Category Archives: Book Review

26 RAMADAN 1443: THE AHADITH ON HOSPITALITY IS NOW AVAILABLE FOR ORDER

Last years Ramadan text, The Ahadith on Hospitality is now available here for those who would like to order. And may Allah richly bless those who were involved with it and those who might take benefit from it today.

Until next time,

Al-Hajj Abu Ja`far Al-Hanbali

BOOK REVIEW: ARAB AND JEW: WOUNDED SPIRITS IN A PROMISED LAND

The cover of the book Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land

It smiled at me from the bookshelf and demanded my attention. I had just submitted my article for the Oregonian when someone had brought me the book.

“Hey, check this out. You might like it. I took a lot of edification from it”, Connie gave me a winsome smile. She worked with me at the restaurant and as a faithful Catholic, her and I often had interesting conversations while in the kitchen preparing salads, pastas or soups for customers.

From 4:30pm to 1am she was the most trusted companion in the kitchen after the head chef. Connie often shared her reading list with me from the Catholic book club she was part of in Oregon. A lot of the books were certified hits but every now and then, she would hit me with a miss.

“C.S. Lewis? Is this what we’re doing, Connie? So maybe I’ll bring you Ibn Kathir to read?!” She gave a strange smile at the time. “Don’t know who that is but if you gave it, I’d read it”.

After the late afternoon and night rush at the café we worked at, she and I would have conversations, sometimes agreeing, other times not agreeing about topics. It was not all religion. Sometimes it was sports, sometimes it was politics.

But this book piqued my interest. It showed an Arab with a Jew both sitting down with noticeable space between them. The very symbol of the Palestine/Israel issue to the news watcher who savoured to hear the news from CNN or NBC about how “they’ve been fighting each other for THOUSANDS of years”. (My Lord! How I tire of hearing that lazy canard!)

After the café after hours clean up finished and I had gathered my tips and wages for the night, I took a walk home with the book under my arm. Once I used the crosswalk that brought me in front of the building that contained my apartment, I was walking up Commercial Street, went two doors down and was now on 249th.

The heavy iron doors creaked open as I slid the key in and pulled them apart. With a thud I watched them close and walked up the two flights of stairs to Apartment 2. Once inside, I sat the book down on my floor bed and appraised the cover again.

What did Connie give me, I thought while half rolling my eyes. Is this going to be a hit or miss? I had the weekend off so maybe I would consume a few chapters. What started with a few chapters turned out to be the entire book.

I devoured this entire work in two days. Man, that was fast. I can’t believe I let this thing get me that intrigued. This was the same amount of time it took for me to finish Stephen King’s The Shining or his other masterpiece, Pet Cemetery.  

The book was nothing of what I presumed it to be. My first thought was that it was going to be some puff piece about how the Arabs need to “get over it” and just join the Hora line with the Israelis and celebrate the State of Israel.

The author, David K. Shipler, was overall balanced. It was clear that he leaned towards the Jewish nationalist claims but he also gave good counters from the Arabs that lived there and authentically struggled with the fact that the Jews did not come to an empty land but rather there were people there.

This put boots to the head of the idea that Palestine and the Jews were “a land with no people for a people without a land” and similar tooth rotting sugary refrains that were made easy to memorise in couplets for a mush brained populace.

The land had not been empty (as Mark Twain lied) any more than North America had been empty (as the Plymouth Brethren lied) or South Africa (as the Dutch invaders lied) or even the part of India where the English started (as the British Empire lied).

His citation of uncensored statements from Palestinians and Israelis was refreshing as he did not make statements about what he felt they should believe but rather only cited what their positions were.

The bomb attacks carried out by Palestinian groups were balanced against Israeli incursions and his avoidance of calling this a “Palestinian/Israeli War” was both refreshing and honest. My only real criticism was with the last three chapters which I felt should have been in the middle or closer to the beginning in terms of theme and material.

This is not the book to solve the world’s problems or establish who blame ultimately lies with but it is a great sample of the issue at hand along with political, religious and social ramifications.

All these years later, some 25 in total, I still have solid memories of its yellowed pages, the vivid cover and the blurb on the back. It’s worth a read. The sourcing and bibliography in the back also gives a good selection of books for further reading.

It looks like Connie didn’t set me up this time. Here’s to good reading!

Until next time,

Al-Hajj Abu Ja`far Al-Hanbali

BOOK REVIEW: HASHIYAT UR-RAWD IL-MURBI`

I had been hunting for more details on assistance with memorising Ar-Rawd ul-Murbi` by Imam Mansur Al-Buhuti (d. 1051)[1] and some students of knowledge had shared with me some possibilities for the affair. A few had asked, “Well, why are you memorising the Rawd. Just do the Dalil”.

So the argument opened up again (as friendly as it is!). There is a friendly discussion among students of knowledge and some scholars about the best text for memorisation when people look at mastering fiqh. One body is composed of the scholars of northern Arabia, Sham and half of Iraq. Their understanding is that the best text for memorisation is Dalil ut-Talib by Imam Mar`ii ibn Yusuf Al-Karmi (d. 1033).[2]

Before we lay out their argument, let us first look at the origin of the discussion. Imam Muwaffaq ud-Din Ibn Qudamah (d. 620),[3] the great Palestinian sage and one of the Renewers of the Religion for his age, wrote a text known as the Sufficer.[4] This was his gathering together all the previous literature on the topic of fiqh and especially the Renewer of the Religion that succeeded the Imam and Shaikh, `Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani (d. 561)[5] in the mastery of fiqh, namely Abul Fath Nasr ibn Futyan – known as Ibn Al-Manni.[6]

After the death of the Imam Ibn Al-Manni there were two main scholars that collected together the books before them, including Ibn Al-Manni’s and perfected the affair. They were the two great Imams, Majd ud-Din Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 652)[7] and Imam Muwaffaq ud-Din Ibn Qudamah (d. 620).

The former was a detailed writer and put together a systematic but brief approach to fiqh but it was not voluminous. In the latter’s case, he was more voluminous and detailed and wrote an entire curriculum in fiqh. The intermediate text, known as the Sufficer, was taken and commented upon judiciously by scholars down through the ages.

By the time of the 9th century, the great Palestinian Imam, `Ala’ ud-Din Al-Mardawi (d. 885)[8] had brought together two texts that fleshed out the Sufficer, one being the mammoth Way of Equity,[9] while the other was The Rectifier.[10]   

Then came the 10th century and the commentators of that period, Imams Musa ibn Ahmad Al-Hajjawi (d. 968),[11] a Palestinian and Taqi ud-Din Al-Futuhi (d. 972),[12] an Egyptian. They would add additional commentary notes on the Sufficer and also other statements of literature to flesh out meanings and give new insights when the newer issues of their time appeared.

Imam Musa Al-Hajjawi (d. 968) went one step further and summarised the Sufficer in his celebrated work, The Provision for the Seeker of Sufficiency.[13] This was not just a summary but also leaned back on the great Iraqi law scholar, Ad-Dujaili’s[14] text The Brief Exposition [15] to buffer it.

Then the 11th century came and there were the two stand out scholars of that time, Imams Mar`ii ibn Yusuf Al-Karmi (d. 1033) and Mansur ibn Yunus Al-Buhuti (d. 1051). Imam Al-Karmi took his own and Imam Al-Futuhi’s commentary on the Sufficer and summarised it and created a smaller text entitled, Dalil ut-Talib.    

