1. Introduction
    1. Date, title and position among his works
    2. Manuscripts and editions
    3. The lines of tradition
    4. Guidelines of this edition
  2. Text and translation of Matn al-`Aqda al-wus

A. Introduction

a. Date, title and position among his works

The Wus is the only one of as-Sans's theological works which is dated. It was finished on the day of `Arafa (9 Dh-l-.) 875/ 29 May 1471.

No title is given to the Wus either in the creed or in the commentary. As for the titles given by Brockelmann, "al=Jumal", which appears in the beginning of the creed (N. 1), is simply a common noun, not a title. "Al-Murshida" does not appear in the creed or in the commentary, and may be a confusion with as-Sans's commentary on the Murshida. Brockelmann's third title, "`Umdat ahl at-tadqq wa-t-tadq", has no foundation whatsoever, and possibly is some copyist's imitation of the title of the commentary on the Kubr. Both the Shar al-Jaz'iriyya [12c, f. 186b] and the Muqaddima [p. 67] have a reference to the commentaries "on the Kubr and the Wus" (f sharay `aqdati-n l-kubr wa-l-wus). This reference is the nearest we can come to an official title for the work under consideration.

In the Wus, reference to the Kubr means only that the latter is the larger of the two. But the use of the term "intermediate creed" (wus) implies the existence of the ughr, an implication which is confirmed by unacknowledged quotations from it in the Shar al-Jaz'iriyya. The ughr itself contains no reference to any other work, but from the position of the works in the list of al-Malll and from the normal tendency of an author to abridge and popularize a longer complicated work, we can suppose that the ughr came after the Wus. The ighra a-ighra and the Muqaddima contain a number of advances in synthesizing and adjusting positions on matters where Shar al-Jaz'iriyya simply repeats the Kubr or the Wus; therefore they may be place after it.

There is the complication in dating works that a matn is usually composed before a commentary. Only the Wus gives the appearance of a simultaneous composition of matn and shar. Yet in the case of the other works there is no indication that another composition intervened chronologically between the two parts; therefore they can be treated together.

I propose the following succession of as-Sans's available theological works: the Kubr (works 2 and 3), the Wus (works 4 and 5), the ughr (works 6 and 7), Shar al-Jaz'iriyya (work 16), ighra a-ighra (works 8 and 9), the Muqaddima (works 10 and 11).

As for the scale of these works, the Kubr, the Wus and the Shar al-Jaz'iriyya are major works, treating in detail all the major questions of kalm, while the other works are introductory abridgements for beginners or popularizations. a shortcoming of the Kubr is that its logical format is not worked out in detail; an occasional fal does not really help. This may be because the Kubr is simply pattered after the creed of Ibn-Marzq.

The Wus, being an entirely original work, has not only a clear logical format, but also a more concise and reworked presentation of the material. In his introduction, as-Sans says that some people found the Kubr too difficult and its commentary too long [Ms. E1, f. 4a]. The Wus, he says, "is more pertinent and easier to understand (akha wa-aqrab), and although it is shorter, it contains exact demonstrations for easy learning and remarks on credal details which are not found in longer works, much less in shorter ones." Nevertheless, we must turn to the long and sometimes abstruse digressions of the Kubr for full information on certain points.

The Shar al-Jaz'iriyya, on the other hand, being later, claims authority over the Wus, but in fact it contains little further development. Long sections are merely copied from the Kubr and the Wus, while it does not have the logical layout of the Wus, since it is a commentary on another man's poem. It has some entirely new sections on certain legal, moral and sufic questions which do not belong in a treatise of kalm, but are there because they arise in al-Jaz'ir's poem.

Therefore, for a study in depth of Muslim theology as presented by as-Sans, the Wus is the best focal point, while his other works are necessary to supplement or correct it.

b.Manuscripts and editions

There are three rare printed works containing the Wus, none of which are critical:

  1. Ab-`Al. Mamd b. Sa`d Maqrsh as-Sifqs, shiya `al Shar al-Wus li-M. b. Ysuf as-Sans (Tunis: Maba`at al-ajriyya(?), 1320/ 1902-3),
  2. M. b. Ysuf as-Sans, Shar al-Wus (Tunis: Maba`at at-taqaddum al-waaniyya, 1327/ 1909),
  3. Ab-Ishq I. al-Andalus s-Saraqus, al-Hiba wa-`a f shar al-`Aqda al-wus, (Tunis, 1345/ 1926-7), which contains only the matn and as-Saraqus's summary of the commentary.

Of the manuscripts listed by Brockelmann, I was unable to look into those of Berlin, Constantine, Damascus, Mawil, Rmpr or Fez. Presumably Istanbul too has many manuscripts, but these would only represent the traditions of Tunisia and Algeria from where they would have been taken; and I have examined sufficient specimens from this area.

The following is a list of manuscripts I have seen, giving the location, catalogue number, date of copy, and, if used in the thesis, a siglum. Generally "E" represents Escorial, "A" the Azhar, and "T" Tunis, but manuscripts from different parts have been grouped under these sigla according to their tradition.

