Sixty Years in The Making: A Closer Look at Shaykh ‘Awwāmah’s Edition of Tadrīb al-Rāwī fī Sharh Taqrīb al-Nawāwī

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Sixty Years in The Making: A Closer Look at Shaykh ‘Awwāmah’s Edition of Tadrīb al-Rāwī fī Sharh Taqrīb al-Nawāwī

By Muntasir Zaman

When an expert assures you that he invested sixty years of experience in a given project, it should come as no surprise that such a work deserves undivided attention. That is the case with the latest edition of Imām Jalāl al-Dīn al-Suyūtī’s (d. 911 AH) magnum opus Tadrīb al-Rāwī fī Sharh Taqrīb al-Nawāwī, which was critically edited by the Syrian Hadīth scholar Shaykh Muhammad ‘Awwāmah. Shaykh ‘Awwāmah prefaces the work by saying, “I have written therein the crux of sixty years of dedication to thisislamic field.”[1] In this article, we will take a closer look at this new edition by going through a general overview of the work and by highlighting three salient aspects of it, namely, the editor’s style of writing, method of tracing sources, and personal insights.


This edition was jointly published by Dār al-Yusr and Dār al-Minhāj in five volumes. The first volume comprises of a forward by Shaykh ‘Awwāmah, a description of the manuscripts used for Tadrīb al-Rāwī (the commentary) and al-Taqrīb wa al-Taysīr (the text),[2] the thabat of Ahmad Ibn al-‘Ajamī,[3] detailed indices for the entire book,[4] and the bibliography. The remaining four volumes comprise of the text of al-Taqrīb wa al-Taysīr and its commentary Tadrīb al-Rāwī, Ibn al-‘Ajamī’s marginalia, and Shaykh ‘Awwāmah’s footnotes, and each volume has its own table of contents.

Shaykh ‘Awwāmah had at his disposal eleven manuscripts of Tadrīb al-Rāwī, all of which were complete; apart from one. The most reliable manuscript was from the Azhar library which had the marginalia of the erudite Azharī scholar Ahmad ibn al-‘Ajamī (d. 1086 AH), followed by a manuscript from the Egyptian National Library and Archives which was rigorously cross examined with the original of al-Suyūtī.[5] Interestingly enough, at first he had worked with ten manuscripts, but a few days before submitting the work for publishing, he received another manuscript, so he postponed its publishing and reexamined the entire text word by word with the new manuscript.[6]

Due to the amount of beneficial material contained in Ibn al-‘Ajamī’s marginalia, Shaykh ‘Awwāmah incorporated the entire marginalia into the footnotes.[7] Ahmad ibn al-‘Ajamī was not only a scholar of Hadīth, but he also excelled in the rational sciences (ma‘qūlāt) and in the Arabic language. As such, the reader will find that in his marginalia he at times delves into issues that are not directly related to the science of Hadith.[8] The benefit of this, as Shaykh ‘Awwāmah explains, is that it expands the scope of the student of Hadith to other branches of knowledge.[9] As was expected, he critically worked on Ibn al-‘Ajamī’s marginalia by sourcing the quotes,[10] comparing the primary sources,[11] clarifying the author’s intent,[12] and challenging[13] or further supplementing his claims.[14]

Shaykh ‘Awwāmah’s forward begins with eighteen essential points that would help the reader better understand and appreciate the present work and the subject of Hadīth terminology in general. These include more details on al-Suyūtī’s books on the genre, relevant works written post Ibn al-Salāh (d. 643 AH), and important information related both to the methodology adopted by al-Suyūtī in the present work and to the entire science of Hadith terminology.[15]  For the purpose of illustration, let us look at the third point as it is quite interesting. He notes that at first glance, the word ‘al-Rāwī’ in the title “Tadrīb al-Rāwī fī Sharh Taqrīb al-Nawāwī” seems to have been added only to rhyme with the word ‘al-Nawāwī.’ But this, he explains, is not the case because al-Suyūtī in one place quotes al-Husayn al-Shīrāzī as saying “the Rāwī is one who is unaware of [the disciplines related to] the text (matn) and the chain (sanad)” i.e. he is in the preliminary stages of Hadith studies. Hence, al-Suyūtī did not add ‘al-Rāwī’ merely to make a catchy title that rhymes; rather, he intended to show that his book was written to train the beginner (lit. Tadrīb al-Rāwī).[16]

Style and Methodology

From the beginning, Shaykh ‘Awwāmah lets his readers know that he is not interested in spending time with less important issues. On the first page he writes, “Imāms al-Nawawī and al-Suyūtī and their respective books do not require [an exposition of their] biographies or an introduction. In fact, writing about that is unnecessary.”[17] Instead of spending time on issues already researched, he simply refers his readers to available research. For instance, regarding the meaning of Imām al-Dhahabī’s (d. 748 AH) proverbial statement, “No two scholars of this science have ever converged upon the accreditation of a weak narrator or the criticism of a reliable narrator,” he simply refers the reader to the research of his teacher Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattāh Abū Ghuddah (d. 1417 AH).[18] The idea of not delving into unnecessary discussions is found throughout the book and is best exemplified in one place where he echoes the sentiments of Hāfiż Ibn Hajar (d. 852 AH), “It is exertion beyond which there lies no outcome (ta‘ab laysa warā’ahū arab).”[19]