Commentary works on The Sufficer/Dalili

Imam Al-Buhuti took The Provision and made a large commentary entitled, the Enclosed Meadow. After the time of Imam Al-Karmi came the commentary works upon from Imams Ahmad ibn `Awad Al-Mardawi (d. 1101), Salih ibn Hasan Al-Buhuti (d. 1121), `Abdul Qadir ibn `Umar At-Taghlabi (d. 1133) in his Obtaining the Means in Commenting upon Dalil ut-Talib,[16] Muhammad ibn Ahmad As-Saffarini (d. 1189),[17] Isma`il ibn `Abdur-Karim Al-Jarra`ii (d. 1202), Ahmad ibn Ahmad Al-Maqdisi (d. 1204) and Ibrahim ibn Duwayyan (d. 1353). And these are just main commentaries.

Cliff Notes on The Sufficer/Dalil

Next came smaller commentary works like Imams Ahmad ibn `Awad Al-Mardawi (d. 1101), Mustafa Ad-Dumani (d. 1194), `Abdul Ghani ibn Yasin Al-Lubadi (d. 1319), Musa ibn `Isa Al-Qaddumi (d. 1336), Salih ibn `Uthman Al-Qadi (d. 1351), `Uthman ibn Salih Al-Qadi (d. 1366) and Muhammad ibn `Abdul `Aziz ibn Mani` (d. 1385).

Smaller Rhyming Texts on the Sufficer/Dalil

Then scholars made smaller rhyming texts on the Dalil and they include Imams Muhammad ibn Ibrahim Al-Wa’ili (d. 1271), Ahmad ibn Ahmad ibn `Abdul Qadir As-Siddiqi (d. 1343), `Abdul Qadir Al-Qassab (d. 1360), Sulaiman ibn `Atiyyah (d. 1363), Sulaiman ibn Hamdan (d. 1397) and Musa Muhammad Shahhadah Ar-Ruhaibi, one of the students of Imam Ahmad ibn Salih Ash-Shami (d. 1414).

And there it is, in terms of the history of the text and its layout, commentaries, notes, rhyming texts that were smaller that fleshed it out. And it is due to this that northern Arabia, Sham and half of Iraq (and this includes the Hanbalis of Kuwait and northern Iran who actually came from Iraq) have chosen this text for judgement and the courts, scholars and the like fall back on it for commentary and use of day-to-day matters, not just merely pure worship. 

Adherents of the ‘Dalil is best’ understanding lay out their arguments in the following fashion:

Firstly, the sheer volume of literature in commentary on the Dalil, in both large commentaries and also smaller rhyming texts. This then stands to reason that the Dalil is the best choice for memorisation and not The Provision or The Meadow.  

Secondly, there has been more than three hundred years of fleshing out issues and resolving affairs from the Dalil and associated literature. Any ambiguity and the like has been removed.

Thirdly, the text is clearer and easier to work out rather than some cryptic statements that might appear in The Provision. And one of the points of a text for memorisation is clarity and easy use in memorisation. So the Dalil stands in the best position for this act.

These are indeed very convincing statements; but let’s look at the other end of the spectrum for the rank of the Provision by Al-Hajjawi (d. 968) as well as its commentary The Meadow by Al-Buhuti (d. 1051).

As was said, Imam Al-Hajjawi (d. 968) wrote the Provision as a summary of the Sufficer but also included Ad-Dujaili’s (d. 732) Exposition as a big influence. Now understand that this summary spread through most of Arabia, Egypt, big portions of Iraq and most of the Gulf region. And this was indeed the preferred text.

In fact, when the Imam, Sulaiman ibn `Ali Al-Musharraf (d. 1079)[18] found that Al-Buhuti had written his commentary on the Provision, he burned his own copy and told his students to follow only that one alone. The fact that this is the preferred one should be indicative of how high in esteem students and scholars alike held the text. So let’s talk about this some more.

First: the literature on the Provision is very lengthy as well.

Commentary works on The Provision/Meadow

There is a commentary on the Provision by Burhan ud-Din Ibrahim ibn Abi Bakr Al-`Awfi’s (d. 1097) Bughyat ul-Mutatabbi` fi Halli Alfaz ir-Rawd il-Murbi`. The Imam of his time, Ahmad ibn ibn Manqur (d. 1125) wrote his Al-Fawakih ul-`Adidah fil-Masa’il il-Mufidah which follows the Provision quite closely.

Cliff Notes on The Provision/Meadow

This includes `Abdul Wahhab ibn Fairuz’s (d. 1205) notes on the Meadow, Salih ibn Saif ibn Ahmad Al-`Atiqi’s (d. 1223) notes on the Meadow, `Abdullah ibn `Abdul `Aziz Al-`Anqari (d. 1373) also wrote a cliffnote layout on the Meadow. We also have `Abdul Qadir ibn Badran Ad-Dumi’s (d. 1346) smaller commentary on the Meadow as well as another one by Ibn Dawayyan (d. 1353).

There is Ibn `Atiyyah’s (d. 1363) Al-Masa’il which examines the differences between the Provision and the Uttermost Boundary. Then there is also the same author’s Rawdat ul-Murtaad, which covers the most important issues of the Provision, takes Al-Buhuti’s commentary notes and shrinks all of this down into a versified poem spanning 1091 lines.

Second: since Al-Hajjawi (d. 968) wrote the Provision and Al-Buhuti (d. 1051) wrote his commentary, there have been ample commentaries and discussion on the texts together. In some instances, the Meadow is seen as a text and not just the Provision alone. And this is the reason for the commentaries on the Meadow being given added attention.

Third: although some passages of the Provision by themselves are more cryptic, together with the Meadows the problem is solved. In addition to this, far more issues are covered and resolved in the Meadow than its rival and there are no rare issues listed (and Al-Hajjawi asserts this to be the case at the beginning of the Provision).

Fourth: Al-Buhuti (d. 1051) has preference over Al-Karmi (d. 1033) in consideration of rulings and thus it makes more sense to study Al-Buhuti’s works as he has done and published far more.

Fifth: the Meadow is a doorway to all the other texts on the topic by the same author.

Sixth: Al-Azhar has put together a three-volume curriculum that is more expansive and user friendly than the one it collected for Al-Karmi’s work, which would obviously give it higher rank.

Seven: this text, along with the rest of Al-Buhuti’s works, are what is dominant in the Gulf countries, Arabia proper and other locations so it would make more sense to make use of the text as it is more popularly spread.

Eight: this is one of Al-Buhuti’s final works, his final being the `Umdat ut-Talib, which was written about six months before his death and follows along the same track as his Meadow.

Nine: Although it might appear to have fewer commentaries, this is because fewer things needed to be fleshed out on account of how detailed the first commentary was in the first place. All other comments on the texts have tended to deal with footnotes, cliffnotes and other affairs. There are countless advantages to the Meadow that simply cannot be denied.

Ten: the text in print is almost always on yellow paper, which aids for it being easy on the eyes.

Eleven: it has a flow and cadence that makes it FAR easier to memorise.

And it is this that leads me to today’s book review. The book review is covering Hashiyat ur-Rawd il-Murbi`, a two-volume work written by the great scholar, `Abdul Wahhab ibn Muhammad ibn Fairuz At-Tamimi (d. 1205).

In terms of the topic, let us talk about the author first. He is none other than the Shaikh, the Imam, the high ranking and senior scholar, `Abdul Wahhab ibn Muhammad ibn Fairuz Al-Wuhabi At-Tamimi.

