Editing Manuscripts on Literature and Language

Rabat, Morocco
Manuscript Centre Training Courses
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The 12th Training Course on editing manuscripts titled, “Editing Manuscripts on Literature and Language”, 4-9 March 2019 (26 Jumada Thani – 2 Rajab 1440AH), at Dar al-Hadith al-Hassania Institute in Rabat

Al-Furqān Islamic Heritage Foundation, in partnership with Dar al-Hadith al-Hassania Institute in Rabat, organised an international training course on “Editing Manuscripts on Literature and Language”. This was held in the friendly environs of Dar al-Hadith al-Hassania Institute in Rabat on 4-9 March 2019 (26 Jumada Thani – 2 Rajab 1440AH). The course witnessed a significant scholarly presence from Morocco and beyond, and was delivered with the participation of eleven specialist scholars, namely: 

·         Dr Ahmed Chouqui Binebine, Director of the Bibliothèque Royale (al-Khizanah al-Malakiyyah), Rabat

·         Dr Ibrahim Chabbouh, International Expert on Manuscripts

·         Dr Salah Jarrar, Lecturer at the Jordanian University

·         Dr Abbas Arhila, Lecturer in Higher Education, Université Cadi Ayyad, Marrakech

·         Dr Ibrahim Ben Mourad, Lecturer in Higher Education, The Tunisian University

·         Dr Anas Wakkak, Lecturer in Higher Education, Université Cadi Ayyad, Marrakech

·         Dr Mohamed Tabarani, Lecturer in Higher Education, Faculty of Arabic Language, Université Cadi Ayyad, Marrakech

·         Dr Tariq Tatami, Research Scholar, Dar al-Hadith al-Hassania Institute, Rabat

·         Dr Abderrahmane Hibaoui, Research Scholar, Dar al-Hadith al-Hassania Institute, Rabat

·         Dr Mohammed Said Hinchi, Research Scholar at the Bibliothèque Royale, Rabat

·         Dr Abdel Aali L'mdabbar, Research Scholar at the Bibliothèque Royale, Rabat

The training course commenced on Monday morning, 04/03/2019, at Dar al-Hadith al-Hassania Institute in Rabat, with a recitation from the Noble Qur’ān, followed by the opening session.

Dr Abdel Hamid Achak, Deputy Director of Dar al-Hadith al-Hassania Institute, expressed his delight at the launch of this “blessed course” that had become an attraction to researchers concerned with Islamic heritage from all over the world. He welcomed “Morocco’s guests”, whether scholars delivering the training, or course delegates benefiting from it. He concluded by expressing his continuing commitment to collaboration with Al-Furqān Islamic Heritage Foundation in delivering all those projects contributing to serving knowledge and scholarship.

In turn, Mr Sali Shahsivari, Managing Director of Al-Furqān Islamic Heritage Foundation, welcomed the respected scholars and researchers taking part in the training course. He thanked them for their gracious cooperation with the course organising committee, wishing them a pleasant stay in Rabat and continued success in their academic pursuits. He reminded that this course was one of the most important outcomes of the scientific collaboration between Al-Furqān and Dar al-Hadith al-Hassania Institute in Rabat. Moreover, it complemented Al-Furqān’s efforts in regularly organising training courses in critical edition, cataloguing, and philosophy of Islamic law around the world. He also expressed his immense satisfaction with the scientific partnership between the two institutions, and his sincere hope that it would continue and develop in the service of knowledge and scholars.

Dr Salah Jarrar then spoke on behalf of the lecturers and researchers involved in delivering the course. He thanked the Kingdom of Morocco for its patronage of knowledge and scholars. He also praised both organising institutions for their grand efforts, emphasising that this training course had truly become a magnet for researchers and students of knowledge.

The course opened with a lecture on “Critically editing literature and language manuscripts: Issues and examples” delivered by Dr Anas Wakkak, Lecturer in Higher Education at Université Cadi Ayyad, Marrakech. The lecturer presented and analysed the methodological steps to be followed by the researcher engaged in critically editing literature manuscripts, especially during the phase of gathering and studying the manuscript copies of the text of interest. He gave examples of this, including the great benefits contained within manuscript copies of the book, Maqāmāt al-Ḥarīrī, which must be employed in studying copies, and determining the transcription history of the Maqāmāt.

