Odds and quads

March 4, 2010

The Daläil al-khayrät - known in English as the Guide to Goodness or Proofs of Good Deeds - is a collection of prayers for the Prophet Muhammad.

It includes a description of his tomb, his names and praiseworthy actions, and was assembled by the 15th-century Moroccan mystic and scholar, Muhammad al-Jazuli.

After extensive travels to Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem, al-Jazuli returned to what is now Fez and drew on the resources of the Al-Karawiyyin Library to produce the work.

He became the founder of a Sufi sect, whose followers recited the celebrated book daily and carried it over their shoulders as a talisman in an embroidered leather or silver case. This edition, with its accompanying case, is owned by the School of Oriental and African Studies and is currently on display in its Brunei Gallery as part of an exhibition of Soas treasures.

Although the text, written in gold ink on paper, uses the Maghribi Arabic script of North Africa, it was probably produced in Nigeria in the 19th century.

Send suggestions for this series on the sector's treasures, oddities and curiosities to: matthew.reisz@tsleducation.com.

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