Ibadi Manuscripts in non-Ibadi Libraries | المخطوطات الإباضية بالمكتبات غير الإباضية

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Figure 1: f.1.a of EAP1216_T_1_0051, a copy of the Kitāb al-īḍāḥ (Photo: P. Love, 2019)

Ibadi libraries, almost without exception, house non-Ibadi books. Sometimes, Ibadi-owned libraries held hundreds of titles by non-Ibadi authors and those titles far outnumbered the Ibadi ones.

When an Ibadi manuscript appears in a non-Ibadi library, however, that is something to write home about.

A manuscript from the El Trouk Mosque library in Houmet Souk, Jerba that was found during the launch of our two-year digitization effort there is a great example. [1] Among the dozens of Maliki and Hanafi works of fiqh, grammar guides, didactic poems, and canonical Sunni titles one would expect to find in this Jerba branch of the renowned Zaytuna Mosque, there came a surprise: an early 18th-century copy of the 2nd volume of the classic work of medieval Ibadi fiqh, the Kitāb al-īḍāḥ by Abu Sākin ʿĀmir al-Shammākhī (d. 792/1279).

Now, this book (Figure 1) represents one of the most ubiquitous titles in any Maghribi Ibadi library and in a different context, it would hardly stand out. A standard primary on fiqh, the Kitāb al-īḍāḥ was part of the classical ‘core curriculum’ taught throughout Jerba and elsewhere in Maghribi Ibadi communities. Indeed, over a dozen copies were housed in the Ibadi trade agency, school, and library in Ottoman Cairo known as the “Buffalo Agency” (Wikālat al-jāmūs) at the beginning of the 20th century. [2]

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Figure 2: Colophon from EAP1216_T_1_0051, noting that it was copied in the Wikālat al-jāmūs in Cairo in 1124/1712. (Photo: P. Love, 2019)

This copy came to Jerba from Buffalo Agency, where it was copied in in late Jumādā I 1124 AH / July 1712 by Ṣāliḥ b. Saʿīd b. Aḥmad al-Sidwīkshī (Figure 2). Like other Jerbans originally from the village of Sidwīksh, Ṣāliḥ had come to Cairo to study at the Agency and likely at al-Azhar Mosque. ʿAbdallāh, b. Saʿīd, who might have been copyist’s much older brother, had gained notoriety back home a few decades before the manuscript was copied when he took over the well-known Lākīn mosque. [3]

The manuscript appears to have traveled back to Jerba with Ṣāliḥ, eventually joining the stacks of the El Trouk collection. That collection, however, appears only to have taken shape at the start of the 20th century (more on that later). Nevertheless, its inclusion in a Maliki library makes it an unusual find.

In contrast to its unexpected archive, the other thing I like about this book is just how ordinary it is. The Ottoman-style leather binding is modest, with simple features like paste-downs that were part of the text block and little extra decoration. A few traces of the primary white endbands remain, along with what look to be a few threads from the secondary endbands in red (Figure 3). Nothing fancy.

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Figure 3: Traces of endbands and cloth binding support in EAP1216_T_1_0051. (Photo: P. Love, 2019)

Supporting the text block and attaching it to the binding was a blue-green and white fabric, although this would not have shown when the binding was still in tact. Running your finger over the back board, you can feel what seems to be a pendant design embossed into the pasteboard below (Figure 4). The current cover, however, shows only a faint outlined of a pendant. Perhaps the binding cover was never finished, or perhaps the board is a recycled piece from another older binding. Based on how off-centered the impression is (Figure 4), I suspect the latter scenario is the more likely one.

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Figure 4: The exterior of the binding cover of EAP1216_T_1_0051. Notice the off-centered circle on the bottom board. When running a hand over it, one feels an embossed design below, suggesting it was a board recycled from a larger codex. (Photo: P. Love, 2019)

For me, given all these otherwise unremarkable features, I find it even more fascinating that it ended up in a Maliki library. This manuscript was produced by a student for everyday use in the 18th century. It shows signs of quotidian wear and tear from continual use and travel over time. Its battle scars and evidence of rebinding serve as testaments to the various chapters of its life as a primer in fiqh used by students across three centuries, as do the three different shelf marks carried on its spine and the first folio of the manuscript.

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Figure 5: A marginal note from f.1.a of EAP1216_T_1_0051, marking the confusion of what was probably a Maliki student reading the manuscript in Jerba. (Photo: P. Love, 2019)

It is a paratext at the start of the manuscript, however, that remains my favorite feature of this book’s history. Written in the left hand margin of the first folio is a note that shows how out of place this text must have seemed to many young Maliki students at the mosque (Figure 5). It reads:

“This [book] is, perhaps, [from] outside the four [Sunni] schools” [4]

Yes, indeed!