The historian and Qadi, Muhammad ibn Humaid An-Najdi (d. 1295),[19] may Allah have mercy upon him, said of him:

عبد الوهاب بن محمد بن عبد الله بن فيروز التميمي الأحسائي. ولد قبيل الظهر يوم الثلاثاء غرة جمادى الآخرة 1172، وأخذ عن والده من صغره فقرأ عليه الحديث ومصطلحه والأصلين، والنحو، والمعاني والبيان، والمنطق، والفقه والقرائض، والحساب، الجبر، والمقابلة، والهيئة, وغير ذلك،

He is `Abdul Wahhab ibn Muhammad ibn `Abdullah ibn Fairuz At-Tamimi Al-Ahsa’ii. He was born at the time of Zuhr, Tuesday at the onset of Jumada Al-Akhirah 1172. He took knowledge from his father[20] in his early years and recited hadith, terminology of hadith and the Book and Sunnah, grammar, expression, public speaking, logic, fiqh, inheritance, general math with engineering, algebra, science and other things besides that.

وأخذ أيضًا الحساب عن

العلامة السيد عبد الرحمن الزواوي المالكي وأخذ النحو عن الشيخ عيسى بن مطلق، وكان عنده أعز من أبنائه ومهر في جميع ما قرأ، وبهر في الفهم حتى فاق أقرانه

He also took general math and engineering from the scholar, As-Sayyid `Abdur-Rahman Az-Zawaawi Al-Maliki. He took grammar from the Shaikh, `Isa ibn `Abdullah ibn Mutlaq[21] and he was occupying a higher position than the sons of the scholar and he mastered all of what he read and excelled in comprehension of his time above that of his contemporaries.

فصار كثير من رفقائه تلاميذ والده يقرأون عليه، وكان ذا حرص واجتهاد إلى الغاية، قليل الخروج من المدرسة حتى إنه اتفق له سبع سنين لم يخرج منها إلا لصلاة الجمعة، وأما الجماعة ففي مسجدها، والأكل يأتي له من بيت والده مع الطلبة، وأكبّ على تحصيل العلم وإدمان المطالعة والمراجعة والمذاكرة والمباحثة ليلًا ونهارًا،

So he became from the most beloved of the students of his father and the students read to him. He strove hard and went to the furthest point of effort and ijtihad. He left only a little bit from the Madrasah until he spent 7 years without having left from it except for the Jumu`ah. And as for praying in jama`ah, then this is in the masjid of the Madrasah. At the time of eating, it would be brought from the house of his father and he would eat with the students at the Madrasah. He spent his nights and days striving to obtain knowledge and was always reviewing, revising, remembering and researching.

لم تنصرف همته إلى غيره أصلًا

And his intent never left from striving to perfect the knowledge.

حتى إنه لما تزوج بأمر والده وإلزامه أخذ ليلة الدخول معه المحفظة فلما انصرف عنه الناس نزل السراج وقعد يطالع الدروس التي يريد أن يقرأنها في غد، ويقدر في نفسه أنه بعد إتمام المطالعة يباشر أهله فاستغرق في المطالعة إلى أن أذّن الصبح، فتوضأ وخرج للصلاة، وحضر دروس والده من أولها، ولم يعلم والده بذلك لكونه لا يبصر، ولما فرغ من الدروس أتى إليه ولده وسلّم عليه فبارك له وبارك له الحاضرون،

This carried on until the time that his father ordered him to get married and he did so but the night that they came to him and the people pulled away to leave him with his wife, he had a lantern brought and sat going over his lessons so that he would have what he needed for review the next day. He carried on doing so by himself and intended that after he finished his review he would consummate with his wife. However, he became engrossed in his review to the time that the Adhan was made for Subh prayer. So he make wudu,’ headed out to Salah, attended the lesson of his father from the beginning. His father did not know he was doing that on account of the fact that he could not see. So when the lessons finished, his son would come to him, give salam and the father would bless him and so did the congregation.

وفي الليلة الثانية فعل كفعله بالأمس ولم يقرب أهله من غير قصد للترك، لكن لاشتغاله بالمطالعة فيقول في نفسه: أُطالع الدرس ثم ألتفت إلى الأهل، فيستغرق إلى أن يصبح، فأخبرت المرأة وليها بذلك، فذهب وأخبر والده بالقصّة،

So the second night the same thing happened as what had happened in the first instance and he did not go near his wife other than the fact that he wanted to be left alone but he busied himself with his review and said to himself: I will review my portion and then I will go to my wife. However, he again became preoccupied and the time for the Subh prayer came. It would be at that point that his wife would inform her wali of what had happened. The wali then went to the father and informed him of what had happened.

فدعاه والده وعاتبه وأخبذ منه المحفظة، وأكّد عليه بالإقبال عليها، وكان رحمه الله كثير التحرير، بديع التقرير، سديد الكتابة، قلّ أن يقرأ كتابًا أو يطالعه إلّا ويكتب عليه أبحاثًا عجيبة واستدراكات غريبة، وفوائد لطيفة،

The father then called his son, rebuked him and stressed to him the importance of going to his wife. `Abdul Wahhab ibn Muhammad – may Allah have mercy upon him – was one who spent a lot of time bringing forth researches, going over written principles, writing on detailed matters. Seldom did he read a book or review it except that he would write some wondrous or insightful points upon it as well as oft missed matters for the reader to ponder, and detailed benefits.

فمنها القليل ومنها الكثير، فمن أكثر ما رأيته كتب عليه “شرح المنتهى” للشيخ منصور ملأ حواشيه بخطه الضعيف المنوّر، فلم يدع فيه محلًا فارغًا بحيث إنّي جرّدتها في مجلّد، وضممت إِليها ما تيسّر من غيرها، وفيها فوائد بديعة، لا توجد في كتاب، وكذا رأيت “شرح الإقناع” و”التصريح” و”شرح عقود الجمان”للمرشدي و”شرح جمع الجوامع” الأصولي وغيرها وصنّف تصانيف عديدة، منها ما كمل، ومنها ما لم يكمل، لاخترام المنية له في سنّ الشبيبة،

Sometimes he wrote a little bit and then at times he would write a great deal. Must of what I saw him write was what he noted upon the commentary of the Uttermost Boundary by the Shaikh Mansur Al-Buhuti. He dictated some things down in very light but illuminated marginalia. He did not leave any page blank but instead he would put it in notes and these notations reached one volume. I looked at some of what he wrote and there were a number of benefits of noteworthy value that had not been present in the original work. I also saw his commentary on The Sufficiency,[22] the Exposition, Well Tied Ropes by Al-Murshadi, the Collection of All Collections in Foundational Principles by As-Subki[23] and other things. He wrote a number of works, some of them complete while others not so due to the onset of difficulties associated with old age.

فمنها “حاشية على شرح المقنع” وصل فيها إلى الشركة، وهي مفيدة جدًا، وممّا كمل “شرح الجوهر المكنون” للأخضري في المعاني والبيان والبديع،

Some of these works include his Cliff Notes on the Commentary on the Sufficer,[24] in which he reached to the Book of Partnerships.[25] And this was a book that was very beneficial. Then there was another text on the Commentary of the Preserved Gem [26]by Al-Akhdari[27] in analysis, public speaking and prosody.

ومنها “إبداء المجهود في جواب سؤال ابن داود” وذلك أن تلميذه الشيخ عبد الله بن داود

There is another in which he had notes on the[28] Exposition of the Ijtihad coming from the Questions offered by Ibn Dawud.[29]

سأله عن القول المرجوح وعن المقلد المذهبي، وعن الناقل المجرد، ومنها “القول السديد في جواز التقليد”،

And this came about regarding a question brought to him by his student, the Shaikh, `Abdullah ibn Dawud[30] who asked about the preferred statement and the taqlid of a madhhab and the transmission of a text from a verified authority.  And then there is another work by him entitled, The Decisive Word before the Deed regarding the Permissibility of Taqlid [31] that was penned.[32]

ومنها “زوال اللبس عمّن أراد بيان ما يمكن أن يطلع الله عليه أحدًا من خلقه من الخمس” وله قصائد بليغة ومقطعات عديدة،

There is also another work Lifting the Doubt regarding the one who wanted to clarify what is possible that Allah unveil to one of His Creation regarding the Five Matters of the Unseen[33] that he put together.[34] He also possesses rhyming texts and a number of other texts that use Arabic letters to rhyme and make poetry.

