that name on the shore of the lake Sebkha Melrir, in the south of the kingdom of Tunis.
The Cheikh himself records that he lived in Tunis, and it is probable the book was written there. According to tradition, a particular motive induced him to undertake a work at variance with his simple tastes and retired habits.
His knowledge of law and literature, as well as of medicine, having been reported to the Bey of Tunis, this ruler wished to invest him with the office of cadi, although he was unwilling to occupy himself with public functions.
As he, however, desired not to give the Bey cause for offence, whereby he might have incurred danger, he merely requested a short delay, in order to be able to finish a work which he had in hand.
This having been granted, he set himself to compose the treatise which was then occupying his mind, and which, becoming known, drew so much attention upon the author, that it became henceforth impossible to confide to him functions of the nature of those of a cadi.
The district of Nefzaoua contains many isolated villages, all on level ground, and surrounded by palm trees; with large reservoirs in their midst. The pilgrims believe that the land is called Nefzaoua, because there are in it thousand "zaoua" (a chapel in which a marabout is buried), and it is alleged that the name was first El Afoun Zaouia, later corrupted into Nefzaoua. But this Arabian etymology does not appear to be correct, as according to the Arabian historians the names of the localities are older than the establishment of Islamism. The town of Nefzaoua is surrounded by a wall built of stones and bricks; having six gateways, one mosque, baths, and a market; in the environs are many wells and gardens.
- It is not impossible that the book, written in these circumstances, was only an abridgement of the present one, an abridgement which he refers to in the first chapter of this book under the name of "Torch of the Universe."