Rasa’il Ikhwan al-Safa’
Illuminated page with polychrome head-piece and text within gold ‘clouds’

The Ikhwan al-Safa’ (Brethren of Purity) were a coterie of scholars and thinkers affiliated with Ismailism who, in the late ninth and early tenth centuries, produced an encyclopaedic corpus of fifty-two epistles (Rasa’il). These epistles, on a wide range of subjects show awareness of Hermetic, Pythagorean, Platonic, and Aristotelian ideas, as well as elements of Iranian and Indian origins. They are grouped into four books or sections: mathematical sciences, natural sciences, intellectual sciences and theological sciences. The Library possesses a number of copies of this encyclopaedic work of which this manuscript, written in elegant naskhi script with an illuminated opening double-page, was most probably copied in Persia.

Copied in 953/1546 by al-Hasan b. al-Nu‘mani al-Isma‘ili

746 folios, 300 x 190 mm; incomplete at the end

Ms 1040