Reading through the detailed footnotes, one thing becomes clear: he adopted a natural style of writing by interacting with his readers.[20] Thus, apart from purely academic discussions, he relates personal experiences,[21] gives general advice,[22] shares reflections,[23] and cites anecdotes to get his point across.[24] For instance, he writes that once while a student he sat in a public lecture of one of his teachers that was attended by roughly two thousand people. At one point, the teacher had to mention the last verse of sūrat al-‘alaq which contained the words of sajdat al-tilāwah “wasjud waqtarib.” The teacher unexpectedly said, “Allah Most High says ‘wasjud’ and then says ‘waqtarib.’ Shaykh ‘Awwāmah writes that he was puzzled why his teacher separated the two words. Later he attended Hanafī Fiqh lessons where he learned that sajdat al-tilāwah only becomes mandatory when the word of sajdah is joined with a word before or after it. It then occurred to him that the reason his teacher abstained from joining both words was to avoid having sajdat al-tilāwah become mandatory upon such a large audience. He relates this incident to emphasize that a scholar conducts his affairs with knowledge. When this is the case of contemporary scholars, he reasons, imagine the status of the leading authorities and pillars of Islām like Imāms al-Bukhārī and Muslim in their collections of hadīths.[25]

He occasionally alludes to common mistakes in Arabic.[26] In many places, Ibn al-‘Ajamī uses the term hāmish to refer to marginalia. Shaykh ‘Awwāmah quotes al-Qāmūs of al-Fayrūzabādī (d. 817 AH) which states, “al-hāmish: the hāshiyah [marginalia] of a book; it was introduced later into Arabic (muwallad),” and says that therefore hāshiyah is the correct term to use even though the usage of the former is widespread. He later found that Burhān al-Dīn al-Biqā‘ī (d. 885 AH) had cited the same passage from al-Qāmūs to correct Zayn al-Dīn al-‘Irāqī (d. 806 AH) who also used the term hāmish.[27] In another place, he writes, “part of it will come in the writing of the Shārih (the commentator) and the Sāhib al-matn (author of the text)—do not say al-Mātin.” He subtly points out here the common mistake of calling the author of the text (matn) the Mātin, just as the author of the commentary (sharh) is called the Shārih.[28]

He has no qualms in praising and citing research from his contemporaries and juniors.[29] Under the discussion of the mudallisīn in Sahīhayn, he summarizes the research of Dr. ‘Awwād Husayn al-Khalaf and Dr. Fahmī Ahmad Qazzāz, and then expresses gratitude for their services and prays for them.[30] In another place, he praises Dr. Khālid al-Dirīs’s work “al-Hadīth al-Hasan li-dhātihī wa li-ghayrihī,” particularly his comparison between al-Timidhī’s grading as found in the printed editions of his Jāmi‘ and the manuscript of al-Karūkhī.[31] Regarding the tenth century Persian scholar Mīrak, he advises the reader to, “consult the introduction of our teacher Muhammad ‘Abd al-Halīm al-Nu‘mānī [Chishtī] (Allah preserve him) to Mirqāt al-Mafātīh, entitled “al-Bidā‘ah al-Muzjāh li man Yutāli‘ al-Mirqāh Sharh al-Mishkāh.”[32] On the other hand, he also points out certain shortcomings he feels need attention, like his remark that Tarh al-Tathrīb Sharh al-Taqrīb was poorly printed,[33] Badr al-Dīn al-Zarkashī’s (d. 794 AH) al-La’ālī al-Manthūrah was printed with “hundreds of [typographical] errors,”[34] and that the editor of al-Tārīkh al-Awsat erred in identifying a particular narrator.[35]

Overall, the style of writing is natural and engaging, and the methodology, as will be further demonstrated below, is similar to his own description of al-Dhahabī’s work al-Kāshif, “A book of training, educating, and building.”[36]

Tracing Sources

Having written his commentary after the science of Hadith terminology had reached its peak, al-Suyūtī had at his disposal a library of literature to work with.[37] In this book alone, he is said to have cited over four hundred titles, many of which he quotes through secondary or tertiary sources.[38] As such, there was a need to source all of his quotes and examine the context of the original. This is where Shaykh ‘Awwāmah demonstrates his competence as a Hadith scholar. Throughout the entire work, he traces quotations back to the earliest possible source and examines the variations that developed in the process of quoting.  In one place, he emphasizes this point by saying, “I repeat the same advice: deliberate, and be wary of copied mistakes (tawārud).”[39] In the introduction, he explains that there are two types of critical editing (tahqīq). The first is to establish the correct text after cross-examining all the manuscripts and then to trace back the references cited in the work to note any alterations in the wording or the actual content. The second is to engage with the claims of the author in view of other opinions to determine to what extent they agree or disagree.[40] The following are a few examples:[41]

