August 31, 2016

The Attraction of Hearts to the House of the Beloved

Jaz̲b al-qulūb ilá diyār al-maḥbūb (The attraction of hearts to the house of the beloved) by ʻAbd al-Haqq ibn Sayf al-Din Dihlavi (1551–1642) is a work in 17 chapters on the history and lore of the city of Medina. Surpassed only by Mecca in its importance to Muslims, Medina houses the tombs of the Prophet Muhammad and some of his close companions. The Hegira (or Hejira, the migration of Muhammad and his followers from Mecca to Medina, then known as Yathrib) in 622 was a pivotal moment in Islamic history and serves as the origin of the Islamic calendar. In the introduction of the work, Sayf al-Din lists Wafā’ al-wafā’ bi akhbār dār al-muṣṭafā̄ (The exhaustive history of the house of the Chosen One) by Nur al-Din Abu al-Hasan al-Samhudi (1440‒1506) as his main reference. He also states that he commenced writing his work during a visit to Medina in 998 AH (1589‒90) and completed it in Delhi in 1001 AH (1592‒93). Although Sayf al-Din discusses the customs involved in the pilgrimage to Medina, the focus for much of his work is on the physical fabric of the city and the architecture of its religious and secular spaces (much of which has fallen into decay or been subject to deliberate dismantling in the intervening centuries). The present volume is the third edition of this work, printed and published by the famed Newal Kishore Press in Lucknow, India, in 1914.

The Book of Sixty Sciences

Kitāb al-Sittinī (The book of sixty sciences) is a scientific encyclopedia written by one of the foremost intellectuals of the 12th century, the Persian philosopher Fakhr al-Din Razi (1149 or 1150‒1210). Razi dedicated his work, which is also known as Jāmiʻ al-ʻulūm (The encyclopedia of sciences) to ʻAlaʼ ad-Din Tekish, the Khwarazmshahi ruler (reigned 1172–1200), near the beginning of the latter’s reign. As the title suggests, Razi treats 60 distinct branches of knowledge in his work, ranging from al-kalam (theology) to adab al-muluk (the conduct of kings). It is unfortunate that only portions of this important work have been subject to modern critical studies. The edition presented here is a lithographic print that was published by the Muzaffari Press in Bombay (present-day Mumbai, India), in the month of Ramadan, 1323 AH (March‒April 1905).

The Independent Government of Afghanistan and the Duties of its Citizens

Dawlat-i mustaqilah-ʼi Afghānistān va vaẓāyif-i millat-i Afghān (The independent government of Afghanistan and the duties of its citizens) is an early 20th century work on the rights and duties of citizenship for the peoples of Afghanistan. The author, Ghulam Muhyi al-Din, begins with a discussion on the role of society in the conduct of citizens and proceeds to an enumeration of the duties of citizens to the state. The book provides descriptions of the different parts of the state apparatus, including governmental ministries and courthouses. It also has sections on the equality of citizens before the law and on the importance of loyalty to the state. A section on the proper usage of parks and public spaces includes an imaginary dialogue between students, which suggests that Ghulam intended his work to be accessible for a young audience. The book likely would have been a useful instructional tool for the teaching of civics to citizens of different ages and backgrounds in a rapidly modernizing Afghanistan. The book was posthumously published in year 1307 of the Jalali (solar) calendar (i.e., 1928‒29). This coincides with the abdication from the throne of the Afghan ruler Amanullah Khan (reigned 1919–29). In a section of the book on the importance of patriotism, Amanullah Khan’s name has been blotted out, suggesting that the work remained in use even after his abdication.

Epistle of Princely Wisdom

Risālah-ʼi Khiradʹnāmah-ʼi Amīrī (Epistle of princely wisdom) is a short work written in the form of a commentary on what apparently are the musings of the Afghan ruler ‘Abd al-Rahman Khan (reigned 1880–1901) on the topic of ‘aql (intellect). ‘Abd al-Rahman’s observations concern both the variability in the allocation of reason and intellect in humanity, as well as the divine reasons for this unequal distribution. ‘Abd al-Rahman ends his short treatise with the declaration that regardless of any particular individual’s intellectual gifts, there exist in each period true sages whose authority should be recognized by all. The author of the commentary, ʻAbd al-Ra’uf (died 1915), includes the hadiths and other Arabic sources, as well as poems in Persian in his somewhat ingratiating and lengthy commentary. ‘Abd al-Rahman’s original text, which amounts to no more than two pages, is highlighted in red ink, while ʻAbd al-Ra’uf’s commentary is presented in black. The book was completed in Muharram 1304 AH (October‒November 1886) and is in manuscript form. The text is written on a light-cream paper in a nasta‘liq script with black ink. Some of the poems are in red ink.

The Measure of Medicine

Mīzān al-ṭibb (The measure of medicine) is a popular medical work written by Muhammad Akbar Arzani (died 1772). Scholars differ as to whether Arzani was born in Persia or in India, but he is generally considered the first physician of the Mughal Empire to systematically translate Arabic medical works into Persian. His medical texts enjoyed great popularity in India and Persia and served as instructional texts for medical students throughout these lands. It is also known that Arzani was a Sufi and that he belonged to the Qadiriyya order. In the introduction to Mīzān al-ṭibb Arzani states that his purpose in composing this text was to serve destitute students who desired to study medicine as did others of greater means. The clarity of Arzani’s text and its abridged but comprehensive nature are likely what contributed to its becoming the principal work to be mastered by beginning medical students from the 18th century onwards. The work is written in three sections: the first on kayfiyat-i chahar ganah (the four qualities, i.e., heat, cold, moistness, and dryness): the second on dar bayān adwīyah mufrada wa murakabba wa aghz̲īya (the simple and compound drugs and food); and the third on dar bayan amraz wa ‘alaj-i an (diseases and their cures). The major part of the book is taken up by the third section, which is divided into chapters that primarily deal with the treatment of diseases of individual organs. Also included in this section are diseases specific to women and to men and sections on fevers and swellings. The present volume concludes with shorter treatises by other authors on the pulse and on urine. The book was published in 1884 by the famed Newal Kishore Press in Lucknow, India.

Garden of Unitarianism

Tauhid (the belief in the unity of God) is a central tenet of Islam that also serves as one of the main inspirations of the Masnavi (The spiritual couplets) of Maulana Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi (1207‒73). This principle also appears in the title of Ibrahim Shahidi Dadah’s book Gulshan-i Tauḥīd (Garden of Unitarianism), a work that was inspired by Rumi’s well-loved Masnavi. Shahidi Dadah (died 1550 or 1551) was born in Mughlah (Muğla, present-day Turkey) and was a Sufi of the MaulawI, or Mevlevi, order. In Gulshan-i Tauḥīd, Dadah chose from the 25,000 verses of the Masnavi 600 verses and appended to each of them five of his own verses, inspired by and amplifying the original. He completed this work in 937 AH (1530‒31). The work has had at least one modern printing (Istanbul, 1881). The manuscript copy presented here was completed in 1233 AH (1817‒18), probably in Afghanistan. Each Rumi original verse appears in red ink, followed by the Shahidi Dadah verses in black. The copyist has signed his name as Mir ʻAzim ibn Mulla Muhammad Rajab Balkhi. The manuscript is written in a nastaʻliq script on a light-cream paper.