Some Notes on the Manuscript Veliyuddin 51
by Jane Clark and Denis McAuley
Veliyuddin 51, held in the Beyazit library in Istanbul, is an interesting manuscript for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is a collection of unusual coherence, written in the mid-eighth century (hijra) by a single scribe. It consists of 17 complete works by Ibn 'Arabî and for all but two of them specifies that they were taken from copies in his handwriting. The original autographs also seem to have formed a fairly coherent collection, written in AH 601–02 in various locations in the Middle East, from Malatya to Damascus, during Ibn 'Arabî's first journey in the eastern heartlands after his initial stay in Mecca.
Many of the works are found in other early collections and in some cases autograph copies have also survived. But Veliyuddin 51 is the only surviving historic manuscript for two of them (Ishârât al-Qur'ân and R. al-Ma'lûm), and thus authenticates them as Ibn 'Arabî's work. It is also the text with the best provenance in the case of another four (K. al-Bâ', K. al-Nuqabâ', K. al-Qasam al-ilâhî and K. al-Hû). The collection therefore has great importance in the ongoing task of establishing the real corpus of Ibn 'Arabî's work, as well as being a major source of accurate texts from which to produce printed editions and translations.
Secondly, the collection gives valuable information about the way that the Akbarian tradition developed in the centuries after Ibn 'Arabî's death. The scribe gives his name as Ahmad b. M. b. Muthabbit, and a series of notes describes how he copied the texts between 761 and 763 in Jerusalem. At the end of K. al-Jalâla there is a later note, dated 781, which indicates that he read the text back to someone – "the one who speaks it, the scholar" – in the Al-Aqsa Mosque. All this indicates that this is a study record written in Jerusalem within a community actively teaching Ibn 'Arabî's ideas.
Thirdly, several works carry notes about the writing of the text, giving the time and place of composition, which do not appear in other copies. Our knowledge of Ibn 'Arabî's life depends upon analysis of such notes and records of readings (samâ'), so Veliyuddin 51 has become a very important source of biographical information. Osman Yahia, in his Histoire et Classification de l'Oeuvre d'Ibn 'Arabî, gave dates of composition for several works based upon his interpretation of its notes, and these were later used by Claude Addas to establish that Ibn 'Arabî was in Jerusalem for extended periods during 601 and 602. However, we have not been able to verify many of Osman Yahia's readings. In some cases we have come up with a different time and date of composition, and in others Osman Yahia has given a time or date where we cannot see that any information has been given. We have noticed in other texts investigated in the course of our research into the early manuscript base that Osman Yahia often applied a finding from one work in a collection to all the rest. In our opinion this is rarely justified, and each work has to be assessed on the basis of the particular details given in the copying notes. Thus basic questions of methodology are raised which we hope to go into further at a later time.
In the meantime, in this paper we have restricted ourselves to giving the information only as it appears at the beginning and/or end of the texts. Our amended readings produce a very different picture of Ibn 'Arabî's movements in the years 601–02, and so at the end of the article we have provisionally sketched out an alternative itinerary based on this and other manuscripts.
The collection is written in the same hand throughout, and, as far as we can tell, has been bound in the order in which the works were copied. The handwriting is a good legible Naskhi, in black ink only, about 20 lines per folio. The manuscript is in excellent condition, and is legible throughout. There is no fihris, but the scribe has provided a title folio for most works, on which he has written the name clearly. The final work, al-Istilâhât al-sûfiyya, finishes on 147a, and is followed by about eight folios of extracts, poems and short maxims, some attributed to various authors and some anonymous.
The text is annotated throughout with poems and short extracts on spare folios and in the margins. Some of these are by other writers, but many carry notes saying that they were also copied from Ibn 'Arabî's handwriting. We have not yet analysed them in detail, and so are not able to say whether they are Ibn 'Arabî works, and if so, whether they are texts of which we have copies elsewhere – a first perusal has failed to find any of the poems in the Dîwân – or whether they represent previously unknown material. A translation of one of the poems appears on p. v of this journal. Otherwise, this short article limits itself to cataloguing the main texts.
