The Life and Thought of Imām Zāhid al-Kawtharī

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The Life and Thought of Imām Zāhid al-Kawtharī 

By Muntasir Zaman

 “What cosmic soul is imprisoned in that human body?” mused the learned Abū Zahrah (d. 1974) in utter admiration—indeed, “it is the soul of al-Kawtharī!” he proclaimed. [1] In recent memory, relatively few scholars have managed to synthesize expertise in, not merely acquaintance with, the vast majority of Islamic sciences. Shaykh Muhammad Zāhid al-Kawtharī (or Mehmet Zahit Kevsari) is arguably theletter-2 foremost contender for that accolade; his polymathic oeuvre leaves one hard-pressed to pinpoint his forte, [2] from the intricacies of philosophy[3] to the minutiae of Arabic grammar,[4] not to mention his undisputed command of theology,[5] Hadīth,[6] and Islamic law.[7] The ripple effect of his peerless intellectual contributions is strongly felt in Islamic seminaries throughout the world till this day.

A modest amount of literature is available on the life and thought of al-Kawtharī (henceforth Kawtharī), To add to the existing material, particularly for an English-speaking readership, the present article aims to delineate the most salient features of his scholarly career, provide a synopsis of his modus operandi vis-à-vis prophetic and non-prophetic reports, and examine the merits of two major points of contention. Relevant details on certain passages have been relegated to the footnotes for the purpose of brevity. Read the rest of this entry »


A Student’s Guide to Essential Works on Qur’ānic Exegesis

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A Student’s Guide to Essential Works on Qur’ānic Exegesis

By Mawlānā Yūsuf al-Bannūrī 

Translator’s Preface

Before you is an excerpt from “Yatīmat al-Bayān,” a forward by the critical hadith scholar Mawlānā Yūsuf al-Bannūrī (d. 1397 AH) to “Mushkilāt al-Qur’ān” which is a compilation of exegetical notes by ‘Allāmah Anwar Shāh al-Kashmīrī (d. 1352 AH). In this excerpt, Mawlānā Yūsuf al-Bannūrī begins by pointing out beneficial resources for commentary of Qur’ānic verses in works not written exclusively on the subject of Tafsīr but are nonetheless written by brilliant scholars whose works are generally filled with beneficial commentary. He then draws the attention of the reader to four primary books of Tafsīr which in his opinion “would quench the thirst of anyone who drinks from their springs.” These four are:

(1) Tafsīr al-Qur’ān al-‘Ażīm by Ibn Kathīr (d. 774 AH)images (3)

(2) Mafātīh al-Ghayb/al-Tafsīr al-Kabīr by Fakhr al-Dīn al-Rāzī (d. 606 AH)

(3) Rūh al-Ma‘ānī fī Tafsīr al-Qur’ān al-‘Ażīm wa al-Sab‘ al-Mathānī by Mahmūd al-Alūsī (d. 1270 AH)

(4) Irshād al-‘Aql al-Salīm ilā Mazāyā al-Qur’ān al-Karīm by Abū al-Su‘ūd (d. 951 AH)

He further adds four more works: two as a replacement for those who are too busy to consult the first four books, and two for those who are interested in particular commentary, identifying in the process certain weaknesses found in them. Finally, he suggests a Tafsīr written in Urdu for those who are more comfortable with reading in that language; but he reassures the reader that there isn’t an Arabic Tafsīr that can replace it.

The entire forward, published in nearly 140 pages, serves as a beneficial introduction for students interested in an in-depth study of Qur’ānic exegeses and related disciplines. Mawlānā Yūsuf al-Bannūrī eloquently discusses issues like reason-based exegesis (al-tafsīr bī al-ra’y) and the nature of the Qur’ān’s inimitability (i‘jāz al-Qur’ān), constantly citing notes and research from his teacher Allāmah Anwar Shāh al-Kashmīrī. May Allah accept their efforts. To make this article more reader-friendly, an idiomatic translation was adopted in many places.

Muntasir Zaman

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Book Review: “An Introduction to the Disciplines of the Noble Hadīth” by Mufti Abdul Mālik al-Kumillā’ī

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Book Review: “An Introduction to the Disciplines of the Noble Hadīth” 

Author: Mufti Abdul Mālik al-Kumillā’ī

By Muntasir Zamān

Being the second source of Islāmic law, the blessed hadīths of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) hold a lofty position in images (1)the hearts of Muslims. The science of hadīth is extremely vast and requires strenuous effort to familiarize oneself with even its basic concepts.

Students of dīn are generally interested in gaining some acquaintance with the various genres of hadīth literature, and to learn how to search for a hadīth in the relevant works. In earlier times, this was a talent naturally acquired in the course of a scholar’s general studies and was not in need of any separate study or specialist course. However, due to the infrequent usage of such works, the general condition nowadays is that very few are able to navigate through the hadīth literature and locate a hadīth in the relevant compilations and, perhaps more importantly, find the correct ruling of the hadīth in terms of its authenticity or inauthenticity from the experts of the science.

