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vii

TRANSLATOR'S

PREFACE.

The following work, entitled • Choice Gifts existing in the advantages of the Masjidu-l-Aksá,'* includes an account of the history and antiquities of that renowned Muhammadan basilica, as well as of the adjoining Al Sakhra : it contains also historical and traditional notices of the Holy City of Jerusalem, wherein these places of worship are situated, and of Palestine and Syria, the scene of early Muhammadan success.

The two MSS. of this work, to which the Translator has had access, are deposited in the British Museum, and belong to Rich's Collection. They are of different ages : the more recent MS. is the most legibly written ; but the

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• The word die seems to denote “superabundant merit,” and hence “privileges," “meritoriousness," "works or gifts of supererogation."

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earlier possesses a more accurate text, and is that which the Translator has generally found it convenient to abide by. There are many various readings throughout; and the arrangement of the introductory matter is different in the two different copies. But the only important discrepancy between them appears to consist in a variation in the author's name: the older designates him as Ibráhím, the more recent Muhammad; not that such a variation is so important in an Oriental MS. as it would be in a European one, the uniform practice of surnames adding a greater degree of precision than before existed; but still the substitution of so differently formed a word as Muhammad, for Ibráhim, can scarcely be attributed to oversight, especially in a title-page. It is therefore probable that one MS. was derived from some ultimate copy, varying from that whence the other was transcribed. The two MSS. coincide in designating the author as a Moolla and a Shaikh,— a divine, that is, and a teacher, or public professor, or a man of rank and respectability. They both give him the gentile appellation Al-Siútí, denoting, in a general sense, a native of Siút, in Upper Egypt. One adds the title of Amil, signifying either an intendant of the finances, a collector of the revenue, who is at the same time invested with some magisterial authority, (an officer somewhat resembling the ancient quæstor,) or simply the Author :' the other substitutes for this last, the word Imám, which is a word of widely various signification, but which, with the majority of orthodox Musalmáns in the early centuries, and universally, perhaps, in modern times, expresses a priest, one who leads the public prayers. Both MSS. coincide in determining the age in which the author lived (which, Ockley asserts with regret, can so seldom be done as regards Oriental writers) ::-" I said, to pass my time in the venerable house of God, is better than a return to Cairo, in the beginning of the year 848 from the prophetical Hijra,(Introduction, which date corresponds with April, A. D. 1444.

The appellation Al-Skútí, or Al-Usíútí, coupled with the date, would seem to afford us some clue to the author. There would appear but little doubt, that the copyist who wrote the title-page of one MS. and perhaps of both MSS. designed thereby to attribute the work to the celebrated Jalál-Addin-Abdurrahmán-Al-Síútí, a very learned commentator upon the Korán, and a most voluminous writer. But there was another JalálAddín, also a commentator upon the Korán, one of whose names is Muhammad. The latter does not bear the gentile cognomen of Síutí, his name

جلال الدين محمد بن احمد الكلي at length being

Jalál - Addin-Muhammad-Ibn-Ahmad-Al-Mahallí. (Pococke, Specimen, Notes, p. 368, &c.) This Jalál-Addín illustrated the Korán with certain short scholia and notes, but, dying before he had fully completed his labours, the remainder was accomplished by Jalál-Addin-Al-Síútí, who seems to have considerably enlarged upon the comments of his predecessor and namesake. There is but little doubt, that the greater part of the following work must be attributed to this last Jalál-Addin, being compiled with some variations and additions from his commentary. To him may also be assigned the ninth chapter, and the more historical passages interspersed in different parts. We know that Jalal-Addin-Al-Síutí was eminent historian. His book entitled The Lyre, or Harp,' or "The Flowery Meadow,' (Mizhar) is quoted with approbation by the very learned

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Pococke; and we might readily conclude that an author who was at once an eminent historian and divine, and who had drawn from his stores of information upon

the latter topic the greater portion of the subject matter of those chapters which relate to Muhammadan theology, would not, in arranging the historical parts of his work, fail to recur to his own historical knowledge. But, in truth, Ockley (Hist. Sar., vol. i.) expressly quotes a MS. history of Jerusalem by JalálAddin-Al-Síutí, and appeals to its authority in support of the fact of a difference of opinion between Ali and Othmán respecting the expediency of the Khalíf Omar-Ibn-Al-Khattab's visit to Jerusalem, to receive its submission. This story is found in the ninth chapter of the fol. lowing translation, the original of which is, in all probability, the work alluded to by Ockley.

Unless, however, the two MSS. consulted by the translator are extremely incorrect, the introductory portion of this work cannot be the production of Jalál-Addin-Al-Siútí : that author was born in the year of the Hijra 849, and completed his commentary upon the Korán A. H. 871; whereas the writer of the Introduction remained

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