Manuscripts in the history of Makkah and Madīnah

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Ḥamad Al-Jāsir

Manuscripts in the history of Makkah and Madīnah

Ḥamad Al-Jāsir

God has favoured the Muslims by His promise to eternally preserve the Book of Islam. ‘We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and we will assuredly guard it (from corruption)’ (15:9). And it was He who prepared learned men among the Muslims since the time of the Prophet, the blessing of God be upon him, who carried the message of His laws and His commandments and all the tenets of His religion, as they interpreted them from His Holy Book, and as they received them from the Prophet, and transmitted the message faithfully to those whom they deemed worthy of receiving it. And so the message was passed from one age to the next until today.

Men of learning have, since the early days of editing and publication devoted their attention to the religious aspect of our Islamic heritage; they have worked on clarifying and elucidating all the important sources of tafsīr, ḥadīth, fiqh, and the sharī’ah, and published editions of these works. It can safely be said, therefore, that the part of our heritage which God has ordained to carry and transmit our religion has been preserved and is readily accessible to all.

Another type of manuscript closely related to the religious heritage is that which deals with the history of the Islamic nation in its religious aspects, for example, works which aim at specifying the exact geographical locations of the events of the Revelation or of the Prophet’s military expeditions, some of which, like Badr and Ḥunayn, have been mentioned in the Qur’ān, or the characteristics of the two holy cities, such as the locations for the rites of the pilgrimage. or the famous mosques of the Prophet All these are places which have to be known if certain religious texts are to be understood, and these areas are covered in a large body of manuscripts of which very little has been published.

Some Arab countries who have interest in this aspect of our heritage have made efforts in this direction. ln Egypt the most important works relating to Egyptian history have been published, together with various works of general historical and literary interest that cover the whole Islamic region. The Academy of Arab Sciences in Damascus and Academy of Sciences in Iraq have declared in their charters that one of their aims is ‘the revival of the Arab and Islamic heritage in sciences, letters and arts’. They have published the most important works which deal with Syria and Iraq, and they have not restricted themselves to these works but have published or sponsored the editing of various other works of the Arab heritage.

The Yemen also, even though it is economically less strong, has lavished care upon this aspect of the heritage; care which has borne fruit in the tens of works that have lately been brought out, either edited or in facsimile.

We come now to that region which God has so blessed by making it the birth-place of His Prophet, and by placing with its people the responsibility of bearing the message of that noble Prophet — the message of knowledge and justice and reform — and conveying it to the that region of the two holy cities, unique in this world, cities which are dear to the heart, which are the coveted destination of those who seek mercy and forgiveness, and towards which all who pray turn their faces. It is no surprise that all which pertains to their history occupies a special place in the hearts of all Muslims.

The Saudi state has been active in the publication of the Islamic heritage in general since King ‘‘Abd al-’Azīz unified the land in 1343/1924. ln later times universities were established, and it is to noted that King Fahd b. ‘‘Abd al-’Azīz has always extended his care and patronage to these universities. We now have good graduates working in various fields, among them the field of the Islamic heritage.

The University of Umm al-Qurā, in particular, should mentioned forhaving started the publication of a number of works dealing with the history of Makkah such as the works of Al Fahd b. ‘Umar b. Muḥammad b. Muḥammad (812/1409-885/1480) including Itḥāf al- Warā bi-Akhbār Ummal-Qurā in four volumes and Ghāyat al-Marām bi-Akhbār Salṭanat al-Balad al-Ḥarām by ‘‘Abd al-’Azīz b. ‘Umar b. Muḥammad b. Fahd, of which two volumes have been published.

