Category Archives: History

Major Arabic Sources for the Study of History and Biography

History is seen by many social scientists as the king of the branches of learning due to the number of sciences upon which it draws. The following are the major references for studying Islamic history and biography. It is important to know the strengths and weaknesses of each work, as well as objectivity. Generally, each work is best suited to describing contemporary events and personalities going back a century or so.

150. Ibn Ishaq of al-Madinah and later Baghdad (major source for Ibn Hisham)

207. al-Waqidi of al-Madinah: al-Tarikh wa al-Maghazi and Futuh al-Sham (covering the Prophetic battles and the early Islamic conquests, though his hadiths are almost universally rejected)

213. Ibn Hisham of Basra and later Egypt (the main source for Sirah – refined from Sirat Ibn Ishaq, whereby he removes much of the Isra’iliyat and adds some details in language and lineage. It thus gained the pleasure of the majority of scholars as no author after Ibn Hisham is free from depending on him. The truth is that the general picture one gains approaches pretty much what is related in the sound narrations, as stated by Shaykh Akram al-‘Umari)

230. Ibn Sa’d of Baghdad, the scribe of al-Waqidi: al-Tabaqat al-Kubra (highly regarded biographies of the Companions and early generations. The first two volumes are specifically about the Sirah. Ibn Sa’d is trustworthy in investigating much of what he narrates, as stated by Khatib al-Baghdadi and Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani, except that he narrates from weak narrators such as al-Waqidi, from whom he relates so much that Ibn al-Nadim accused him of plagiarism. His three strongest sources are ‘Affan b. Muslim, ‘Abd Allah b. Musa, and Fadl b. Dakin, all of whom are from the trustworthy hadith scholars. )

240. Khalifah b. Khayat: Tarikh (He was a trustworthy narrator and one of the shaykhs of al-Bukhari in his Sahih)

248. al-Ya’qubi of Khurasan and later North Africa – pre-Islamic and early Islamic history

257. Ibn Abd al-Hakam of Cairo: Futuh Misr wa al-Maghrib wa al-Andalus (on the Islamic conquests of North Africa and Spain)

279. al-Baladhuri of Baghdad: Futuh al-Buldan and Ansab al-Ashraf (major reference on the early Islamic conquests, considered weak by Ibn Hajar in Lisan al-Mizan)

279. Ibn Abi Khaythama: Akhbar al-Makkiyin (a reliable source according to al-Dhahabi, published only in part)

283. al-Dinarawi of Persia: al-Akhbar wa al-Tiwal (up to his own time)

310. al-Tabari of Baghdad: Tarikh al-Umum wa al-Muluk (covers the first three centuries of Islamic history – he usually does not criticise narrators but does include chains for readers to research and investigate)

310. Ibn Fadlan of Baghdad: al-Rihla (important description of the Germanic and Slavic peoples during his diplomatic mission in East Europe)

346. al-Mas’udi of Baghdad: Muruj al-Dhahab (covers universal pre-Islamic history up to the late Abbasid Caliphate)

363. al-Qadi al-Nu’man: Iftitah al-Daw’ah (official history of the rise of the Fatimids)

367. Ibn al-Qutiyyah: Tarikh Iftitah al-Andalus (one of the earliest sources on the Islamic conquest of Spain)

430. Abu Nu’aym of Asfahan: Hilyat al-Awliya (biographies of saintly figures up to his time)

463. al-Khatib al-Baghdadi: Tarikh Baghdad (covers the major figures to have visited Baghdad up to his time)

463. Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr: al-Durur fi Ikhtisar al-Maghazi wa al-Siyar ()

468. Ibn Hayyan: al-Muqtabis fi Tarikh al-Andalus (a major history of al-Andalus up to the fall of the Umayyads, which he laments)

560. al-Baydhaq: al-Muqtabis (on the rise of the Almohads)

571. Ibn ‘Asakir: Tarikh Dimashq (covers the major figures to have visited Damascus up to his time)

584. Ibn Munqidh: al-I’tibar (vital source of the Crusades)

630. Ibn al-Athir of Mosul: al-Kamil fi Tarikh (one of the major sources for the Crusades and Mongol Invasions, considered one of the great and trustworthy historians)