1. Ishârât al-Qur'ân fi 'âlam al-insân (RG 303): 1a–18
The first title folio (1a) is for Ishârât al-Qur'ân, and following the title there is a 15-line extract in the same hand from the Nasab al-khirqa (RG 530), describing the giving of the khirqa by Yûnus b. Abî Yahyâ b. Abî l-Barakât al-Hâshimî al-'Abbâsî in 599. With a few minor differences, the text is identical to that of other versions of Nasab such as Beyazit 3750 (ff. 378a/b). The extract is prefaced by the statement:
ra'aytu bi-khatt al-sayyid al-kabîr Muhyî al-dîn ibn al-'Arabî (rahimahu Allâh ta'âlâ) mâ sawwartuhu nisbatunâ fî'l-khirqa
indicating that it was taken from an original copy. This is of interest because Nasab is considered to have been written in 633, whereas all the other texts in Veliyuddin 51 were taken from originals dated 601 or 602. It is of course possible that the extract was taken from another collection in the Shaykh's hand, but it is far more likely that it came from the same autograph copy as the rest. Its appearance here would therefore indicate that Ibn 'Arabî wrote at least part of Nasab much earlier, perhaps setting down the major events near the time when they occurred.
The title folio also includes a note saying that the book belonged to the library of Shams al-dîn al-Fanârî (d.884/ad 1430). This important figure in the history of Akbarian thought was the first Ottoman Shaykh al-Islam, and a qâdî in Bursa, where his tomb can still be visited. His father was a Sûfî master of the initiatic line of Sadr al-dîn al-Qûnawî, and al-Fanârî himself was a famous scholar; his commentary upon al-Qûnawî's Miftâh al-Ghayb, entitled Misbâh al-Uns, became an important foundational text in the tarîqas of Turkey and Iran, and is studied to this day. There were other important collections of Ibn 'Arabî texts in his library, including Beyazit 3750 containing 33 works written in 782 in Aleppo, and Beyazit 3785, containing two works written in 716. Both of these are now in the Beyazit library.
The full text of Ishârât begins on 1b. At the end, on 18b, there is a copying note which translates as follows:
The Ishârât al-Mubâraka were completed in Jerusalem, may God defend and protect it, by the hand of the poor one towards God, Ahmad b. Muhammad b. Muthabbit, and he copied it from the handwriting of the author and composer, the teacher, Muhyî al-dîn Abû 'Abd Allah M. b. 'Alî b. M. al-'Arabî al-Hâtimî al-Êâ'î (may God have mercy on him and be pleased with him).
He said at the end of it: "The Ishârât al-Qur'ân were completed at noon on Wednesday the 13th day of glorious Ramadân in 601. I wrote it out (nasakhtuhu) for my friend al-Mas'ûd 'Abd Allâh Badr b. 'Abd Allâh al-Habashî, the freed slave of Abû al-Ghanâîim b. Abî al-Futûh al-Harrân'…"
Osman Yahia, in the reading of this note, concludes that this work was "composed in Jerusalem in 602", but we could find no mention of the place of writing.
2. K. al-Alif (RG 26): 19a–26a
The title K. al-Alif wa huwa k. al-ahadiyya is written on 19a, and underneath there is a note, which we believe is in the same hand, that translates as:
Composed by Muhyî al-dîn ibn al-'Arabî, who said (may God have mercy on him) "I composed it in Jerusalem (bayt al-muqaddas) in an hour in the daytime."
On 26a, at the end, a further note repeats this information and adds that the original was in Ibn 'Arabî's handwriting. Osman Yahia again concludes, on the basis of this second note, that the text was written in Jerusalem in 601, but we could not find a date. The year 601 would be a reasonable conjecture, however, given the other notes in the collection.
3. K. al-Jalâla (RG 169): 27a–33b
There is a folio-length gap between the end of the previous work and the start of this, which has been filled on 26b with what appear to be a set of aphorisms by Ibn 'Arabî. At the end of these, running onto 27a, there is a copying note which says:
qaraîtu l-kitâba kullahu 'alâ al-mutakallim bihi al-'âlim bi-hadratihi fî l-masjid al-muqaddas al-aqsâ fî sanat ahad 78 katabahu Ahmad.
I read all of the book with the one who speaks it, the scholar, in his presence in the Holy al-Aqsâ Mosque [Jerusalem] in the year one-78 [781?]. Written by Ahmad.
