A Study of Imām Muḥammad al-Shaybānī’s al-Ḥujjah ʿalā Ahl al-Madīnah
By Dr. Nājī Lamīn
Translated by Muntasir Zaman
[Translator’s note: the following excerpt explores the legal theory of Imām Muḥammad ibn al-Ḥasan al-Shaybānī (d. 189 AH), a pioneer of the Ḥanafī school and leading acolyte of its eponym, in light of his landmark polemic against the Medinese, al-Ḥujjah ʿalā Ahl al-Madīnah. Given its direct link with Imām Mālik and its subsequent impression upon the writings of Imām al-Shāfiʿī, the Ḥujjah is an invaluable source for inter-madhhab scholarship. That the four legal schools are closely affiliated in both their fundamental and peripheral laws requires no introduction. Shaykh Zāhid al-Kawtharī notes that these schools, who in their services towards the faith are akin to a family, converge on three-fourths of legal rulings. Al-Shaybānī’s seminal role in bridging the major legal schools makes his works a fruitful starting point in understanding the development of, and academic exchange between, the most prominent legal schools. Furthermore, a study of the works of jurists during the formative period of Islam is essential to appreciate the legal thought and methodology that serve as the bedrock of later Islamic jurisprudence.
This excerpt forms part of a larger investigation by the author, a senior professor at Dār al-Ḥadīth al-Ḥasaniyyah in Rabat, Morocco, into early scholastic exchanges between luminaries like Imāms Mālik, al-Layth ibn Saʿd, al-Shaybānī, and al-Shāfiʿī (Allah have mercy on their souls). Dr. Nājī Lamīn’s book entitled “Mā bayn Mālik wa al-Layth wa Muḥammad ibn al-Ḥasan al-Shaybānī” is a must read for every serious student of Islamic law. Liberties have been taken in translation and passages have been abbreviated to allow for an easier read.] Read the rest of this entry »
A Historical Overview of Islāmic Legal Maxims
By Shaykh Muṣṭafā al-Zarqā
Translated by Muntasir Zaman
Unlike conventional legal texts, Islamic legal maxims were not formulated at once. The conceptual underpinnings of these maxims and their definitions developed gradually when jurisprudence blossomed at the hands of leading jurists from the rank of derivative opinion-making (takhrīj) and rule-determination (tarjīḥ) as deduced from the indications of general legislative scriptural texts, the fundamentals of legal theory, the ratio legis of laws, and established rational premises.
Not every legal maxim was given a specific form by classical jurists except for those that were based on prophetic ḥadīths, e.g. lā ḍarar wa lā ḍirār (no harm shall be inflicted or reciprocated), or statements related from scholars of the legal schools and their senior acolytes that later functioned as legal maxims, e.g. the statement of Abū Yūsuf in al-Kharāj, “The ruler is not entitled to remove ownership of a thing from an individual unless it is due to an established, recognized right.” The majority of legal maxims, however, have taken their final form through scholarly usage, refinement, and modification in the areas of explication (taʿlīl) and deduction (istidlāl). The explication of ijtihād-based legal injunctions and the modes of analogical deduction have served as major resources in shaping these maxims after the establishment of the major schools of law and the efforts of their leading partisans in refining and organizing their principles and evidence. Read the rest of this entry »
The Life and Works of the Hanafī Jurist and Hadīth Scholar Qāsim ibn Qutlūbughā
By Shaykh Muhammad ‘Awwāmah
Translated by Muntasir Zaman
His name is Zayn al-Dīn Abū al-‘Adl Qāsim ibn Qutlūbughā al-Jamālī al-Hanafī, better known as ‘Allāmah Qāsim. He was born in Cairo in 802 AH where he lived until his demise in Rabī‘ al-Ākhir 879 AH. Growing up as an orphan, he began his studies at a tender age and would occupy himself with tailoring, but eventually focused on acquiring knowledge – after exerting himself therein, he shone and showed brilliance. He began his literary career early, authoring his first book at the age of 18 on inheritance. From a galaxy of teachers, his most prominent teacher in Hadīth was Hāfiẓ Ibn Hajar and in Fiqh and legal theory Sirāj al-Dīn Qāri’ al-Hidāyah and al-Kamāl Ibn al-Humām. His student Hāfiẓ al-Sakhāwī said:
His dedication increased by frequenting the company of Ibn al-Humām. From 825 AH to Ibn al-Humām’s demise in 861 AH, he studied every book that was taught in his circle and learnt the most from him. The books he studied include the first quarter of his commentary on al-Hidāyah, part of Tawdīh of Sadr al-Sharī‘ah, and the entire al-Musāyarah (of Ibn al-Humām). […] He also studied books of Arabic literature and poetry, memorizing a significant portion thereof.