Under the discussion of who was the most proficient student of Imām Mālik, al-Suyūtī quotes Ibn Hajar from al-Nukat as saying, “As for Ibn Wahb (d. 197 AH), many have said: he is poor in reception (tahammul).”[42] Shaykh ‘Awwāmah refers to Tadhīb al-Tahdhīb of Ibn Hajar where the author cites several remarks concerning Ibn Wahb from leading authorities like Imāms Ahmad (d. 241 AH), al-Nasa’ī (d. 303 AH), and al-Sājī (d. 307 AH). He then traces each statement back and contextualizes them to show that they cannot be used to criticize Ibn Wahb. Al-Sājī, for instance, is quoted as saying about Ibn Wahb “trustworthy, reliable, and was devoted to worship. He was lax in audition because the view of his townsmen was the permissibility of ijāzah, and he would thereby say: so and so narrated to me.” Shaykh ‘Awwāmah then asks, “What fault is there in this?” He then writes that if one were to read the words of Ibn Hajar in al-Nukat or as quoted in Tadrīb al-Rāwī without referring back to the primary sources, he would have overlooked the right of a great Imām.[43]

Under the discussion of the weakest chains of transmission, al-Suyūtī quotes al-Hākim (d. 405 AH) as saying, “The flimsiest chain of the Khurasānīs is: ‘Abd al-Rahmān ibn Mulayhah­—Nahshal ibn Sa‘īd—Dahhāk—Ibn ‘Abbās.” Shaykh ‘Awwāmah clarifies that the first transmitter’s name is ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Abd al-Rahmān, i.e. the son and not the father, as found in al-Hākim’s work yet omitted in all the present manuscripts of Tadrīb al-Rāwī.[44] While speaking on the types of tadlīs, al-Suyūtī quotes Ibn Hajar as saying that another type is known as tadlīs al-‘atf and gives the example of Hushaym ibn Bashīr as related by al-Hākim and al-Khatīb. Shaykh ‘Awwāmah writes that the reference to al-Khatīb is not found in Ibn Hajar’s al-Nukat, and he was unable to locate anyone else apart from al-Suyūtī who attributed it to al-Khatīb.[45]

Under the discussion of al-Hasan, al-Suyūtī quotes al-Dhahabī (d. 748 AH) as saying, “The status of Jāmi‘ al-Tirmidhī dropped in comparison to the Sunans of Abū Dāwūd and al-Nasa’ī because he [Imām al-Tirmidhī] narrated the hadiths of al-Maslūb, al-Kalbī, and their like.”[46] Shaykh ‘Awwāmah refers back to Jāmi‘ al-Tirmidhī to see how al-Tirmidhī (d. 279 AH) narrated from Muhammad ibn Sa‘īd al-Maslūb and Muhammad ibn Sā’ib al-Kalbī. He notes that al-Tirmidhī narrated from both of them one hadīth each. In the case of al-Maslūb, al-Tirmidhī follows the hadith by saying that it is inauthentic due to the weakness of the chain and that the hadiths of al-Maslūb are abandoned, and then explains that he only related this narration via al-Maslūb to point out its error.[47] Likewise, in the case of al-Kalbī, al-Tirmidhī only narrated one hadith via his route and followed it by saying, “gharīb, its chain is inauthentic” and then cites the narration via a stronger route. Therefore, al-Tirmīdhī only transmitted via these two narrators to identify the problems in their transmission. Hence, “he did not do anything that would decrease the value of his book.”[48]

Al-Suyūtī explains that certain scholars of Hadīth took a stricter approach when dealing with Hasan hadiths and gives the example of Abū Hātim al-Rāzī (d. 277 AH). Shaykh ‘Awwāmah explains that the particular quote and other similar quotes do not explicitly state that Hasan hadiths should be abandoned, and then shows that al-Rāzī uses the term Hasan in its linguistic meaning and not in the technical usage. Hence, the attribution to al-Rāzī that he does not regard Hasan hadiths as proof is inaccurate.[49]

The most striking example of consulting primary sources, in my opinion, is the following. Apart from Abū Hātim, Shaykh ‘Awwāmah says that two other scholars are said to have disregarded Hasan hadiths as proof: Imām al-Bukhārī (d. 256 AH) and Abū Bakr ibn al-‘Arabī (d. 543 AH). Ibn al-Wazīr al-Yamānī (d. 840 AH) writes that this was the opinion of al-Bukhārī and later preferred by Ibn al-‘Arabī.[50] Shaykh ‘Awwāmah provides a few reasons why this attribution to al-Bukhārī is inaccurate. Inimages (3) order to verify the claim of Ibn al-Wazīr, he consulted Ibn al-‘Arabī’s commentary on Jāmi‘ al-Tirmidhī entitled ‘Aridat al-Ahwadhī. He began reading the entire commentary–printed in 13 volumes–page by page, until he located the relevant passage in the fifth volume where Ibn al-‘Arabī writes, “Allah be pleased with al-Bukhārī who felt that the heart should not be attached, and the dīn connected to, anything but what is Sahīh. And this is what we uphold.” [51] After examining the exact words of Ibn al-‘Arabī, it becomes clear that the word Sahīh in this context refers to established hadiths, which include the technical terms Sahīh, Hasan, etc. Just to make sure there wasn’t another passage that Ibn al-Wazīr was possibly referring to, he read the remainder of the commentary, i.e. eight more volumes. He in fact found a statement from Ibn al-‘Arabī that shows the opposite of what Ibn al-Wazīr attributed to him: it is preferable to practice on weak hadiths, [52] let alone Hasan.[53] Thus, he paged through thirteen volumes to verify one claim.