Imam Muhammad ibn Humaid An-Najdi goes on to say:

وتوفاه الله في مرضه ذلك في شهر رمضان سنة 1205 في بلد الزبارة ومن ساحل بحر عمان، ودفن بها، ورثي بقصائد شتّى من غير أهل مذهبه وبلده فضلاً

عنهم، وعظمت مصيبة أبيه به، لكنّه صبر واحتسب، وأتته التعازي والمرائي من علماء الشام وبغ وغيرهما.

Allah would take him back to himself due to an illness in the month of Ramadan in the year 1205 while in the land of Az-Zubarah not far off from the sea of `Uman and he was buried at that place. Much poetry and the like was recited for him even from people not from his madhhab and land as a blessing and favour from them. This was a great blow to his father but he was patient and remained steadfast. Those coming to give condolences and see the site include scholars from Sham, Baghdad and other locales. [35]

In terms of the work, it is exactly what it purports to be, a brief text that comments upon points laid out by Al-Buhuti. Without too much fanfare or lengthy introduction, the author heads straight into the topic and begins fleshing out meaty issues.

As I am memorising the Rawd after having completed hifz of Al-`Umdah, the yellow/golden paper is a handsome and easy-on-the-eyes aesthetic that eases the process of hifz. There is very little variation between Al-Buhuti and Al-Ahsa’ii and the line in the middle of the page for interlinear style is a welcome approach.

There are no intrusive notes and the only footnotes tend to be the hadith, ayah citations or listing manuscript variations. Neither the publishing house nor the editor has put anything superfluous into the text or the associated notes that belong with it.

Amazing points that will assist you

So here come the notes that should snatch your attention:

1): clear Arabic text without smudging

2): the notes are taken by the commentator and similar terminology is used so that it aids in hifz. You can tell this was the point of Al-Ahsa’ii

3): the commentator has kept the same order as the author as well as the headings

4): the commentator gives grammar points, permitted variations in the original work and permissible ways of reading the text and the subtleties that come with these readings

5): strong pedigree. The commentator comes from a long line of scholars and the text through examination can be seen to have been proofread or at least trialed with students of knowledge. Some of the answers to queries can be seen to have come from post or pre-lesson exchanges that students brought in the first reading

6): the constant insertion of the benedictions upon the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him into the text. This is useful for the one who holds doing so as wajib and is a good reminder for those who hold it as mustahabb.

7): the expression of the mu`tamad or depended upon ruling but also the second strongest statement in the event that the depended upon cannot be carried out

8): he explains the reason for disputes happening, the evidence depended upon by each side and the grammar utilised by each side in cases where it is appropriate.

9): the commentator gives the takhrij of the ahadith and even gives discussions on variances that may exist in individual manuscripts, the commentary citing the hadith and the hadith itself from the original manuscript. And on the same topic he gives some concise but useful jarh and ta`dil on certain narrators and the wording in the ahadith that are cited.

Drawbacks to the book?

Drawback #1: I don’t think this would be too much of a drawback but the notes only go up to the book of Waqf. This is not a problem but only one of the issues with the author dying before completing the topic. And as a side note, the rest of the text of Al-Buhuti is easier to memorise and also sort out so the absence of cliffnotes might not be too much of a loss.

Drawback #2: There seems to have been a battle between the editor and the publisher which from my side I am happy the publisher won as the editor had an agenda. It would appear that the editor had Salafi tendencies that he wanted to inflict upon the text along with numerous spelling errors and slips in attention to detail but the publishers detected this and halted it. In terms of the errata, they were judicious in pointing it out.

Drawback #3: For those that are beginning readers, there is no tashkil on the consonantal text thus one will have to have some knowledge of grammar or perhaps a teacher help with sounding out both the text and the commentary notes.

Drawback #4: The notes from the commentator leave you wanting more as they are so enticing and pregnant with meaning! Perhaps this is not a drawback but more of a desire.

So for the students of knowledge using this as a hifz manual for Al-Buhuti’s classic text or a reference manual altogether when doing research and fleshing out principles, this is a must have!


[1] d. 1051 (AD 1656). He is Abus-Sa`adat Mansur ibn Yunus ibn Salah ud-Din ibn Hasan ibn Ahmad ibn `Ali Al-Buhuti. Egyptian marja` and one of the depended upon sources in the Hanbali School in the later age, he studied with premier scholars of Sham, such as Imams Yahya Al-Hajjawi and others. He became the leading Hanbali scholar in Egypt, even outranking the senior Subki, Futuhi and Sa`di families in importance. He wrote five large works in fiqh and smaller texts on selected topics. The Imam, Sulaiman ibn `Ali (d. 1079 (AD 1674), when he learned that Al-Buhuti had penned his fiqh text, Ar-Rawd ul-Murbi`, burned his own text and told all his students in Najd to follow the Imam. Please see Ibn Humaid’s As-Suhub ul-Wabilah, pp. 472-474

d. 1033 (AD 1623). He is Mar`ii ibn Yusuf ibn Abi Bakr ibn Ahmad ibn Abi Bakr Al-Karmi. Considered by his peers to be a master of all sciences, this Palestinian marja` was the premier scholar of Egypt in his time but studied with the great scholars of Sham as well. Although concentrating his energies on creed and fiqh, he covered many of the most trying issues of his time, such as the widespread use of coffee and cigarettes. He was renowned as a defender of righteouness and an enemy to sin. cf. Ibn Humaid’s As-Suhub ul-Wabilah, pp. 463-467.

[3] 541-620 (AD 1146-1223). He is Muwaffaq ud-Din Abu Muhammad `Abdullah ibn Ahmad ibn Qudamah An-Nabulsi Al-Jamma`ili Al-Maqdisi. Renewer of his age, scholar, judge, jurist and expounder, he wrote some 200 or more books, touching on every subject in Islam. He learned from scholars of Iraq and Sham, combining both traditions successfully to bring about one of the greatest scholars the world had seen. cf. Ash-Shatti’s Mukhtasar Tabaqat il-Hanabilah, pp. 52-54

[4] Ar. Al-Muqni`

[5] 470-561 AH (AD 1078-1166). Reviver of the Religion in his age and one of the two people in history to have permission to give rulings in all four madhhabs, he was a scholar of all disciplines but focused the bulk of his time on purification of the heart, theology and higher mind sciences. Please see Adh-Dhail `ala Tabaqat ul-Hanabilah, vol. 3, pp. 244-253. 

[6] 504-583 AH (AD 1111-1187). He is Abul Fath Nasr ibn Futyan ibn Matar Al-Baghdadi. A great scholar of Iraq and teacher to multitudes, he is the teacher of most of the scholars of Sham and Iraq in his age with respect to the sciences of fiqh, theology and hadith. Please see Adh-Dhail `ala Tabaqat ul-Hanabilah, vol. 3, pp. 301-307.

