Union Catalogue of Manuscripts from the Islamicate World

Or 15864 (Oriental Manuscripts, British Library)

Oriental Manuscripts

Treatise on sighting the new moon


1 copy of Mir’āt al-mustahillīn by Muḥammad Hādī ibn Muḥammad Mahdī al-Ṣafavī.

A treatise on sighting the new moon, and associated acts of worship, especially supplicatory prayer. The author gives his name in the preface, as Ibn Muḥammad Mahdī Abū l-Mafākhir Muḥammad Hādī al-Ḥusaynī al-‘Alavī al-Ṣafavī. It is clear that he was, as his name implies, a Shī‘ī, and much of the material is related on the authority of one or another of the Imams.

The wording of the colophon suggests that this manuscript is the autograph fair copy.

The contents of Mir’āt al-mustahillīn are as follows. Muqaddimah (f. 2v-5v), in three short sections (bayān). Maṭlab 1 (6r-9r): Things which it is auspicious to see on the first day of each month. These are different for each month. This is partly in verse. Maṭlab 2 (9r-12v): blessed and talismanic figures, to be looked at after seeing each new moon. This is erroneously headed Maṭlab-i avval. Maṭlab 3 (13r-21r): supplications (ad‘iya) to be made when sighting the new moon. These include a passage from al-Ṣaḥīfat al-Sajjādiyya of Imam Zayn al-‘Ābidīn. For most prayers there is an interlinear Persian translation. Maṭlab 4 (21r-24v): Qur’ānic Sūras and supplications to be recited after seeing the new moon and looking at the squares and talismans in Maṭlab 2. There are different Sūras and supplications for each month. One text is quoted from ‘Allāmas al-Kulaynī and al-Ḥillī.

The text of Mir’āt al-mustahillīn itself apparently ends immediately before the colophon, on f. 24v. Of the remaining contents of the manuscript, at least that on f. 32v-39r appears to represent supplementary information, prayer formulae, etc. added by the compiler of the main work, while the rest, and some marginalia on earlier folios, appears to have been added by others.  

Other contents: 1v, table indicating aspects of life in which to do something new on seeing the new moon, according to the month’s zodiac sign; 2r, bayt of Arabic verse concerning repentance and supplication; 25r-26r, instructions for nāfil prayers at the start of each month, and (separately) Ramażān for the meeting of special needs; 26v-29v, magic squares to be looked upon and a particular Sūra then to be recited at the start of each month; 30r-v, supplications including Dū‘ā-yi Rijāl al-ghayb, to saints whose help is invoked; 31r, diagram indicating the whereabouts of Rijāl al-ghayb; 31v, prayers and invocations for cures and assistance; 32r, a supplication attributed to Imam Ja‘far al-Ṣādiq; 32v-39r, charts and diagrams conferring special blessings, with texts of Shī‘a Hadiths related from Imam ‘Alī: a stylised Seal of Prophethood, Fātiḥa, Āyat al-Kursī, Nād ‘Alī, Qul Huva Llāh, Ninety-Nine Divine Names, Izā jā’, Qualities (Shamāyil) of the Prophet, Lawḥ-i Sharīf (a square based on the Name al-‘Azīz), Sūrat al-Falaq, Sūrat al-Nās, Qul Yā ayyuhā l-kāfirūn, and a Lawḥ-i sharīf with Divine Names; 39v-41v, miscellaneous further formulae and instructions for special supplications, invocations, etc., some being in Arabic, and talismanic squares.

Main colophon, f. 24v. Composed (ta’līf) and written at Hyderabad, and completed in mid-Zū l-Ḥijja 1113/mid-May 1702. Nasta‘līq; Arabic passages in good vocalised naskhī. 14 lines in main text. Diagrams and tables.

Language(s): Persian with some Arabic.

Physical Description

Form: codex
Support: Off-white laid paper.
Extent: 40 ff.
Dimensions (leaf): 200 × 118 mm.
Dimensions (written): 137 × 70 mm.




Nasta‘līq; Arabic passages in good vocalised naskhī.


Diagrams and tables.



Plain mid-brown morocco binding.


Origin: Zu'l-Hijjah 1113 (1 May 1702 - 31 May 1702) AH ; Hyderabad, Deccan

Provenance and Acquisition


Purchased at Christies sale 13 December 2001 lot 54.

Record Sources

Based on unpublished description in M.I. Waley, Catalogue of Persian Manuscripts acquired 2000-2014.


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Funding of Cataloguing



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