These are only a few examples mentioned by way of illustration.[54] Consulting primary sources is arguably the most notable contribution of Shaykh ‘Awwāmah to the present work. In many instances, to verify a quote he does not suffice on the printed edition of books, but also consults their manuscripts.[55] He also compares al-Suyūtī’s opinions in Tadrīb al-Rāwī with his other work al-Bahr alladhī Zakhar, which he believes contains more robust and expansive research than the former.[56] Since the available print of al-Bahr alladhī Zakhar is incomplete, he consults the relevant places in the manuscript.[57]

Personal Insights

There are plenty of personal insights scattered throughout the footnotes. After all, it is the crux of sixty years of experience. It should be noted that he did not conduct as in-depth an exposition of many of the contentious discussions as was expected. For these, he wrote a separate treatise entitled “Majmū‘ Rasā’il fī ‘Ilm al-Hadīth Dirāyatanwhere he deals with a handful of issues in depth, like the meaning of “closing the doors of authentication” according to Ibn al-Salāh,[58] Imām Muslim’s methodology in presenting hadiths in his Sahīh,[59] and the collective probity of the Companions.[60] For certain topics, he penned individual treatises like “al-‘Amal bil Hadīth al-Da‘īf bayn al-Nażriyyah wa al-Tatbīq wa al-Da‘wā” on the use of weak hadiths.[61] Fortunately, he provides a summary of his research in the relevant places in the footnotes of the present work.

He provides beneficial insights into the methodology of scholars and their works.[62] For example, he explains that al-Dhahabī has a different approach to Imām al-Tirmidhī and his Jāmi‘;[63] Abū Bakr al-Bazzār (d. 292 AH),[64] Abū Ahmad al-Hākim (d. 378 AH),[65] and Shihāb al-Dīn al-Būsīrī (d. 840 AH) [66] are subtle in their criticism; and he stresses the need to recognize the specific terminology of every Imām of Hadith.[67] He writes that al-Mufhim of Abū al-‘Abbās al-Qurtubī (d. 656 AH) is a commentary on his abridgment of Sahīh Muslim and not on the original book;[68] in al-Sunan al-Sughrā, Imām al-Nasa’ī (d. 303 AH) points out ‘ilal in many hadiths and the differences of the narrators;[69] al-Tārīkh al-Kabīr of Imām al-Bukhārī is only a biographical dictionary, and was not meant to be a book on narrator criticism and accreditation;[70] and contrary to common opinion, al-Diyā’ al-Maqdisī (d. 643 AH) did not make it conditional to only cite authentic narrations in his book al-Ahādīth al-Mukhtārah.[71]

He speaks about the difference between a general grading and a specific grading. It is possible that Abū al-Qāsim al-Tabarānī (d. 360 AH), for example, would narrate a hadith from a particular Companion via a weak route whereas al-Bukhārī narrated the same hadith from another Companion. In Majma‘ al-Zawā’id, Nūr al-Dīn al-Haythamī (d. 807 AH), as per the methodology laid out in this book, will relate the narration of al-Tabarānī and then point out its weakness. A student might read the remarks about the hadith in Majma‘ al-Zawā’id and assume that the hadith is weak, unaware that the same narration is also found in Sahīh al-Bukhārī, albeit from another Companion. Thus, the grading of al-Haythamī is specific and not general.[72] Shaykh ‘Awwāmah later explains that in Majma‘ al-Zawā’id, al-Haythamī worked on nearly twenty thousand hadiths, so it is unreasonable to expect him to have provided a thorough analysis of every individual chain and text.[73] He later points out that a similar distinction is to be noted in the biographical dictionaries of impugned transmitters where hadiths are cited with their chains, i.e. the authors are criticizing the given chain in front of them (hukm khāss) and are not placing an overall ruling on the hadith (hukm ‘āmm).[74]

He draws attention to the methodological differences between the Hadīth scholars and the jurists in their approach to Hadith criticism. He provides several quotes to prove that scholars recognized and accepted that there is a difference between the two approaches. He quotes Abū Bakr al-Jassās (d. 370), Qādī Abū Ya‘lā (d. 458), Ibn Daqīq al-‘Id (d. 702), Ibn al-Qayyim (d. 751 AH) and others to prove this point.[75] On a similar note, he explains that scholars from the various schools of thought have their respective principles (Usūl). It is therefore a flawed methodology to apply the principles of a particular school when discussing the validity of the peripheral rulings (furū‘) of other schools.[76]

