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Takhlis al-Bayan fi Majazat al-Qur'an, or 'Mujazat al-Radi',

copied in the hand of the author, second volume only.

Stock Code 106052

Bayid Persia (Baghdad), dated 13 Shawwal 401 AH (1010 AD).

Original price $188,251.00 - Original price $188,251.00
Original price $0.00
$188,251.00 - $188,251.00
Current price $188,251.00
Exceptionally early and important authorial manuscript on paper. Al-Sharif al-Radi (970-1015 AD) was a celebrated poet and scholar from Baghdad, whose was a direct descendent of Imam Ali, the cousin and son-in law of Prophet Muhammad. His father Abu Ahmad Hussayn was the Naqib of Iraq (a government position with responsibilities for the descendants of Prophet Muhammad) and chief Hajjaj for the region (overseeing pilgrimage to Ka'aba). He is buried in the Holy Shrine of Imam al-Husayn in Karbala. Al-Radi was a literary figure with extensive Islamic fiqh and tafsir expertise, who established the renowned Dar al'ilm (school of knowledge) in Baghdad during his lifetime. This school became a leading educational centre during his lifetime, and nurtured an entire generation of influential scholars, most notably al-Shaikh al-Tusi (995-1067 AD). As an author, Al-Radi is best known for his collection of commentaries on Imam Ali, entitled Nahj al-Balagha (peak of eloquence), which is commonly considered a masterpiece of Shi'ite literature and has remained popular with Shi'ite Muslims for a millennium. The present manuscript contains a lesser known and much rarer work entitled Takhlis al-Bayan fi Majazat al-Qur'an (roughly translating to 'summary of statements in the Qur'an'). It is a literary text focusing on the figurative and metaphorical meanings of phrases in the Qur'an, and is the first independent work of its kind to examine Qur'anic text through a literary perspective.

The details given in the colophon of this codex are solidly supported by both a C14 test (by CIRAM -Science for Art Cultural Heritage of Martillac, France and New York, their report reference 0415-OA-98R-4 carried out in 2015, with them extracting the sample of paper from the book themselves: strip of paper from blank lower edge of fol. 10), as well as a report on the antiquity of the paper stock by Helen Loveday. The C14 analysis establishes a date of 986-1048 AD with a probability of 79.1%, and the paper stock is characteristically Persian and of the twelfth century or before (the extreme rarity of comparative eleventh-century manuscripts from this region forcing the dating parameters to be set as 'twelfth-century or before').

Single volume, second volume only of the text, decorated manuscript in Arabic, complete in alternating quires of 8 and 12 leaves with a bifolium at the end to complete the text, 162 leaves (plus one contemporary and 3 later endleaves), 218 by 118 mm; single column of 11-12 lines in sepia naskh hand of the author al-Sharif al-Radi himself, title on recto of first leaf, colophon at end of text in same hand, on distinctively Persian dark-cream paper, most leaves with mould markings (of 7-8 laid reed lines per centimetre, and with no chain lines apparent), final free endpaper with numerous ownership inscriptions (pre-fourteenth century), occasional marginal commentary (also pre-fourteenth century), some early damp-staining and mottling to leaves to entirety of volume affecting upper and outer corners, a few repairs to preliminary leaves including a closed tear to first leaf, strip of modern paper pasted along length of pastedown (probably from modern description once pasted there and subsequently removed), later endpapers and doublures inserted; fourteenth-century leather boards, stamped in blind and ruled with geometric patterns, skilfully rebacked, resewn and edges repaired, very presentable and attractive condition.


Provenance: <br />1. The author's own copy. Perhaps the exemplar from which all other extant witnesses descend. As the colophon states, it was written by the author himself and completed on 13 Shawwal 401 AH in Baghdad, the capital city of one of four principalities of Bayid/Buyid Persia. It adds that that he began compiling the work on 10 Sha'ban 401 AH, confirming earlier academic theories on the subject (these based on his mention of his father in a laudatory context suggesting he had just died; his father died in 400 AH/1009-1010 AD). Its date agrees so closely with that established for a crucial lost manuscript of another of his works, that we might infer that in the last years of his life the author surrounded himself with like minded scholars and scribes, producing the final and authorised copies of his numerous works (the other work is that of a Qur'an commentary written in ten volumes in 402 AH by a scholar who then read it to the author, but with only volume five of the set surviving to at least 533 AH when it was copied along with its colophon into a manuscript subsequently recorded in the Imam Reza shrine in Mashhad from where it was copied and published by Mirza Husayn Nuri: see I.J. Boullata, Literary Structures of Religious Meaning in the Qu'ran, 2000, p. 300). This is perhaps the sole autograph from that period of intense book production to survive. Baghdad had been an important literary centre since the ninth century AD, and when the Bayid/Buyid dynasty came to power in the mid-tenth century AD it was the second largest city in the world, bested only by Constantinople. It had a vibrant bookish and scholarly culture from its earliest days, with records of a private library there in the ninth century so vast that needed 120 camels to move it from one site to another. By the mid-thirteenth century AD, on the eve of the destruction of the city by the Mongol Hordes, Baghdad had thirty-six public libraries and over a hundred book dealers, who in turn employed a small army of book copyists. The present manuscript comes from the early part of this timespan, from the period of intellectual renaissance and flowering of study under the patronage of the cultured Bayid dynasty who 'valued culture and science as ornaments and expressions of power' and who 'collected intellectual luminaries like jewels in a diadem' (see J.K. Kraemer, Humanism in the Renaissance of Islam: the cultural revival during the Buyid Age, 1992, especially pp. 46-60, at p. 53).<br />2. Haji Ahmad bin al-Shaykh Yusuf al-Khamsi al-Tali'allah (ex-libris mark on endleaf dated 688 AH [1289 AD]).<br />3. Ibrahim bin Abdullah '... al-Mundashi' (ex-libris on endleaf dated Ramadan 737 AH [1336-37 AD], perhaps rebound while in his ownership).<br />4. Muhammad bin Ahmad bin Abu'bakr '… al-Hili', from the ancient town Hillah to the south of Baghdad (ex-libris dated 29 Jumada al-Awwal 751 AH [1350-51 AD] on first leaf of text). Later historical sources record that in the aftermath of the Mongol attack on Baghdad in 1258, following the execution of the ruling elite and much of the population there followed by seven days of looting and razing of its most important buildings. As part of this, it is reported, the Mongols went on to build stables from discarded books instead of bricks, and that the Tigris could be ridden across on horseback as so many of the city's books had been flung into it. Earlier sources, such as Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 1328) note that Nasīr al-Dīn al-Tūsī, an astrologer in the service of the Mongolian khan, Hulagu, 'took possession of the people's books, the endowments, and land', destroying those created for the study of Shia Islam. This volume may have survived due to it being outside of Baghdad during the destruction, perhaps already in Hillah.<br />5. In modern Arabic-speaking book trade in last century, with strip of modern paper adhered to pastedown by right-hand side, most probably from a now removed bookseller's description. <br />6. Private UK collection formed in the 1960s.


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Takhlis al-Bayan fi Majazat al-Qur'an, or 'Mujazat al-Radi',

AL-MUSAWI, Abu-Hassan Muhammad ibn al-Husayn, known as 'al-Sharif al-Radi'.

Stock code: 106052



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