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CALA IV: The Book of the Rank of the Sage, Rutbat al-Hakim by Maslama b. Qasim al-Qurtubi

Wilferd Madelung Theodor Abt

208 pages
Daimon Verlag

From the Introduction:

This “first imperfect edition” of Rutbat al-hakim is based mainly on three manuscripts [Ms. Paris Arabe 2612, Ms. Istanbul, Süleymaniye, Hajji Mahmud 6224, and Ms. Teheran, Kitabkhaneh Milla Malek 5346], “in order to provide a reasonably reliable text as originally composed by the author without any of the corrections and alterations introduced by later scholars of alchemy who used the book as their teaching manual.”
“The correct identification of the author as Maslama b. Qasim al-Qurtubi (d. 353/964) was first proposed by Maribel Fierro in an article in 1996. [...] For CALA the early dating of the Rutbat al-hakim is significant, since Maslama al-Qurtubi is the first author to mention the Arabic translation of the Mushaf as-suwar attributed to Zosimos of Panopolis (Arabic Akhmim) of which a manuscript dated in 668/1211 has been published by Theodor Abt in CALA II. Maslama al-Qurtubi states that he considered Zosimos as his master and teacher among pre-Islamic alchemists. [...] It should be noted, that the version of the Mushaf as-suwar Maslama had, differed significantly from the published version which represents a translation produced much later in Egypt. The two Arabic versions evidently are based on different Greek originals. […]” 

From the Foreword :

“The publication of this fourth volume of the Corpus Alchemicum Arabicum (CALA IV) is a milestone in achieving our aim to make the wealth of Arabic alchemy more easily accessible for research. Maslama b. Qasim al-Qurtubi (died 353/964), the author of this Rutbat al-hakim, provides a basic teaching of alchemy, quoting extensively from Zosimos' Mushaf as-suwar. Zosimos was an alchemist who lived in the 3rd/4th century and is generally considered to be the first alchemist known to us by his true name […]. The significance of the present publication is to be seen in the relationship to the earlier volumes of this series, especially to CALA II and CALA III. The author of the Rutbat al-hakim emphasises the importance of understanding symbols (rumuz). The publication of the Rutbat al-hakim as CALA IV rounds up the first four publications in this series: They started with the Kitab hall ar-rumuz (Book of the Explanation of the Symbols), written by the Arab alchemist Muhammad ibn Umail (10th century). Then in the next volumes, in CALA II and CALA III, there came a further clarification of the symbols given by the Greek alchemist Zosimos, and now, in CALA IV, we find an overview of the knowledge and significance of the symbols (rumuz), written by another Arab alchemist.”

Author Bio
Wilferd Ferdinand Madelung (born 26 December 1930) is a scholar of Islam. He was born in Stuttgart, Germany, where he completed his early education at Eberhard-Ludwigs-Gymnasium. His family moved to the United States in 1947. He studied at Georgetown University. In 1952, he went to Egypt and stayed there for a year. During his stay, the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, initiated by the Free Officers, occurred. He also met Ihsan Abbas, the famous scholar of Islamic history. On leaving Egypt he went back to Germany and completed his Ph.D in 1957, working with Berthold Spuler (de). In 1958 he was sent to Iraq by the German government to work at its embassy there. Shortly after his arrival in Baghdad, Brigadier Abd al-Karim Qasim overthrew the regime in the bloody military coup known as the 14 July Revolution. Madelung stayed in Iraq two more years. Subsequently, he taught at the University of Chicago. Madelung was Laudian Professor of Arabic at the University of Oxford from 1978 to 1998. He has written extensively on the early history of Islam, as well as on Islamic sects such as the Shi'a and the Ismailis. He has served on the editorial boards of several academic journals including the Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies. He is currently a senior research fellow at the Institute for Ismaili Studies in LondonTheodor Abt (1947), born in Zurich, Switzerland; Ph.D. from the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich 1977, 1973-79 project leader of overall regional development concepts for two Swiss mountain regions. Since 1975 Jungian Analyst in private practice. 1983-88 member of the board of the C.G. Jung Institute, Zurich. Since 1990 Professor for Rural Sociology at the ETH. Since 1995, member of the board of the Research and Training Centre for Depth Psychology according to C.G. Jung and M.-L. von Franz, Zurich. Since 1988, President of the Society of the Friends of the Royal Tombs of Egypt. His research focuses on the relationship of the outer world with the needs of the inner unconscious world. Together with Wilferd Madelung he is editor of the Corpus Alchemicum Arabicum (CALA) series. Of his publications in German is available in English: Progress without Loss of Soul, 1990 and Dark Clouds over Europe, 2014.