University of Erfurt

Projekt von Dr. Mohammad Karimi Zanjani Asl

The detailed and epitome of Sirr al-khalīqa: A comparative study on alchemical works in the Islamic Period

Sirr al-khlīqa as an attribute to Apollonius of Tyana (c. 15-100 CE) – a Neo-Pythagorean-Hermetic philosopher – is a famous work in Islamic period.
The Muslims’ familiarity with Apollonius began in the first decades of the 1th / 7th century during Umayyad caliphate. This familiarity happened through the great book Sirr al-khalīqa that has been considered as the most important and, in other words, the most efficient work attributed to Apollonius in the Islamic period. The existence of more than thirty copies of this book from the 5th/13th century to the 13th/19th century and the frequent references the thinkers in the Islamic period made to this book proved its importance.
In the Islamic period, Apollonius of Tyana was well known both as “Lord of the Talismans” (Ṣaḥib al-Ṭilasmāt) and as a “Wiseman” (Ḥakīm) of Neo-Pythagorean-Hermetic traditions and in his Kitāb al-Aḥjār, Jābir b. Ḥayyān cites “the Muslim advocates of Apollonius” (aṣḥāb Balīnās al-Islāmīyyīn). The reference shows that Apollonius’ most prominent work, Sirr al­khalīqa, was already famous in the Arabic-speaking world from very early on.
Current scholars believe that the lost original book belonged to the Hellenistic heritage and was translated into Arabic from Greek or Syriac. However, they have various views about who is it’s translator or which time it has been translated; regarding the author’s asserts about opinions of Bardaisan and Marcion and his efforts to reject their opinions, some scholars, such as de Sacy and Steinschneider, believe that Sajīyūs in the book is that Sergius who as a Christian struggled to reject opinions of Bardaisan, Marciun, and Porphyry. Whereas, François Nau found that the translator Sergius was that Sergius of Reshania (d. 536 AD), although it is not accepted today.
In this project, I would like survey the Ms. no. arab. 82/2 of Sirr al-khalīqa by Apollonius of Tyana in Gotha Library. The manuscript no. arab. 82/2 in Gotha library is an oldest copy of epitome version of Sirr al-khalīqa and I would like to compare between this version and detailed version of Sirr al-khalīqa. I aim to answer these questions:

  1. Why the Muslim scholars were made the epitome of Sirr al-khalīqa whereas, the detailed text was accessible in Arabic?
  2. What has been shown by a comparative study between the detailed and epitome versions of Sirr al-khalīqa?
  3. Which one of the detailed or epitome versions of Sirr al-khalīqa has been used by Corpus Jābirianum, as well the Ismā‘īlī’s theological texts, or Abū Bakr Rāzī’s alchemical works and ‘Awn b. Munẕir’s Arabic commentary between 2th/8th to 4th/10th centuries?


Mohammad Karimi Zanjani Asl, Dr. des. in philosophy; He studied at institute of Islamic studies in Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn (with degree “magna cum laude” = 0,7). He studied comparative religions and mystic studies in M.A. and political science in B.A. He worked on the research and edition of the Dustūr al-Munajjimīn for the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) at Institute for Oriental and Asian Studies, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn (October 2009 – Mach 2014; project of Prof. Dr. Eva Orthmann) and also was worked within a comparative theological project of Prof. Dr. Norbert Hintersteiner at the Institute for Missiology and the Study of Theologies beyond Europe at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster (January 2015-June 2016), pursuing a critical edition of  the “Āyeneh Haqq-Namā” (1609, The Truth–revealing Mirror) by Jerome Xavier, a Jesuit missionary at the Mughal court. He is also one of the general editors of “the Qutbshāhī’s heritage” project (Germany - Iran); of the “alchemical Heritage in Arabic, Persian and Turkish” series (Germany - Iran); of the “Iranian Intellectual Traditions” series (Goethe & Hafis Verlag - Germany); of the “Indo-Iranian Heritage” series (Germany - Iran); Member of “The International Manuscript Cataloguers Association” (Iran), author at the “Encyclopaedia Iranica” (USA), and author at “The Centre for the Great Islamic Encyclopaedia” (Iran).



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