[ARABIC MANUSCRIPT INCLUDING EARLY LITERARY COLLECTION] [Majmua] Hikâyât al-Jumjumanâma, Hikâyât al-qadi wa al-harâmi, selected writings from Suyuti, etc.

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ANONYMOUS, Manuscript, n.d. [c. 1890].

Contemporary cloth. Rebacked spine. Foolscap 8vo. (17 x 12 cm). Arabic script in brown ink on blind-stamped thin paper with text borders in blue ink. 125, [1] p.

A collection of early popular tales from the Middle East from Islamic and pre-Islamic periods.

The first story in this manuscript collection is "Hikâyât al-Jumjuma" (pp. 2-8) known as "Qissat al-Jumjuma" [i.e., the Story of the Skull] starts with Basmalah. It is particularly interesting as the main protagonist (besides the skull) is referred to as Jesus, like in the Muslim and Christian versions of the tale. It’s a story about a man who encounters a skull lying on the ground (often as he is walking through the wilderness in al-Sam [i.e., Damascus]). He asks God to allow the skull to speak to him, a request which God grants. He then asks the skull a series of questions about the manner of his life and death, which the skull answers in detail. Depending on the version, the skull was a great Sultan, who lost his way and began to worship idols rather than God. He then tells the details of his unpleasant death, and descent into hell, his interaction with the angels of death, Munkar and Nakîr, and his resurrection.

So, the origins are a little unclear - there is no trace of the story in pre-Islamic poetry or the Qur’an, but Roberto Tottoli (2003) attributes the development in the tale’s literary content to the popularity of the Persian poet Farîd al-Dîn ‘Aṭṭâr’s (d. ca. 1221 CE) tale Jumjuma-nâma. Most of the versions of today the tale that survive date between the 16th and 19th centuries. It was very popular in both the Islamic and Christian traditions.

The second story is “Hikâyât al-qadi wa al-harâmi” (pp. 9-16).

The other stories in the manuscript are from the oldest literary culture of the Middle East which have many different versions in the region.