Many books have been written as an introduction and basic guide for beginners to learn how and where to search for hadīths, and the methods used to analyze their strength. Examples of such books are:

  • Usūl al-Takhrīj wa Dirāsat al-Asānīd by Dr. Mahmūd al-Tahhān,
  • Takhrīj al-Hadīth al-Sharīf[1] by Dr. Nā’if Biqā‘ī, and
  • Kayfa Nadrus ‘Ilm al-Takhrīj by Shaykh Hamzah al-Malibārī and Dr. al-‘Akā’ilah, among other books.

However, one of the most beneficial and comprehensive books is al-Madkhal ilā ‘Ulūm al-Hadīth al-Sharīf (An Introduction to the Disciplines of the Noble Hadīth) of Mufti Abdul Mālik.

In this short review of his book, we will briefly discuss the background and academic qualifications of the author, followed by a summary of the book. We have also provided a digital copy for the benefit of readers. It is necessary to point out that by merely reading several books of this nature, one does not become an expert hadīth scholar. Rather, he must stay in the company of the experts of the field and invest long hours burying himself in the books.

Click here for Pdf copy of al-Madkhal ila Ulum al-Hadith al-Sharif

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An Overview of Aspects Pertaining to Salāt al-Tarāwīh

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Translator’s Preface

With the month of Ramadān drawing near, both students and scholars have begun their preparationramadan-kareem-wallpaper-cards by reading books and revising discussions that relate to the blessed month, such as the laws of fasting and Salāt al-Tarāwih. Although countless books are available on the subject of Salāt al-Tarāwih, English readers have asked for a treatise in English that adequately covers the major aspects with their supporting evidences. To address this request, we have translated the chapter on Tarāwīh from the monumental work I’lā’ al-Sunan of Mawlana Zafar Ahmad al-‘Uthmānī. This comprehensive chapter deals with relevant discussions rarely found in other books, such as the proofs for making one complete recital of the Qur’ān in the Tarāwīh prayer. To make the article more reader-friendly, an idiomatic translation was adopted in several places and subtitles were added.

Muntasir Zaman

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Arabic-Chronological Order of Major Hanafi Jurists

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جَدوَل لأسماء أعلام الفقهاء الحنفية ومواليدهم ووفياتهم مع ذكر بعض مؤلفاتهم

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

لا يشك من له أدني إلمام بالعلم أن معرفة مواليد ووفيات الأعلام لها أهمية خاصة للباحث، وهذا لأسباب عديدة. منها أنها تعين الباحث على تعيين المراد باسم علم أو عنوان كتاب، newوتحفظه من الأخطاء البينة من هذا القبيل. فإنه قد يتفق أن لكتابين عنوانا واحدا أو لعلمين اسما واحدا – مما يكون سببا للإختلاط على المبتدئ – مع أن الكتابين ألّفا في عصرين مختلفين أو العلمين ولدا في زمنين مختلفين، وهذا يحمل الباحث على إدراك الصواب في تعيين المراد بذلك الإسم أو العلم. فابن عابدين – مثلا – إذا نقل عبارة في مسألة من مسائل المناسك وعقبه بقوله “كما في اللباب” فالظاهر أن النقل من “لباب المناسك” لرحمة الله السندي دون “اللباب في شرح الكتاب” لتلميذه عبد الغني الغنيمي.

نظرا لهذه الأهمية أعددت هذا الجَدوَل لأسماء الفقهاء الحنفية، مبتدأ بإمام المذهب ومنتهيا بفقهاء هذا القرن، وذكرت مواليدهم ووفياتهم مع بعض مؤلفاتهم، ليتيسر لطلبة العلم حفظها والرجوع اليها عند الحاجة. اقتصرت فيه على الأعلام المشهورين تحرزا عن الإطالة وتيسيرا للطلبة، وأعرضت عن ذكر الأعلام الحنفية الذين اشتهروا في غير موضوع الفقه الحنفي. حاولت قدر المستطاع أن أعيّن مولد ووفاة كل علم مذكور في الجدول، وفيما لم أظفر على المولد اكتفيت بذكر الوفاة فقط وحينئذ قدمت عليها رمز “ت”-أي توفي. وكذا إذا لم أظفر على تعيينهما بالضبط اكتفيت بالتاريخ التقريبي مع الإشارة اليه برمز “ح” للحدود -أي في حدود سنة كذا. وزدت كلمة “قبل” أو “بعد” إذا كان من المعلوم أن وفاته قبل التاريخ المذكور أو بعده. وإذا كان في تعيين التاريخ اختلاف ربما أشرت إليه في الجَدوَل أو في الهامش. وإنما ذكرت بعض مؤلفاتهم مع العلم بأنه قد يكون لهم مؤلفات اُخرى.

ولا ينسى أن هذه العجالة موضوعة لإفادة من يحتاج إلى معرفة هذه الأسماء والتواريخ على وجه الاختصار. أما من يطلب التفصيل فليراجع كتب التراجم المناسبة مثل تاريخ بغداد للخطيب، الجواهر  المضية للقرشي، تاج التراجم لقاسم بن قطلوبغا، الفوائد البهية للكهنوي، الأعلام للزركلي وغير ذلك من المراجع.

