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.

Overview

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. Read the rest of this entry »

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Give It a Second Thought: Guidelines on How to Approach Seemingly Problematic Hadīth

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Give It a Second Thought: Guidelines on How to Approach Seemingly Problematic Hadīth

By Muntasir Zaman

“The example of the intellect is sight free of defects and illnesses, and the example of the Qur’ān is the sun with rays spread-out. Hence, the seeker of guidance that dispenses with one of them in lieu of the other is most fit to be included in the deluge of fools. The one turning away from the intellect, sufficing with the light of the Qur’ān, his example is one exposed to the light of the sun, while closing the eyelids, so there is no difference between him and the blind. Thus, the intellect with the sharī‘ah is light upon light. The onlooker with an eye blind to one of them specifically is drawn in by a deceptive rope.”

– Imām al-Ghazālī (d. 505 AH) [1]

In numerous places, the Qur’ān calls on man to use his intellect and to contemplate over the perfection of Allah’s creation. Allah says, “We have certainly sent down to you a Book in which is your mention. Then will you not reason?”[2] In other verses, the Qur’ān reprimands those who do not use their reasoning, such as, “But those who disbelieve invent falsehood about Allah, and most of them do not reason.”[3] Therefore, there exists no incongruity between reason and revelation; rather, reason leads one to appreciate and understand revelation.[4] But it should be ensured that the reasoning is sound and the revelation is authentic.[5]

From the formative period of Islamic history, scholars have written books to address apparently contradictory hadīths, a field known as Mukhtalif al-Hadīth,[6] and hadīths that seem to imagesconflict with other evidences or external realities, a field known as Mushkil al-Hadīth.[7] In this regard, Muhammad ibn Idrīs al-Shāfi’ī (d. 204 AH) authored Ikhtilāf al-Hadīth,[8] regarded as one of the earliest works on the subject, Ibn Qutaybah al-Dīnawarī (d. 276 AH) authored his pioneering monograph Ta’wīl Mukhtalif al-Hadīth, Abū Ja‘far al-Tahāwī (d. 321 AH) authored his peerless compendium Sharh Mushkil al-Āthār,[9] and Abū Bakr Ibn Fūrak (d. 406 AH) authored his masterpiece Mushkil al-Hadīth wa Bayānuhū (Allah have mercy on them all). Scholars have also dealt with narrations of this nature in their Hadīth commentaries. Abū Bakr Ibn Khuzaymah (d. 311 AH), a leading authority in Hadīth, states, “I am unaware of any two authentic narrations of the Prophet that are contradictory. If anyone comes across such narrations, let him bring it to me so that I can reconcile between them.”[10]

The surge of criticism in recent times towards supposedly problematic hadīths has arisen because critics claim that these reports are absurd, unscientific, impossible, or contradictory. Many of the narrations that have been cast into the spotlight for allegedly problematic content were already discussed in detail by the greatest Islāmic minds. The difference, however, between classical Muslim scholars and modern critics is the perspective with which the two groups view the objection. Traditional scholars were not oblivious to scientific realities nor were they blind to logical fallacies. They were simply more charitable in their readings of scriptural texts whereas modern critics are not willing to do so.[11]

It will be beneficial to keep a few broad guidelines in mind when dealing with narrations of this nature. By no means are these guidelines meant to be exhaustive. But keeping them in mind can help to provide a more charitable reading of hadiths that may appear problematic. 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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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 »