It would be reasonable to conjecture that "Ahmad" is Ahmad b. Muthabbit, who copied the rest of the book, and that this "scholar" was his teacher. Unfortunately, no further information about this person seems to be given. At the end of the text, on 33b, there is a copying note:
The K. al-Jalâla has been completed through God's favour and may God bless Muhammad, his people and his companions. I copied it from the handwriting of its composer Ibn 'Arabî in the year 762 in Jerusalem …
Again, Osman Yahia concluded that the text was written in 601 in Jerusalem, but we feel that this assertion is not justified on the basis of this note.
4. K. al-Azal (RG 68): 34a–40b
The title is on 34a. At the end, on 40b, there is a brief note saying that the work was copied by Ahmad b. Muthabbit from the handwriting of the author, but no dates or places are given. Osman Yahia, however, has once again given a date and place, Jerusalem in 601, citing this note.
5. K. al-Yâ' (RG 205): 41a–47b
The title is given on 41a. Underneath, there are some lines from a poem by 'Alî b. Muhammad (Ibn) al-Sâ'âtî (555–604/1160–1207), which is stated as having been taken from the anthology Ghazal al-Zirâf wa-Mughâzalat al-Ashrâf by 'Alî b. Anjab b. 'Ubayd Allâh al-Khâzin (d.674). The text of K. al-Yâî begins on 41b, and ends on 47b with a copying note saying:
The book was completed in an hour of the day and this copy is in the hand of its author … It was copied by Ahmad b. M. b. Muthabbit …
Osman Yahia once again states that this note shows that the work was written in 601 in Jerusalem, but we could find no mention of date or place to justify his assertion.
6. Ittihâd al-kawnî (RG 317): 48a–56a
The title is given on 48a, and underneath there is a note saying:
Ibn 'Arabî... wrote it to Abû l-Fawâris Sakhr b. Sinân (owner of the reins of generosity and eloquence) may God grant both of them success. [It is] the transmission of the Sufi ... Badr ... al-Habashî, freed slave of Abû l-Ghanâ'im Ibn Abî l-Futûh al-Harrânî … Copied by one who draws from the ocean of his Lord's generosity, Ahmad b. M. b. Muthabbit, from the hand of the one who sent the letter, praise to God almighty.
A further note at the end, on 56a, confirms the copying from an autograph and the copyist. In this case, Osman Yahia has not given a date or place, and we agree that there is no mention of them in the text.
7. K. al-Qasam al-ilâhî bi al-ism al-rabbânî (RG 565): 57a–68b
The title is given on 57a, and the text itself starts on 57b. At the end, on 68b, there is a note saying:
… I copied it from the handwriting of its author Ibn 'Arabî. And he said (may God have mercy on him) at the end of it: "The book was completed in the city of Mosul on the 29th of Jumâdâ al-ûlâ of the year 601. And I found in his handwriting, at the end of it …"
It is followed by a five-line poem, which appears to be written in a number-code that we have not yet deciphered. Osman Yahia has this work as being composed in 601 in Jerusalem, but this is clearly a mistake as the name of Mosul is written quite distinctly.
8. Al-Maqsid al-asmâ' (RG 418): 69a–74b
The title is given on folio 69a as Al-madkhal ilâ ma'rifa ma'âkhidh al-nazar fî al-asmâ', followed by a note confirming that it was copied from an autograph, then several lines of spells used by the Prophet for curing the sick. The text begins on 69b, and at the end, on 74b, there is a further copying note confirming that it was taken from an original. No date or place is apparent.
Folios 72a/b, 73a/b and 74a contain 10 snippets of poetry, mostly quatrains, in the margins with notes saying: "and in his hand". While the authorship of these poems cannot be taken for granted, as Ibn 'Arabî is known to have copied out works by other people if he admired them, these verses appear to be Akbarian in both style and content.
9. K. al-Nuqabâ' (RG 548): 75a–83b
The title is given on 75a, and the text begins on 75b. There is a short note at the end saying that it was copied by Ahmad b. M. b. Muthabbit and taken from an original in the hand of Ibn 'Arabî. Osman Yahia, however, has once again stated that the work was composed in Jerusalem in 602 on the basis of this note, for which we can see no justification.