[7] d. 652 (AD 1266). He is Majd ud-Din Abul Barakat `Abdus-Salam ibn `Abdullah ibn Abil-Qasim ibn `Abdullah Al-Khidr ibn Muhammad ibn `Ali Ibn Taymiyyah Al-Harrani, also referred to as Al-Majd. The second highest voice in the school for canonical texts, he wrote his famous work, Al-Muharrar fil-Fiqh (Eng. The Consecrated and Recorded Matters Regarding Legal Rulings), which quickly became one of two foundational sets of works for cataloguing opinions and rulings of the scholars. Adh-Dhail `Ala Tabaqat il-Hanabilah, vol.4, pp. 201-205

[8] 820-885 (AD 1417-1480). He is `Ala’ ud-Din Abul Hasan `Ali ibn Sulaiman ibn Ahmad ibn Muhammad Al-Mardawi As-Sa`di As-Salihi. Judge, jurist, historian and grammarian, he was known for writing books on the narrations and debates within the Hanbali School. He organised the arguments under chapter headings, then acted as chief judge for most of his later life until his death. He wrote more than 20 books and was a mujtahid murajjih. Please see Ash-Shatti’s Mukhtasar Tabaqat il-Hanabilah, pp. 76-81

[9] Ar. Al-Insaf fi Ma`firat ir-Rajih fi Madhhab Ahmad ibn Hanbal

[10] Ar. At-Tanqih

[11] 895-968 AH (AD 1490-1561). He is Abun-Naja Sharaf ud-Din Musa ibn Ahmad ibn Musa ibn Salim ibn Ahmad ibn `Isa ibn Salim Al-Hajjawi Al-Maqdisi As-Salihi. Hailed widely as a mujtahid, theologian, Shaikh ul-Islam, as well as the chief faqih of Sham, he wrote books and made fatawa that caused his fame to grow. Once he reached over the age of thirty, the scholars convened and declared him the source of authority for the school of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal in his time. The Imam did not rest at this point, happy with his achievement, but continued on, writing numerous texts, summaries and foundational works. One of these was Zad ul-Mustaqni`, which is a summary of the depended upon book Al-Muqni` by Imam Muwaffaq ud-Din Ibn Qudamah (d. 620 AH/AD 1223). A simple yet effective summary, the document is the most widely used and commented summary of the book today. As-Suhub ul-Wabilah `ala Dara’ih il-Hanbabilah, vol.3, pp. 1134-1136

[12] 972 AH (AD 1565). He is Taqi ud-Din Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn `Abdul `Aziz ibn `Ali ibn Ibrahim ibn Rushaid Al-Futuhi Al-Masri. Known as Chief Qadi, Shaikh ul-Islam, Imam Al-Futuhi was one of the greatest Egyptian Hanbali scholars to have ever lived. In his youth, he memorised Al-`Umdah, Al-Muqni`, Al-Kafi and scores of other texts. His first teacher was his father, Imam Shihab ud-Din Ahmad Al-Buhuti Al-Hanbali, and was also in the company of others such as Imams Ahmad Al-Maqdisi, and a host of others. As per the practice of the Egyptian Hanbalis, he then travelled to Sham and studied with the Hanbali scholars for a number of years and then returned and became the most knowledgeable in Egypt of the madhhab, not long after penning his masterpiece Muntaha Al-Iradat, a book that was so lauded, senior judges Mansur ibn Yunus Al-Buhuti and Mar`ii ibn Yusuf Al-Karmi commented on it in their works Daqa’iq Uwl in-Nuha and Sharh ul-Muntaha, respectively. Upon the death of Imam Taqi ud-Din Al-Futuhi, some scholars said that the madhhab died, as there was no one who brought about another legacy as rich as his own and that of his father. Fortunately, others such as Imam Mansur Al-Buhuti came after, and today we have some Subki, Futuhi and Sayyid families teaching the original methods and principles. Students of Imam Al-Futuhi included Shihab ud-Din Ash-Shuwaiki in Madinah and his student, Imam Musa Al-Hajjawi, who would later be the great judge of Sham. As-Suhub ul-Wabilah `Ala Dara’ih il-Hanabilah, vol.2, pp. 854-858  

[13] Ar. Zad ul-Mustaqni` fikhtisar il-Muqni`

[14] 664-732 (AD 1278-1346). He is Siraj ud-Din Abu `Abdullah Al-Hussain ibn Yusuf ibn Muhammad ibn Ad-Dujaili Al-Baghdadi. Born in a town near the Tigris River, he was a faqih, preacher, grammarian, teacher and author, he was known for righteousness and good conduct and was one of Baghdad’s premier scholars. cf. Ibn Rajab’s Dhailu `Ala Tabaqat il-Hanabilah, vol.2, pp. 417-418

[15] Ar. Al-Wajiz

[16] Ar. Nail ul-Maarib

[17] 1114-1189 (AD 1702-1775). He is Abul `Awn Shams ud-Din Muhammad ibn Ahmad As-Saffarini An-Nabulsi Al-Hanbali. Renewer of his era and one of the chief authorities of the Hanbali Legal School in his time, he learned from Grand Imams such as Muhamamd Hayat As-Sindi, `Abdul Qadir At-Taghlabi and others. He acted as judge and jurist for all of Sham. He wrote books in the field of comparative creed, fiqh, inheritance, manners, medicine and grammar. It was this noble scholar who received a letter of assistance from the scholars of Arabia against the Salafi Movement. He wrote five volumes of books against the group, the shorter and more famously known being, Questions and Answers Regarding Najd, which upon receipt by the scholars of Arabia became a rallying point for the Orthodox. Please see Muhammad Jamil Ash-Shatti’s Mukhtasar Tabaqat ul-Hanabilah, pp. 140-143

[18] d. 1079 (AD 1668). He is Sulaiman ibn `Ali ibn Al-Musharraf At-Tamimi An-Najdi. Chief Qadi and judge of Najd in the Arabian Peninsula during his life. Imam Sulaiman famously sat with Imam Mansur Al-Buhuti and learned most of his knowledge. Upon hearing that Ar-Rawd ul-Murbi` had been written, he commanded his students to burn his own fiqh books and use only Ar-Rawd ul-Murbi` and related texts. He had just ten students, but focused on advanced level studies, making them Qadis after him, including Imam `Abdul Wahhab ibn Sulaiman. cf. Ibn Humaid’s As-Suhub ul-Wabilah, pp. 173-174

[19] 1236-1295 (AD 1821-1878). He is Muhammad ibn `Abdullah ibn `Ali ibn `Uthman ibn `Ali ibn Humaid ibn Ghanim An-Najdi Al-Makki. Chief Judge in Makkah, he studied under some of its greatest scholars and in his travels gained knowledge from the Qaddumi and Shatti families. He suffered persecution, and directly witnessed atrocities and other trials under the Salafi movement, which was gaining more of a foothold in Makkah where he resided. He was the author of some ten books on various subjects. Please see Ash-Shatti’s Mukhtasar Tabaqat il-Hanabilah, pp. 160-161.

[20] d. 1216 AH (AD 1801). He is Muhammad ibn `Abdullah ibn Muhammad ibn Fairuz at-Tamimi Al-Ahsa’ii Al-Hanbali. Born in Al-Ahsa,’ he was one of the torch bearers of truth against the organisation founded by Muhammad ibn `Abdul Wahhab. Imam Muhammad ibn Fairuz (as he is popularly addressed) studied with some of the brightest minds of his time, coming to hold double digit licenses in each of the eighteen sciences of Islam. There is no scholar of hadith in the era in which we live that does not have him in their chain of transmission. After continued opposition and hatred between the Orthodox scholarship and the Muwahhidun cult, the Imam was exiled from the city and fled to Iraq, not before seeing scores of scholars murdered or suffer the same fate as himself. Most of his works remain in manuscript form in libraries throughout the world, such as Princeton, Berlin, Chester Beatty and others. cf. Ibn Humaid’s As-Suhub ul-Wabilah, pp. 400-406

[21] 1179 (AD 1768). He is `Isa ibn `Abdur-Rahman ibn Mutlaq ibn Khamis Al-Maliki. One of the chief scholars of Al-Ahsa’, he was an enemy to Salafiyyah, firm in Religion and was strong against innovation and modernism that was trying to make an appearance. Born with diminishing division, he worked hard in the memorisation of the Qur’an, the Sahih of Imam Al-Bukhari and numerous texts. cf. `Abdul Qadir’s Tahfat ul-Mustafid, pp. 394-395

[22] Ar. Al-Iqna` , the author being Imam Musa Al-Hajjawi.

