Kitāb Al-Farā’iḍ [Inheritance Laws in accordance with Islamic Fiqh]

[Near East, late sixteenth century]


Arabic manuscript on paper with diagrams, 175 x 130 mm, two parts in one, 58 ff., pages unnumbered, single column, between 10 and 20 lines per page, black bookhand, text panel 155 x 105 mm, some words or letters highlighted in red, diagrams in red and black. A very good copy on soft, glossy paper, minor staining towards gutter, occasional smudging toward end of text, expanded marginal commentary in the same hand throughout the second juz’. Name of author in second juz’ of text.

Printed label with description to upper pastedown, original Makiya label attached to upper spine. Contemporary brown leather binding with envelope flap, re-backed, flap and spine replaced, front and back boards gently rubbed, upper board central mendorla blind tooled with palmette design, lower mendorla blind tooled with floral design, gold tooling to both mendorla outlines.

A commentary on Ḥanafi inheritance laws observed by some Sunni Muslims. Hanafi Islamic law is the school with the largest following. The popularity of Hanafi law is also attested by its vast geographical spread and its becoming the dominant system of rule for both the Mughal and Ottoman empires. In Islam, inheritance law, also known as mīrāth, is derived from the Qur’an and then expounded in further detail by generations of Muslim jurists.

Yaḥya al-Ḥanafi’s Kitāb Al-Farā’iḍ explores legislation such as whether the the grandfathers of deceased men ought to inherit in the stead of their father and the size of the portion of a widow’s inheritance (traditionally a quarter if she does not have children and an eighth if she does). This is an interesting elaboration of the traditional formula that all relatives with a legitimate blood relationship are entitled to inherit if there are no mitigating factors such as homicide or difference in religion. A similar, albeit earlier, commentary, dated 1192 AD and signed by Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad Ḥawfī, with the same title is held in the Bodleian Library (MS. Marsh 378, ff.2-92).

Islamic inheritance laws played an important role in in the development of algebra as a discipline by medieval Muslim mathematicians in order to solve the equations required for more numerically difficult cases. Item number 134 from the Mohamed Makiya collection.

GAL I 384 [UAM. 217 (1) with corrig. Nicoll p. 573]


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