Studies in Hadith and Islamic Law

On the Statement “Acquire Knowledge from the Cradle to the Grave”

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On the Statement “Acquire Knowledge from the Cradle to the Grave” By Shaykh ʿAbd al-Fattāḥ Abū Ghuddah [Translator’s note: The purpose of translating this short excerpt is not only to highlight the status of the report in question. Shaykh ʿAbd al-Fattāḥ’s treatment of this report can be extended to other reports that may have a sound meaning but are not correctly transmitted from the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).] The phrase “The acquisition of knowledge is from the cradle to the grave” also quoted as “Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave” is not a Prophetic ḥadīth. It is, therefore, not permissible to attribute it to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) as many people are accustomed to doing. Only the action, statement, or tacit approval of the Prophet (peace...

A Historical Overview of Islāmic Legal Maxims

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A Historical Overview of Islāmic Legal Maxims By Shaykh Muṣṭafā al-Zarqā Translated by Muntasir Zaman[1] 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...

On the Retention of the Companions

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On the Retention of the Companions By Muntasir Zaman To evaluate the reliability of a narrator, Ḥadīth scholars examined two integral characteristics: probity (ʿadālah) and retention (ḍabṭ).[1] After studying the probity of the Companions (Allah be pleased with them), a person is left with the following question: companionship with the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) does not enhance one’s memory,[2] so even if it is accepted that the Companions were upright, how sure are we that they adequately retained ḥadīths before transmitting them? In other words, did they meet the required standards of memory to transmit ḥadīths? The following explanation does not preclude the fact that they occasionally forgot or erred. It aims to shed light on factors that allowed them to satisfactorily...

The Life and Works of al-Kamāl Ibn al-Humām

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The Life and Works of al-Kamāl Ibn al-Humām By Shaykh Muḥammad ʿAwwāmah Translated by Muntasir Zaman [The following excerpt is an abridged translation of the biography of Ibn al-Humām, the 9th century Ḥanafī legal theorist and jurist, whose erudition was acknowledged in countless fields like language, law, and Ḥadīth. For the entire piece, see Shaykh ʿAwwāmah, Dirāsah Ḥadīthiyyah Muqāranah, pp.221-37] Introduction His name was Kamāl al-Dīn Muḥammad ibn Humām al-Dīn ʿAbd al-Wāḥid, better known as al-Kamāl ibn al-Humām. His ancestry was from [the Turkish province of] Sivas, but he was born in Alexandria and grew up and passed away in Cairo. His student al-Sakhāwī writes, “He was possibly born in the year 790 AH, as I have read from his own writing.”[1] He hailed from a family of knowledge...

The Preservation of the Ḥadīth Literature

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The Preservation of the Ḥadīth Literature By Muntasir Zaman “Marks of ink on one’s mouth and clothes are emblems of honor.”[1] – Ibrāhīm al-Nakha‘ī Introduction How has the Islamic civilization maintained the rich literary heritage of Ḥadīth developed by early Muslim scholars? What guarantee is there that the collections of ḥadīths in our possession have reached us accurately or that they were compiled by their purported authors? Far from being exhaustive, this article intends to provide answers to these questions. It begins by examining the procedures scholars instituted to ensure accurate transmission of Ḥadīth books. It then proceeds to study the practice of oral/aural transmission (samā‘) and public reading sessions and their influence in preserving the Ḥadīth literature...

The Life and Works of the Hanafī Jurist and Hadīth Scholar Qāsim ibn Qutlūbughā

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The Life and Works of the Hanafī Jurist and Hadīth Scholar Qāsim ibn Qutlūbughā By Shaykh Muhammad ‘Awwāmah Translated by Muntasir Zaman Introduction 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...

On the Study of Comparative Fiqh (al-Fiqh al-Muqāran)

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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...

Guidelines on Evaluating Historical Reports

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Guidelines on Evaluating Historical Reports By Shaykh Sharīf Hātim al-‘Awnī Translated by Muntasir Zaman [Translator’s preface: The following paper outlines an approach to evaluating the authenticity of historical reports. The author begins by emphasizing the merits of the Hadīth methodology, but makes sure to point out that not every science is obliged to adopt such a rigorous method. Drawing on statements from Hadīth experts like Ibn al-Mubarak and al-Khatīb al-Baghdādī, he proves that Hadīth scholars themselves were nuanced in their treatment of non-prophetic reports. After a lengthy preamble, he presents a maxim that can be applied to such reports: every report that, directly or indirectly, forms the basis of a religious ruling will be accepted only through the rigorous methods of the...

The Life and Works of Hāfiẓ al-Zayla‘ī, Author of Nasb al-Rāyah

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The Life and Works of Hāfiẓ al-Zayla‘ī, Author of Nasb al-Rāyah By Shaykh Muhammad ‘Awwāmah Translated by Muntasir Zaman Name and lineage He is the Imām, prolific Hadith memorizer, and authority, Jamāl al-Dīn Abū Muhammad ‘Abd Allāh ibn Yūsuf ibn Yūnus Ibn Muhammad al-Zayla‘ī[1] al-Hanafī, one of the leading Hadīth experts of the 8th century, which brimmed with experts of Hadīth who revived the path of the earlier scholars vis-à-vis memorization, scope, and analytics. Biographers disagree on his name and his father’s name: is it ‘Abd Allāh ibn Yūsuf or Yūsuf ibn ‘Abd Allāh? The first opinion is more preferred, and Allāh knows best.[2] Birth Biographers have not specified the year of his birth, and neither have I come across any information to specify it either, but it is, nonetheless...

Distinctive Traits of the Islamic System of Inheritance

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Distinctive Traits of the Islamic System of Inheritance By Mufti Taqi Uthmani Translated by Muntasir Zaman Islamic law has put in place a fair and wise system of inheritance. The Qur’an and Sunnah have meticulously elucidated the subject without leaving it to human reasoning, which is unable to fully grasp the profound wisdom only encompassed by Allah Most High. We, therefore, find that the Islamic laws of inheritance part ways with other religions and legal systems from many angles. These distinctive traits are encapsulated in the following principles laid down by the Shari’ah. 1. All assets of the deceased form part of the inheritance The first principle in the Islamic system of inheritance is that all assets left by the deceased are inheritable be they of personal use, such as clothes...

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