Manifestations of goodness) is a manuscript by Abu Abdullah Muḥammad ibn Sulaymān al-Jazūlī, a Moroccan Sufi and Islamic scholar who died in 1465. The contents of this work are known to Muslims as one of the best compilations of litanies of peace and blessings upon the Prophet Muhammad. The book was often given to pilgrims on their voyage to Mecca. The beginning of the manuscript shows the varied names by which Allah is called, and several pages portray the names by which the Prophet Muhammad is known in the ummah (community) and in religious scriptures. This manuscript is an elegant work. Each page is bordered with gold inlaid fringes, and some pages have corners showing beautiful floral paintings or other adornment. The manuscript contains two special paintings of the Ka’bah in Mecca and the Mausoleum of the Prophet in Medina, which are ascribed to the 19th-century copyist, who is said to have made them while on a pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina.

The Waymarks to Benefits

This manuscript, dated AH 1294 (AD 1877), contains a copy of a very famous prayer book by the Moroccan Sufi, Muḥammad al-Jazūlī (died 1465), with the title Dalā’il al-Khayrāt (The Waymarks to Benefits). The work exists in many manuscripts and is one of the most widely copied Islamic texts. The opening section consists of the 99 names of Allah, followed by prayers and blessings for the Prophet Muhammad, which are divided into sections for daily recitation. The Arabic script is a clear, but slightly ornate, Naskh. The copyist used several colors of ink, and surrounded the text with a gold border. The cover has a flap to enclose the manuscript, as is common for Islamic codices.

The Festive Maronite

This Maronite prayer book was copied in 1888 by the self-styled “wretched, lazy scribe” Yūsuf Dib. The text is partly in Syriac, partly in Garshuni (Arabic written in Syriac letters). Instead of rubrication—indicating titles and important words in red ink—purple ink is mostly used for this purpose. The manuscript provides a fine example of a carefully written and well-preserved text. The Maronite Church is an Eastern Catholic Church in communion with the Holy See in Rome. Centered in Lebanon, the church takes its name from Saint Marun (died 410), a Syrian monk whose followers built a monastery in his honor that became the nucleus of the Maronite Church.

The Divine Office for Lent

This late 17th century manuscript, copied by a deacon named Jacob, contains the Maronite Divine Office for Lent in Syriac. The numeration, using Syriac letters, is in pages rather than folios. The colophon is in Garshuni (Arabic written in Syriac letters). The Maronite Church is an Eastern Catholic Church in communion with the Holy See in Rome. Centered in Lebanon, the church takes its name from Saint Maron (died 410), a Syrian monk whose followers built a monastery in his honor that became the nucleus of the Maronite Church.

Mirror of the Souls

The Maronite theologian and philosopher Buṭrus al-Tūlānī (1655–1745) was active as a teacher, preacher, and writer. This manuscript, dated 1822 and with the author’s full name given on folio 2r, contains a Garshuni (Arabic language in Syriac script) copy of his Mirror of the Souls (Mir’āt al-Nufūs), a work on contemplative prayer. Other copies of this work are (or were) known to exist elsewhere in Lebanon and Syria. Unlike the rest of the volume, the colophon of this manuscript is in Arabic, not Syriac, letters; the title is also given there as The Mirror of the Soul (singular).

Introduction to the Definition of Logic and its Composition

This 18th-century manuscript in Garshuni (Arabic written in Syriac letters) contains two works and part of another. The manuscript is without foliation, but before what would now be folio 11v, some folios are missing, so that the first work, part of a Christian polemical text, is cut short and a new work begins: Isagoge, or Introduction to Logic (Al-muqaddima fī ta’rīf al-manṭiq wa-ajzā’ihi). A Porphyrian tree diagram is on folio 29v and there are several other diagrams as well (for example, 53v, 56r–57v). According to the colophon on 93r, the manuscript was copied by a scribe named Stephen (Isṭifānūs), a monk of the Saint Antony Monastery, completed on the 11th of Nisan (April), 1737, in Rome. The work is a composition of the monk Yuwāṣaf (Joasaph, 1690–1737) of the village of Baskinta in Lebanon, attached to the Monastery of Saints Peter and Marcellinus in Rome. The manuscript is marked as the property of the monks of Lebanon, and concludes with a short Syriac–Garshuni glossary.