The lecture was followed by the first practical workshop of the training course, titled “Scientific standards in the selection of manuscript copies suitable for critical edition”; these standards applied in the academic context, as well as personal or institutional scientific projects. The workshop was led by Dr Mohammed Said Hinchi, Dr Abdel Aali L’mdabbar, and Dr Abderrahmane Hibaoui.

Tuesday, 5 March, the second day of the course, opened with a lecture by Dr Salah Jarrar on “Critical edition of the manuscript title and its attribution to the author”. He began by reminding the researchers of the peril of making a mistake in, or altering the title of the critically edited book, or in the attribution to the author; this is considered an irredeemable and fatal error in critical edition. He presented examples of this malaise, mentioning that the cause of this phenomenon may be traced to the manuscript itself, or the editor. He presented several challenging issues that the editor could face in this regard, such as: distinct works with similar titles, the same work having multiple titles, or distortion (taṣḥīf) in the title or author’s name, due to incorrect pointing, vocalisation or diacritical marking. He concluded his lecture by talking about the necessity of adhering to the methodological rules in authenticating a book’s title, and proving its attribution to the author; this could be done by examining those sources from which it had quoted or those that had quoted from it, leveraging knowledge and familiarity with the author’s writing pattern, vocabulary, etc., and finally, using modern computer programmes.

This was followed by Dr Abbas Arhila’s lecture titled “One of the problematic issues of critically editing a manuscript-book, is when the treatise is attributed to other than its author, and accepted as such for over a century in time”. The lecturer discussed the rules to be applied in authenticating the manuscript title and verifying attribution to the author. He presented examples, such as Naqd al-athar by Qudamah Ibn Ja‘far, and al-Risālah al-‘adhrā’  by Ibrāhīm al-Shaybānī, erroneously attributed to Ibn al-Mudabbar.

In the evening session, the second practical workshop was held, in which the instructors covered: “Gathering the manuscript copies for the book to be critically edited, and the scientific rules for their study”.

This was followed by the third practical workshop, where the instructors addressed: “Reading the text, and exploring the script and symbols appearing within (Lesson One)”.

The third day of the training course, Wednesday 6 March 2019, began with a lecture by Dr Mohamed Tabarani titled “From the unknown hoarded knowledge (dhakā’ir) of the fourth century, the book, ishtiqāq asmā’ Allāh Ta‘ālā, by Abū Ja‘far al-Naḥās (d. 338AH)”. The lecturer demonstrated the importance of this book, and examined the authentication of attribution to the author; for this purpose, the texts contained within the book were analysed, and their use by the author assessed in terms of sound use and proper citation. He then mentioned a group of sources from which the author had quoted or had quoted him. He concluded the lecture by presenting curated beneficial content he had selected from the book.

Subsequently, Dr Abbas Arhila delivered his lecture titled “Issues and problems in the introductions to some commentaries (shurūḥ) on Tha‘lab”. The lecturer began by reminding of the importance of the introduction in critical edition, including those elements that must be presented within it. By way of example, he used some of the introductions to commentaries on the work authored by Tha‘lab. He mentioned the most important rules that assist in crafting an introduction that is in agreement with the critical edition. Top of the list was meticulously reading those introductions in robust critical editions of texts, and then attempting to emulate them. In particular, the introductions to critical editions executed by pioneers and experts in this craft, such as Shaykh Mahmoud Muhammad Shakir, Shaykh Abdul Salam Haroun, Sayyid Ahmad Saqr, Mahmoud Tanahi, and others.

In the evening session, Dr Mohamed Tabarani delivered his second lecture of the day, titled “Taḥqīq al-manṭiq: A critical reading of the printed critical edition in light of some original texts”. The lecturer discussed the many types of errors committed by the two esteemed editors, despite their eminence, pioneering effort, and expertise in the craft. The main reason for the majority of these mistakes was their negligence in seeking out manuscript copies of the book, which were closely linked to the author, in originality, authenticity, and age.

The fourth practical workshop followed this lecture, where the instructors trained the students participating in the course on the skill of “Reading the manuscript book, and identifying the script and symbols used in the copies (Lesson Two)”.

The fourth day of the course, Thursday 7 March 2019, began with a lecture by Professor Ahmad Chouqui Binebine, titled “The problem of transcription and its effect in the correct capture of heritage books: books of language and literature as an example”. In his lecture, he discussed the problems of transcribing the manuscript Arabic book and the effect of transcription in the distortion (taṣḥīf) and metathesis (taḥrīf) marring many texts. He presented a number of examples from books of language and literature whose meaning had suffered from either distortion or metathesis.

