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Tracing Ithaf al-Dhaki Manuscripts

My current research focuses on Ithaf al-Dhaki, a manuscript written by Ibrahim al-Kurani before 1661 AD. This philological and historical research is fully supported by the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung, Germany under a supervision of Prof. Dr. Edwin Wieringa at the Department of Oriental Studies, University of Cologne.

Initially, there are just four copies of Ithaf al-Dhaki manuscript I knew in several libraries in the world: two copies in Darul Kutub, Cairo, one copy in Leiden University Library, and another one in the India Office Library. I have already possessed copies of Dar al-Kutub collections, thanks to my senior colleague, Prof. Dr. Azyumardi Azra, a former Rector of the Islamic State University (UIN) Jakarta.

However, when I have started a research on it, it appears that there are many other copies of this manuscript kept in different libraries. This means that this sufi work written by Ibrahim al-Kurani before 1661 AD is one of the famous islamic works in the last centuries.

Brockelmann, for example, mentioned in Geschichte der Arabischen Litteratur (Leiden: Brill 938: p. 551), that there is a copy of Ithaf al-Dhaki in Berlin Libray. I found also one copy in Daiber Collection in the Institute of Oriental Culture University of Tokyo.

Then, in the middle of January 2007, I have made contact with Prof. A.H. Johns, one of the prominent scholars, who wrote article and gave comments of Ithaf al-Dhaki. According to Prof. Johns, there are many copies of this manuscript in the world, "...but best of all, and one which has an isnad that might take it back to Ibrahim himself is in the Azhar Library...". He added that he have seen and touched the Al-Azhar manuscript in the mosque Library oposite the Idara building.

Of course, this Prof. Johns's information is so valuable in the term of philology, especially in the context of Indonesian philology. Because, as far as I know, and as my Professor, Edwin Wieringa suggested, so far we never find an autograph of old manuscripts, written directly by the author, in Indonesia in particular, and in Southeast Asia in general.

Unfortunatelly, as far as the Al-Azhar copy concerns, some people let me know the big challenge to have access to this Library. Prof. Johns himself argued that it's "now a very danger road to cross!". A friend of mine, Faried F. Saenong at the UIN Jakarta, said also a same tone, so that he kindly supports and recommends me to have a contact with his friend, Hamka Hasan, an Al-Azhar alumni, who has good experiences to access the Library there.

In this week, I have contacted Dr. Nursamad, a friend of mine who currently is charged as Head of Hajji Affairs in Jeddah, and one of the Al-Azhar alumnus, to get his help regarding the Al-Azhar manuscript. Thanks to him, I have a contact person, Muhammad Amin Samad, who promise to look for the details of the manuscript. Now, I am looking forward to hearing any valuable information from them...

In addition, a friend of mine who is a PhD candidate in Harvard University, Dadi Darmadi or Kang Dadi as I usually call him, have assisted me to surfe Hollis Catalogue in Harvard University, and the result is that Houghton Library of Harvard University preserves a copy of Ithaf al-Dhaki. Another friend, Sukidi Mulyadi, who is also a PhD candidate at the University also has supported an additional information about this copy.

Actually, there is another copy of Ithaf al-Dhaki cited at Bouwman Oriental Books, an antiquarian bookshop specialized in hand written books and other manuscript material from oriental cultures. However, I am not sure to get a copy of this manuscript, even I am really really interested, due to the fact that Bouwman Oriental books just provides the manuscript for selling. Do you know the price of this manuscript? it's 695 Euro...!

Now, I assume that probably there are still other copies of Ithaf al-Dhaki in other institutions in the world...

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