[23] 727-771 (AD 1327-1370). He is Taj ud-Din Abun-Nasr `Abdul Wahhab ibn `Ali ibn `Abdul Kafi As-Subki. Chief Qadi, historian, hadith scholar and specialist in fiqh who although born in Egypt in the capital city of Cairo moved to Damascus with his father. Coming from a long line of Egyptian scholars with roots in South Egypt, he left behind a large footprint in Usul, fiqh, history and a number of other areas. cf. Az-Zirkili’s Al-A`lam, vol.4, pp. 184-185.

[24] Ar. Hashiyat ur-Rawd il-Murbi`

[25] Ar. Kitab ush-Sharikah.

[26] Ar. Sharh ul-Jawhar il-Maknun

[27] 920-983 (AD 1519-1582). He is Abu Zaid `Abdur-Rahman ibn Abi `Abdullah As-Saghir ibn Muhammad ibn `Amir Al-Akhdari. Algerian specialist in many sciences of Islam, this high ranking judge, jurist and Sufi wrote a number of rhyming texts to assist students of knowledge in learning detailed matters of Islam. Tarjumat ul-Akhdari, pp. 19-20

[28] This came about because Salafis started to try to make a difference between “following the evidence” and being “madhhabi”. And as is typical, Salafis would use violence and death threats to try to spread the new religion. And this is in additional to their repulsive and repugnant theology in which they liken Allah with/to His Creation. As Imam Hasan Ash-Shatti (d. 1274) said, “May Allah curse whoever has this creed”. The Divine Texts, pp. 115-117

[29] Ar. Ibda’ ul-Majhud fi Jawab Su’ali Ibn Dawud

[30] d. 1225 (AD 1810). `Afif ud-Din `Abdullah ibn Dawud Az-Zubairi, Al-Basri Al-`Iraqi Al-Hanbali. Preacher, teacher, heresiographer and soldier, this particular scholar was born and lived most of his life in Az-Zubair, the great stronghold of Orthodox scholarship just outside Basrah. He studied under its premier scholars but decided to go to Al-Ahsa’ in Arabia to continue his studies. He learned from the scholars Muhammad ibn Fairuz and his son, `Abdul Wahhab. As-Suhub ul-Wabilah `ala Dara’ih il-Hanabilah, pp. 254-255

[31] Ar. Al-Qawl us-Sadid fi Jawaz it-Taqlid

[32] This issue was tackled because the cursed Salafi cult that was in Yemen and Arabia came and said that every common Muslim is obliged to be his own mujtahid and “follow the evidence” and that the madhhabs “contradicted the Book and the Sunnah.” So this text was crucial for dispelling some foolishness. As Imam Hasan Ash-Shatti (d. 1274) said, “May Allah curse whoever has this creed”. The Divine Texts, pp. 115-117

[33] Ar. Zawal ul-Labsi `Amman Arada Bayan Ma Yumkin An Yutli`ullahu `Alaihi Ahadin Min Khalqihi min Al-Khams

[34] And this work would break the back of fake Sufis (and is even applicable today) who claim their shaikhs have the knowledge of the Five Things of the Unseen and even some aberrant Sunnis today that try to insist that the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, possessed this, in spite of the fact that the First Three Generations never understood anything of the sort (!) How fitting it is that fake Sufis should have the grandshaikh, `Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani say the following and destroy their sectarian diatribe:

“So Allah the Exalted said of the matter:

And what will make you know what is the Night of Power [Surat ul-Qadr (97), ayah 2].

“So it is as if He is saying, ‘Muhammad, if it was not that Allah taught you it and its grandeur, you would not have known it!’ So everything that is in the Qur’an with the expression ‘what made you to know’ (Ar. adaraaka), then Allah has indeed taught him what it was while the expression ‘what will cause you to know’ (Ar. yudareeka) then he did not know it and did not disclose to Muhammad the knowledge of it. An example of this is the statement of His, Mighty and Majestic,

And what will make you to know? It may be that the Hour is indeed near. [Surat ul-Ahzab (33), ayah 63]

“Thus He did not make it clear to him when its time was to come”. cf. Al-Ghunya, vol.2, pp. 261-262, Dar Ihya’ it-Turath il-`Arabi, Beirut, 1416 (AD 1996) [with editorial and prep. notes by Muhammad Khalid `Umar and Riyadh `Abdullah `Abdul Hadi]

As for the Five Things of the Unseen, they are mentioned by Allah, Exalted be He, in the following ayah:

Indeed Allah has in His Sight the knowledge of the Hour, what shall be sent down of weather, what is the wombs while no soul knows what it shall earn tomorrow and no soul knows in which land it shall be taken. Surah Luqman (31), ayah 34

[35] cf Ibn Humaid’s As-Suhub ul-Wabilah, pp. 277-279, Maktabah Al-Imam Ahmad (no date of print given)

ANNOUNCEMENT: THE WELL BALANCED WAY IN CREED IS CURRENTLY UNDER PRODUCTION

Dear readers,

Another breakthrough has come. We are currently under production and our second to last read through and cover design for the text The Well Balanced Way in Creed, authored by the grand Imam `Abdul Ghani ibn `Abdul Wahid Al-Maqdisi (d. 600), may Allah have mercy upon him, which shall have both Arabic and English text. We hope that this will be of benefit to readers. Again, this is not the final but the run up to it.

Until next time,

brother in Islam,

Al-Hajj Abu Ja`far Al-Hanbali

ANNOUNCEMENT: DIVINE LIGHTNING CURRENTLY UNDER PRODUCTION

To all of the readers, thank you for your patience. We continue to strive to work diligently to bring the best content. The Divine Lightning is as of today under review and revision. Please keep us in your supplications. We hope to complete the second edition in the future very soon.

 

was-Salaam,

brother in Islam

Al-Hajj Abu Ja`far Al-Hanbali

THE DIVINE TEXTS 2ND EDITION: RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER

Dear readers,

We have just have a few more corrections to make regarding the cover and the inside of the book. Great things are afoot in this year. We hope that this process is just as exciting for you as it is for us.

Until next time.

was-Salaam,

brother in Islam,

Al-Hajj Abu Ja`far Al-Hanbali

10 RAMADAN 1440 AH MESSAGE: NEW BOOK RELEASE! THE LIFE AND TIMES OF ABU `UMAR AL-MAQDISI

Figure 1A: The Life and Times of Abu `Umar Al-Maqdisi by Imam Diya’ ud-Din Al-Maqdisi

We proudly present to you the release of our new book, The Life and Times of Abu `Umar Al-Maqdisi (d. 607 AH), may Allah be pleased with him, the follow up to his younger brother’s (Imam Muwaffaq ud-Din Ibn Qudamah (d. 620 AH (AD 1223) Ihsan defining text, A Word of Advice.

We hope that this endeavour will be just as successful as the previous and that readers will enjoy the work. This text is chalked full of great life lessons from the life of Imam Abu `Umar Al-Maqdisi, 200+ footnotes and 9 large appendices that add significant overall depth to the text. This is yet another true student and authentic successor of the grand shaikh and Imam, `Abdul Qadir Al-Jilani (d. 561 AH (AD 1166) and not the medley of fakes, counterfeits and swindlers today.

