Page images

at Mecca (as stated above) after the departure of the other pilgrims in the year of the Hijra 848. This is the difficulty; and it seems to have constituted the difficulty which perplexed the copyists. The Introduction purports to be written before Al-Síútí was born : the mass of the work is evidently to be ascribed to Al-Síútí. Possibly it was with a view of evading this difficulty, that one copy gives Muhammad as the author's name, thus ascribing the whole book to the elder JalálAddin, and that both omit the prænomen (JalálAddin), which would have fixed the authorship too decisively. The names Ibrahim and Muhammad are indeed neither of them inconsistent with that of Abdurrahmán; the latter being the epithet superadded to the original name : but it is not probable that a Muhammadan would bear both names, as he generally assumes one simple name, preceded and followed by epithets or surnames; thus, for example, in the name

? which signifies, the Father of God's servant (Muhammad), son of the Father of Hassan (Ismaël)-(of Bokhara), where Ismaël or Muhammad would appear to be the real first-imposed

ابو عبد الاله محمد بن أبي الحسن اسمعیل البخاري


[ocr errors]

The distinguishing name may be sometimes omitted where the individual is well known; but a change in this argues a change in the personal identity, and entitles us to look for some motive which could lead a copyist to the alteration. The name Ibrahim might, or might not, be the name of Jalál-Addín-Al-Síútí, the later author ; but Muhammad was the appellation of the older; and the inscription of that name upon the title-page might reasonably induce us to conclude, that the apparent anachronism in making Al-Síútí write a book before his birth) led one confused copyist into an error of the same kind, and brought him to ascribe to the elder JalálAddín a book written long after his death, whilst, with a half-consciousness of some lurking error, he admits the name Al-Síúti, which did not belong to the elder Jalál-Addín. The other copyist, giving the name of the reputed author, makes no attempt to reconcile the discrepancy.

It will be profitless to enlarge upon a subject, in discussing which our data are so scanty. Jalál-Addin-Al-Síútí may be considered the responsible compiler and composer of the work; and with regard to the difficulty of reconciling

the date of the Introduction with the date of Al

Siútí's birth, we may hazard a reasonable and probable conjecture. May not Al-Siútí, who inherited the unfinished work of his namesake Jalál-Addin upon

the Korán,—who so considerably enlarged, and who completed it, -have undertaken in like manner to recompile and augment a work upon the Masjidu-l- Aksá at Jerusalem, originally composed by the elder Jalál-Addín in a less diffuse manner, and prefaced by a personal narrative which he did not think proper to disturb? There are difficulties which this conjecture will not entirely solve, because the author speaks of himself in the ninth chapter as well as in the Introduction ; and since Al-Síútí is the author of the former, some confusion would seem to be caused if he were not the same individual as the person who introduces himself in the latter. These difficulties are of no great moment. Accuracy was not always regarded by ancient authors in matters not affecting the grand design, nor do they often attempt to obviate possible objections. Al-Skútí may have thought it unnecessary to intimate that the individual who began the work was not the same as the writer

of the ninth chapter; for this chapter contains no marks of individual character, but merely mentions the authorities and books to which the writer recurred. Upon the whole, the above conjecture may, under the circumstances, fairly obtain.

Some conjecture of the kind must be made, unless we are inclined to imagine either that the dates of the Introduction in both MSS. are erroneous, —which is highly improbable; or that Pococke was mistaken in the date of AlSíútí's birth, which is equally so. We will then assume our hypothesis to be true ; and, knowing from other sources of intelligence that Al-Síútí is accountable for the mass and bulk of the work, we will regard him as the author, and leave the difficulty of explaining the discrepancy between the Introduction and the remainder of the book, to be resolved by future research. Jalál-Addin-Abdurrahmán-Al-Síútí was

probably born, and certainly flourished in Egypt. That remarkable country had long been the prey of civil convulsions, subjected to the rule of strangers, and often deprived of the advantages of political independence: but it was favoured in other respects : Egypt was a sort of debateable

land, wherein the contending zealots of Muhammadan sects met upon more common ground. The soi-disant Fátemite Khalífs, whilst they naturally professed considerable respect for Alí, endeavoured to connect this reverence with a degree of acquiescence in those opinions which the Muhammadans of the Sunna regarded as orthodox. Of the ever-varying and trifling shades of sentiment which divided the doctors, one occasionally prevailed over the others, if espoused and maintained by the reigning Khalif; but, in general, both under the Khalífs, and the dynasties that succeeded them, many points were left open for discussion, which elsewhere it would not be suffered to question. This degree of liberty of conscience, and freedom of deliberation, may possibly have had the effect of enlarging the mind and expanding the thoughts of the Egyptians. Certain it is, that to them we owe some of the most interesting, eminent, and intelligent of the Arabic writers. Our author lived under the dynasty of the Circassian Mamlúk Sultáns of Egypt. He is said by Casiri, in his “Escurial Catalogue,' to have written singly more works than others perhaps have read. It is probable,

« PreviousContinue »