Some of the scholars and notables of Makkah bave made valuable contributions in this regard. The senior scholar in our time is probably Shaykh ‘‘Abd al-Sattār b. ‘‘Abd al-Wahhāb  al-Dahlawī (1286/1869-1355/1936) who collected what he could of works relating toThe history of Makkah in a substantial private library which was given, uponhis death, to the library of the Ḥaram in Makkah.Shaykh Muḥammad Surūr al-Sabbān (1316/1898-1392/1972) madepossible the publication of  some works, notably Al-’lqd al-Thamῑn fῑTārῑkh al-Balad al-Amῑn by Taqῑ al-Dīn Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad al-Fāsī (775/1373-832/1429) and the two volumes of Shifā’ al-Gharām bi-Akhbār al-Balad al-Ḥarām by the same author. Earlier, he was behind the publication of Rushdī Malḥas’s edition of al-Azraqi’s Akhbār Makkah, a book which, along with al-Fākihī’s Akhbār Makkah, is regarded as theoldest and most important of the histories of the city. The authors, both men of third century, chronicled the history of Makkah from the Jāhiliyyah until their own time. What Still exists of al-Fākihi’s book (estimated at about half the original) was rigorously edited by Shaykh ‘‘Abd al-Laṭīf b. ‘‘Abd Allāh b. Duhaysh and was published.

It is to be noted that it was a western scholar who first published one of the most important works on Makkah: more than two hundred years ago, the German orientalist Ferdinand Wüstenfeld published a compendium in a number of volumes containing histories of Makkah by-al-Azraqī, al-Fākihī, al-Fāsī, Ibn Ẓahīrah, and al-Qutbī.

And in the same vein, when a photocopy of al-Fākihī’s book came into my hands before it was published in 1379/1959, I published a description of it in Al-’Arab.[1] I then noticed that the author had reproduced the inscription on the tomb of Abraham, and had tried to decode it with the help of scholars of his time. Wishing to verify his findings, I published a picture of the inscription and a query in Al-’Arab.[2] I sent copies of the magazine to a number of the authorities in charge of antiquities in our countries, but I had not a single reply. I was then surprised to receive a copy of an article, ‘Maqām Ibrāhīm: A Stone with an Inscription’, by the orientalist M. J. Kister dealing with this inscription and supporting part of al-Fākihī’s reading of it.[3]

To return however to our topic, Shaykh ‘Abbās Yūsuf Qaṭṭān published works relating to Al-Ḥāfiẓ Aḥmad b. ‘‘Abd Allāh al-Ṭabarī al-Makkī’s Al- Qirā li-Qāṣid Umm al-Qurā. A distinguishing feature of this book is that its author, being a ḥadīth scholar, collected in it what he could of the Prophet’s traditions relating to Makkah: its ritual places, affairs of the pilgrimage, and so forth. Some notables of Makkah published Al-I’lām bi-A’lām Bayt Allāh al-Ḥarām in both the full version by Quṭb al-Dīn Muḥammad b. Aḥmad al- Nahrawālī al-Makkī (917/1511-990/1582) and the abridged version by his nephew ‘Abd al-Karīm b. Ḥabīb Allāh al-Nahrawālī (961/1553-1014/1605). Other works too have been published. But, with the exception of al-Azraqī and al-Fākihī, the manners in which works have been published do not allow the scholar to full use of them. They are for example mostly published without indices.

Because of her special status in the hearts of Muslims in general, and because many of her sons have been scholars interested in her history, Makkah has been the subject also of a good number of works of secular history. There have been families in Makkah devoted to scholarship and learning, who have passed what they learned down through the generations. The most famous of these families are the Ᾱl al-Ṭabarī, of which Muḥibb al. Dīn, the author of al-Qirā (mentioned above), was one of the earliest. ‘‘Abd al-Qādir b. Yaḥyā al-Ṭabarī (976/1569—1033/1624) was the author of Nash’at al-Sulāfah fī Munsha’āt al-Khilāfah, of which he devoted the last part to the rulers of Makkah from the Sharīf Qatādah b. Idrīs in the year 596/1202 to Ḥasan b. Abū Nusay’in 1009/1601. In an addendum heprovided a biography of Abū Ṭālib b. Ḥasan b. Abū Nusay’ (d.1012/1603-4). There was also ‘Alī b. ‘Abd al-Qādir b. Yaḥyā al-Ṭabarī (d. 1070/1659-60) who wrote al-Uraj al-Miskī fī al-Tārīkh al-Makkī andTuḥfat al-Kirām bi-Akhbār ‘Imārat al-Saqf wa-al-Bāb li-Bayt Allāh al-Harām, and Muḥammad b. ‘Alī al-Ṭabarī (1100/1689—1173/1760), who surveyed the histories of the rulers of Makkah from the seventh/fifteenth century to 1141/1728 in his Itḥāf Fuḍalāal-Zamān bi-Tārīkh Wilāyat Banī al-Ḥasan, a work which remains in manuscript, along with other works of the Ṭabarīs.