His teachers respected him due to his academic excellence. For instance, Hāfiẓ Ibn Hajar authored al-Īthār bi Ma‘rifat Rijāl al-Āthār upon his request to compile a book on the transmitters in Imām Muhammad’s Kitāb al-Āthār. He then – at the age of 33 – studied it under Ibn Hajar, who authorized and described him as, “The eminent Shaykh, the qualified and unique Hadīth scholar. He contributed [to the class] and shared his observations on several places that were noted down and further illuminated the book.” Later on in another occasion, he described him as “The authority, the learned, the Hadīth scholar, the jurist, and the prolific memorizer.” Bear in mind that the one conferring these accolades is Hāfiẓ Ibn Hajar, who requires no introduction. Al-Sakhāwī said: Read the rest of this entry »
On the Study of Comparative Fiqh (al-Fiqh al-Muqāran)
By Dr. Salāh Abū al-Hājj
Translated by Muntasir Zaman
[The following is an abridged translation of Dr. Salāh Abū al-Hājj’s discussion on comparative Fiqh. The author describes three methods of studying the differences of the jurists. The third method, better known as comparative Fiqh, is a modern concept that traces its origins to the 20th century Egyptian scholar Ahmad Ibrāhīm. Although the study of scholarly differences is integral to comprehension of Fiqh, the author concludes, its study should be undertaken only after developing proficiency in knowledge; a premature exposure to scholarly differences can leave a novice confused. For the purpose of brevity, only relevant parts were translated. For the entire discussion, see Abū al-Hājj, al-Madkhal al-Mufassal ilā al-Fiqh al-Hanafī, pp.435-42]
There are three distinct disciplines: (1) Fiqh al-Ikhtilāf; (2) ‘Ilm al-Khilāf; and (3) al-Fiqh al-Muqāran.
Fiqh al-Ikhtilāf is a study of the opinions of the jurists with or without an expose of their respective evidences and answers to opposing views. The primary objective here is the differences of the jurists. General Fiqh texts only tangentially mention opposing views to underpin the strength of the preferred view whereas books of Ikhtilāf are written with the purpose of presenting the differences of the jurists whether the author only mentions their opinions or supports the evidence of the preferred view of his madhhab. This discipline traces its origins to the beginning of Fiqh itself; it is part of the study of Fiqh and without it Fiqh is not firmly established. In the 2nd century, scholars compiled Hadīth collections on the reports and differences of the Companions and Successors on legal issues; the discipline further evolved during the era of the mujtahid scholars where they began citing legal issues alongside the disagreements therein. Read the rest of this entry »
Assessing the Status of Imām Abū Hanīfah According to the Methodology of the Hadīth Scholars
By Shaykh Shākir Fayyād
With comments by Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattāh Abū Ghuddah
[Translator’s Preface: the following is a summary by Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattāh Abū Ghuddah of a book which analyzes the allegation of weak memory leveled against Imām Abū Hanīfah. In this study, the author uses the methodology of the Hadīth scholars themselves, some of whom are reported to have made the above claim against the Imām. This article was translated from Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattāh’s footnotes on Mabādī ‘Ilm al-Hadīth wa Usūluhū of Mawlānā Shabbīr Ahmad al-‘Uthmānī (pp.237-240) – Muntasir Zaman]
More than twenty years ago, I came across an important and lengthy treatise entitled “Abū Hanīfah bayn al-Jarh wa al-Ta‘dīl” by Ustādh Shākir Dhīb Fayyād from Jordan who at the time was a student at King Abdulazīz University. This treatise was a Master’s dissertation in the aforementioned university under the supervision of Shaykh Muhammad al-Sādiq ‘Arjūn (Allah have mercy upon him) in the year 1396 AH.
