October 17, 2014

The Nabhani Offering on the History of the Arabian Peninsula

Al-Tuḥfat al-Nabhānīya fī tārīkh al-jazīra al-ʻArabīya (The Nabhani offering on the history of the Arabian Peninsula) is by Muḥammad ibn Kahlīfa ibn Ḥamd ibn Mūsā al-Nabhānī (1883 or 1884−1950 or 1951). The author was a teacher at the Masjid al-Ḥarām in Mecca (as was his father). The younger al-Nabhani started this work after his visit to Bahrain, and a request that he write a book treating the history of the current rulers of Bahrain, as well of its ancient emirs and their dealings with friend and foe. As the original plan had been to limit the work to the history of Bahrain, al-Nabhānī initially titled his work al-Nubdha al-laṭīfa fī al-ḥukkam min al-khalīfa (The charming fragment regarding the rulers of the house of al-Khalīfa). When the work was expanded to include the totality of the Arabian Peninsula, its name changed as well. Chapter nine of this work is a large section (with independently numbered pages) on Basra (present-day Iraq), in which al-Nabhani served briefly as judge, and in which he was imprisoned by the British during World War I. The present copy is a revised and expanded second edition, published in 1923−24 at the Maṭbaʻat al-maḥmūdīya publishing house in Cairo.

An Introduction to the Study of the Eloquent Speech of the Arabs

Muqaddama li dirāsat balāghat al-ʻArab (An introduction to the study of the eloquent speech of the Arabs) is a work on Arabic literature or belles lettres. The author, Aḥmad Ḍayf, was an instructor at the Egyptian University (later renamed the University of Cairo). The book was intended for students at the university and was to serve as a study guide for their understanding of literary eloquence. It includes a brief description of the modern Arabic literary movement. Other topics covered are belles lettres and society, and the different categories of Arabic poetry, such as the poetry of the jāhilīya period, literally “the poetry of ignorance.” This pre-Islamic poetry is a major source for classical Arabic grammar and vocabulary, and the poems that have survived are held by some to be among the finest Arabic poetry of all time. Ḍayf also includes a survey of literary criticism in France from Pierre de Ronsard (1524−85) to Boileau (Nicholas Boileau-Depréaux, 1636−1711), both of whom were poets as well as critics. Dayf also discusses later literary critics, such as Hippolyte Taine (1828−93) and Ferdinand Brunetière (1849−1906). The book was issued by the publishing house of al-Sufūr in Cairo in 1921.

Contentment of the Seeker Regarding the Most Famous Arabic Compositions Printed by Eastern and Western Printing Presses

Edward Van Dyck was an American diplomat and author who served as consular clerk and vice-consul in Lebanon and Egypt from 1873 to 1882. He was the son of the missionary Cornelius Van Dyck, a medical doctor who was professor of pathology at the Syrian Protestant College (which became the American University of Beirut), but who is well known for his Arabic edition of the Bible. Kitāb iktifā' al-qanūʻ bimā huwa matbuʻ min ashhar al-ta'ālīf al-arabīya fī al-maṭābiʻ al-sharqīya wa al-gharbīya (Contentment of the seeker regarding the most famous Arabic compositions printed by Eastern and Western printing presses) is a bibliographic dictionary of printed works in Arabic, published by Edward Van Dyck in 1896.  The book consists of an introduction and three sections. The first section is on "the interest of Europeans in the Arabic language." The second is on "Arabic literature from its origins to shortly after the fall of Baghdad." The third section covers Arabic literature from "the 13th to the 17th century [CE]." The book includes an index of the literary works discussed in the text and an index of authors. The main body of the book was completed on September 9, 1896; however, the indices were not completed until the following year. Following them is a statement: “The indices were finished and the printing completed in April 1897.” The author’s afterword is dated March 1897, so the publication date of 1896 printed on the cover of the entire work appears to be an error. The book was edited by Muḥammad ʻAlī al-Bablawī, and was published by Maṭbaʻat al-ta'ālīf (al-hilāl), in Cairo.

