Adventures in Cataloging: Arabic Manuscripts at RBML Part 3

By Hanan Jaber

Welcome to the final part of our Arabic Manuscripts at RBML series! Today, we are presenting the last four books for this collection. 

Hand-written Qur’an – 1845

Of course I was expecting to find Qur’ans within the manuscripts just because many older books tend to be law books and religious texts. I came across one Qur’an hand-written in 1845 by Muhammad al-Raji. One of the notable commonalities amongst all the religious books that are manuscripts, including this Qur’an, was the notes of humbleness written at the end of the books. They usually begin with “this was written by the one in need of his lord so and so”, and end with “may his lord forgive him and have mercy on him and his parents and teachers”. (Post-1650 MS 0753)


Qurʼān-i majīd bit-tarjumatain maʻ tafsīr-i Jalālain val-ʻAbbāsī

This is another example of a book which is not a manuscript, but has hand edited components. This Qur’an, printed in 1869 in India, is written in the Arabic script typically found in South Asia, and includes two commentaries translated into Urdu: that of al-’Abbas (d. 652 CE) and that of Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti (d. 911 CE). What stands out about the text is the intricate architectural designs and the hand colored highlights around the commentary (Call No. IUQ04989). 


Linguistic and Literary Commentary on the Works of Ibrahim ibn Sahl al-Isra’ili

This manuscript, written in 1715 in Maghrebi script, is a commentary on the works of an early-13th century, Andalusian poet named Ibrahim ibn Sahl al-Israili. A historical note I learned while cataloging this was that Ibrahim ibn Sahl was originally a Jew who had converted to Islam in Spain. The reason “al-Israili” was appended to his name was because he originally came from a Jewish background, and thus was known as “Ibrahim the Israelite”. (Post-1650 MS 0755)


Manuscript Compilation of Islamic Rulings written by Muhammadayn Yusuf al-Yusuf

This manuscript was very personal from the author to a group of his friends. It is a compilation of six treatises and notes pertaining to Islamic rulings (fatawa) as well as Islamic recommendations and letters written by al-Yusuf and presented to his friends Khabbab al-Mukrim and Abd Allah ibn Abd. (Post-1650 MS 0756).


And that concludes our Arabic manuscripts blog series. We hope you enjoyed this series and feel free to drop in and take a look at our new additions!