Category Archives: Archival Adventures

Reading Historical Bilād al-Shām often takes you to places quite far away from the region you are working about. Here I talk about the logistics of archival work and I talk about manuscripts I found during these trips.

The Library of Ahmad Taymur

How is Ahmad Taymur, the Egyptian bibliophile and ‘gentleman scholar’ who received an obituary in the Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft upon his death in 1930, still awaiting his own study? Joseph Schacht praises in said obituary Taymur’s outstanding knowledge of Arabic literature, his altruistic support of “European scholarship”, and him as the “creator of the most important private library in the orient” (p. 255). The Russian Arabist Krachkovsky mentions similar qualities of Taymur in his autobiographical work Among Arabic Manuscripts. Nonetheless, when Taymur appears at all in more recent publications, he appears mostly as a side-character to someone else who is deemed worthy of a study.

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Aḥmad Ḥasībī-zādeh and Ibn Ṭūlūn MTMs

Last year, my article on different modes of transmission of Ibn Ṭūlūn manuscripts was published in the Journal of Islamic Manuscripts. One figure that was ostentatiously involved in the certification of the manuscripts Chester Beatty Library, MS Ar. 3101 and Staatsbibliothek, MS Landberg 704, I could not identify by that time. He inscribed himself on the title pages of both manuscripts as Aḥmad Efendī Ḥasībī-zādeh in the year 1265/1849. Today, we revisit the identity of this person.

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New Publication on the transmission of Ibn Tulun manuscripts

The Journal of Islamic Manuscripts has just published its newest iteration, a special issue on manuscript notes. The editor Boris Liebrenz is well-known as an authority on this “marginal” topic. My contribution looks in particular at four manuscripts today held at the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin, and traces their historical trajectories from Ibn Ṭūlūn’s original book endowment until their acquisition by Chester Beatty. Continue reading

Placing Ibn Tulun: Evidence from the Majallat al-Majmaʿ al-ʿilmi al-ʿarabi

As I have indicated before, the age when Ibn Tulun was most widely read might well have been the early 20th century. Ahmad Taymur had copies and photographic reproductions made of several of his works, and historians like ʿIsa Iskandar al-Maʿluf and Salah al-Din al-Munajjid also collected his works. Al-Munajjid also edited several texts within the series Rasaʾil al-Tarikhiyya. And finally, both him as well as others described and discussed Ibn Tulun’s works in the pages of the central organ of Syrian or even Arab historical/literary scholarship, the Majallat al-Majmaʿ al-ʿilmi al-ʿarabi. Continue reading

An ijāza for Ibn Mufliḥ

Akmal al-Dīn, a scion of the prominent Ḥanbalī Ibn Mufliḥ family, was mentioned here several times before and was probably the most visible of Ibn Ṭūlūn’s students in terms of engagement with his writings. Ibn Mufliḥ copied them, annotated and rubricated them, and also added material to some of them.

Among the evidence of their student-teacher relationship survives an ijāza Ibn Ṭūlūn penned for Ibn Mufliḥ after the latter’s discussion of some chains of transmission he had received from him (for the transcripts, see github). This document survives in the Istanbul manuscript MS Laleli 3747, fols. 192b-193a. Unfortunately, I have no further information about the other contents of this manuscript except that it did not contain any other writings by Ibn Ṭūlūn. Continue reading