Impressive North African book art: the most beloved texts of Islam by one of its greatest scholars

Al-Gazuli

17th century

Al-Gazuli

Al-Gazuli

— 17th century

  1. The *Instructions for Charity* by Al-Ghazālī (d. 1055), one of the most important religious thinkers of Islam

  2. One of the most beautiful examples of North African illumination

  3. This particular codex had been the possession of a tribal leader in Gambia or Mauritania

Abu Abdallah Muhammed ibn Abi Bakr ibn Sulayman al-Gazuli. Dala’il al’Hayrat. Hinweisungen zur Wohltätigkeit

Al-Gazuli

Carpet Page

Muslim prayer rugs usually feature intricate patterns and were not only depicted in Islamic art but likely inspired the splendid carpet pages commonly found in Insular illuminated manuscripts. This fine example shows a combination of floral and geometric patterns typical to Islamic art and is an artistic representation of naturally occurring patterns that have been studied since antiquity in order to understand the observable order in nature and perhaps God’s hand therein.

Al-Gazuli

Alternative Titles:
  • Abu Abdallah Muhammed ibn Abi Bakr ibn Sulayman al-Gazuli. Dala’il
  • al’Hayrat. Hinweisungen zur Wohltätigkeit
Al-Gazuli – Cod. Vindob. Mixt. 1876 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Al-Gazuli – Cod. Vindob. Mixt. 1876 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Al-Gazuli – Cod. Vindob. Mixt. 1876 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Al-Gazuli – Cod. Vindob. Mixt. 1876 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Al-Gazuli – Cod. Vindob. Mixt. 1876 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Al-Gazuli – Cod. Vindob. Mixt. 1876 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Al-Gazuli – Cod. Vindob. Mixt. 1876 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Al-Gazuli – Cod. Vindob. Mixt. 1876 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Al-Gazuli – Cod. Vindob. Mixt. 1876 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Al-Gazuli – Cod. Vindob. Mixt. 1876 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Al-Gazuli – Cod. Vindob. Mixt. 1876 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Al-Gazuli – Cod. Vindob. Mixt. 1876 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Al-Gazuli – Cod. Vindob. Mixt. 1876 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Al-Gazuli – Cod. Vindob. Mixt. 1876 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Al-Gazuli – Cod. Vindob. Mixt. 1876 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Al-Gazuli – Cod. Vindob. Mixt. 1876 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Al-Gazuli – Cod. Vindob. Mixt. 1876 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Al-Gazuli – Cod. Vindob. Mixt. 1876 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Al-Gazuli – Cod. Vindob. Mixt. 1876 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Al-Gazuli – Cod. Vindob. Mixt. 1876 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Al-Gazuli – Cod. Vindob. Mixt. 1876 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
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  1. Short Description
  2. Codicology

Short Description

This Arabic texts is one of the most brilliant examples of North African illumination. The Dala‘il al-hayrat or Instructions for Charity by Al-Gazuli is one of the most popular Muslim texts. Virtually every library in the Orient and in Europe own one or more versions of this work. Many affluent Muslims have had splendiferous copies of the manuscript manufactured. The Dala‘il al-hayrat is still in use today and is one of the most widely copied texts in Islam. One of the most beautiful of these is the codex in Vienna, which was presumably owned by a tribal leader in Gambia or Mauritania.

Al-Gazuli

The Dala‘il al-hayrat is one of the most frequently copied and most read Arabic writings of religious content; Instructions for Charity. Al-Gazuli came from the Berber lineage of Gazula in the Moroccan city of Sus where he was born and raised. He began his studies in his homeland but later travelled to Fez where he entered the Madrasat asaffarin and wrote his most infamous mystic writing; Dala’il alhayrat. The Instructions for Charity is in itself unique due to its particular style. It is written in a rhythmic prose whereby the continual repetition of parts of a sentence visibly stand out. One has the impression that the book was conceived for a particular recitation purpose which seems to have been the authors’ intention because in the text he uses repetitions to “facilitate the reader to learn by heart”. Up until today, this prayer book is still read on weekends or religious holidays together in chorus, loud and without pause. The recitation begins with a soft rhythm and increases slowly until it reaches a climax in the last verses.