10. K. Kunh mâ lâ budda li al-murîd minhu (RG 352): 84a–91a
The title is given on 84a, with an important note as follows:
Kitâb Kunh mâ lâ budd lil-murîd minhu li-Ibn al-'Arabî (rahimahu llâhu ta'âlâ). wa-naqaltuhu min khattihi wa-kadhâlik kull mâ qablahu wa-mâ ba'dahu mimmâ fî hâdhâ l-majmû'.
I copied the book Kunh mâ lâ budd lil-murîd minhu by Ibn 'Arabî (may God have mercy on him) from his hand, and the same goes for all that is before and after it in this volume.
A short note on 91a confirms that it was copied from an autograph. No date or place is given. Osman Yahia maintains that the work was composed in Mosul in 601, and he gives as his source not Veliyuddin 51 but a reference in Brockelmann, who lists other manuscripts, outside Turkey, which we have not yet inspected.
11. K. al-Amr al-Muhkam (RG 28): 91b–110b
There is no title to this text, and it starts with bismillâhi al-rahmân al-rahîm on 91b. At the end, on 110b, there is a note saying that the book was completed in Damascus in Jumâdâ al-ûlâ 602 by the hand of its author. The scribe identifies himself as Ahmad b. M. b. Muthabbit and says he copied it on 15 Dhû l-hijja 762 in Ilîyâ, which is another name for Jerusalem.
Osman Yahia asserts that the text was completed in Konya in 602, based (he says) on evidence within the text. We can only assume that this refers to three lines from the bottom on 95b: wa-laqad haddathanî Awhad al-dîn Hâmid ibn Abî l-Fakhr al-Kirmânî bi-manzilî fî madînat Qûniya fî shahr Safar sanat 602 ("Awhad al-dîn Kirmânî related to me in my home in the city of Konya in Safar 602 ...").
12. R. al-Ma'lûm (RG 402): 111a–114a
This is the only historic manuscript for this text, and so its inclusion in the canon of Ibn 'Arabî's authenticated works rests on the evidence presented here. The title is given on folio 111a, and the text itself starts on 111b.
At the end, on 114a, there is a note saying that it was composed in Damascus on 3rd Jumâdâ al-ûlâ of the year 602, and that it was copied from the autograph by Ahmad b. M. b. Muthabbit in Jerusalem in the year 762. Osman Yahia mentions the date of 602 in his comments based on this note, but does not include the place.
13. K. al-Muqni' (RG 511): 115a–124a
The title is given on folio 115a and the work starts on 115b. At the end, on 124a, there is a note giving once again the name of the copyist and the fact that it was taken from an original in the hand of the author, who said:
It was written (kutiba) in the city of Damascus in the month of Jumâdâ l-ûlâ of the year 602.
Osman Yahia has it composed in Jerusalem on the basis of this note and also Beyazit 3750, folio 356b. Our inspection of the latter shows that it confirms the date, but there is no mention of Jerusalem. So there is nothing to contradict the information given here.
14. K. al-Bâ' (RG 71): 125a–131b
Folio 124b and the space under the title on 125a is filled with a long extract in the same hand which we believe to be a later addition, not yet identified. The text of K. al-Bâ' starts on 125b, and at the end, on 131b, there is a note saying that it was copied by Ahmad b. M. b. Muthabbit in the year 762 from the handwriting of the author Ibn 'Arabî, and that it was checked against the original by reading. No date or place of composition are given. Underneath there are two additional poems which may or may not be by Ibn 'Arabî.
15. K. Hilyat al-abdâl (RG 237): 132a–136a
The title is given on 132a and the text itself starts on 132b. At the end, on 136a, there is a note saying that it was copied in 762 in the hand of Ahmad b. M. b. Muthabbit, who took it from the handwriting of the author, who said at the end of the book that he had composed it in Malatya, in Anatolia, on the 9th of Rabî' al-awwal 602. Osman Yahia does not mention this note, although he correctly lists the text as having been copied from an original.
The date exactly agrees with that on Yusuf Aga 4868, which is the best copy of the text. But it is not the actual date of composition of the work, which is given in the preface as 599 in Mecca. This opens up the intriguing possibility that Yusuf Aga 4868 was the original from which Ahmad copied this version of Hilyat, although a comparison of the two collections as a whole does not throw up any further obvious correlations.