697, ff. 3b-83b, 25 lines/ page, H. 948-989 E1
This is the oldest of the manuscripts located. In 277 folios, it contains six works, five of them by as-Sans. They are all of the same script except the opening folios which include the ijza of al-Manjr, dated the end of Rajab 989/ end of Aug. 1581. One of as-Sans's works within the volume, Shar Muqaddim sghj, is dated Friday, 29 afar 948/ 24 June 1541. The hand is an exquisite, but crammed, old Maghribine.
Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional
320,4 (5127), 11 ff., 18-20 lines/ page, no date M
This manuscript contains only the matn, is poorly written, but fundamentally of the same hand style as E1.
Rabat, Bibliothque Gnrale et Archives
D397, ff. lb-115b, H. 105-54 E4
The hand is much like that of El.
Algiers, Bibliothque Nationale
2007, ff., 98a-172b, H. 1281 E5
2024, ff. 121b--235a, H. 1177
Tunis, Bibliothque Nationale, Sq al-`Arn
Although now housed under one roof, the manuscripts are catalogued according to the former separate libraries. The new numbers are given:
al-Maktaba al-waaniyya:
369, pp. 113-210,H. 1134 T4
904, H. 1143 T5
1171, before H. 1171 (date of colophon) T11
1234, no date, but old T12
991, H. 1173
4253 (3060), H. 1317
4813, H. 1184
197, H. 1319
773, H. 1188
171, no date, recent
995, H. 1311
1254, no date, recent
al-Maktaba al-`abdaliyya:
6907, H. 1003 E2
7892, H. 1024 A1
8571, H. 1086 T1
8344, H. 1120, matn only T3
7504, ff. 145-210b, H. 1151 T6
9022, H. 1152 T7
7499, H. 1154 T8
8214, H. 1155 T9
9021, H. 1160 T1O
9020, H. 1163
9229, H. 1270
8020, H. 1183
9572, H. 1207
9144, H. 1188
9532, no date, old
7893, H. 1193
8522, no date, recent
9572, H. 1207
9196, no date, recent
9019, H. 1227, incomplete
9775, no date, recent
Maktabat ar-riwn:
8081, no date
Maktaba Jami`a `Uqba bi-l-Qayrawn
17169, H. 1312, incomplete.
Paris, Bibliothque Nationale
Ar. 1275, no date T13
>This manuscript is incomplete, and a portion of the folios are bound out of order. The hand and the reading variations place it among the poorer samples of the group represented by "T".
Cairo, Dr al-kutub no number on film, H. 1108 T2
The hand indicates a Tunisian or Algerian origin. The reading variations pace it among the T group.
Cairo, al-Azhar
as-Saq 28604 (2635), H. 1044, Maghribine hand A2
930 (46), H. 1065, Eastern hand A3
4434 (329), pp. 8-16, matn only, no date, Maghribine hand A4
2205 (114), pp. 46-76, matn only, H. 1114, Eastern hand A5
as-Saq 28623 (6254), pp. 8-34, matn only, H. 1098 (not available)
4293 (288), H. 1108
2180 (105), H. 1133
Zak 41007 (3145) H. 1144
5930 (241 Majmi`), pp. 25-48, matn only, H. 1205
2186 (110), no date
4396 (291), no date
20069 (2214), no date
akim Bsh 33376 (2775), no date
42992 (3332), no date
2006 (99 Majmi`), pp. 203-312, no date.
Tripoli, Maktabat al-awqf
Fihrist Waqf an-n'ib, n. 298, 1, no date, but recent.
The manuscript is entitled shiya `al l-`Aqda al-wus; the author is not indicated.
Kaduna: National Archives (Lugard Hall)
G/AR14/11, no date
c. The lines of tradition

So many manuscripts are bound to have large numbers of variations, and they do. but since the work is relatively recent, the variations, including interpolations and omissions, are generally copyist slips attributable to inadvertance or misunderstanding. There is no basis for constructing exact and well defined families of manuscript traditions. Nevertheless, from a comparison based on the more significant variations a fairly distinct pattern emerges in the case of certain manuscripts.

The most significant variation occurs in the commentary, even though a thorough examination was limited to the matn which is being edited. In the commentary on N. 1 some manuscripts have about three additional lines denying the immediately preceding statement that a muqallid is a kfir. These lines neither fit the grammatical construction of the passage, nor agree with as-Sans's position in the rest of the Wus, nor are found in the earliest manuscripts. They can only be regarded as a deliberate interpolation. Therefore we can immediately separate into one group the manuscripts which do not have this interpolation, namely the Escorial Eq, the Tunisian E2, the Azhar E3, the Rabat E4 and the Algerian E5. I was not able to examine the passage in the Tunisian A1 or T10, while M, T3, A4, and A5 contain only the matn.

The other differences are not serious, but for those of any importance the E group and the Azhar manuscripts agree to a noticeable extent. The Tunisian A1 can be added to these, but T3 and T10 differ too much. M differs a great deal, but stands apart agreeing with E1 in many odd details.

d. Guidelines of this edition

In the selection of various readings, the E group, and within it E1, was given paramount authority. Next, the A groulp was given special consideration, while M and the T group were noted where many of them have the same variation or where there is disagreement within the E and A groups.

As-Sans's work is divided by bb, fal and further by alternating na and shar. I have enumerated the nu, and place before each one its number and the folio number of the E1 manuscript where it begins. The na number can be used to refer to the translation in this chapter, and to the corresponding part of the commentary summarized in Chapter III.