632. Ibn Shaddad: al-Nawadir al-Sultaniyyah (the most important contemporary biography of Salah al-Din and the Second Crusade)

681. Ibn Khallikan of Mosul, Damascus, and Cairo: Wafiyat al-A’yun (biographies of major figures up to 600)

712. Ibn ‘Idhari: Bayan al-Mahgrib (valuable of the Almoravids (al-Murabitun) and Almohads (al-Muwahidun))

734. Ibn Sayyid al-Nas: ‘Uyun al-Athar (a trustworthy hadith scholar according to al-Dhahabi and Ibn Kathir, and a disciple of Ibn Daqiq al-‘Id, his book is one of the classic hadith-based sirah works)

748. al-Dhahabi of Damascus: Tarikh al-Islam, Siyar A’lam al-Nubula (biographies and history up to the 8th C, including a highly regarded sirah in the beginning of the first book)

751. Ibn al-Qayyim: Zad al-Ma’ad (one of the classics of shama’il and fiqh al-sirah)

774. Ibn Kathir of Damascus: al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah (highly regarded history and biography on the methodology of hadith scholars up to 8th C)

779. Ibn Battutah: al-Rihla (description of the medieval Old World)

808. Ibn Khaldun of North Africa: al-Tarikh (universal historiography, excellent for 7th-8th C)

832. Taqi al-Din al-Fasi: al-‘Iqd al-Thamin (the great histoty of Makkah)

841. Burhan al-Din al-Halabi: al-Sirat al-Halabiyyah (very popular work but includes Isra’iliyat and deleted chains, though explains difficult words and adds valuable observations and notes)

845. al-Maqrizi of Cairo: al-Mawa’iz wa al-I’tibar (masterpiece), al-Itti’az (main reference for Fatimids), al-Suluk li Ma’rifat Duwal al-Muluk (on the Ayyubids and Mamluks)

852. Ibn Hajar of Cairo: al-Durar al-Kaminah (8th C)

902. al-Sakhawi of Cairo: al-Law’ al-Lami’ (9th C)

923. al-Qastallani of Cairo: al-Mawahib al-Laduniyyah (one of the major shama’il works, with a massive commentary by al-Zurqani [d.1122])

942. Muhammad b. Yusuf al-Salihi al-Dimashqi al-Shami: Subul al-Huda wa al-Rushad (possibly the largest sirah ever written, compiled from more than 300 sources)

1089. Ibn al-‘Imad: Shadharat al-Dhahab (up to 1000)

1111. al-Muhibbi: Khulasat al-Athar (11th C)

1250. al-Shawkani: al-Badr al-Tali’ (from 7th C, picking up from al-Dhahabi)


Posted by on June 15, 2015 in Books, History


Ascertaining Popularity through Manuscript Numbers

A book’s importance and acceptance can be ascertained partly by the number of extant manuscripts (such as those listed in al-Fahris al-Shamil) and number of commentaries and glosses (listed in Jami’ al-Shuruh wa al-Hawashi) it has. Such data paints an interesting picture. One clear indication is the clear popularity of Hanafi works, especially those promoted by the Ottomans.

What follows is an ongoing project (updated as of December 2014) to list the numbers of manuscripts and commentaries of the major works of the Islamic Canon.

The Major Tafasir in Chronological Order (number of known manuscripts in brackets)

