First Editions of Classical Arabic Texts

Kitāb Dhamm al-Dunyā
Kitāb Dhamm al-Dunyā, 1984.Abstract

Ibn Abī Dunyā, the prolific author, traditionist and compiler of adab works lived in Baghdad in the ninth century CE. The original Arabic text of his "Condemnation of the world" (Kitāb dhamm al-dunyā) is published here for the first time from three manuscripts. The book contains edifying traditions, anecdotes, parables, dreams, visions and verses of poetry, all around the broad topic of Muslim asceticism (zuhd).

In her introduction, the editor provides a brief biography of the author who served as tutor to several ʿAbbāsī princes. She points out that while Ibn Abī Dunyā's works abound in passages extolling asceticism, he was not addressing an esoteric circle of ascetics, but rather aimed at improving the society at large. His purpose was to serve as a bulwark against the moral deterioration of society which was not averse to the pleasures of the world.

The edition includes a critical apparatus of variant readings in the manuscripts, as well as copious references to parallel passages in other sources and details about personalities mentioned in the text. There is also an extensive bibliography and indices.

 

Socrates Arabus: Life and teachings
Socrates Arabus: Life and teachings. Jerusalem: The Max Schloessinger Memorial Foundation, 1995.Abstract

This book is a major resource for the study of Socrates as seen by the Muslim tradition. The characteristics attributed to him in Islamic thought are mainly in the realm of ethics. His wisdom was recorded in medieval Muslim literature in the form of sayings or descriptions of behavior, in a style reminiscent of prophetic traditions (ḥadīth) in Islam. The Arab Socrates is thus different from thinkers such as Plato or Aristotle, who were seen as systematic philosophers; this difference is probably due to the fact that some of their writings had been translated into Arabic.

Among the more important issues in the legacy of the Arab Socrates (who was sometimes confused with Diogenes) was his encounter with the king and his trial and death; his views on God; life and death; speech and silence, and on wisdom and stupidity.

The book contains approximately 900 items of information culled from various philosophical, historical, literary and theological sources in Arabic. The material is organized in two sections: biography and teachings. The Arabic text is accompanied by an English translation, copious footnotes, indices and a detailed critical apparatus. The book complements a previous study by the author, Socrates in medieval literature, published by the Magnes Press and Brill in 1991.

 

Ansāb al-Ashrāf VI B
Ansāb al-Ashrāf VI B. Jerusalem: The Max Schloessinger Memorial Foundation, 1993.Abstract

In this part of his Ansāb al-ashrāf, the Arab historian al-Balādhurī (d. 892) deals with the career of the Umayyad caliph Hishām b. ʿAbd al-Malik (724-743). He recounts the main developments of Hishām's reign such as the revolts of the Khawārij in ʿIrāq, and pays particular attention to the events which took place there during the governorships of Khālid al-Qasrī and Yūsuf b. ʿUmar. Nonetheless, he does not neglect the history of the other provinces of the empire. Al-Balādhurī's account of historical events is interspersed with anecdotes and poems, illustrating various social and economic aspects of this period in Umayyad history.

In his Introduction, in Arabic and English, the editor discusses the reception of al-Balādhurī's work by enumerating the numerous later historians who quoted him. In contradistinction to other scholars, he substantiates the view that al-Balādhurī employed a critical approach to his material.

The edition is based on two manuscripts and includes a double critical apparatus which includes variants in the manuscripts, and references to other historical sources which deal with the contents of this volume. Indices of proper names, place names, verses of poetry, Qurʾānic verses and prophetic traditions conclude the volume.

 

Jawāmi‘ Ādāb al-Ṣūfiyya and ‘Uyūb al-Nafs wa-Mudāwātuhā
Jawāmi‘ Ādāb al-Ṣūfiyya and ‘Uyūb al-Nafs wa-Mudāwātuhā. Jerusalem: The Max Schloessinger Memorial Foundation, 1976.Abstract

This is an edition of two texts by Abū ‘Abd al-Raḥmān al-Sulamī (d. 412/1021), one of the most important Ṣūfī authors. Al-Sulamī combined thorough knowledge of tradition (ḥadīth) with the Ṣūfī heritage. He paved the way for the gradual acceptance of Ṣūfism into the mainstream of Islamic thought, by endeavoring in much of his work to prove that Ṣūfism and Islam were mutually compatible .

