Banner featuring Arabic calligraphy in dark blue ink above the words Islamic Medical Manuscripts at the National Library of Medicine written in burgundy ink.

Catalogue: Magical/Astrological Medicine

Blue arrow pointing to the right [Magical Medicine]   (MS A 27, item 5)

This short anonymous essay contains instructions for magical procedures and recipes to be used by physicians. One is said to be recommended by an unidentified Husayn al-Misri. It opens with 'tariqat Ma‘lun ibn Ma‘lun'.

No other copy has been identified.

Physical Description

Arabic. 2 leaves (fols. 75b-76b). Dimensions 24 x 13.6 (text area ca. 23 x 12.2) cm; 19 lines per page. Neither title nor author are given.

The text was copied by a different copyist than produced the other items in the volume, which were copied in 992 (= 1584) by an unnamed scribe in Shahr Daylaman, a town in Persian province of Dylam.

The text is written in a medium-large, personal, Naskh script in black ink. The text area has been frame-ruled. The writing extends up to the edges of the folios.

At the bottom of fol. 76b there is a recipe written in a slightly different script.

The burnished, glossy beige paper has lightly scattered fibres, vertical slightly curved laid lines, and faint single chain lines (but no watermarks). The paper is waterdamaged and stained with thumbing and grease. The edges have been trimmed from their original size, and some of the marginal commentaries have been cut off.

The volume consists of 77 leaves. Fol. 1a is blank except for an incorrect title in a later hand and the trace of an owner's note. The first item (fols. 1b-38a) contains the anatomical sections from the Qānūn of Avicenna (MS A 27, item 1); the second item (fols. 38b-39b) is Kashf ba‘d al-lughah min al-Qānūn wa-ghayrihi, an anonymous commentary on terms in the Qanun (MS A 27, item 2); and the third item on fol. 41a is a short anonymous essay on oxymel (MS A 27, item 3). The fourth item (fols. 41b-75a) is an anonymous treatise on prognostics (MS A 27, item 4), and the final item (fols. 75b-76b) contains magical procedures and invocations useful for illness here catalogued. Folios 40a is blank, and fol. 40b is blank except for an owner's note. Fol. 77 is a very different, more recent, paper, and is blank except for some owner's annotations.


Bound in brown leather library binding; modern paper pastedowns and endpapers.


On fol. 40b there is a note stating that the owner (malik) is Isāq, the physician in Damascus (tabib fi Damashq al-sham) in the year 1240 [= 1824-5]. On fol. 77a there are various owner's notations, including the statement that this volume is the Kanz al-atibba' (The Treasure of Physicians) belonging to al-faqir Ishaq the physician (al-tabib) in the year 1251 [= 1835-6] and another statement that this Kanz al-atibba' belonged to one of the skilled wound-healers (ahad min al-hudhdhaq al-sabur) Isāq Dhilā al-Yahūdī, medical practitioner in Damascus (al-mutatabbib fi Dimashq al-Sham); this is presumably the same owner. His assistant (‘abd) is named, on both fol. 77a and in yet another signature on fol. 38a, as Ibraham Rumanu tabib. On fol. 1a the title Kanz al-atibba' is repeated. On the basis of these owner's notes, Sommer incorrectly catalogued this manuscript as a copy of a treatise titled Kanz al-atibba' written by Malik Isāq, a Jewish physician of Damascus (see Schullian/Sommer, Cat. of incun. & MSS., p. 306 entry A 27).

The volume was purchased in 1941 by the Army Medical Library from A. S. Yahuda who acquired it in Cairo. NLM MS A 23 was acquired in Cairo in the same lot. On the front endpaper several earlier labels have been pasted, including one giving the designation "ELS 1665" and two smaller ones "M[ed.] 44".


Schullian/Sommer, Cat. of incun. & MSS., p. 306 entry A27 [this item is incorrectly catalogued as a copy of a treatise titled Kanz al-atibba' written by Malik Isāq, a Jewish physician of Damascus]; Hamarneh, "NLM" p. 82, where it is said that it is a compilation made by a "a certain Jewish Physician, Malak Isāq of Damascus, possibly of the early Mamluk period", and it is stated that the copy was made in Shar Dilman.

NLM Microfilm Reel: FILM 48-117 no. 3

Welcome Getting started Medieval Islam Catalogue Bio-bibliographies Glossary Abbreviations Credits About the Author Concordances A 1 - A 29 A 30 - A 59 A 60 - A 89 A 90 - A 92 P 1 - P 29 Authors, Translators & Commentators Copyists & Illustrators Owners & Patrons