Ibn ‘Abd al-Hādī (d. 744 AH) wrote a treatise on the issue of reciting basmalah audibly in prayer in response to al-Khatīb al-Baghdādī. His companion Jamāl al-Dīn al-Zayla‘ī (d. 762 AH) summarized the mentioned treatise in his book Nasb al-Rāyah, in roughly twenty pages. Shaykh ‘Awwāmah explains that at times a scholar will quote a passage from the abridgment under the impression that it is the words of al-Zayla‘ī whereas it is merely his summary of Ibn ‘Abd al-Hādī’s treatise, but due to the length of the abridgment this is overlooked.[77]

In several places, he speaks about the concept of criticism of hadiths based on reason (al-jarh bil fahm) and the subjective nature of such criticism; hence, the need for caution.[78] The same hadith ‘Abd al-Rahmān ibn Mahdī (d. 198 AH) regarded to be in conflict with another report was not regarded as contradictory by Abū Dāwūd (d. 275 AH).[79] Related to this is al-Khatīb al-Baghdādī’s criteria of identifying a fabricated report by looking at its content, one of the ways being conflict with reason (mukhālafat al-‘aql). Shaykh ‘Awwāmah explains what is meant by reason in this context is definitely accepted issues, and he quotes Shaykh ‘Abd Allāh al-Ghumārī (d. 1413 AH) who gives the example of (1) one is half of two or (2) the sky is above us.[80] He further explains that what is also meant is sound reason illuminated with the sharī‘ah; otherwise, anyone could reject hadiths arbitrarily based on his desires.[81] In another place, he touches on the subject of al-naqd al-dākhilī, or matn criticism, according to the scholars of Hadith.[82]

He reminds the reader that a person either makes a claim to prove a thing (ījābiyyah) or to negate it (salbiyyah). In the first instance, the task it is not that difficult because simply finding the juristic ruling, for example, is sufficient to practice upon it.[83] In the second case, to say “X does not exist” or “Y is unknown” requires a thorough investigation. A person cannot make a claim of negation until he (1) has the necessary skill to do the relevant research (2) consults all possible sources (3) and exerts himself in research.[84] He further gives an example of a hybrid scenario between both cases.[85]

He brings this concept into a practical realm in numerous places throughout the book.[86] For example, regarding the hadith that the Companions (Allah be pleased with them) would knock on the door of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) with their nails, al-Suyūtī quotes Ibn al-Salāh who says that al-Hākim said, “those who are not experienced in this science assume that this is musnad since the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) is mentioned. It is not musnad; rather, it is mawqūf” and then says “al-Khatīb concurred with him.” Shaykh ‘Awwāmah quotes the direct words of Ibn al-Salāh, “And al-Khatīb mentioned something similar in his Jāmi‘” regarding which Hāfiż Mughlatāy ibn Qalīj (d. 762 AH) writes “I checked the relevant places and could not locate it” and Hāfiż Sirāj al-Dīn al-Bulqīnī (d. 805 AH) makes a similar remark. Shaykh ‘Awwāmah writes that in one place in al-Jāmi‘ li Akhlāq al-Rāwī, al-Khatīb mentions the hadith under discussion and the remarks of al-Hākim verbatim without attributing it to him (hence, he concurs with al-Hākim’s view).[87] Thus, he was able to find a basis for Ibn al-Salāh’s attribution to al-Khatīb. He then speaks about the need for composure and deliberation when conducting research or negating anything.[88]

Again, these are only a few examples mentioned by way of illustration.[89] At times, Shaykh ‘Awwāmah mentions these insights in passing and it may prove difficult to locate them again later unless they are noted. There are blank pages at the end of each of the first three volumes that can be used to take down notes.


After reading through this critical edition of Tadrīb al-Rāwī, it becomes clear that not only is Shaykh ‘Awwāmah providing a much needed service to a fundamental work of Hadith terminology, but is actually passing on an entire heritage of traditional Hadith scholarship which he inherited from his teachers and then dedicated his life to. Apart from the treatises mentioned earlier, he writes that he is currently working on other projects, such as al-Bayhaqī’s al-Madkhal ilā ‘Ilm al-Sunan[90] and al-Zaylaī’s Nasb al-Rāyah.[91] We therefore look forward to see more academic rigor from the Shaykh in his subsequent works. In conclusion, as Mawlanā Yusuf al-Bannūri (d. 1397 AH) clarifies in other context, “I am not claiming that this book will suffice one from consulting other Qur’ānic exegeses. But it should be noted that neither will they suffice one from consulting this book.”[92]

[1] ‘Awwāmah, Tadrīb al-Rāwī, vol.1, p.5.

[2] He used three manuscripts of Imām al-Nawawī’s al-Taqrīb wa al-Taysīr. For more details, see: vol.1, pp.42-45.

