The Minārat al-aqdās is a translation of a 13th-century Syriac work titled Menarat Qúdše (Lamp of the Sanctuary). The tract is part of the broader production of Bar Hebraeus, an influential theologian and ethicist who contributed greatly to the development of Syriac Orthodox Christianity.
Why is it so important?
The Minārat al-aqdās is an important aspect of Syriac Orthodox Christianity, providing members of the community with a summary of the main doctrines of the faith. It thus helps establish the boundaries between the dogma of this church and that of neighbouring sects of Christianity. The philosophical components also point to the influence of contemporary Islamic thinkers on Bar Hebraeus and Syriac Orthodox Christianity of the 13th century.
Šamās, or Priest, Sargis ibn Yuhanna al-Dimashqi al-Zarbab translated the Minārat al-aqdās into Arabic at the Mar Grigorius Church in Aleppo, Syria in 1696. The work is written on paper in the Ṣerto style of Syriac script, which is common in manuscripts produced in modern-day Lebanon, Syria, Turkey and in the Diaspora. The manuscript contains a number of maps and illustrations, many of them in Syriac, which appear to be older than the main text of the Minārat. The dark brown leather cover features three clasps held in place by small nails.
Although the language of the main text is Arabic, it is written in Syriac characters. This tradition of writing other languages in the Syriac script is called Garshuni. It has been used for texts in Arabic, Turkish, Persian, Kurdish, Neo-Aramaic, Armenian and Malayalam.