The family of Āl-Fahd has produced scholars of renown in the field of ḥadīth, who have followed in the footsteps of their great ancestor, the chronicler of Makkah, Muḥammad b. Aḥmad al-Fāsī al-Makkī, and turned their attention to the history of their city. Muḥammad b. Muḥammad b. Fahd (787/1385—871/1466) Taqī al-Dīn, a famous scholar who wrote on ḥadīth and on the men who transmitted the traditions, wrote also Bushrā al-Warā fī- mā warada fī Ḥirā’, Al-Ibānah fī-mā warada fī al-Ji’rānah, and Iqtiṭāf al- Nawr mimmā warada fi Thawr, which were all to do with Makkah. As for ‘Umar b. Muḥammad b. Muḥammad b. Fahd (812/1409—885/1480) Najm al- Dīn, who wrote the previously mentioned Ithāf a-warā bi-Akhbār Umm al- Qurā; he also wrote Al-Durr al-Kamīn bi-Dhayl al-’lqd al-thamīn, Mu’jam al-Shuyūkh (a collection of biographies of Makkan men and women of learning in the ninth century hijrī), Al-Tabyīn fī Tarājim al-Ṭabariyīn, Tadhkirat al-Nāsī bi-Awlād ‘‘Abd Allāh al-Fāsī, and Al-Sirr al-Ẓuhayrī bi- Awlād Aḥmad al-Nuwayrī ــــــ the last three of which are histories of distinguished Makkan families.

‘‘Abd al-’Azīz b. ‘Umar b. Muḥammad b. Fahd (850/1447-921/1515) ‘Izzal-Dīn, wrote biographies of Makkan scholars in such works as Bulūgh al-Qirā bi-Dhayl Itḥāf al-Warā and Ghāyat al-Marām bi-Akhbār SaltanatBalad al-Ḥarām, and among the works of ‘‘Abd al- ‘Azīz b. .’Umar b. Muḥammad b. Fahd (891/1485-954/1547) Jār Allāh are AI-Iti’āẓ bī.māwarada fī Sūq ‘Ukāẓ, Al-Tuḥfah al-Laṭīfah fī Binā’ al.Masjid al.Ḥarām waal-Ka’bah al-Sharīfah, Tutḥfat al-Laṭā’if fī Faḍl al-Ḥabr Ibn ‘Abbās wa-Wajj wa-aI.Ṭ ā’if, Ḥusn al-Qirā fī Dhikr Awdiyat Umm al-Qurā, and an addendum to his father ‘‘Abd al-Azīz’s book Bulūgh al-Qirā which was used as a source by al-Jazīrī in his Al-Durar al-Farā’īd al-Munaẓẓamah fi Akhbār al- Ḥajj wa-Ṭarīq Makkah al-Mukarramah in his description of the events of the years 923/1517 and 945/1538. He also wrote Al-Silāḥ. wa-al-’Uddah fīFaḍāil Bandarat Juddah and Nashr al-Laṭāif fī Quṭr al-Ṭāif.

After the last of the Āl Fahd in the tenth century hijrī, the links of the chain of history continue with the works of al-Quṭbī, Ibn Ẓahīrah, Āl al-Ṭabarī, al-Asadī, al- ‘lsāmī, al-Sinjārī, Ibn ‘‘Abd al-Shakūr, al-Ṣabbāgh,Dahlān, al-Shībī, al-Ghāzī and al-Sibā’ī,[4] and others whom I will not mention. These were all great men and their work was of value and importance; we should however take cognizance of the fact that all their work represents additions to, and completions of, the work of the greatest historian of Makkah, Muḥammad b. Aḥmad al-Fāsī al-Makkī (775/1373-832/1429). He expended great efforts in research and investigation and built up a treasury of learning which contained the essence of what he had read in the works of his predecessors across seven centuries, from al-Azraqī (the first known historian of Makkah) to the historians of the opening years of the ninth century hijrī. But he was not merely a compiler of information, for he edited and arranged all that he collected, and to it headed the results of his own research. He travelled and saw for himself the places, the buildings, and the inscriptions. He compared what he saw for himself against what he found written in his sources. He paced and measured the distances in the holy places to learn in that manner the truth about the sacred rituals, and he wrote down what he learned in stages, the last of which were his two great works, Shifā’ al-Gharām and al-’lqd al- Thamīn. His other writings are still in manuscript form.[5]