Lamp of Kings

Sirāj al-mulūk (Lamp of kings) is by Muḥammad ibn al-Walīd al-Ṭurṭūshī, a Maliki imam also known as Ibn Abū Zandaqa. Al-Ṭarṭūshī was born in Tortosa in Catalonia (in what was then al-Andalus, present-day Spain) in 1059 or 1060. He died in Alexandria, Egypt in 1126 or 1127. The topic of the Sirāj al-mulūk, his most famous work, is political theory. The present edition was published in 1888−89 by Maṭbaʻat al-khayrīyah in Cairo. According to Kitāb iktifā' al-qanūʻ bimā huwa matbuʻ min ashhar al-ta'ālīf al-arabīya fī al-maṭābiʻ al-sharqīya wa al-gharbīya (Contentment of the seeker regarding the most famous Arabic compositions printed by Eastern and Western printing presses), a bibliographic dictionary of Arabic literature published by Edward Van Dyck in 1896, an earlier print edition of this work was made in Alexandria in 1872 or 1873. Included in the margins of this work is the text of al-Tibr al-mabsuk fī naṣā'iḥ al-mulūk (The golden ingot of advice for kings), a translation from Persian into Arabic of al-Ghazzālī's Naṣīhat al-mulūk (Advice for kings). Born in Ṭūs, Persia (present-day Iran), in 1058, al-Ghazzālī was one of the foremost intellectual luminaries of the Islamic world. However, the authorship of a fair amount of the Naṣīhat al-mulūk has been called into question on stylistic and other grounds.

Al-Furqānī’s Qurʼanic “Duʻā”

This 13-page manuscript is a Muslim mystic duʻā (prayer) attributed to Sayf ibn ʻAlī ibn ʻĀmir al-Furqānī, an Omani Ibadite (also seen as Ibadhite and Ibadi) scholar who is known for his writings on Islamic esotericism. Ibadism (also seen as Ibadhism) is an Islamic denomination that traces its roots to the seventh century, at the time of the Sunni−Shiite schism. It is named after Abdullāh ibn Ibāḍ, one of the founding scholars of the doctrine. Today’s adherents of Ibadism are found primarily in Oman, in addition to other communities in North and East Africa. Al-Furqānī’s additional name attribute, al-Nizwī, suggests he hailed from Nizwā, one of the oldest cities and centers of scholarship in the interior of Oman. It is unclear when he lived, but a note at the end of the prayer states that the manuscript is in his own hand, and another note, albeit in a different ink, adds that it was copied in Rabīʿ al-Awwal 1318 AH (June 1900). It is believed that al-Furqānī used to perform this duʻā after each of the five daily Muslim prayers. The text on the margins of the first two pages gives guidance about the nature of the duʻā and how to perform it. The language is clearly of Sufi nature, with frequent use of terms such as nūr (luminosity), ʻilm (knowledge), luṭf (sublimity), and sirr (mystery). The last page of the manuscript shows another prayer, in the form of a grid consisting of six-by-six squares. Each square is divided into two triangles that are inscribed with the phrase Allāhu ʿalīm (Allah is all-knowing) and the number of times the phrase should be repeated. The use of the root letters ʻa-l-m (to know), together with the numbers, suggests a belief in the so-called ʻilm al-ḥurūf (knowledge of the letters), where the letters, especially those comprising the name of God, are believed to carry divine secrets that may be perceived only by those who worship diligently.

The Clear Guide on the Marriage of the Young

ʻAbd Allāh ibn Ḥumayyid al-Sālimī (circa 1869–circa 1914) was a leading Omani Ibadite (also seen as Ibadhite and Ibadi) scholar and poet, who was born in the town of Al-Ḥoqain in the Rustāq region of the interior of Oman. Ibadism (also seen as Ibadhism) is an Islamic denomination that traces its roots to the seventh century, at the time of the Sunni−Shiite schism. It is named after Abdullāh ibn Ibāḍ, one of the founding scholars of the doctrine. Today’s adherents of Ibadism are found primarily in Oman, in addition to other communities in North and East Africa. Al-Sālimī first studied Islamic jurisprudence under the scholars of his area, before he traveled to the eastern region to broaden his knowledge by becoming a student of the renowned Sheikh Ṣālih ibn ʻAlī al-Ḥārithī (circa 1834−circa 1896). Despite his relatively short life, al-Sālimī wrote numerous books on a range of issues, including Islamic doctrine and jurisprudence, kalām (cosmological argument), comparative religion, Arabic grammar, ʻarūḍ (Arabic poetic meters), and history. His five-chapter Īḍāḥ al-bayān fī nikāḥ al-ṣibyān (The clear guide on the marriage of the young) is a short, well-organized treatise on the jurisprudence of marriage, particularly for those who cannot yet be considered responsible adults. The treatise approaches the subject from an Ibaḍite perspective. Al-Sālimī first divides the various opinions into three categories, namely permission, objection, and conditional permission, before he delves further into them, critically examining each category in detail. The manuscript is in good condition. The text is in black and red ink, with the locations of the different opinions rubricated throughout the text. This copy was produced by Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-Muḥaidharī in 1339 AH (1921).