Thank you to all the readers for all the support so far.

Until next time,

Al-Hajj Abu Ja`far Al-Hanbali

BOOK REVIEW: THE BIG STEP: HOW TO SURVIVE ISLAM IN THE ANGLOSPHERE

 

Figure 1A: The Big Step How to Survive Islam in the Anglosphere

After having completed this book, I can say that this is a very timely book. This is the first time that I have encountered a book written by a convert to Islam regarding his own experience and then his treatment and struggles after having come into the Religion.

What sets this book apart is that the author puts himself to work in delving deep into the Religion, visiting the Muslim world, studying with scholars of various disciplines and not touring the convert circuit.

Do not buy this book if you are:

Looking for a theological polemic. This is not the purpose of the text. The point of the text is to give a simple lay out of the Religion and to not get bogged down with complex terminology and disputes.

Looking for the trophy convert tour. This is a real thing. There are people who will convert to Islam and then spend the rest of their time in the Religion touring different places of worship, hotels and cookouts. This is all while they continuously keep regurgitating the story of their conversion. The more slick among them will recycle his story over and over again but make it more sophisticated.

The more the length of the beard, the more Muslim the convert was before he even entered Islam.

Looking to have a picture presented of Islam that does not involve hardship. One of the stand out portions of this book is the constant growth that the author must undergo. He must go from strength to strength, scaling mountain after mountain and facing setback after setback. The end result of this was a bumpy ride along the way to the truth and satisfaction at having received it.

Buy this book if you are:

Trying to understand the foundational principles of Islam. Someone from outside of the Religion can examine it for what it is and then reach a conclusion after study.

Desiring to understand Islam but need more information about Muslim communities. Many of those that have entered Islam often find themselves alienated from their own families or other Muslims due to certain Muslim “communities.” This book will give you the signs to be on guard about so that you can avoid falling into this tribulation.

Seeking to become Muslim and want to know what will happen once you enter it. Many converts or potential converts don’t know what is expected of them upon converting to Islam. And in the Anglosphere there is no service or streamlined set of guidelines on caring for people that have come into Islam.

This was painfully brought to light by the author and explored in much detail. My interview with the author was done before I had read the book in detail and I feel that both the book and the interview will give a great insight into a world that some of us simply cannot understand.

At having reached its conclusion, I was very happy with the book and felt that it offered experience and knowledge of an area that was not present. This small book does not fit with normal convert literature in the genre on the market.

 

This book really deserves its own genre considering all the different layers of meaning within its pages. It is my sincere hope that future readers will appreciate it for what it is: an odyssey that begins with the search for truth and ends with maintaining it and striving to keep pure from possible sullying elements.

THE THREE CREEDS: 2ND EDITION DUE OUT IN 2 WEEKS

Figure 1A: The Creed and Way of Muslim Orthodoxy, 2nd Edition cover.

An amazing thing happened when I looked over The Creed and Way of Muslim Orthodoxy. I gathered together the comments made by people regarding the layout and appearance and I tried to really make it better. The result was, with the praise of Allah, better than the first edition. The comments from readers was a great assistance.

It is my sincere hope that the 2nd edition will be met with even greater satisfaction then the first and that all of the comments and suggestions incorporated into the 2nd edition meet the expectations of the readers.

Until next time,

Al-Hajj Abu Ja`far Al-Hanbali

BOOK REVIEW: AL-JAMI` BAIN AS-SAHIHAIN

Figure 1A: The monumental text of Imam Ash-Shami

I thought long and hard about how to best do a book review on this particular work and I knew no better way to do it other than going out of the box. This is a hadith text that filled me with wonder.

I began studying with a teacher in the area of hadith some 19 years ago and it has been a fulfilling journey. The discussion on the terminology, the people, the books, the breakdown of the gradings and such was simply amazing.

Hadith literature cannot be read like one reads and ordinary book. There are some five things that have to be kept in mind:

(1) Hadith literature is not fiction. This is historical data that is supposed to present a point to the reader or listener that sheds further light on detailed matters of the Revealed Law.

(2) Hadith literature has revelation within it. There are parts of the hadith literature that are revelation, in which the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, makes a statement, does an action, approves of a particular code of conduct or commands people with advice.

(3) Hadith literature is not casually read. I can read the Iliad and the Odyssey as a fun read before going to bed as these works are parables given through story form along with metaphors and tragic heroes. Hadith literature has morals mentioned and the like but there are also narratives, individual narrators, language being used to which one has to be particularly attuned and alert to at the time of reading.

(4) Hadith literature is collected under certain categories for a purpose. When one picks up any hadith text, there is a particular genre or class that it belongs to and there is a certain way they are to be read. Some are extracts while others are long narratives listing the reason for the actual statements or commands.

(5) Hadith literature provides context to the revelation of the Qur’an. This is both useful and imperative for the one that would like to study. The Qur’an was implemented in the lifetime of the recipient and carried out and this has been left for posterity to gaze upon, comment upon, understand and then put into practice for later generations.

It is for this reason that so much attention was put on this area by the scholars, particularly those coming out of Al-Basrah. Their entire business was the recording, examining, discussing of hadith.

For the people of Al-Basrah, passing rulings or making theoretical principles were not enough. We needed to know each narrator of the hadith, the history of the hadith, the reason it was spoken, the background, the language used, the audience being addressed and so much more.

These and so many other reasons drove the method in collecting hadith. Al-Basrah as a school developed two principles for hadith and the knowledge around them:

Hadith Majlis – these were scholars that concerned themselves with hadith according to all of the above and more and then put them in books based upon the needs of the audience addressed, students and scholars.

Fiqh Majlis – these were scholars that took the knowledge from and with the hadith majlis and gathered the books together than would strengthen the knowledge of fiqh.

There would be obvious overlap between the two categories – where some scholars would be both categories – but the scholars would always be particularly weighted towards one area. Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d. 241) paid such careful attention to this that the students of his madhhab after him dedicated their sweet time to the process.

This included people such as: Imams Abu Dawud As-Sijistani,[1] Muhammad ibn Isma`il Al-Bukhari,[2] Muslim ibn Al-Hajjaj An-Naisaburi,[3] Abu Bakr Al-Athram,[4] Abu Bakr Al-Marrudhi,[5] Harb ibn Isma`il Al-Kirmani,[6] Abu Bakr Al-Marwazi[7] and others.

Books would be collected together and each needed area had hadith texts put together for that purpose. Scholars organised hadith books to be read under:

(a) names of the narrators in alphabetical order

(b)  chapters and books of subjects

(c) rulings that are needed by students or scholars that will be making judgements

(d) historical epochs

(e) extracts of the beginning of the text

This process was used by laity, student and scholar alike for the better part of 1400 years until an attempt was made at a numbering system.

Figure 2A: Fu’ad `Abdul Baqi (1299-1388), the poet and hadith aficionado that tried to carry out the monumental task of numbering the collections.

A man bearing the name Fu’ad `Abdul Baqi[8] attempted to number the collections but it was haphazard and not consistent enough to be uniform throughout. Printing houses took this on board and once they started printing books of hadith, the confusion spread. He would never live to complete the monumental task that he had set up.

In light of this, one of today’s living marja` people and a large figure in the Hadith Majlis, decided to try to simplify and make things easier.

Imam Salih Ash-Shami, coming from a family of marja` people himself, decided to bring all of this together and try to resolve affairs. He made the numbers in Al-Bukhari and Muslim to match up and then introduced his own coding system that had the texts run in line with the fiqh books of the Hanbali School, which Al-Bukhari, Muslim and Abu Dawud were based upon in the very first place anyway.

