Arabic manuscript on paper, in 2 volumes, the first 49 leaves, plus 2 fly-leaves, the second 158 leaves, plus 3 flyleaves (2 detached), each 21 lines to the page, written in neat naskh script in dark brown ink, chapter headings written in large thuluth script, Basmallah in muhaqqaq script, keywords picked out in red, vol.1 with illuminated double-page frontispiece with 2 shamsas, f.1 added in the 14th century, title information in large thuluth script against a foliated gold ground, each volume in later bindings, one cloth-covered, the other leather with simple gilt decoration.CATALOGUE NOTE inscriptions f.1b: ‘In his turn, the poor slave Alvan (Elvan) ibn ‘Ali al-Mukhlis ibn al-Shaykh Ilyas, known as Baba, may God be pleased with them and curses of the great fear and terror …[took possession of it]’ 1- The first book : the fourth section in terms of its arrangement with 11 message or articles. a- The first message : Mental principles according to the Pythagoreans, the reason for people's different morals, difference in information perception, the differences in the realization of the effective powers, human senses and how to strengthen them, imagined powers and differences between people in them, the advantages of these powers, principles of argumentation, good and evil in human soul, differences of people's desire etc.. b-The second message: Mental principles according to the authors of the book, ethnological and human sciences in finding the way to Allah, refining the soul and reforming morals.c-The third message: in the belief of Ikhwan al-Safa and the matter of the soul: explains how they look at the human soul, what controls it, the virtues and the souls according to different prophets. d-The fourth message: Passive Intellect, They urge the learners to look closely at all kinds go knowlegde, research all the sciences, and not to neglect one of the chapters of knowledge, they explain also the reference they used, opinions and and the ideas they called for. e-The fifth message: The nature essence of faith and the characteristics of the faithful believer, the types of people in terms of faith, namely: a scholar who is not a believer, a believer who is not a scholar, and he who has lost his lot from the two, and he who is a scholar and a believer. f-The sixth message: Divine law and terms of prophecy. g-The seventh message: Divine and legal sciences in how to call to Allah. h-The eighth message: Actions of the spirituals, they explain the connection between the spheres and the types of souls and the influencing and affected forces between the spheres and spirits. i-The ninth message: Types of policies, reforming the soul and its morals to complete its happiness in this world and the hereafter. j-The tenth message: Physical principles and the purpose of the world: Pythagoras was a wise man of Harran, was very careful to look at the science of numbers and the oneness of Allah. k-The eleventh message: Magic and talismans. 23 by 30 cm. f.2a, in the roundel: 'For the treasury of … of earthly beings, the greatest Shah of all creatures, Khwajah Ghiyath al-Dunya (?) …. wa’l-Din, calling upon the aid of The Defender, the Creator’. The second book is the third section in terms of arrangement for the entire letters/articles, starting with the fifth letter until the tenth letter. a-The fifth message: The universes, the meaning of what the philosophers said about spirituality and the planets, races of the angels, and how their powers flow in the world. b-The sixth message: nature, quantity, and types of love, what the philosophers said about the nature of love, the quantity of its types, how it arises and its principle, and what causes it to exist, and the reasons calling for it, and what is its ultimate purpose. c-The seventh message: The nature of the resurrection, the method of the ascension, the reality of the resurrection, and the abode of the Hereafter. e-The eighth message: The nature of movements, the quantity of their types, and the directions, movement is a spiritual image that the soul makes it in the bodies, makes its shapes, images and colors and in it the bodies are pictorial and engraved. f-The ninth message: Causes and Effects, the knowledge of how is before knowledge of quantity. g-The tenth message: borders and compositions, the knowledge of the realities of things is knowledge of their elements and borders, and that all things are of two types, compounds and substances. 24 by 32 cm. This manuscript is a rare and early dated copy of an extremely important and interesting work known as the Rasa’il Ikhwan al-Safa, a medieval Islamic encyclopaedia that represents the landmark legacy of a mystical group of Iraqi scholars and thinkers who aimed to save Islamic teaching from the perceived threat of liberal sciences by means of philosophy. To the best of our knowledge, it is the third earliest copy in existence, dated 683 AH/1284 AD. Of equal interest are the previous owners of the manuscript. It was initially dedicated to Khwajah Jahan (Hace-i Cihan, also known as Hoca Cihan), a Sufi saint, scholar and statesman in the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum. Later, in the fourteenth century, the manuscript entered the possession of Elvan (Alvan) Çelebi (d. after 1358-59 AD), a descendent of Baba Ilyas Khurasani, whose tomb in the dervish lodge he founded remains one of the most visited shrines in Anatolia.The Ikhwan al-Safa was a secret brotherhood thought to have been affiliated to the Ismai'li movement. Their true identity was so thoroughly hidden that scholars can only speculate as to their real associations. The Rasa'il however are considered to be central to Isma'ili doctrine, and have been attributed to the authorship of various different Shi'a imams, and scholars from the eleventh century. Given the esoteric nature of Shi'a Isma'ilism, one can understand why they even referred to themselves (in the fourth Rasa'il) as "sleepers in the cave". Although the Ikhwan remained an anonymous group of scholars, the literary scholar Abu Hayyan al-Tawhidi (d.1023 AD) is thought to have identified three members, all of whom were from Basra: Abu'l-Hasan ‘Ali Ibn Harun al-Zanjani and three of his companions, Abu Sulayman Muhammad Ibn Ma‘shar al-Busti, (called al-Maqdisi), Abu Ahmad al-Nahrajuri and al-‘Awfi.The manuscript to hand represents half of book three and the whole of book four. The four books of the Rasa’il Ikhwan al-Safa are as follows:1. The mathematical sciences 2. The natural sciences 3. The rational sciences 4. The theological sciences Among dated copies of the Rasa’il, the present manuscript only appears to be antedated by the famous copy in the 'Atif Pasha Library, Istanbul (1681), dated 587 AH/1182 AD, and the copy formerly in the British Museum, now in the British Library (Or 6692), dated 646 AH/1248-49 AD. A further copy is in the Majlis-i Shura-yi Milli, Tehran 4707, dated 686 AH/1287 AD. Manuscripts of the Rasa'il al-Safa appear very rarely on the market. Most recently, a lavishly-illuminated copy comprising only book one of the full work was sold at Sothebys , 20 April 2016, lot 35, and another dated 711 AH/1311 AD on 9 April 2008, lot 28.
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