Ibadis on (and in) the Margins

Manuscript Notes from the Buffalo Agency in Early-Modern Cairo

in Journal of Islamic Manuscripts
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Abstract

From at least the 17th century onward, a sizeable Maghribi Ibadi community lived, studied, and worked in the city of Cairo, centered around a trade agency, school, and library known as the ‘Buffalo Agency’ (Wikālat al-Jāmūs). Over nearly four centuries, this agency served as a hub for Ibadi intellectual activity and manuscript production. Despite its place of prominence in the history of early-modern Ibadi communities, manuscripts are some of the only surviving evidence of its existence. Using manuscript notes from and catalog data on manuscripts either held at the agency’s library or copied there, this article suggests that Ibadis were far from the small, isolated minority community in northern Africa they are often imagined to have been. Instead, the story of the Buffalo Agency points to the ways in which Ibadis very much belonged to the intellectual and commercial worlds of Sunni-dominated Cairo from the 17th–20th centuries.

Ibadis on (and in) the Margins

Manuscript Notes from the Buffalo Agency in Early-Modern Cairo

in Journal of Islamic Manuscripts

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    Figure 1

    Last page of Kitāb al-buyūʿ by Abū Sākin ʿĀmir b. ʿAlī al-Shammākhī, transcribed 1 Rabīʿ al-awwal 1123 AH (18 April 1711). The penultimate lines of the colophon note that the manuscript was copied in al-diyār al-miṣriyya in the Buffalo Agency (Wikālat al-Jāmūs). (Reproduction of a photocopy provided to the author by Sāsī B. Yaḥyātin)

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    Figure 2

    Waqf statements from the Buffalo Agency Library (18th–20th centuries). Data based on Sālim b. Yaʿqūb, Qāʾima lil-kutub al-mawqūfa ʿalā ṭalabat al-ibāḍiyya bi-wikālat al-Baḥḥār bi-Ṭulūn bi-Miṣr al-Qāhira

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    Figure 3

    Dates of transcription for manuscripts copied at the Buffalo Agency (15th–20th centuries). Data drawn from a survey of 136 manuscript catalog entries with Ibāḍī copyists (including titles attributed to both Ibāḍī and non-Ibāḍī authors). All manuscripts in the survey bear some reference to Cairo, Egypt, the Buffalo Agency, or al-Azhar

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    Figure 4

    Dates of transcription for endowed books listed in the Catalogue of Shaykh Sālim b. Yaʿqūb (17th–20th centuries). Data based on Sālim b. Yaʿqūb, Qāʾima lil-kutub al-mawqūfa ʿalā ṭalabat al-ibāḍiyya bi-wikālat al-Baḥḥār bi-Ṭulūn bi-Miṣr al-Qāhira

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