16. K. 'Iqd al-manzûm (RG 297): 136b–142b
There is no title to this work. Osman Yahia has it copied from an original and gives a date of 602 in Jerusalem, but we could find no information on copying or composition either at the beginning or the end. Osman Yahia calls it K. 'Iqd al-manzûm and assigns to it RG 297 along with eight other manuscripts. However, he also assigns RG 384, Madkhal fî'ilm al-hurûf to four of these. This has led to a very confusing situation which requires another article to satisfactorily resolve.
The question of the status of the work in Veliyuddin 51, however, can be addressed. Although it has no specific notes attached to it, it may well be covered by the general note on 84a, in which case it would have been copied from an original autograph. On the other hand, it is at the end of the collection and the following work, Istilâhât al-sûfiyya, although it has a note with a copying date (see below), again makes no mention of having been taken from an autograph. In view of the consistent notes throughout the rest of the collection, it may be that these last two works were added slightly later from other sources, and so were not covered by the note on 84a. None of the other manuscripts have a provenance which would definitively establish 'Iqd al-manzûm as an Ibn 'Arabî work, and Veliyuddin 51 has therefore been cited as the best source. But on the basis of what we have said above, the evidence is not sufficient to prove authenticity beyond doubt.
17. Al-Istilâhât al-sûfiyya (RG 315): 143b–147a
There is no title on 143a, which is blank, and the text begins on 143b. There is a note at the end of 147a which again gives the name of the scribe as Ahmad b. Muthabbit in 763 in al-masjid al-aqsâ, so Jerusalem again. No information is given about the date of composition.
The notes and ancillary information on Veliyuddin 51 indicate that at least 15, and possibly all 17, of the works in the collection were copied from an original autograph. As such it is a very important source of good texts for editing and translating.
It also yields valuable biographical information about Ibn 'Arabî's early period in the Mashriq. The dates and places given for the composition of the works as revealed by our reading differ in almost every case from those given by Osman Yahia in his bibliography. But they fit in well with the information given on other manuscripts which we have had the opportunity to examine first-hand in the course of our research. These amended dates imply a very different picture of Ibn 'Arabî's movements in the years 601 and 602. Overleaf we summarise the information from Veliyuddin 51, and submit a provisional itinerary for the period based upon this new evidence.
Notes and Tables
Information given in the notes of Veliyuddin 51
|Work||Date of Composition||Place|
|Ishârât al-Qur'ân||3 Ramadân 601||--|
|K. al-Qasam al-ilâh||29 Jumâdâ al-ûlâ 601||Mosul|
|K. al-Amr al-Muhkam||Jumâdâ al-ûlâ 602||Damascus|
|R. al-Ma'lûm||3 Jumâdâ al-ûlâ 602||Damascus|
|K. al-Muqni'||Jumâdâ al-ûlâ 602||Damascus|
|K. Hilyat al-abdâl||9 Rabî' al-awwal 602||Malatya|
|K. 'Iqd al-manzûm||--||--|
Ibn 'Arabî's Itinerary
|11 and 26 Safar||601||Rûh al-Quds||Read in Baghdad||University 79|
|Rabi' awwal||601||Rûh al-Quds||Read in ? Mosul?||University 79|
|29 Jumâdâ al-ûlâ||601||K. al-Qasam al-ilâhî||Composed in Mosul||Veliyuddin 51|
|--||601||Tanazzulât||Composed in eight days in Mosul||Ahmed 5109, EH869|
|13 Ramadân||601||Ishârât al-Qur'ân||Composed in Malatya||Veliyuddin 51|
|29 Ramadân||601||Rûh al-Quds||Read in Malatya||University 79|
|13 Dhu'l Qa'da||601||Rûh al-Quds||Read in Malatya||University 79|
|Safar||602||K. al-Amr||Meeting with Kirmanî in Konya||Veliyuddin 51|
|--||602||Risâlat al-anwâr||Composed in Rûm||Ayasofia 4875|
|9 Rabi' awwal||602||K. Hilyat al-abdâl||Copied in Malatya||Yusuf Aga 4868|
|Jumâdâ al-ûlâ||602||K. al-Amr||Composed in Damascus||Veliyuddin 51|
|3 Jumâdâ al-ûlâ||602||K. al-Ma'lûm||Composed in Damascus||Veliyuddin 51|
|Jumâdâ al-ûlâ||602||K. al-Muqni'||Composed in Damascus||Veliyuddin 51|
|Shawwâl||602||Rûh al-Quds||Read in Hebron||University 79|
|14 Shawwâl||602||K. al-Yaqîn||Composed in Hebron||Shehit Ali 1341|
|19 Sha'bân||603||Rûh al-Quds||Read in Cairo||University 79|
 There are detailed notes at the beginnings and endings of many works to this effect, plus, on 84a, a note covering all the works "before and after". See below for detailed analyses.