The author writes in the introduction: Read the rest of this entry »
The profound influence ones environment has in shaping his personality, worldview, and knowledge is a universally accepted fact. It is as the age-old proverb goes, “Tell me the company you keep, and I will tell you who you are.” As such, to appreciate the early Muslim scholars of ‘Irāq, in particular those of Kūfah, it is of paramount importance to understand the academic status of their hometown and those who helped shape it. The following is an excerpt from the book Fiqh Ahl al-‘Irāq which explains the stages the city of Kūfah went through until it developed into an unparalleled city of knowledge, from its inception when ‘Umar dispatched ‘Abd Allāh ibn Mas‘ūd (Allāh be pleased with them) until the era of Imām Abū Hanīfah.
The author commences by highlighting the lofty rank and vast knowledge of Kūfah’s first mentor, ‘Abd Allāh ibn Mas‘ūd (Allāh be pleased with him). Thereafter, he speaks about the shift of the khilāfah in the era of ‘Alī (Allah be pleased with him) from Madīnah to Kūfah which increased the amount of Companions and scholars who travelled and took residence there. From among the Companions, one-thousand five hundred took residence in Kūfah, apart from those who spent time and taught there. Further, he enumerates the names of prominent students of ‘Alī and Ibn Mas‘ūd, such as Qādī Shurayh, Abīdah al-Salmānī, and ‘Alqamah who were leading authorities of their time. He then discusses the status of Ibrāhīm al-Nakha’ī and his student Hammād ibn Abī Sulaymān, who was the teacher of Imām Abū Hanīfah. By this, he establishes the chain of knowledge from the Companions until Imām Abū Hanīfah. He concludes with a few incidents on the excellence of Kūfah in the sciences of Hadīth, Fiqh, Arabic, and Qirā’ah.
An idiomatic translation was adopted and subtitles were added in many places to make the article more reader friendly. The footnotes of Shaykh ‘Abd al-Fattāh Abū Ghuddah and Mawlānā Yūsuf Banūrī were selectively added and notified; for the sake of brevity, these were often abridged. An attempt was made by the translator to reference all the quotations and necessary passages. These references alongside other footnotes from the translator were placed in square brackets.
Muntasir Zaman Read the rest of this entry »
As the day of ‘Īd draws near, the exuberance and joy of Muslims becomes increasingly manifest. After devoting an entire month to fasting, worshiping, and other religious obligations, a believer embraces the joyous occasion of ‘Īd al-Fitr spiritually uplifted and reformed. It is with immense grief, however, that during such blessed days we witness reoccurring episodes of futile quarreling in many Masjids, thus stripping the atmosphere of the unity greatly needed in our times. What makes the matter more disheartening is that these arguments too often ensue regarding issues wherein there exists a legitimate scope for differences in Islāmic jurisprudence. A common example, which by now has become somewhat of a cliché, is the issue of moon-sighting, or more sardonically put, “moon-fighting.”
With the possibility of ‘Īd al-Fitr happening this year on the blessed day of Jumu‘ah, there comes along an important question in respect to Islāmic jurisprudence: will a person be absolved from performing the Jumu‘ah prayer due to performing the ‘Īd prayer? As was witnessed on numerous occasions, issues of such a nature serve as a pretext for the unlearned to quarrel and exhibit their intolerance and ignorance.
The excerpt before you is a section from I‘lā al-Sunan of the great Hadīth scholar Mawlānā Zafar Ahmad al-‘Uthmānī pertaining to the issue at hand. The author discusses the various evidences on the subject while cogently substantiating the view of the majority (that is, the view of three of the four schools of Islāmic law and even the view of the Literalist school ) that one is not exempted from performing the Jumu‘ah prayer by virtue of performing the ‘Īd prayer. Nevertheless, according to Imām Ahmad, one will be exempted and therefore the matter will stand as expressed by ‘Allāmah Zāhid al-Kawtharī:
Thus, the follower of evidence is not allowed to depart from restricting the dispensation (of not praying Jumu‘ah due to the ‘Īd prayer) to the people of the village… However, a Hanbalī muqallid is excused for following what is documented in the books of his madhhab, even though the issue may be weak in terms of evidence, as is the ruling for anyone who adheres to the followed Imāms. 
In order to make the article more reader friendly, an idiomatic translation was adopted in several places. Select passages from an article on the subject by ‘Allāmah Zāhid al-Kawtharī were added in the footnotes. These passages and the translator’s footnotes were placed in square brackets.