Manuscript commentary on Ibn Sina's Kitab ash-Shifa

[Ibn Sina (Avicenna)]. - Mohammed Mahdi ibn Abi Zarr Naraqi. Kitab Sharh al-Ilahiyyat ("The Book of Explanation of Theology"). Theological commentary on Avicenna's Kitab al-Shifa’ ("The Book of Healing").

Western Persia (Isfahan?), [ca. 1780s].

4to (150 x 210 mm). 137 ff. Arabic manuscript on polished laid paper. 17 lines per extensum, text in black ink with marks in red. Text in black ink in a neat commentary naskh style, influenced by the widespread Persian nastaliq hand. Limp tan goatskin binding with red goatskin spine.


Late 18th century Arabic manuscript apparently written in Western Persia, containing a commentary on several theological propositions taken from various parts of Ibn Sina's encyclopedical Kitab al-Shifa’, the author's major work on science and philosophy, intended to "cure" or "heal" ignorance of the soul. Thus, despite its title, it is not concerned with medicine, in contrast to his earlier "Qanun". The book is divided into four parts: logic, natural sciences, mathematics (a quadrivium of arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music), and metaphysics. It was influenced by ancient Greek philosophers such as Aristotle, Hellenistic thinkers such as Ptolemy, and earlier Muslim scientists and philosophers such as Al-Kindi, Al-Farabi, and Al-Biruni.

The author of this commentary was the Shiite Iranian polymath and scholar Mohammed Mahdi ibn Abi Zarr Naraqi (1716-95). Praised by Henry Corbin in his "Histoire de la philosophie islamique", Naraqi was a significant figure at the beginning of the Qajar era of Shiite philosophy. Here, each Avicennian proposition is highlighted by the rubrication of the Arabic expression "qawl-hu" ("his saying [is … etc.]"). In some contrast to Ibn Sina's own Neo-Platonically informed interpretation of Islam, Naraqi's commentary belongs to a deeply Shiite mystical tradition.

Some paper repairs. With a Persian bequest statement (waqfiya), elegantly penned in tawqi hand, stating: "This [leather-]bound (mugallad) manuscript had been donated for the study of the religious sciences (ulum diniya) on the part of the residents of the Dar as-Saltanat in Esfahan, Persia, at the month of Rabi at-Tani 1292 H (= May 1875 CE)".


Cf. GAL I, 454, 18.

Stock Code: BN#49508