|Manuscript copy of the Kitāb sīrat ahl nafūsa written in the hand of Maḥmūd b. Sālim b. Yaʿqūb and dated 21 August 1974. Source: al-Bughṭūrī, Siyar mashāʾikh jabal nafūsa, ed. T.A. al-Shaqrūnī (Tawalt Editions, 2009), 19.|
This post is devoted to the very recent manuscript history of a medieval work of siyar known as the Siyar mashāʾikh jabal nafūsa attributed to Maqrīn b. Muḥammad al-Bughṭūrī (d. early 7th/13th c.) . Ibadi books of siyar are the most widely-cited works by historians of Northern African Ibadi history. These books are collective biographies (or ‘prosopographies’) that tell the story of the Ibadi community through accounts of the lives of scholars and pious exemplars .
|Colophon from Siyar ahl nafūsa, MS dated 3 Shaʿbān 1394 (21 August 1974) in the hand of Maḥmūd b. Sālim b. Yaʿqūb. Source: al-Bughṭūrī, Siyar mashāʾikh jabal nafūsa, ed. T.A. al-Shaqrūnī (Tawalt Editions, 2009), 21.|
I have been thinking about this text and the manuscript copies of it while preparing to publish an annotated inventory from the Baʿṭūr (or Baʿṭūrī) library in Djerba prepared in 1987 for a manuscript exhibition on the island. The inventory includes a title given as: “Risālat siyar nafūsa li-Maqr[ī]n b. Muḥammad al-Baʿṭūrī al-Nafūsī 595.”  This manuscript no doubt refers to the manuscript of al-Bughṭūrī’s book discovered by Shaykh Sālim b. Yaʿqūb.
There are two things that struck me about this. Firstly, the name of the author is given as “al-Baʿṭūrī” and not as it is more commonly spelled: “al-Bughṭūrī.” Orthographically, the two names are only distinguished in Arabic script by a dot and so it would be interesting to know if both actually refer to the same family (I doubt it, but hey you never know). Secondly, the date given for the manuscript is 595AH (1198-9CE) in the inventory whereas Abū l-ʿAbbās al-Shammākhī (d.1522) referred to 599AH (1202-3CE) as the date of transcription . The copy transcribed by Maḥmūd b. Sālim b. Yaʿqūb also gives 599AH as its date (see photo).
Finally, an additional copy of the Siyar mashāʾikh nafūsa is housed at Irwān library in Ateuf, Algeria. The entry in the catalog is for a photocopy of a manuscript copy carrying the date 15 Rajab 1401 (18 May 1981) transcribed by Ibrāhīm b. Muḥammad ʿAlwānī from the manuscript belonging to Shaykh Sālim b. Yaʿqūb .
The manuscript history of the Siyar mashāʾikh jabal nafūsa demonstrates that ‘medieval’ texts often have very modern histories that explain their survival. It also serves as a reminder that the Ibadi manuscript tradition was alive and well in the 20th century. This text’s history highlights especially well the importance of these two points since the late-medieval manuscript upon which later copies were based in the 20th century was lost when the Baʿṭūr library went up in flames.
Notes | ملاحظات ومراجع
 On the attributed author see V. Prevost, “Al-Bughṭūrī, Maqrīn b. Muḥammad,” Encyclopedia of Islam Three (2013), 57-8.
 On the Ibadi prosopographical tradition see P. Love, Writing a Network, Constructing a Tradition: The Ibadi Prosopographical Tradition in Medieval Northern Africa (PhD Thesis, University of Michigan, 2016).
 In the introduction to the printed Kitāb Ibn Sallām, the editors note that al-Bughṭūrī’s Siyar was copied by Zāʾid b. ʿAmr b. ʿUmar b. Ibrāhīm b. Sulaymān al-Ṣīdghiyānī in 913/1508-09. See: Kitāb badʾ al-islām wa-sharāʾiʿ al-dīn, ed. S. b. Yaʿqūb and W. Schwartz (Beirut, 1986), 45.
 A.K. Ennami, “A Description of New Ibadi Manuscripts from North Africa,” Journal of Semitic Studies, 15:1 (1970), 84-5.
 al-Bughṭūrī, Siyar mashāʾikh nafūsa, ed. T. al-Shaqrūnī (Tawalt.com Online Editions, 2009). Available online at: http://www.tawalt.com/wp-content/books/tawalt_books/siyar_nafousa/siyar_nafousa.pdf [accessed 2 August 2016]
 “Maktabat al-Baʿṭūr” in Qāʾimat al-kutub al-mawjūda fī-l-maktabāt al-khāṣṣa wa-l-ʿāmma allatī tamakkanā min jardihā l-ʿiḥṣāʾ al-wathāʾiq al-jarbiyya,” (Jamʿiyyat ṣiyānat jazīrat jarba, 1987), 21.
 al-Shammākhī, Abū l-ʿAbbās Aḥmad, Kitāb al-siyar, ed. M. Ḥasan (Dār al-gharb al-islāmī, 2009), 775.
 “Sīrat ahl nafūsa,” No. 249, Fihris maktabat Irwān, Shelf-mark mīm ṣāḍ 7.