We leave Makkah here and turn to Madīnah. Scholars have, of course, been interested in this city since the early days, and the first who wrote about it was Muḥammad b. al-Ḥasan b. Zabālah, who according to al-Sayyid al-Samhūdī in Wafā’ al-Wafā’, wrote his book in the year 199/814-15. It wasused as a source by two historians of Madīnah: al-Zubayr b. Bakkār (1721778 or 779-256/870) and Yaḥya b. al-Ḥasan al-Ḥusaynī al-Madanī(214/829 or 830-277/890 or 891). Al-Samhūdī had access to the books ofIbn zabālah and Yaḥyā he also made use of the writings of Al-Zubayron the agate of Madīnah and other matters.

Probably the oldest book that we know of on the history of Madīnah is Akhbār al-Madīnah by ‘Umar b. Shabbah al-Numayrī (173/789-262//876), of which the surviving portion has been published by al-Sayyid Ḥabīb Maḥmūd Ahmad in an unedited version.[6]

Ibn al-Najjār, al-Maṭarī, Ibn ‘Asākir, Ibn Farḥūn, al-Aqshihrī, al-Marāghī, al-Fīrūzābādī, and al-Murjānī,[7] and before them Ibn Zabālah, al-Sayyid Yaḥyā b. al-Ḥasan al-Ḥusaynī, and Ibn Shabbah and others have all written on Madīnah and some of their works have been published. But the greatest of all the historians of Madīnah, al-Sayyid ‘Alī b. ‘‘Abd Allāh al- Samhūdī (844/1440-911/1506) summarized their works, and added to them from his vast knowledge in various fields, and set himself the task of writing down the history of this holy city - a task which occupied many years of his life. But despite the misfortunes that befell him, the most serious of which was the destruction by fire of his library and in it his earliest and most complete work, he persisted in his aim, and attained in it a degree of excellence unmatched by his predecessors, one which remains probably unmatched by those who came after him. For he saw things that are no longer there, and recorded facts from sources which have slipped into obscurity and if he had not done so then students of the history of the city would have lost many of their sources.

Although the fire in al-Masjid al-Nabawī in 886/1481 destroyed all his books, and among them Iqtidāal-Wafā’ bi-Akhbār Dār al-Muṣṭafā, which appears to have been his most complete work, still much has remained of hisgreat learning in the two abridgements of that book: Wafā’ al-Wafā’ bi-Akhbār Dār al-Muṣṭafā and Khulāṣat al- Wafā’ bi-Akhbār Dār al-Mustafā. He also has a work entitled Al-Wafābi-mā Yajiba li-Ḥaḍrat al-Muṣṭafā on related topic.[8]