Figure 3: The marja` and hadith scholar of Sham, Imam Salih Ash-Shami

Imam Salih Ash-Shami took Al-Bukhari and Muslim and combined them both together and then took the Ahadith in common and marked them. Those unique to each collection were marked and kept as so.

As for the hadith and notes that these two Imams put in the margins, these were included in the footnotes rather than having to be read in the commentaries.

Regarding this monumental task, Imam Salih Ash-Shami himself said, “I believe this is perhaps the first time this has been done regarding this matter.”

The Imam then went to the other collections and set about putting together a proper number sequence in addition to the fact that he used the same meticulous nature he did on Al-Jami`. He spoke of his beginning this monumental task here and it really deserves an amazing consideration.

So far the Imam has completed the task of proper organisation for the Hadith Majlis in the School on more than 10 hadith books. This is a monumental task and may ultimately have to be shared between him and his brother (in the Fiqh Majlis) on account of the advanced age.

What Al-Jami` Bain As-Sahihain accomplishes

(1) It joins between both collections and presents an easy enumeration and tracking system. Those that have studied the school of Imam Ahmad in any real detail will find this fine and a good organiser.

(2) If one has ever memorised hadith before, this will help with the task and the Imam has put it on golden paper for just this task.

(3) The text has few comments from the print house and intrusive notes. Too many print houses feel they must inject their ideology and useless fancy into the work. This has had very little discussion or presentation by the house.

(4) This is an inside look at how the marja` people organise and grasp hadith from a scholar of the highest level and probably the largest living authority on the topic.

(5) The reference section in the back forces people who are students to look for narrators and filters out time wasters and cheaters who aren’t truly appreciating the radiance of the work.

As said previously Imam Ash-Shami organised this text according to the books of the school of Imam Ahmad and then made 9 units with fresh headings for the chapters.

He then went through yet another process that you will appreciate. Upon examination, the reader can see that he has taken his simplification of the hadith collections based upon the difficulty of books recommended in the curriculum of Imam Muwaffaq ud-Din Ibn Qudamah (d. 620).

So the sets of books that need to be studied in fiqh (from simplest to most advanced) along with their equivalent hadith works are listed below:

Al-`Umdah      Al-Jami` bain As-Sahihain (3,896 hadith)

Al-Muqni`        Zawa’id us-Sunan `al as-Sahihain (7,688 hadith)

Al-Kafi             Zawa’id ul-Muwatta’ wal-Musnad `al Kutub is-Sittah (3,753 hadith)

Al-Mughni       Kutub ut-Tasi` (16,290 hadith)

The Imam did such a masterful job that it is difficult to fully put into words what he has done. I remember when I started Al-Jami` us-Saghir in 18 years ago and one of my teachers saying, “If something easier comes out besides this, then you should cling to it.”

Now here we are. So what can I say in closing about this matter? If you are a student of knowledge, you will need to familiarise yourself with Al-`Umdah, Al-Muqni` or the Zad ul-Mustaqni` and review the knowledge in the commentaries and extract these hadith for memorisation if you have not already.

If you have I would advise employing this new system for use as it is easier, more streamlined and actually facilitates your studies. The book you are already studying in fiqh fits like a glove with the equivalent text of hadith.

As for non-students, this can be used as a source for hadith with the index. It can also help you to learn the narrators and chapter headings for use. The book is broken into three areas for hadith use:

(a) the Ahadith that are particular to Imam Al-Bukhari’s collection

(b) the Ahadith that are particular to Imam Muslim’s collection

(c) the Ahadith that are present in both collections

These markings and differentiations should be an invaluable assistance to (1) the family that would like to learn together, especially when teaching at home and dispensing lessons and (2) the student that is building his knowledge and going forward.

May Allah reward the Imam, his brother and the great family that raised him to love the science of hadith and its related affairs! Amin!

Until next time.

Al-Hajj Abu Ja`far Al-Hanbali

 

[1] 210-275 AH (AD 824-889). He is Abu Dawud Sulaiman ibn Ash`ath As-Sijistani. One of the great Imams of Hadith and one of the main scholars of the school after the Imam, his As-Sunan is one of the most important books of hadith for its authenticity, brevity and discussion on the transmitters. Please see the oldest collected biography on Abu Dawud: Tabaqat ul-Hanabilah, vol.1, pp. 153-155

[2] 195-256 (AD 809-870). He is Muhammad ibn Isma`il ibn Ibrahim ibn Al-Mughirah Al-Bukhari. Major Imam in Hadith, he was in later life tested with the accusation of believing the Qur’an to be created. He would go to his Imam and state his entire theology as proof of the opposite and be buried next to him in the cemetery of Hanbali scholars. Regarding the fiqh scholars of the madhhab, he said of them: “I heard some of my companions in the school saying, ‘When he discussed his birth, Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal said: My mother was pregnant with me when she moved from Marw to Baghdad.’ ”  Please see the oldest collected biography of Al-Bukhari: Abul Hussain Muhammad ibn Muhammad’s Tabaqat ul-Hanabilah, vol.1, pp. 254-259; Salih Al-Baghdadi’s (the eldest son of Imam Ahmad) Sirat ul-Imam, pp. 24-26; Muhammad ibn Muhammad As-Sa`di’s Al-Jawhar ul-Muhassal, pp. 4-5

[3] d. 261 (AD 875). He is Muslim ibn Muslim ibn Al-Hajjaj Al-Qushairi An-Naisaburi. One of the premier students of Imam Ahmad and a source for his madhhab, he authored his text Al-Jami` us-Sahih text that became the second most popular hadith book after his death. Please see the oldest collected biography of Muslim: Abul Hussain Muhammad ibn Muhammad’s Tabaqat ul-Hanabilah, vol.1, pp. 311-314

[4] d. 260 AH (AD 874). He is Abu Bakr Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Hani’ Al-Iskafi. Please see the oldest collected biography of Abu Bakr Al-Athram: Abul Hussain Muhammad ibn Muhammad’s Tabaqat ul-Hanabilah, vol.1, pp. 65-71

[5] 275 AH (AD 888) He is Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Al-Hajjaj ibn `Abdul `Aziz Al-Marrudhi. One of the students of Imam Ahmad that narrated theology, hadith, fiqh and many other affairs, he witnessed the Inquisition launched by the Abbasids against Orthodox theology and witnessed the victory of the Imam. Please see the oldest collected biography of Abu Bakr Al-Marrudhi: Abul Hussain Muhammad ibn Muhammad’s Tabaqat ul-Hanabilah, vol.1, pp. 57-62

[6] d. 280 (AD 893). He is Harb ibn Isma`il ibn Khalaf Al-Kirmani.  Please see the oldest collected biography of Al-Kirmani: Abul Hussain Muhammad ibn Muhammad’s Tabaqat ul-Hanabilah, vol.1, pp. 136-137

[7] d. 292 AH (AD 905). He is Ahmad ibn `Ali ibn Sa`id ibn Ibrahim. Please see the oldest collected biography of Abu Bakr Al-Marwazi: Abul Hussain Muhammad ibn Muhammad’s Tabaqat ul-Hanabilah, vol.1, pp. 52-53

[8] 1299-1388 (AD 1882-1968). He is Muhammad Fu’ad ibn `Abdul Baqi ibn Salih ibn Muhammad. Born in one of the villages in northern Egypt and raised in Cairo, he studied hadith, poetry, Qur’an, French and English. He came with the novel idea of numbering the Ahadith and chapters of Al-Jami` us-Sahih of Al-Bukhari. This was followed by printing houses when disseminating Al-Bukhari’s Al-Jami` and commentaries on it and then it began to be done on the collection of Muslim. Please see Az-Zirkali’s Al-A`lam