Here’s to the first of many fascinating manuscript stories as we move forward in EAP1216 in the coming months.

في أغلبية المكتبات الإباضية، توجد كتب غير إباضية. أحيانا، عدد العناوين غير الإباضية هي أكبر بكثير من العناوين الإباضية. أما الكتب الإباضية في المكتبات غير الإباضية فهذه الحالة تمثّل استثناء جدير بالذكر والاهتمام. في الأشهر الأولى من مشروعنا لرقمنة 7 مكتبات خاصّة  بجزيرة جربة في الجمهورية التونسية هذا الصيف الماضي، اكتشفنا مثالا من هذه الظاهرة وأردت أن أكتب بعض التفاصيل عن المخطوط هنا [1]ـ

بين الكتب المالكية والحنفية حول الفقه والنحو والصرف والحديث (وكل المواضيع والعناوين المتوقعة في فرع من فروع جامع الزيتونة) وجدنا نسخة من الجزء الثاني من “كتاب الإيضاح” لأبي ساكن عامر الشماخي (ت 1279/792). يمثّل هذا الكتاب مرجعا أساسيا للمذهب منذ قرون وكان جزءا لا يتجزأ من “الخطّة الدراسية المركزية” للإباضية في جربة وغيرها من المجتمعات الإباضية. على سبيل المثال، كانت توجد أكثر من عشر نسخ من هذا العنوان في وكالة الجاموس (المدرسة والمكتبة الإباضية في القاهرة خلال العصر العثماني) [2]ـ

نُسخ هذا المخطوط بوكالة الجاموس نفسها على يد صالح بن سعيد بن أحمد السدويكشي في آخر جمادى الأول عام 1224/1712. كما فعل الكثير من الجرابة في ذلك العصر، ذهب صالح إلى القاهرة للقراءة في الوكالة والأزهر قبل الرجوع إلى جربة. لعّل المؤلف والعالم المعروف أحمد بن سعيد السدويكشي أخوه الكبير [3]. على كل حال، يبدو أنّ صالح نسخ الكتاب في القاهرة وعاد به إلى جربة فيما بعد. بمرور الوقت، انتقل الكتاب من مكتبة إلى مكتبة حتى في بداية القرن العشرين كان يوجد في جرد في مكتبة الترك في مدينة حومة سوق. في أية مكتبة إباضية، لم يثير هذا المخطوط باهتمام كبير ولكن وجوده في فرع جامع الزيتونة بجربة فعلا مثير للاهتمام

بالنسبة للمخطوط نفسه، يعجبني أيضا لأنّه عادي الملاحم. مثلا، تسفيره وتجليده ليسا رقيقين أو نادرين (انظر صورتان 3 و 4). بالعكس: التجليد بالطريقة “العثمانية” البسيطة وتوجد جوانب خارجية تدلّ على أنّ الكتاب تمّ تصليحه أكثر من مرّة. أي: كان هذا الكتاب كتاب مستعمل ومفيد لعدّة أجيال من الطلبة الإباضية. لا يمثّل انتاجا فنّيا ثمينا ونادرا بل يمثّل أهمية الكتب العادية في تواصل المعلومات والتراث الإباضي عبر ثلاثة قرون

أخيرا، الشيء المفضّل عندي في هذا المخطوط هو ملاحظة صغيرة في أوّل الكتاب في الهامش الأيسر وهو الآتي (انظر صورة 5)ـ

“لعل هذا خارج المذاهب الأربعه”

فعلا! إن شاء الله، هذه القصة هي الأولى من كثيرة ستأتي في إطار مشروعنا

 

Notes


[1] “The Djerba Libraries Project” (EAP1216) began in summer 2019 under the auspices of a grant from the Arcadia Foundation administered by the British Library’s Endangered Archives Programme. The first library in the project, by far the largest, is the El Trouk Mosque Library in Houmet Souk. Holding over 200 volumes of manuscript and early print materials (lithographs and type-set print), the library has a remarkable story that deserve its own study (coming soon, enchallah!).

[2] For translation of the list of endowed books in that library, see M. Custers “Catalogue of Waqf Books” (2016) available online here. The list of endowed copies of the Kitāb al-īḍāḥ appears in part 2, pg.2.

[3] See this online entry on him quoted from the Tarājim al-muʾallifīn al-tūnisīyīn

[4] Laʿallahu min khārij al-madhāhib al-arbaʿ (EAP1216_T_051, f.1.a)

One thought on “Ibadi Manuscripts in non-Ibadi Libraries | المخطوطات الإباضية بالمكتبات غير الإباضية

  1. Pingback: An Ibadi manuscript in a non-Ibadi Library | مخطوط إباضي في مكتبة غير إباضية | The Djerba Libraries Project

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