ولا بد لي أن أشكر كل من ساعدني في إعداد هذا الجدول ولا سيما أستاذي الجليل المفتي حسين كادوديا و أخي في الله مولانا زميل الرحمن

لو شعر القارئ الكريم أن هذا الجَدوَل يحتاج الي ترميم في موضع من المواضع، أو وجد فيه خطأ من أي وجهٍ، فالرجاء منه أن ينبه عليه – والكمال لله

منتصر الزمان

Click here to download the Arabic Fuqaha List

 Click here for English chart

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Chronological List of Prominent Hanafi Jurists-English

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Chronological List of Prominent Hanafi Jurists

The importance of knowing the dates of birth/death of the scholars cannot be stressed enough. For one, it savesnice4 a researcher from obvious blunders and inaccurate referencing. Many a times, several scholars or books share the same name but are from entirely different eras. Thus, when a scholar like Ibn ‘Ābidīn quotes “al-Lubāb,” for example, it is obvious that he is referring to a book other than that of his student, ‘Abd al-Ghanī al-Ghunaymī.

The following is a chart of the names, birth/death dates, and works of major Hanafī jurists, starting from the Imām of the Madhhab until the jurists of the present century. In this chart, we have sufficed on the relatively prominent jurists, as otherwise, there would be no end to the list. Many other Hanafī scholars could have been added, but were omitted due to their prominence in fields besides Fiqh. Wherever possible, both the dates of birth and death were mentioned. Otherwise, only the date of death is mentioned, preceded by the abbreviation, “d.” When an approximate date is mentioned, it is preceded by “ca.” (circa). The abbreviation “p.” means “post.”

It should be noted that the purpose of this chart is to serve as an easy reference for those searching for the names and birth/death dates of major Hanafī jurists. Those who are interested in detailed biographical entries of these jurists should refer to the relevant works, such as Tarīkh Baghdād of al-Khatīb al-Baghdādī, al-Jawāhir al-Mudiyyah of al-Qurashī, Tāj al-Tarājim of Qāsim ibn Qutlūbughā, al-Fawā’id al-Bahiyyah of al-Laknawī, and al-A‘lām of al-Ziriklī etc. The references for each entry alongside additional information is provided in the Arabic chart.

I would like to extend my gratitude to all those who have assisted me in compiling this list, in particular my beloved teacher Mufti Husain Kadodia and my fellow colleague Mufti Zameelur Rahman.

Readers are requested to notify the compiler of any errors or necessary changes.


Muntasir Zaman


Click here to download the English list of Hanafi jurists

Click here for Arabic chart

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A Diamond Among Rocks: Nisāb Al-Ihtisāb (The Manual of Al-Ihtisāb)

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A Diamond Among Rocks: Nisāb Al-Ihtisāb  (The Manual of Al-Ihtisāb)

Among the many contributions of Islām which Muslims have rightfully boasted of through the ages has undoubtedly been its contribution inSONY DSC the line of academia. The very first revelation to the Messenger of Allāh (peace and blessings be upon him) bears first hand testimony to this fact. From the intricacies of language to the subtleties of the spiritual heart, Muslim scholars have left no stone unturned in their contribution to humanity in general, and to the Muslim community in particular. One subject, seldom discussed, yet has played an important role in the smooth regulation of the affairs of Muslims for centuries is al-Ihtisāb, or “enforcing public good and preventing public wrong.”

The topic of al-Ihtisāb has received much attention from scholars throughout the centuriesSome scholars have incorporated the subject of al-Ihtisāb into their more general works on Fiqh, such as Abu ‘l-Hasan ‘Alī al-Māwardī [d. 450 AH] in his al-Ahkām al-Sultāniyya, and al-Qādī Abū Ya‘lā [d. 458 AH] in a book with a similar title. Other scholars have authored independent treatises and works on the subject of al-Ihtisāb, such as Ahkām al-Sūq of Yahyā ibn ’Umar al-Andalūsī [d. 289 AH], which is one of the earlier works on the topic to have reached us, Nihāyat al-Rutbah fī Talab al-Hisbah of Jalāl al-Dīn al-Shīzarī [d. 589 AH], and Ma’ālim al-Qirbah fī Ahkām al-Hisbah of Muhammad ibn Muhammad al-Qurashī [d. 729 AH].

One work in particular that we wish to discuss in this brief article is Nisāb al-Ihtisāb of ‘Umar ibn Muhammad al-Sunnāmī [d. ca. 725 AH]. The manual is an indispensable masterpiece for every Hanafī scholar, in particular Hanafī Muftīs. One can gauge the value of the book by the countless material exclusively found therein. In addition, it is the first and perhaps the only available Hanafī manual written on the topic. Unfortunately, since the value of the book is often not realized, it is abandoned in a heap of unused books, thus making it a diamond among rocks.

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