The texts in this edition present two important aspects of al-Sulamī‟s writings. In the Jawāmi‘ adāb al-Ṣūfiyya ("A collection of Ṣūfī rules of conduct"), al-Sulamī provides us with what is apparently the first comprehensive documentation of Ṣūfī customs and practices. Most of the Jawāmi‘ consists of Ṣūfi sayings representing the views of five generations of thinkers. The subjects dealt with cover a wide range and reflect the preoccupations of Ṣūfī society.

The second work is a handbook of spiritual discipline entitled ‘Uyūb al-nafs wa-mudāwātuhā ("The defects of the soul and their remedy"). As its title suggests, the ‘Uyūb deals with one of the central motifs of Ṣūfism, the constant struggle against the nafs, or the "lower soul". The attitudes and beliefs expressed are on the whole characteristic of the early ascetics, who regarded the conduct of the Prophet as the supreme example. In both style and content, this work occupies the middle ground between the worlds of ḥadīthadab, and ethics. The two texts contribute not only to a better appreciation of al-Sulamī's work, but also to our understanding of a crucial phase in the history of Ṣūfism.

 

Kitāb Ādāb al-Murīdīn
Kitāb Ādāb al-Murīdīn. Jerusalem: The Max Schloessinger Memorial Foundation, 1978.Abstract

Kitāb ādāb al-murīdīn is unique among known Ṣūfī compositions in that it presents Ṣūfism from the standpoint of ādāb (rules of conduct). Composed by one of the four great masters of Ṣūfism bearing the nisba Suhrawardī (ca. 490/1097-563/1168), the book is characterized by a realistic approach to social necessities and to the moral capability of human nature. The Ṣūfī's sphere of activity, according to Abū al-Najīb, is within society. To accommodate the needs of lay members of the Ṣūfī brotherhood, the author makes prominent use of the traditional concept of rukhṣa, the relaxation of strict rules .

Kitāb ādāb al-murīdīn is a book steeped in the Ṣūfī literary tradition and contains elements found in earlier Ṣūfī classics. However, all the variegated elements have been recast by the author in his own mold. Its language is clear and simple, in accordance with its purpose as a popular manual. The large number of extant manuscripts and their varied provenance may indicate the great popularity which the book enjoyed.

 

Al-Aḥādīth al-Ḥisān fī Faḍl al-Ṭaylasān
Al-Aḥādīth al-Ḥisān fī Faḍl al-Ṭaylasān. Jerusalem: The Max Schloessinger Memorial Foundation, 1983.Abstract

Al-aḥādīth al-ḥisān fī faḍl al-ṭaylasān ("The beautiful traditions about the merits of the ṭaylasān") is a book concerned with Muslim attire. The author draws his material from the prophetic traditions, from the books of law, from Qurʾānic exegesis and from books of history. However, the book has significance for other fields as well. It reflects the various trends of thought in the Mamlūk period and the struggle between the various schools of law. These struggles seem to have revolved around questions related to the administration of the religious endowments (waqf).

The present edition of the Arabic text is based on four manuscripts. The editor has provided an introduction (in French) in which he discusses the contents and the significance of the Aḥādīth.

 

Judaeo-Arabic Literature: Selected Texts
Judaeo-Arabic Literature: Selected Texts. Jerusalem: The Max Schloessinger Memorial Foundation, 1985.Abstract

This anthology is designed as an introduction to the study of Judaeo-Arabic from the cultural, philosophical and linguistic point of view. Judaeo-Arabic texts are written in Middle Arabic, a language which includes Classical Arabic, Neo-Arabic and pseudo-correct elements. For students of Arabic linguistics, it is the Neo-Arabic elements in Judaeo-Arabic which are of special importance. These Neo-Arabic elements constitute the missing link between Old Arabic and the modern dialects .

The anthology includes selections from the major works written in Judaeo-Arabic, such as the Arabic translation of the Old Testament by Saadya Gaon. Karaite literature is represented by passages from Abū Yūsuf Yaʿqūb b. Isḥāq al-Qirqisānī, from the lexicographical work by David b. Abraham al-Fāsī and from the Commentary on the book of Job by Yefet b. ʿAlī. Maimonides is represented, among other works, by selections from The Guide of the Perplexed. A chapter from Judah ha-Levi’s Kuzari is also included. All selections are in the Hebrew script and are provided with a critical apparatus and references to J. Blau’s Grammar of Mediaeval Judaeo-Arabic.

