Friday, May 23, 2008

Princeton MSS

The Arabic and Persian (and generally the Islamic) mansucripts constitute arguably the best collection in North America, acquired over time and divided into the Yahuda, Garrett, New Series and other collections. You can access the catalogues here. It is particularly rich in philosophical and Shii theological material. In the past, I've consulted some of the material of Fakhr al-Dīn Sammākī, who was Mīr Dāmād’s main teacher in philosophy, and Sayyid Niẓām al-Dīn Dashtakī (whose majmūʿa of treatises are rich and often confused with better known philosophers – about a decade ago his Risālat al-wujūd was published under the mistaken attribution to Mullā Ṣadrā by Ḥāmid Nājī Iṣfahānī in the Majmūʿa-ye rasāʾil-e Ṣadr al-mutaʾallihīn).

On this brief trip, I’m consulting a couple of mss of Mullā Shamsā Gīlānī (d. c. 1088H), a student of Mīr Dāmād. MS New Series Arabic 62 is his valuable set of glosses on the later commentary (sharḥ jadīd) upon Naṣīr al-Dīn Ṭūsī’s Tajrīd al-iʿtiqād of ʿAlī al-Qūshjī as well as upon the glosses (taʿlīqāt) of Shams al-Dīn Khafrī (d. c. 1550), the Shirazi philosopher upon the text. It focused on maqṣad III on the proof of the existence of God, one of the most popular sections of the Tajrīd which were glossed. The other is a majmūʿa of Mullā Shamsā’s work on the question of creation (ḥudūth al-ʿālam) – MS New Series Arabic 994. This includes a short and valuable discussion of the nature of divine knowledge, a discussion that was also central to Khafrī’s comments on maqṣad III of the Tajrīd. I really need to return to my proposed book on Time and Creation and hence this is a gesture towards that.