This was followed by Dr Salah Jarrar’s lecture on “Servicing poetry verses and texts in the critical edition of literature and language manuscripts”. In his lecture, he mentioned the rules for the critical edition of poetry texts, and the attendant difficulties in this process. He pointed out the expertise that must be present in anyone attempting such an endeavour, whether during the phase of authenticating the text and attributing it to the author, or while recording variant readings and narrations, or in disambiguation of terms, or constructing indexes.

In the evening session, two practical workshops were held, the fifth and sixth within this training course. The workshop instructors trained the participating delegates on the method for “Proper transcription of the text’s body, organising it into paragraphs and sections, as well as emendation and collation (Lesson One and Two)”.

The fifth day of the training course, Friday 8 March 2019, opened with a lecture by Dr Mohammed Said Hinchi, titled “Critical edition of poetry collections (diwān) and curated selections (ikhtiyārāt)”, which he presented on behalf of Dr Ibrahim Ben Mourad, who was unable to attend this course for compelling reasons. The lecturer discussed the methods of past scholars in gathering, authenticating, and recording poetry. He reminded of the rules that must be abided by in the critical edition of books of poetry collections and selections, while presenting examples of the authentication and critical edition of poetry undertaken by past scholars, as well as examples of editors’ errors in the critical edition of this type of authored texts.

This was followed by the seventh practical workshop which addressed “Technologies in the crafting of different marginalia and commentaries (Lesson One)”.

In the evening session, in the eighth workshop, the trainers completed the topic of “Technologies in the crafting of different marginalia and commentaries (Lesson Two)”, and in the ninth workshop addressed “The methodology of preparing a scientific study and a detailed descriptive introduction for the critical edition project”.

The sixth and last day of the training course, Saturday 9 March 2019, started with a lecture by Dr Ibrahim Chabbouh, titled “That which is indispensable to the editor, observations and issues”. In his lecture, he mentioned some of the codicological factors that help in the study of handwritten manuscript copies, such as possessions (tamalukāt), auditions (samā‘āt), and authorisations to transmit (ijāzāt), as well as the study of paper, ink, binding, etc. He also mentioned examples of editors’ incorrect presumptions (awhām) in the study of manuscripts that they critically edited.

The lecture was followed by the tenth practical workshop, where the trainers addressed “Scientific rules in the preparation of comprehensive indexes for the critically edited book, and their role in facilitating gaining benefit from the book”.

Throughout the days of this blessed course, and at the end of each lecture or workshop, highly beneficial and scientific discussions ensued, covering questions, guiding remarks, corrections, comments, highlighted points, and beneficial cues.

The evening session on Saturday 9 March 2019, witnessed the closing session of the training course. Speeches were delivered by Dr Abdel Hamid Achak, who thanked Al-Furqān Foundation, the participating scholars, the course organising committee, and the teachers and employees of Dar al-Hadith al-Hassania Institute. He reiterated his readiness to collaborate with Al-Furqān Foundation in all those scholarly initiatives that serve knowledge and scholars in Morocco. In turn, in his speech, Professor Ibrahim Chabbouh reminded of the importance of the science of critical edition, mentioning some of its challenges, and the ethics that must be adopted by all those entering the domain, and starting their journey. Dr Salah Jarrar gave a speech on behalf of the scholars participating in the delivery of the training course. He thanked both institutions on the good organisation of the course, and the diligent selection of the delegates, who had contributed to its success and in enriching its lectures and practical workshops with their useful comments and intelligent questions.  Mr Mohammed Drioueche, in charge of the Projects and Publications at Al-Furqān Foundation, thanked all those who had contributed in large or small measure to the organisation and delivery of this blessed course. He also thanked the participants for their dedication in attending all its activities, and reiterated the intent of the Foundation—which he represented—in cementing the ties of partnership with Dar al-Hadith al-Hassania Institute. Moreover, he asserted Al-Furqān Foundation’s readiness to organise all types of scientific activities that serve knowledge and scholarship in the areas of its interest.

Subsequently, certificates were awarded to the deserving participating researchers, and a commemorative group photograph taken of all the scholars and delegates taking part the training course.

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