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A RENOWNED ARABIC INTERPRETATION OF PLATO’S REPUBLIC

This treatise derives from Plato’s Politeia ( The Republic ) and is known by its Arabic title as the Kitab al-‘uhud al-yunaniyya al-mustakhraja min rumuz Kitab al-siyasa li Aflatun wa ma indafa ilayh ( Book of the Greek Covenant taken from Plato’s Politeia and what has been added to it ). The aim of the text is to show the superiority of the Greeks over the Persians in politics. This treatise was extensively used in the 14th century by the celebrated Nasrid historian Ibn al-Khatib in his Kirab al-ishara ila adab al-wizara

 (Seyyed Hossein Nasr, History of Islamic Philosophy , Part I, p.861). 


The author’s father, Yusuf Ibn al-Daya was foster-brother to the caliph al-Musta’sim in Baghdad. He served the ‘Abbasid prince and musician Ibn al-Mahdi as chancellor but had to leave Baghdad after his patron’s death and settled in Fustat, Egypt during the reign of the Tulunids (Julie Scott Meisami, Paul Starkey (ed.), Encyclopaedia of Ar abic Literature , Vol 1, p.321). Ahmad, the author of this treatise, was interested in astronomy and philosophy but only a few of his works survive. He translated works from Greek and Syriac into Arabic and wrote a glossary on the Pseudo-Ptolemaic Centiloquium , in his Kitab al-Thamara . He composed other scientific treatises which were translated into Latin by Gerardo da Cremona, including a book on Proportions. Ahmad became Chief Minister to Sultan Abu al-‘Abbas Ahmad Ibn Tulun (d. 884) and composed his biography ( Sirat Ahmad bin Tulun wa ‘bnihi Khumarawayh ).  


This work is listed in Brockelman under Kitab al-siyasa li-Aflatun (GAL supp I, 229). See also Al A’lam 1/272; Mu’jam al-udaba’ 2/157; Tabaqat al-atibba’ wa al-hukama’ 1/160; Kashf al-zunun 1015 

ABU JA’FAR AHMAD BIN YUSUF BIN IBRAHIM KNOWN AS IBN AL-DAYA (859 OR 864 - 941 OR 951 AD)

 KITAB AL-SIYASA WA AL-‘UHUD AL-YUNANIYA AL-MUSTAKHRAJA MIN RUMUZ KITAB AL-SIYASA LI AFLATUN 


MAMLUK EGYPT OR SYRIA, DATED WEDNESDAY 13 ASHBAT AMSHIR AH 871/FEBRUARY 1467 


Arabic manuscript on Egyptian paper, 67 folios plus two flyleaves, each with 13 lines of bold cursive script, titles in large red script, including one table on the combinations of various personal qualities, opening folio with large rectangular title cartouche, colophon giving the date of copy in Levantine and Coptic months and Islamic year, fly-leaf with later owner notes recording various dates, astronomical observations and the birth of the girl Hibatullah bint ‘Ali bin Hasan bin Muhammad al-Halabi on Saturday Rajab AH 875, in associated Ottoman brown morocco with stamped cusped medallion and gilt highlight, end of folio 11 and folio 12 possibly in another hand, old repairs, occasional staining throughout, mistara visible in places 

 

Text panel 15 x 10cm. (approx.)

Folio 18.5 x 13.5cm. 


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AN IMPORTANT MANUAL OF LEADERSHIP, STRATEGY AND POWER

The Salwan al-muta’ fi ‘udwan al-atba’ is an empirical analysis of power through a set of maxims and strategies to be used by a virtuous ruler. Although the title translates as Consolation for the Ruler who suffers from the hostility of his subjects , it is more commonly known in English under the title ‘ Waters of Comfort ’ . It was composed in 1159 during the reign of the Norman King William the Bad (r. 1154-66). The work gave Ibn Zafar his reputation as Niccolo Machiavelli’s precursor (R. Hrair Dekmejian & Adel Fathy Thabit (2000) Machiavelli’s Arab Precursor: Ibn Zafar al - Siqilli , British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, 27:2, 125-137). Ibn Zafar advises the virtuous ruler emphasizing his essential attributes and the means he needs to use in order maintain stability in his domain. The princes should outshine all other human beings by displaying the following five critical virtues: paternal affection for all subjects, vigilance over the populace, courage to defend the people, sagacity to delude foes and prudence to take advantage of every opportunity” (Dan Stoenescu, Islamic and Arab Perspectives on Machiavelli's Virtù, in Studia Politica: Romanian Political Science Review 9 , 2009, 1, pp. 39-45. 