  1. Ibn Abbas (95)
  2. al-Tustari (7)
  3. al-Tabari (106)
  4. Abu al-Layth al-Samarqandi (174)
  5. al-Tha’labi (125)[1]
  6. al-Wahidi (Asbab 67; al-Basit 24 [unpublished]; al-Wajiz 97 [Dar al-Qalam]; al-Wasit 118 [DKI])[2]
  7. al-Baghawi (571)
  8. al-Nasafi (111)
  9. al-Zamakshari (886) with Hashiyah al-Tibi (Futuh al-Ghayb)[3]
  10. Ibn Atiyyah (109)
  11. Ibn al-Jawzi, Zad al-Masir (55)
  12. al-Razi (452) – based on al-Basit by al-Wahidi
  13. al-Qurtubi (268)[4]
  14. al-Baydawi[5] (1391+ almost 2,000 hawashi) – based on al-Zamakshari, al-Razi, and al-Raghib
  15. al-Nasafi (147)
  16. Ibn Juzayy (34)
  17. al-Khazin (326)
  18. Abu Hayyan (133) – the apex of grammatical tafsir, extensively engages with al-Kashaf
  19. al-Samim al-Halabi – al-Durr al-Masun (119)[6]; Umdat al-Hufaz (22)[7]
  20. Ibn Kathir (67)
  21. al-Mahalli/al-Suyuti –  al-Jalalayn (627) – based on al-Wajiz by al-Wahidi
  22. al-Tha’alabi (35)
  23. al-Suyuti – al-Durr al-Manthur[8] (267)
  24. al-Khatib al-Shirbini al-Siraj al-Munir (111)
  25. Abu al-Su’ud (454)
  26. al-Shawkani (8)
  27. al-Alusi (18)

Ahkam al-Quran

  1. al-Shafi’i, Ahkam al-Quran (3)
  2. al-Jassas – Ahkam al-Quran (50)
  3. al-Bayhaqi – Ahkam al-Quran (3)
  4. Ilkiya al-Harasi al-Shafi’i al-Baghdadi[9] – Ahkam al-Quran (1)
  5. Ibn al-Arabi – Ahkam al-Quran (20)
  6. al-Suyuti – al-Iklil fi Istinbat al-Tanzil (37)

Ulum al-Quran

  1. al-Zarkashi – al-Burhan (11)
  2. al-Suyuti – al-Itqan (220)

[1] Al-Tha’labi was the pioneer of theology in tafsir, whose ideas were taken up in al-Wahidi’s al-Basit (which itself was the basis for al-Razi). It perfected and popularized the encyclopedic approach of al-Tabari.

[2] al-Wahidi was the pioneer of philological tafsir and al-Ghazali advises in the Ihya to study both al-Wajiz and al-Wasit for tafsir

[3] Included in the Imperial Ottoman curriculum of Sulayman and Abu al-Su’ud

[4] Included in the Imperial Ottoman curriculum of Sulayman and Abu al-Su’ud

[5] Included in the Imperial Ottoman curriculum of Sulayman and Abu al-Su’ud

[6] A student of Abu Hayyan who based his tafsir on his teacher’s work with i’rab and engagement with al-Kashaf

[7] A lexical work covering the vocabulary of the Quran

[8] Included in the Imperial Ottoman curriculum of Sulayman and Abu al-Su’ud

[9] An associate of al-Ghazali who later became head of the Nizamiyyah in Baghdad

Top Fiqh Texts (number in bold indicates number of known manuscripts; brackets for al-Fahris al-Shamil details)

  1. Multaqa al-Abhur by Ibrahim al-Halabi [d.956] (10:273) 634
  2. al-Hidayah by al-Marghinani (11:367) 610
  3. Sharh al-Wiqaya (5:661) 592
  4. Mukhtasar al-Quduri [d.428] (9:305) 566
  5. Kanz al-Daqa’iq by al-Nasafi [d.710] (8:400) 457
  6. al-Bahr al-Ra’iq Sharh Kanz al-Daqa’iq by Ibn Nujaym (2:10) 362
  7. Mukhtasar Khalil (9:223) 348
  8. Sharh al-Zarqani ‘ala Khalil (3:406) 346
  9. Tabayin al-Haqa’iq Sharh Kanz al-Daqa’iq by al-Zayla’i (2:242) 342
  10. Fath al-Wahhab 325
  11. al-Durr al-Mukhtar by al-Haskafi (4:27) 323
  12. al-Iqna by al-Khatib al-Shirbini 321
  13. al-Bayan wa al-Taklil ‘ala al-Khalil (5:412) 313
  14. al-Wiqayah by Burhan al-Shari’ah [d.673] (11:562) 305
  15. al-‘Inaya fi Sharh al-Hidayah (6:300) 296
  16. al-Qawl al-Mukhtar (i.e. Fath al-Qarib) (8:178) 272
  17. Tuhfat al-Tullab (2:388) 257
  18. