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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Insights on the Usage of Computer Programs to Locate and Grade Hadīth

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Insights on the Usage of Computer Programs to Locate and Grade Hadīth

By Muftī ‘Abd al-Mālik al-Kumillā’ī

[Translator’s Preface: The following is an excerpt from Muftī ‘Abd al-Mālik’s book “al-Madkhal ilā ‘Ulūm images (3) al-Hadīth al-Sharīf[1] on the use of computer programs to locate and grade hadīths. In this excerpt, Muftī ‘Abd al-Malik, seeing the abuse of these programs, sets out to clarify several misconceptions regarding them. Although the author’s contention lies mainly in the usage of computer programs to locate and grade Hadith, his insights are equally applicable to internet searches, printed books, and computer searches in other sciences as well. No doubt computer programs have immense benefit and can open many avenues when searching for hadīth, but everything needs to be put into perspective, and that is what this article hopes to achieve. An idiomatic translation was adopted to make the article more reader-friendly. – Muntasir Zaman]


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A Day in The Life of Hāfiż Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalānī

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A Day in The Life of Hāfiż Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalānī

By Shams al-Dīn al-Sakhāwī[1]

[Translator’s Preface:

The beauty of the skies lies in the stars; the beauty of the earth lies in the pious.1

The following is a description of a day in the life of the great Hadīth scholar Hāfiż Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalānī (d. 852 AH). This was documented by his close companion and student Shams al-Dīn al-Sakhāwī (d. 902 AH) who penned a multi-volume work on his teacher’s life entitled “al-Jawāhir wa al-Durar fī Tarjamat Shaykh al-Islām Ibn Hajar.” This wonderful account of Hāfiż Ibn Hajar’s life, whose title aptly translates as “Gems and Pearls,” is a recommended read for any serious student of knowledge. –Muntasir Zaman]


As for a description on how he would spend his time:

In his early days, he (Allāh have mercy upon him) would perform the Fajr prayer at Jāmi‘ al-Hākim when it was still dark. Afterwards -perhaps after becoming a judge- he began performing it at al-Madrasah al-Mankūtamuriyyah[2] when it [the sky] was bright. He would go to the Madrasah from the private quarters of his residence. When he completed his prayers, if anyone required his assistance, he would speak to them; otherwise, he would return home and engage in the morning adhkār and recitation of the Qur’ān. He would then engage in research and writing until the time of Salāt al-Duhā and then perform it [Salāt al-Duhā]. Thereafter, if there were people seeking permission to read hadith, he would attend to them. Thus, some would read with transmission and others with commentary; he would remain seated with them until shortly before the Zuhr prayer. He would then return home and rest for one-third of an hour, and perform the Zuhr prayer at his residence. Read the rest of this entry »

On the Reward of Performing Two Sajdahs after the Witr Prayer Followed by the Recitation of “Subbūh Quddūs Rabb al-Malā’ikah wa al-Rūh” and Ayāt al-Kursī

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On the Reward of Performing Two Sajdahs after the Witr Prayer Followed by the Recitation of “Subbūh Quddūs Rabb al-Malā’ikah wa al-Rūh” and Ayāt al-Kursī

By Ibrāhim ibn Muhammad al-Halabī

Translated by Muntasir Zaman

[Translator’s Preface: The following is an analysis of a hadith concerning the supposed virtue of performing two sajdahs after the Witr prayer followed by the recitation of “subbūh quddūs rabb al-malā’ikah wa al-rūh” and Ayāt al-Kursī. This narration has been cited in Yūsuf ibn ‘Umar al-Kādūrī’s (d. c.700 AH) commentary of Mukhtasar al-Qudūrī entitled Jāmi‘ al-Mudmarāt wa al-Mushkilāt more simply known as “al-Mudmarāt.” [1]It was then quoted by ‘Ālim ibn ‘Alā’ al-Andarpatī (d. 786 AH) in al-Fatāwā al-Tātarkhāniyyah.[2]

This excerpt was extracted from Ibrāhīm ibn Muhammad al-Halabī’s (d. 956 AH) work Ghunyat al-Mutamallī, a commentary on Sadīd al-Dīn al-Kāshgharī’s (d. 705 AH) primer Munyat al-Musallī wa Ghunyat al-Mubtadī.[3] In addition to being a great Hanafī jurist, Ibrāhīm al-Halabī was an expert in the sciences of Hadīth as well. Among his works in ‘Ulūm al-Hadīth, is a commentary on Alfiyyat al-Hadīth of Zayn al-Dīn al-‘Irāqī (d. 806 AH).[4]]


Ibrāhīm al-Halabī writes:[5]

As for what is mentioned in al-Tātarkhāniyyah[6] quoting al-Mudmarāt that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) told Fātimah (Allah be pleased with her):

No believing man or believing woman performs two sajdahs [after the Witr prayer][7]: he recites the following in his [first] sajdah five times: Read the rest of this entry »

Assessing the Status of Imām Abū Hanīfah According to the Methodology of the Hadīth Scholars

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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 analyzesimages (1) 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 »

Laying the Foundation: A Historical Analysis of Kūfah’s Academic Development

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Translator’s Preface

The profound influence ones environment has in shaping his personality, worldview, public-spaces-01-islamic-archesand 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.[1]

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 »

The Ruling of the Jumu‘ah Prayer on the Day of ‘Īd in Light of Textual Evidence

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Translator’s Preface

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 suchbabysharks-minority-report-al-quran1 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.[1] 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 [2]) 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. [3]

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.[4] These passages and the translator’s footnotes were placed in square brackets.

Muntasir Zaman

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