 

Faḍā’il al-Bayt al-Muqaddas
Faḍā’il al-Bayt al-Muqaddas. Jerusalem: The Max Schloessinger Memorial Foundation, 1979.Abstract

This is a critical edition of what is probably the earliest surviving treatise in Arabic on "The Virtues of Jerusalem" (Faḍāʾil bayt al-maqdis), written by Abū Bakr Muḥammad b. Aḥmad al-Wāsiṭī, the Shāfiʿī preacher of al-Aqṣā Mosque at the beginning of the 5th/11th century. Its precision in giving the chain of transmitters (isnād) of each tradition enables us to reconsider some theories concerning the sanctity of Jerusalem in Islam, the sources of its holiness, the polemics concerning its place in the hierarchy of the holy cities and the beginnings of the Faḍāʾil bayt al-maqdis literature. Each tradition was systematically compared by the editor with others cited in different treatises of this genre, most of which are still unpublished. The traditions were also examined in relation to other materials from geographic, historical and ḥadīth sources dealing with the glorification of Jerusalem.

The editor's introductions (39 pages in Arabic and 22 pages in French) deal with the religious, political and local elements which influenced Muslim attitudes regarding the place of Jerusalem, both directly and indirectly. The introductions also contain a discussion of the literary sources of the Faḍā’il bayt al-maqdis literature .

This edition is based on a manuscript that was copied or written at the time of the conquest of Jerusalem by Saladin in 583/1187.

 

ʿAjāʾib al-Āthār fī ʼl-Tarājim wa-ʼl-Akhbār / The Marvelous Chronicles: Biographies and Events.
al-Raḥman al-Jabartī, ʿAbd. ʿAjāʾib al-Āthār fī ʼl-Tarājim wa-ʼl-Akhbār / The Marvelous Chronicles: Biographies and Events. Edited by Shmuel Moreh. Jerusalem: The Max Schloessinger Memorial Foundation, 2013.Abstract

A new critical edition of ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Jabartī's magnum opus ʿAjāʾib al-Āthār fī ’l-Tarājim wa-’l-Akhbār, which covers the history of Egypt from 1688 to 1821.

ʿAbd al-Raḥman al-Jabartī (1753–1825) is the most important historian of late Ottoman Egypt. His Marvelous Chronicles: Biographies and Events (ʿAjāʾib al-Āthār fī ʼl-Tarājim wa-ʼl-Akhbār) covers the history of Egypt from 1688 to 1821, a period which includes Napoleon’s invasion and the French occupation of the country (1798–1801). The historical narrative is combined with numerous biographies, and throughout the entire work the author demonstrates his wide knowledge of both Islamic learning (al-ʿulūm al-naqliyya) and of the new secular sciences (al-ʿulūm al-ʿaqliyya). Al-Jabartī was well aware of the significance of the French invasion, which marked the beginning of modern European incursions into the Middle East, and was much concerned to preserve the dominance of Islamic values at a time when they were threatened by the decline in the status of the ʿulamāʾ and by the military weakness of the Ottoman Empire.

 

The Būlāq edition of the ʿAjāʾib (1880), which has been the most widely used so far, is based on manuscripts copied after the author’s death in 1825. The copyists of these manuscripts took liberties with the author’s style and grammar in order to make them compatible with the rules of classical Arabic. They also changed toponyms and official titles in order to bring them in line with the usage introduced after Muḥammad ʿAlī’s invasion in 1801. The later editions published in Cairo and Beirut are merely copies of the Būlāq edition.

The present edition, prepared by Shmuel Moreh of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is the first to offer a critical text. It is based on the autograph manuscript preserved in the Cambridge University Library. Moreh collated the autograph with the MSS of al-Jabartī’s two short histories of the French occupation of Egypt, Muddat al-Faransīs bi-Miṣr and Maẓhar al-taqdīs bi-dhahāb dawlat al-Faransīs. He also collated it with a number of other manuscripts of the ʿAjāʾib, paying particular attention to the MSS which had been copied under al-Jabartī’s own supervision. Al-Jabartī checked these copies himself, writing his corrections on the margins. Especially noteworthy is a manuscript in Maghribī script which was checked by the author and belonged to his friend Ḥasan al-ʿAṭṭar. Al-ʿAṭṭar took this MS with him on his travels, adding a variety of materials, some inspired by al-Jabartī himself. Al-ʿAṭṭar’s material has been used in the present edition. Moreh has restored as far as possible the original grammatical usage and style of al-Jabartī, and his text includes passages omitted from the Būlāq edition. The readings given on the margins of the present edition indicate the revisions that al-Jabartī made to his opus magnum as a result of changing political circumstances in Egypt.

 

 

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