Oxford, Marsh 155 was Helmut Ritter’s favourite manuscript for his Arabic edition of the Ghāya, which is understandable (although it is not mine). It is complete, clear, and dated: 22 Shaʿbān, 771/March 21, 1370. The scribe is Muḥammad Muḥammad ʿUmar Yūsuf Hāshim al-Ḥanafī. /1
Names of several owners are also present with the dates of acquirement along with some steganographic notes. It is a reliable manuscript that is not silent about its history. My favourite thing about it is the gloss. Most of it is dedicated to clarifying terms, /2
but my favourite ones are the theologically sensitive notes like these two on fol. 80v. /3
The one on the right is responding to a lunar prayer: “I say, and God knows better, that planets have no benefit or harm to give save by the permission of God the Exalted. Whoever believes that the planets are self-acting by a will is an unbeliever.” /4
The second responds to the part that demands “dropping down in prostration”, stating that this “goes against God’s saying do not prostrate to the sun or the moon, and therefore prostrating to them goes against The Inviolable Book and the sunnah." /5
Bear in mind that Maslama here is “describing” the rituals of the Sabians III, 7). Maslama even concludes the following chapter “describing” Nabatean rituals as follows: “We have described these things to become acquainted with the worship of planets ... /6
and taking on their attributes in ancient generations. To them, these things were permitted (mubāḥ) in their religions (adyān) and laws. According to our creed and law, applying these things is disbelief.” /7
And yet, in one place describing the famous 3x3 magic square and its use to relieve labour pains, the scribe - Muḥammad – draws out the square and refers to al-Ghazālī’s mentioning of it. He is referring to a commonly accepted attribution. /8
Bink Hallum writes: “his association with the 3x3 wafq is so strong that it is sometimes named after him as the ‘threefold’ (muthallath) or ‘seal’ (khitām) of the al-Ghazālī. In fact, however, he did no more than adduce it ... /9
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