Ibn Zafar al-Siqilli was probably born in Sicily during the Normal period, although his family originated from Mecca. He travelled extensively through the Mediterranean before returning to Sicily in circa 1154 CE. He died in poverty in Hamat, Syria in circa 1169-70 CE. His biography is mostly known through Ibn Khallikan’s (d. 1282 AD) celebrated Lives of Eminent Men and Sons of the Epoch . 


The colophon gives the scribe’s name as Muhammad bin Taqi al-Din al -shami baladan al-masri muwallidan (from Syria [but] born in Egypt) al - shafi’I mudhahhiban (of Shafi’i rite). It ends in these words: ‘The writing remains long after its writer, when he will be buried in the ground’. 


The author is referenced in Brockelmann (GAL supp I, p.595) as Abu ‘Ali (Abu Hashim) Muhammad bin ‘Ali Abu Muhammad bin Muhammad bin Zafar al-Saqali, Hujjat al-Din. Brockelmann lists a number of copies from this well-known treatise in Leipzig, Paris, Cambridge, Cairo and Istanbul. See also Al - A’lam 6/230 ; Kashf al-Zunun 1/261 ; Mu’jam al-mu ’allifin 3/654; Wafayat al-a’yan 1/522; Mu’jam al-adibba’ 7/102

MUHAMMAD BIN ‘ABDILLAH IBN ZAFAR AL-SIQILLI (1104 TO 1169-70)

  KITAB SULWAN AL-MUTA’ FI ‘UDWAN AL-ATBA’ (THE WATERS OF COMFORT )   


SIGNED MUHAMMAD BIN TAQI AL-DIN AL-MASRI AL-SHAFI’I, MAMLUK EGYPT OR SYRIA, DATED SUNDAY MORNING END OF SAFAR AH 983/JUNE 1575 


Arabic manuscript on European watermarked paper, 60 folios, each with 25 lines of Aleppo style naskh , important words and titles in red, some words highlighted in red, colophon signed and dated, with catchwords, occasional marginal notes, title page with copious notes, one dated 22 Muharram AH 988/9 March 1580 and 24 Sha’ban AH 988/4 October 1580, final folio with added notes on reverse, in paper covered binding with flap, one folio possibly lacking (ff.57-58), the margins with occasional waterstaining, binding scuffed with minor losses 


Text panel 14.7 x 7.8cm.

 Folio 19.1 x 13cm. 


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THE FAMED COLLECTION OF FABLES ON KINGSHIP KALILA WA DIMNA

The opening folio gives the title as Kitab Kalila wa Dimna hakam wa amthal wa mawa’iz wa akhbar .  The preface gives the titles of the 16 chapters as follows: 


1. Ibn al-Muqaffa’ 

2. Barzawayh (Barzoi the Physician) 

3. Al-asad wa al-thawr (The Lion and the Ox) 

4. Al-fahs ‘an amr dimna (Dimna’s defence) 

5. Al-hamama al-mutawwaqa (The Ring-dove) 

6. Al-bum wa al-ghurab (The Owl and the Crow) 

7. Al-qird wa al-ghaylam (The Monkey and the Tortoise) 

8. Al-nasik wa ibn ‘ars (The Hermit and the Weasel) 

9. Iladh wa yiladh (The wise Bilar and Queen Ilar) 

10. Al-sannur wa al-juraz (The Rat and the Cat) 

11. Al-malik wa al-ta ’ir qanra (The King and the Bird) 

12. Al-asad wa ibn awa (The Lion and the Jackal) 

13. Al-sawwah wa al-ghawwas (The Traveller and the Goldsmith) 

14. Ibn al-malik wa ashabihi (The King’s Son and his companions) 

15. Al-lubwa wa al-aswar (The Lionness and the Jackal) 

16. Al-nasif wa al-dayf (The Hermit and the Traveller) 

 

In his Anthology of Islamic Literature, James Kritzeck describes Kalila wa Dimna as ‘the oldest work of Arabic prose which is regarded as a model of style’ and the greatest work of Adab (James Kritzeck (ed.), Anthology of Islamic Literature , Harmondsworth, 1964, p.81). In the 8th century, Adab literature introduced novel ideas and concepts, and addressed, mong other things, questions of political authority and legitimacy.  