[3] The thabat of Ibn al-‘Ajamī is from p.124-197. For more details on Ibn al-‘Ajamī and his thabat, see: vol.1, pp.99-109. He later quotes ‘Abd al-Hayy al-Kattānī (d. 1382 AH) who writes, “mashyakhah is a catalogue wherein a scholar of Hadith gathers the names of his teachers and his narration from them. People later began referring to it as mu‘jam when they would gather the names of the teachers separately in alphabetical order; thus, the usage mu’jams gained currency alongside mashyakhas. The Andalusians use the term barnāmaj. In the last few centuries, the Ahl al-Mashriq use the term thabat till this day, and the Ahl al-Maghrib use the term fihrist till this day.” See: vol.2, pp.420-421, 564; cf. vol.4, p.267 [for the vowelization of these terms, see: ibid.].

[4] From pp.201-419.

[5] Ibid., p.40. Since each of the eleven manuscripts had some form of deficiency, Shaykh ‘Awwāmah writes that he did not completely rely on “one main” manuscript, which would form the basis while alterations from the other manuscripts would be noted. Rather, he adopted the approach of relying on the preferred text (al-nass al-mukhtār). See: vol.1, p.41.

[6] Ibid., vol.1, p.38. The value of this manuscript can be gauged from the fact that it was written in the lifetime of the author, al-Suyūtī, and contains certifications (ijāzas) at the end from al-Suyūtī himself for two individuals who read to him from it (the first in the year 880 AH and the second in the year 890 AH). It should be noted that Shaykh ‘Awwāmah has some reservations regarding this manuscript. See: vol.1, p.39

[7] Ibid., vol.1, pp.21-22. Some places were omitted due to repetition; see, for instance: vol.4, pp.193, 310; vol.5, p.277.

[8] See, for instance, vol.3, pp.503-504; vol.4, p.579; vol.5, p.583.

[9] Ibid., vol.1, pp.21, 112. This reminds one of the words of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattāh Abū Ghuddah who writes about Tāhir al-Jazā’irī’s (d. 1338 AH) monumental work Tawjīh al-Nażar ‘ilā Usūl al-Athar, “His book is also distinguished by important discussions not directly related to the science of Hadīth terminology, but which form part of the overall education of the reader and expert scholar.” See: Abū Ghuddah, Tawjīh al-Nażar, vol.1, p.9.

[10] See, for instance, vol.3, p.385; cf. vol.1 p.22

[11] See, for instance, vol.3, p.252; vol.4, pp.11, 194.

[12] See, for instance, vol.3, p.215.

[13] See, for instance, vol.3, p.198; vol.4, p.181.

[14] See, for instance, vol.3, p.490. For more details on the marginalia of Ibn al-‘Ajamī, see: vol.1, pp.21-25, 109-113.

[15] Ibid., pp.5-16.

[16] Ibid., vol.1, p.7.

[17] Ibid., vol.1, p.5.

[18] Ibid., vol.4, p.47. Also see: vol.5, p.541.

[19] Ibid., vol.2, p.469. Also, see: vol.3, p.350.

[20] In his book Ma‘rifat Madār al-Isnād, Shaykh Mujīr al-Khatīb criticizes the ‘dry’ style of modern academic writing which “breaks the link between the author and the reader.” See: al-Hasanī, Ma‘rifat Madār al-Isnād, vol1, p.18.

[21] See, for instance, vol.2, p.466; vol.3, p.283; vol.4, p.380.

[22] See, for instance, vol.2, p.245; vol.4, p.252; vol.5, p.57, 85.

[23] See, for instance, vol.3, p.245; vol.4, pp.184, 207, 504; vol.5, p.407, 646.

[24] See, for instance, vol.3, pp.261, 503; vol.4, pp.176-177. A heart touching example of this style of writing is: vol.3, p.350.

[25] Ibid., vol.2, p.467. Also see: vol.3, p.245.

[26] See, for instance, vol.3, pp.342, 507.

[27] Ibid., vol.2, pp.80-81.

[28] Ibid., vol.2, pp.489. In Ma’ālim Irshādiyyah (p.322), Shaykh ‘Awwāmah dedicates a section to the importance of correcting common grammatical mistakes with which people have become accustomed.

[29] See, for instance: vol.2, p.364; vol.3, p.340; vol.4, p.172; vol.5, p.328, (344).

[30] Ibid., vol.3, pp.260.

[31] Ibid., vol.3, p.41.

[32] Ibid., vol.4, p.182.

[33] Ibid., vol.2, p.262. The text Taqrīb al-Asānīd was written by Zayn al-Dīn al-‘Irāqī (d. 806 AH), who then began working on a commentary on it entitled Tarh al-Tathrīb, but passed away after completing only part of it. Thereafter, his son Walī al-Dīn al-‘Irāqī (d. 826 AH) finished the project. Shaykh ‘Awwāmah expresses astonishment how educational institutions can choose Nayl al-Awtār of al-Shawkānī (d. 1250 AH) as part of their syllabus for the subject of hadiths on legal injunction and ignore such a valuable book as Tarh al-Tathrīb. See: ibid. It should be noted there is now a new edition of the book published by Dār al-Badr/Shuruq.

