Al-Gazuli

Cod. Vindob. Mixt. 1876 - Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)

Alternate Titles:

Abu Abdallah Muhammed ibn Abi Bakr ibn Sulayman al-Gazuli. Dala’il, al’Hayrat. Hinweisungen zur Wohltätigkeit

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Codiology

Alternate Titles

Abu Abdallah Muhammed ibn Abi Bakr ibn Sulayman al-Gazuli. Dala’il
al’Hayrat. Hinweisungen zur Wohltätigkeit

Type
Extent / Format

636 pages / 11.4 x 11.4 cm

Date
17th century
Style
Genre
Language
Artist / School

Author: Al-Gazuli (631–658)

Illustrations

Many ornamental pages with geometric and floral ornaments

Former owners

Presumably a tribe leader in Gambia or Mauritania

Short description

This Arabic texts is one of the most brilliant examples of North African illumination. The Dala‘il al-hayrat or Instructions for Charity by Al-Gazuli is one of the most popular Muslim texts. Virtually every library in the Orient and in Europe own one or more versions of this work. Many affluent Muslims have had splendiferous copies of the manuscript manufactured. The Dala‘il al-hayrat is still in use today and is one of the most widely copied texts in Islam. One of the most beautiful of these is the codex in Vienna, which was presumably owned by a tribal leader in Gambia or Mauritania.

Facsimile editions available

Description

An Important Arabic Text

The Dala‘il al-hayrat is one of the most frequently copied and most read Arabic writings of religious content; Instructions for Charity. Al-Gazuli came from the Berber lineage of Gazula in the Moroccan city of Sus where he was born and raised. He began his studies in his homeland but later travelled to Fez where he entered the Madrasat asaffarin and wrote his most infamous mystic writing; Dala’il alhayrat. The Instructions for Charity is in itself unique due to its particular style. It is written in a rhythmic prose whereby the continual repetition of parts of a sentence visibly stand out. One has the impression that the book was conceived for a particular recitation purpose which seems to have been the authors’ intention because in the text he uses repetitions to “facilitate the reader to learn by heart”. Up until today, this prayer book is still read on weekends or religious holidays together in chorus, loud and without pause. The recitation begins with a soft rhythm and increases slowly until it reaches a climax in the last verses.

A Manuscript Still in Use

Th ongoing use of the Dala’il al-hayrat up to the present day, as well as the production of numerous copies of the prayer book in existence, are a testimony to the great popularity of the codex. Virtually every library in the Orient and in Europe own one or more versions of this work. Many affluent Muslims have had splendiferous copies of the manuscript manufactured. One of the most beautiful of these is the codex in Vienna, which was presumably owned by a tribal leader in Gambia or Mauritania. The completely preserved prayer book contains an Arabic text which is written in a late western developed Magribi writing. The calligraphy is truly appealing not only due to its exacting style in the written characters but also because of the use of coloured inks; black, gold, red, green, and blue. Every title block on the text pages are bordered with gold and blue bars. In addition, there are numerous ornamented pages decorated with geometric and floral shapes, artful accents in arabesque entwined in a variety of colors. The subtle characteristic style of the writing and decoration in the prayer book indicates a skilled artist who has succeeded in creating one of the most beautiful examples of North African book art.

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