Ibn al-Muqaffa’ Ruzbih was a Persian convert from Zoroastrianism who chose the Arab name Ibn al-Muqaffa’. He translated the text from the Pahlavi version of Bidpai, itself a translation of the old Indic fable in Sanskrit, the Pancatantra . The fable’s philosophical heroes are the two jackals, Kalila and Dimna. Ibn al-Muqaffa’ wrote other works, including al risala fi al-sahaba (Epistle concerning the Entourage), dedicated to the second Abbasid Caliph al-Mansur, and addressing the political ills of the caliphate, discussing statecraft and legitimate rule in particular (Najm Yousefi, ‘Islam without Fuqaha: Ibn al-Muqaffa and His Perso-Islamic Solution to the Caliphate's Crisis of Legitimacy (70-142 AH/690-760 CE)’, in Iranian Studies , September 2015). He was executed in 757 by political opponents. 


Reference: Ibn al-Muqaffa’ is recorded in Brockelmann (GAL supp I, 233 and GAL I, 238) where his name appears as Abu ‘Amr ‘Ali bin al-Muqaffa’ Rozbih ; see also Kashf al-Zunun 2/1507; Mu’jam al-Mu’allifin 2/301; Al-fihrist of Ibn al-Nadim 1/118; Tarikh al-hukama’ 220

‘ABDULLAH IBN AL-MUQAFFA’ (D. 757 AD)

KITAB KALILA WA DIMNA  


SIGNED ‘ABD AL-BAQI AL-HANAFI BIN MUHAMMAD AL-MADIH AL-MANSURI, PROBABLY EGYPT, DATED FRIDAY MIDDLE SHA’BAN AH 1030/JULY 1621 WITH A DEDICATION TO AL-AMIR MUHAMMAD BIN AL-AMIR MUHAMMAD AL-[..]NI 


Arabic manuscript on European watermarked paper, 138 folios plus one flyleaf, 17ll. of black Aleppo style naskh , important words and titles in red, text within double red rules, opening bifolio with gold frame, colophon signed and dated, with catchwords, occasional marginal comments, in brown morocco stamped with floral cusped medallion and marbled paper doublures, one folio lacking (beginning of chapter 2 ‘Barzawayh’), in fair condition, some loose folios, binding lightly scuffed 


Text panel 13.6 x 10.2cm.

Folio 19.6 x 14.3cm.


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A BOOK OF ADVICE COPIED FOR THE ‘ALAOUI RULER OF MOROCCO

This manuscript was prepared for Moulay ‘Abd al-Rahman bin Hisham of Morocco. He commissioned the treatise (as indicated on the fifth last folio) and his name is elegantly copied in gold maghribi in the preface of the work. There, his full name is given as Mawlana Amir al-Mu’minin Mawlana ‘Abd al-Rahman bin Amir al-Mu’minin Mawlana Hisham bin Sayyidi Muhammad… with his lineage traced back to the Prophet Muhammad through his daughter Fatima. The title of the work is given in fine gold script on folio 4. The colophon gives the full name of the author as Muhammad al-Hadi bin ‘Ali bin Muhammad bin ‘Abd al-Rahman bin Muhammad bin ‘Abd al-Karim bin Tahir bin [Fakhri ?] bin ‘Ali bin Yusuf bin Mawlana ‘Ali al-Sharif. It indicates that the work was started in AH 1244/1829 only to be completed in AH 1262/1846. 


The work deals with hadith and sayings from important figures of early Islam (such as the companions of the Prophet Muhammad Abu Mas’ud, Ka’b al-Ahbar, his wife ‘Aisha, caliph Mu’awiya) and later scholars and philosophers such as Ibn ‘Arabi, Ibn ‘Arafa and Ibn Hajar al-Haythami. The sayings are accompanied by paragraphs detailing their ‘benefits’ (fa’ida) but also including ‘warnings’ (tanbih).