[34] Ibid., vol.5 p.7. He mentions that this book is perhaps the first to be written on the genre of commonly quoted hadiths (al-ahādīth al-mushtahirah).

[35] Ibid., vol.3, p.328. Also see: vol.3, pp.412, 469; vol.4, p.421; vol.5, p.44.

[36] ‘Awwāmah, Dirāsāt al-Kāshif, p.8.

[37] Shaykh ‘Awwāmah explains that the science of Hadith dirāyatan went on a decline after the era of al-Suyūtī (d. 911 AH) and al-Sakhāwī (d. 902 AH); see: vol.1, p.106. For the meaning of ‘ilm al-hadith dirāyatan, see: vol.2, pp.14-17.

[38] See: al-Sarsāwī, Tadrīb al-Rāwī, vol.1, pp.30-31[Dār Ibn al-Jawzī. 1st ed., 1431 AH].

[39] ‘Awwāmah, Tadrīb al-Rāwī, vol.3, p.471.

[40]  Ibid., vol.1, p.18.

[41] Also see: vol.2, p.465; vol.3, pp.217-218, 390, 391.

[42] Shaykh ‘Awwāmah explains that for the most part the discussion is found in the published edition of al-Nukat. But the entire piece is possibly taken from al-Nukat al-Kubrā; see: vol.2, p.226. Earlier he quotes al-Suyūtī from al-Bahr alladhī Zakhar as saying that the title of al-Nukat al-Kubrā is al-Ifsāh. See: vol.2, p.207

[43] Ibid., vol.2, pp.230-231; also see: p.85.

[44] Ibid., vol.3, p.88.

[45] Ibid., vol.3, p.247.

[46] Al-Dhahabī, Tārīkh al-Islām, vol.3, p.963.

[47] Al-Tirmidhī, al-Sunan, no. 3549.

[48] ‘Awwāmah, Tadrīb al-Rāwī, vol.3, pp.51-52.

[49] Ibid., vol.3, pp.6-8.

[50] Ibn al-Wazīr, Tanqīh al-Anżār, vol.1, p.180.

[51] Ibn al-‘Arabī, ‘Aridat al-Ahwadhī, vol.5, p.202.

[52] Also see: ‘Awwāmah, Tadrīb al-Rāwī, vol.3, pp.530-531.

[53] Ibid., vol.3, pp.8-10.

[54] Also see: vol.3, pp.454, 500; vol.4, pp.50-51; vol.5, p.283.

[55] See, for instance, vol.3, pp.248, 79; vol.4, pp.169, 353; vol.5, pp.302, 326.

[56] Ibid., vol.1, pp.6, 39. See, for instance, vol.3, pp.85, 88. Al-Bahr alladhī Zakhar is al-Suyūtī’s commentary on his own poetic rendition of Hadith terminology entitled “Nażm al-Durar fī ‘Ilm al-Athar” also known as Afiyyat al-Suyūtī. For an interesting comparison between the Alfiyyah of al-Suyūtī and the Alfiyyah of al-‘Irāqī, see: Ahmad Ma‘bad, al-Hāfiż al-‘Irāqī wa Atharuhū fī al-Sunnah, vol.2, pp.783-789 [Riyad: Adwā’ al-Salaf. 1st ed., 1425 AH].

[57] See, for instance, vol.3, pp.109, 440.

[58] ‘Awwāmah, Tadrīb al-Rāwī, vol.2, p.542.

[59] Ibid., vol.2, p.323.

[60] Ibid., vol.5, p.171. Other issues include: paraphrased transmission (al-riwāyah bil ma‘nā) [vol.4 p.445] and the hadith on the creation of the world [vol.5, p.71].

[61] Ibid., vol.3, p.525.

[62] See, for instance, vol.2, pp.51, 304, 315; vol.3, pp.62, 294, 318, 467; vol.4, p.220; vol.5, p.66, 551.

[63] Ibid., vol.3, p.52.

[64] Ibid., vol.3, p.63. He shows a practical example of this in vol.4, p.346.

[65] Ibid., vol.3, p.64.

[66] Ibid., vol.2, p.353. He shows a practical example of this in vol.3, p.495.

[67] Ibid., vol.3, pp.91, 128. Also see, vol.3, p.253.

[68] Ibid., vol.3, p.317.

[69] Ibid., vol.2, p.360.

[70] Ibid., vol.5, p.542.

[71] Ibid., vol.2, pp.384, 544; vol.5, p.551.

[72] Ibid., vol.2, pp.23-24.

[73] Ibid., vol.3, p.24.

[74] Ibid., vol.3, p.459.

[75] Ibid., vol.2, pp.141-145: cf. vol.1, p.15

[76] Ibid., vol.4, p.56; cf. vol.1, p.16/vol.2, p.139/vol.4, p.84.

[77] Ibid., vol.2, pp.383-384.

[78] See, for instance, vol.3, pp.434-435, 500; vol.5, pp.72-74. For more on the subject, see:

[79] Ibid., vol.2, p.529.

[80] Ibid., vol.2, pp.559, vol.3, p.434.