 The first reference is on 18b; others are given below in the descriptions of individual works.
 Damascus, 1964. Yahia gave each work a number which has now become a standard form of reference for Ibn 'Arabî works. We have therefore given the "RG number" of each work alongside the titles.
 Claude Addas, Quest for the Red Sulphur, Cambridge, 1993.
 This research has been undertaken under the umbrella of the Muhyiddin Ibn 'Arabî Society's Archiving Project, which has the aim of making a digital archive of the best surviving Ibn 'Arabî manuscripts.
 This point will be amplified in the forthcoming paper on the general findings of the Archiving Project by Jane Clark and Stephen Hirtenstein.
 See Histoire, p. 407. The best text is Esad Effendi 1507, which was copied from an autograph dated 633, and it is upon this manuscript that Yahia based his date of composition. See also Elmore "Ibn 'Arabî's Testament on the Mantle of Initiation (al-khirqah)", JMIAS, XXVI, 1999, pp. 1–2.
 See J. R. Walsh in Encylopaedia of Islam, second edition, p. 879. Al-Fanârî's father, Shaykh Hamza, is said to have studied with Sadr al-dîn al-Qûnawî himself, although, as Walsh comments, the dating is unlikely.
 See Histoire, p. 318.
 Ibid., p. 153.
 Ibid., p. 265.
 Under it is the phrase: "and I found in his handwriting, I mean Ibn al-'Arabî Muhyî l-dîn (God bless him), from his verse, "Bewilderment from bewilderment …". Surprisingly, the note stops there; but what is referred to is presumably the poem at the end of the previous work, which also begins "Bewilderment from bewilderment".
 See Histoire, p. 177.
 The poem is to be found in Ibn al-Sâ'âtî's published Dîwân, ed. A. E. Khûrî, 2 vols, Beirut, 1938–39, Vol. I, pp. 47–50.
 See Histoire, p. 279.
 Ibid., p. 420.
 For instance, the poem on 73a in the left margin begins: lammâ sta'antu bi-rabbî lam ajid sanadan. We have noted that lammâ at the beginning is a feature of many poems in Ibn 'Arabî's Dîwân but is found much less frequently in the work of other poets.
 See Histoire, p. 414.
 Ibid., p. 339. The reference is to Carl Brockelmann, Geschichte der arabischen Litteratur, Leiden, 1898–1902, S, I, 794/15.
 Al-Muqaddasî, Ahsan al-taqâsîm fî ma'rifat al-dunyâ wal-dîn, ed. Shâkir La'îbî, Abu Dhabi, 2003, p. 56.
 See Histoire, p. 155.
 Ibid., p. 355.
 Ibid., p. 402.
 See Yusuf Aga 4868, ff. 74–83, which Osman Yahia lists as an autograph (see Histoire, p. 292). Our inspection shows that it could not have been written by Ibn 'Arabî himself for textural reasons, but there is no doubt that it was written by a close companion with a similar Maghrebi hand and so is of excellent provenance.
 See Histoire, p. 292.
 Ibid., pp. 315–16.
 Although it is possible to say briefly that our inspection of the available manuscripts shows that they are all the same basic work, with some slight variations.
 Our thanks to Stephen Hirtenstein, upon whose research this itinerary is based. Some of the information gained from other manuscripts has not been published before; Osman Yahia, for instance, in his description of University 79, which is the autograph Rûh al-quds, does not give the exact dates for the nine samâ' it contains, but only the year. It should be emphasised that this is only a provisional itinerary, based upon preliminary research. A more detailed and annotated version will form the basis of a future paper.