Kitab imta’ al-asma’ is also the title to a work by the well-known mediaeval historian al-Maqrizi (d. 1442).

MUHAMMAD AL-HADI BIN ‘ALI AL-HASSANI AL-SHARIF AL-YUMRANI (FL. FIRST HALF 19TH CENTURY)

KITAB IMTA’ AL-ASMA’


MOROCCO, COPIED BETWEEN THE END OF SHAWWAL AH 1244/APRIL 1829 AND WEDNESDAY 28 SHA’BAN AH 1262/21 AUGUST 1846


Arabic manuscript on paper, 166ff. plus three flyleaves, each folio with 19 lines of sepia maghribi script, important words and authors of the given quotes in pink, blue and purple, some verses given between polychrome rosettes, text within red and blue rules, opening bifolio with finely illuminated margins in gold and polychrome, folio 1 with a large panel illuminated with a geometric composition giving the name of the author in its centre, colophon signed and dated, each page with a religious invocation in the top margin, with catchwords, one flyleaf decorated with a later added dedication to the Treasury of Moulay ‘Abd al-Rahman, in associated contemporary tooled, silvered and gilded red morocco with flap, the doublures extended


Text panel 13.7 x 8.5cm.

Folio21.7 x 16cm.


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Kitab Anba Nujaba al-Buna al-ghurar wa al-durar

A MANUAL FOR THE ASPIRING RULER

The colophon states that the copy of this manuscript started in Cairo on Friday 3 Rabi’ II AH 955/12 May 1548 and was completed in Jedda on the night of dhu al-qa’da AH 955/December 1548. The female scribe is given as Asma bint al-Shaykh Muhammad bin Ahmad bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-Futuhi known as Ibnat al-Najjar Al-Qahiriya. The colophon indicates that she copied this work for herself whilst on pilgrimage to Mecca, travelling with her children.


The preface gives an alternative name to the work as al-ghurar wa al-dararand is in arranged in five chapters. It presents numerous akhbar(anecdotes) each introduced by the expression durrat zayn li-qurrat al-‘ayn(‘a fine pearl for the apple of the eye’ ie ‘a pearl (of wisdom) for the youth’).


A short biography of the author in Arabic is copied in an old 16th or 17th century hand, on the second flyleaf. It appears to be taken from Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti’s (d. 1505) Tabaqat al-Mufassirin (this work records the biographies of the interpreters of the Qur’an among whose is al-Siqilli).


No copies of this work appear to have been sold at auction recently. The work is referenced in Brockelmann as Kitab anba’ nujaba al-abna’ or Durar al-ghurar, a collection of anecdotes. A copy is in the Leipzig University Library, dated AH 999 (Vollers 604); three copies are in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris, titled Histoire des Enfants Célèbres; dated AH 930 (Arabe 2121), 17th century (Arabe 2122) and 18th century (Arabe 6032); two copies are in Princeton University Library, dated 14th century (Garrett no.191H) and 17th century (Garrett no.296L), others are in Tunis, Manchester, Princeton and the Escorial (GAL supp I, p.595).


See also Al-A’lam 6/230; Mu’jam al-Adibba’ 7/102; Mu’jam al-Mu’allifin 3/456; Kashf al-Zunun 1/171

MUHAMMAD BIN ‘ABDILLAH IBN AL-ZAFAR AL-SIQILLI (1104 TO 1169-70)

KITAB ANBA’ NUJABA’ AL-ABNA (REPORTS ON SONS OF NOBLE BREED) KNOWN AS AL-GHURAR WA AL-DARAR  


OTTOMAN EGYPT AND PROVINCES, FIRST HALF 16TH CENTURY


Arabic manuscript on Egyptian paper, 100 folios plus three flyleaves, each folio with 15 lines of black naskh script, occasional words highlighted in red, with red section markers, catchwords, opening folio with typical Mamluk illuminated title cartouche in gold and polychrome, later ownership notes, some dated AH 1223, 1236 and 1242, occasional staining, old damage and repairs to first two folios and flyleaf, in early 20th century burgundy half morocco with gilt, with marbled paper doublures, the colophon possibly a later addition


Text panel 13.5 x 8.5cm.

Folio 19.5 x 14cm.


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