[1] Al-’Arab, VIII, p. 801
[2] Al-’Arab, IX, p. 209
[3] Published in Louvain, 1971
[4] Al-Quṭbī has been mentioned before. Ibn Ẓahīrah’s AI-Jāmi’ al-Laṭīf fi Faḍl Makkah wa- Ahli-hā wa-Binā’ al-Bayt al-Sharīf has beenpublished. The works of Āl al-Ṭabarī, which are all still in manuscript, have been mentioned earlier. The manuscript of al-Asadī Muḥammadb. Aḥmad (d. 1070/1660) has been published by Dār al-Kutub al-Miṣriyyah and also in India. Sumṭ al-Nujūm al- ‘Awāli by al-’lṣāmī ‘Abd al-Malik b. Ḥusayn (1049/1639-1111/1699) was published infour parts. The manuscript al-Sinjārī ‘Alī al-Sinjārī al-Makkī (d. 1125/1713) is in the collection of ‘Abd al-Sattār al-Dahlawī which was amalgamated into Maktabat al-Ḥaram and al-Maktabah al- Mājidiyyah. For ‘Abd al-Shakūr and his work see Al-’Arab, II, p. 802,A draft of the book of al-Ṣabbāgh Muḥammad b. Aḥmad al-Ṣabbāgh(d. 1311/1894) is in Dār al-Kutub al-Miṣriyyah, and a copy of it is in the collection of Sheikh ‘Abd al-Sattār. The work of Daḥlān al-Sayyid Aḥmad Zaynī Daḥlān (1231/1815—1304/1887) has been published. Al- Shaybī Muḥammad Ṣāliḥ al-Shaybī’s I’lām al-Anām bi-Tārīkh Bayt Allāh al-Ḥarām is also in the ‘Abd al-Sattār collection together with its addendum al-Itmām by Ḥasan al-Shaybī (d. 1343/1925). Ifādat al- Anām bi-Akhbār Bayt Allāh al-Ḥarām by ‘Abd Allāh al-Ghazī al- Hindī (later al-Makkī) is in the Makkah Library. And finally Aḥmad b. Muḥammad al-Sibā’i is the well-known author of Tārīkh Makkah; he died a few years ago.
[5] Among these: Tuḥfat al-Kirām bi-Akhbār al-Balad al-Ḥarām, in thecollection of Shaykh al-Islām in Madīnah. There is also a copy in Paris and a photocopy in Ma’had al-Makhṭūṭāt in Cairo. Also Taḥsīl al-Marām fi Tārīkh al-Balad al-Ḥarām in the ‘Abd al-Sattār collection, and in libraries in Berlin, Paris, and Mosul, and Fajjālat al-Qirā lil- Rāghib fi Tārīkh Umm al-Qurā in the Rampur Library in India.
[6] For corrections to this version of the book see Al-’Arab, XX, pp. 372, 457 & 683.
[7] Al-Durrah al-Thamīnah fī Akhbār al-Madīnah by Ibn al-Najjār Muḥammad b. Maḥmūd (d. 643/1245) has been abridged and published. Also Al-Ta’rīf bi-mā Ansat al-Hijrah min Ma’ālim Dār al- Hijrah by Muḥammad b. Ahmad al-Maṭarī (676/1277 or 1278-741/1340 or 1341) has been published. Itḥāf al-Zā’ir wa-lṭrāf al- Muqīm wa-al-Sā’ir by ‘Abd al-Samad b. ‘Abd al-Wahhāb b. ‘Asākir (614/1217-686/1288) is still in manuscript, as is Naṣīḥat al-Mushāwir wa- Tasliyat al-Mujāwir by ‘AIī b. Muḥammad b. Farḥūn (698/1299-746/1345) and Al-Rawḍah al-Firdawsiyyah fī Man Dufina fī al-Baqi’ by Muḥammad b. Aḥmad al-Aqshihrī (d. 796/1394). The work of Abū Bakr b. al-Ḥusayn al-Marāghī (d. 816/1413), Taḥqiq al- Naṣrah bi-Talkhīs Ma’ālim Dār al-Hijrah, has been published. As for Muḥammad b. Ya’qūb al-Fīrūzābādī (729/1329-817/1414), his book isstill in manuscript form, apart from the geographical section which I published in 1389/1969. Muḥammad b. Abī Bakr b. ‘Ali al-Murjānī’s Bahjat al-Asrār fi Tārīkh Dār Hijrat al-Nabī al-Mukhtār is inmanuscript form in Istanbul, and there is an incomplete copy in the‘Abd al-Sattār collection.
[8] The latter is published in my Rasā’īl fi Tārīkh al-Madīnah.

Source note:
This article was published in the following book:
The Significance of Islamic Manuscripts: Proceedings of the inaugural conference of Al_Furqān Islamic Heritage Foundation, 30th November_ 1st December 1991_ English version, 1992, Al_Furqān Islamic Heritage Foundation, London, UK, pp .107-114