A Manuscript Still in Use

The ongoing use of the Dala’il al-hayrat up to the present day, as well as the production of numerous copies of the prayer book in existence, are a testimony to the great popularity of the codex. Virtually every library in the Orient and in Europe own one or more versions of this work. Many affluent Muslims have had splendiferous copies of the manuscript manufactured. One of the most beautiful of these is the codex in Vienna, which was presumably owned by a tribal leader in Gambia or Mauritania. The completely preserved prayer book contains an Arabic text which is written in a late western developed Magribi writing. The calligraphy is truly appealing not only due to its exacting style in the written characters but also because of the use of colored inks; black, gold, red, green, and blue. Every title block on the text pages are bordered with gold and blue bars. In addition, there are numerous ornamented pages decorated with geometric and floral shapes, artful accents in arabesque entwined in a variety of colors. The subtle characteristic style of the writing and decoration in the prayer book indicates a skilled artist who has succeeded in creating one of the most beautiful examples of North African book art.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Abu Abdallah Muhammed ibn Abi Bakr ibn Sulayman al-Gazuli. Dala’il
al’Hayrat. Hinweisungen zur Wohltätigkeit
Size / Format
636 pages / 11.4 x 11.4 cm
Date
17th century
Language
Illustrations
Many ornamental pages with geometric and floral ornaments
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Abu Abdallah Muhammed ibn Abi Bakr ibn Sulayman al-Gazuli. Dala’il al’Hayrat. Hinweisungen zur Wohltätigkeit

Al-Gazuli

Carpet Page

Although acceptable in secular works, figural depictions were restricted in religious Islamic manuscripts. Muslim artists had to find other ways to express their talent, such as this page from one of the most popular texts in the Islamic world. It resembles the kind of carpet pages common to Insular Illumination, but is distinctly Islamic in design.

This page artfully demonstrates the intricate geometric patterns common to Islamic art. Practically glowing with gold leaf, the carpet is painted with blue, orange, yellow, black, and traces of red and pink. Upon closer examination, the combination of geometric patterns and flourishes combine to create smaller flowers coming together into one large flower. Could this be some kind of cosmic metaphor?

1 available facsimile edition(s) of „Al-Gazuli“

Abu Abdallah Muhammed ibn Abi Bakr ibn Sulayman al-Gazuli. Dala’il al’Hayrat. Hinweisungen zur Wohltätigkeit
Al-Gazuli – Cod. Vindob. Mixt. 1876 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Al-Gazuli – Cod. Vindob. Mixt. 1876 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Al-Gazuli – Cod. Vindob. Mixt. 1876 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Al-Gazuli – Cod. Vindob. Mixt. 1876 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Al-Gazuli – Cod. Vindob. Mixt. 1876 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Al-Gazuli – Cod. Vindob. Mixt. 1876 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Al-Gazuli – Cod. Vindob. Mixt. 1876 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Al-Gazuli – Cod. Vindob. Mixt. 1876 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Al-Gazuli – Cod. Vindob. Mixt. 1876 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Al-Gazuli – Cod. Vindob. Mixt. 1876 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Al-Gazuli – Cod. Vindob. Mixt. 1876 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Al-Gazuli – Cod. Vindob. Mixt. 1876 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Al-Gazuli – Cod. Vindob. Mixt. 1876 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Al-Gazuli – Cod. Vindob. Mixt. 1876 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Al-Gazuli – Cod. Vindob. Mixt. 1876 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Al-Gazuli – Cod. Vindob. Mixt. 1876 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Al-Gazuli – Cod. Vindob. Mixt. 1876 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Al-Gazuli – Cod. Vindob. Mixt. 1876 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Al-Gazuli – Cod. Vindob. Mixt. 1876 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Al-Gazuli – Cod. Vindob. Mixt. 1876 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
Al-Gazuli – Cod. Vindob. Mixt. 1876 – Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (Vienna, Austria)
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Abu Abdallah Muhammed ibn Abi Bakr ibn Sulayman al-Gazuli. Dala’il al’Hayrat. Hinweisungen zur Wohltätigkeit

1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
Publisher
Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt (ADEVA) – Graz, 1986
Limited Edition
-
Binding
Leather, according to oriental pattern.
Commentary
1 volume (68 pages) by T. Al Samman
Language: German
Details
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size)
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