In most respects, this book has been a joint project between myself and my friend, ʿAbd al-Jabbār b. ʿAbd al-Qādir al-Ṣaghīr. His edited text of Tadhkīr al-Nāsī wa-Talyīn al-Qalb al-Qāsī is the principal text that is included within this book.
We first met in Ghadāmis in the year 2004 AD, when he invited me into his Ghadāmis family home that is situated in its ancient town.
Today, the latter quarter of Ghādamis is principally a summer retreat. My visits were in order to examine his collection of Arabic and historical manuscripts. Many of these are to be found in the town. Since then, we have been in contact either by the Internet, or during the course of my subsequent visits to the town. His home address is in al-Karam’s street which is situated immediately behind the Sīdī ʿUqba mosque in the old town and he is well acquainted with scholars and members of the Tuareg and non-Tuareg communities. During one visit we went together to visit the cemeteries of the city in order to photograph the tomb of Shaykh Aḥmad al-Sūqī and to view the early Ibāḍite cemetery, and the so-called pre-Islamic ‘idols’, called Tamsūdīn, built of stone and gypsum.
ʿAbd al-Jabbār b. ʿAbd al-Qādir al-Ghadāmisī grew up in Ghadāmis where he attended primary, preparatory and secondary schools. In the year 1987 AD, he graduated from the Department of English in the Faculty of Arts and Education in the University of Garyounis in Benghāzī.
Al-Ghadāmisī’s life has been devoted to teaching. Between 1988 and 1990 AD, he taught in the College for Financial Studies in Tīgī, which is situated two hundred and fifty kilometers south-west of Tripoli. From 1991 to 2006 AD, he was a teacher in preparatory and secondary schools in Ghadāmes. In 2007 AD, he became an educational inspector of English language and assistant lecturer in Ghadāmes High School within the department of Civil Engineering. He is also an Assistant Lecturer in the Faculty of Teacher training in the University of al-Jabal al-Gharbī. His employment includes two graduation projects, partial requirements for the BA degree in English language and the supervision of two graduation projects for the BA degree in English; the BA degree has a title “The use of mother tongue in English in the classrooms of Ghadāmis (April 2006 AD) and Synonyms and their Semantic relation in April 2006”.
ʿAbd al-Jabbār has been a friend and an acquaintance of a number of leading Libyan academics including the late scholar, Dr Bashīr Qāsim Yūshaʿ, one of the authorities on the history of Ghadāmis and one of whose texts is translated and summarised in this book.
ʿAbd al-Jabbār has written several books. A plurality of these books is concerned with Ghadāmis. They include The judge (al-qāḍī), Muḥammad b. Yūnis al-Ghadāmisī, his life and his writings, a study devoted to a poem composed by Aḥmad b. ʿAbdallāh b. Abī Bakr, one of the Shaykh’s sons, and a formal legal opinion (fatwā) by a judge of Ghadāmes, namely al-Khasrāwī. He is planning to write several other books. They will include one about the poet Muḥammad Banbanī al-ʿImrānī al-Ghadāmisī (born before 1250 AH/1834–1835 AD), and another upon social and economic topics within the historical documents that survive in his town.
ʿAbd al-Jabbār has research interests that are wide in scope. These research interests include the scholars of the local Tuareg and their legacy, death certificates as a source for information, a catalogue of early manuscripts in Ghadāmis, including private archives, the water distribution of the “spring (ʿayn) of the mare (faras)” in Ghadāmis, a pedigree and lineal list of the Helpers, al-Anṣār, in Ghadāmes, forty judges (quḍāt) of Ghadāmis between 700 AH/1300 AD and 1410 AH/1989 AD, commercial registers of Ghadāmis merchants in the Western and Eastern Sūdān, and the tomb stones and their inscriptions in the cemeteries of Ghadāmis.
Both of us would like to thank many other individuals and centres of learning for their help in the completion of our research; in particular, we are enormously indebted to prof. Knut Vikør at Bergen University for his extensive editorial work. We would additionally wish to thank the British Academy. We would also like to thank members of the Society for Libyan Studies in the United Kingdom who have helped in many respects. We also wish to express our thanks for the great help afforded by Kristian Norris and Dr Timothy Norris in the preparation and the completion of the text, as well as to Dr Helen Blatherwick, of the School of Oriental and African Studies, for her help in regard to advice on many matters in regard to its publication.
Travel within Libya in order to complete this book required the help and advice of Cox and Kings Travel Agency, in both London and Tripoli. I recall the kindness in particular of its guide, ʿAbdallăh, from Sabrătha, who facilitated, in many instances, our ability to meet one another in Ghadāmis, and to maintain contact between us by the postal services between Ghadāmis and the United Kingdom over past years.
Prof. Harry T. Norris
Professor Norris regretfully passed away during the final editing of this volume. His son, Dr. Timothy Norris, and I have in respect attempted to finalize the process from his instructions and with his acceptance.
Knut S. Vikør