[81] Ibid.

[82] Ibid., vol.2, pp.554.

[83] Shaykh Awwamah writes, “Because for a competent seeker of knowledge—not a novice—to simply find a juristic or hadith ruling, for example, from a reliable scholar in a reliable book is sufficient for him to practice upon it. And at times it may require further research by consulting one or two more books.” Ibid., vol.2, p.559.

[84] See, for instance, vol.3, pp.330, 494; vol.5, p.329, 453.

[85] Ibid., vol.2, pp.559-560. He also spoke about this in his book Ma‘ālim Irshādiyyah, p.385.

[86] See, for instance, vol.3, p.440, 458; vol.4, p.102.

[87] Al-Khatīb, al-Jāmi‘ li Akhlāq al-Rāwī, no.1958.

[88] Ibid., vol.3, pp.104-105.

[89] Apart from the famously debated issues in Hadith terminology, he provides a range of beneficial insights on less discussed topics. See, for instance: the point in history when the study of Hadith [dirāyah] went on a decline [vol.1, p.106]; the status of the hadiths of Ahl al-‘Irāq and the developmental stages of Kūfah [vol.2, pp.248-255]; can the status of a severely weak narration elevate due to the multiplicity of its routes [vol.3 p.76]; the status of Muhammad ibn Shujā‘ al-Thaljī (d. 266 AH) [vol.3, pp.443-449]; the possible origins for the scholars of India using the term “al-Sihāh al-Sittah” [vol.3, p.34]; the definition of al-‘adl according to the Hanafīs (Ahl al-‘Irāq) [vol.4, pp.6-11]; the position of the Hanafīs vis-a-vis the majhūl transmitter [vol.4, pp.84-90]; on studying philosophy, logic, and ‘Ilm al-Kalām [vol.4, pp.131-136]; on the supposed blunder of ‘Uthmān ibn Abī Shaybah (d. 239 AH), the teacher of al-Bukhārī and Muslim, when reading the opening verse of sūrat al-fīl [vol.5, pp.111-113]; and a discussion on the Companion, al-Walīd ibn ‘Uqbah (Allah be pleased with him) [vol.5, p.179-185], just to name a few.

[90] He writes, “Imām al-Bayhaqī has two books, each of which are known as al-Madkhal. The larger one is “al-Madkhal ilā ‘Ilm al-Sunan,” part of which has been printed. I will publish it completely soon with the help of Allah.” See: vol.5, p.539; cf. vol.4, p.134. Earlier, he clarifies that the book has been published with the incorrect title “al-Madkhal ilā al-Sunan al-Kubrā;” see: vol.2, p.17.

[91] See: vol.3, p.287. He had already worked on the al-Majlis al-‘Ilmī edition of Nasb al-Rāyah by comparing it with two manuscripts. He appears to be working on the book as a new project. He writes, “It is not found in the old print nor in the manuscripts I relied upon while critically editing Nasb al-Rāyah—Allah make its completion easy with His kindness and grace.” See: vol.3, p.287.

[92] In reference to the exegetical notes on the Qur’ān by Mawlānā Mahmūd Hasan and Mawlānā Shabbīr Ahmad al-‘Uthmānī. See: al-Bannūrī, Yatīmat al-Bayān, p.25.


9 thoughts on “Sixty Years in The Making: A Closer Look at Shaykh ‘Awwāmah’s Edition of Tadrīb al-Rāwī fī Sharh Taqrīb al-Nawāwī

    m7ia said:
    April 28, 2016 at 7:00 pm

    Masha Allah. I was looking forward to this review, and it did not disappoint. Barak Allahu fikum.

    One question: doesn’t Shaykh Awwamah already have an edition of Nasb al-Rayah?

    Imran Ahmed

    al-kawthari said:
    April 28, 2016 at 9:52 pm

    Two things are missing from this review: critical remarks and whether or not Shaykh Muhd. `Awwama touches on connection between Hadith and (particularly Hanafi) Fiqh. Otherwise, an interesting review. Well done and keep it up.

      mzaman36 responded:
      April 28, 2016 at 10:19 pm

      Apart from a few minor typographical errors, I do not see myself in any position to challenge the ideas and research of Shaykh ‘Awwamah. I merely intended to highlight through this article aspects which I found beneficial and that could serve as an incentive for students to read the book.

      On the second point you raised, I mentioned in the article that Shaykh ‘Awwamah draws attention to the diffrences between the jurists and Hadith scholars in their approach to Hadith criticism. Under footnote no.89, I have alluded to a few instances where the Shaykh touches on the Hanafi methodology. The article turned out to be lengthier than I had initially planned, so that and other examples were simply noted in the footnotes.

        al-kawthari said:
        April 29, 2016 at 10:00 pm

        I overlooked that footnote. Jazakalla khayra for pointing that out.

      mzaman36 responded:
      April 28, 2016 at 11:54 pm

      Nevertheless, your input is appreciated.

    Taha Abdul-Basser said:
    April 29, 2016 at 4:37 pm

    Jazakumullahu khayran for this excellent review.

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