This rare volume contains three works, all copied by the same previously unrecorded scribe 'Abdullah ibn Muhammad ibn 'Ali ibn Hanbal, in the city of Aleppo. The first work, Kitab Nuzhat al-Ahbab wa Mu'asharat al-Ashab, composed by Mu'ayid al-Din Abi Nasr al-Samau'al al-Maghribi (circa 1130-1180 AD) was copied on 15 Rajab AH 843/22 December 1439 AD. Samau'al al-Maghribi was a Muslim mathematician and astronomer of Jewish descent. Born to a Jewish family - his father was a Rabbi from Morocco - he converted to Islam in 1163 AD after told to do so in a dream. The colophon states that the author completed this work in AH 565 (1169-70 AD), not long before his death.
In the preface to this treatise the author states that he his intention had been to compile a serious, humorous, medical, literary and scientific work which was to be read by kings and companions. The subject was intimate relationships between couples. In the text the author discusses sexual diseases and hygiene and recommended medicines including herbs, ointments, sweets and drinks. He also discusses marital relationships and issues which include pregnancy, abortion, impotence and their recommended cures.
Two other copies exist. One is in the Chester Beatty Library, where the title appears as Nuzhat al-Ashab fi Mu'asharat al-Ahbab by Abu Nasr Samau'al ibn Yahya ibn 'Abbas al-Maghribi al-Isra'ili, who died in AH 579/1174 AD. The copy is undated but attributed to the 15th century (A. Arberry, A Handlist of the Arabic Manuscripts, vol. V, Dublin, 1962, no. 4151, pp.49-50). It is there described as a treatise on sexual hygiene. The only other copy is in Leipzig (C. Brockelmann, Geschichte der Arabischen Littteratur, Leiden, 1996, i.488, suppl. i. 892). As the third known copy of the text, this manuscript is extremely rare. Brockelmann writes that Al-Maghribi's other works are on mathematics and Judaism.
The second work is an early treatise on friendship. It was copied by the same scribe, again in Aleppo, but three years later than our first treatise. The work is the Kitab Kashf al-Hal fi Wasf al-Khal, by Imam Salah al-Din Abu'l-Safa Khalili ibn Aibak al-Saifi al-Safadi (d. AH 764/1363 AD). Our copy is therefore a very early copy, written only 82 years after the author's death. Although the text is not previously recorded, Arberry mentions the author and his dates (A. Arberry, A Handlist of the Arabic Manuscripts, Vol. I, Dublin, 1955, no.3103, p.42).
The third and final treatise in the volume, Dalil al-Mujaz bi Ard al-Hijaz, is an abridged guide to the land of the Hijaz with a detailed description of the Holy Places and the Hajj, by Badr al-Din Abi Muhammad al-Hasan al-Shafi'i, copied by Muhammad ibn 'Ali ibn Hanbal. It is dated AH 12 Rabi al-Awwal AH 859/2 March 1455 AD.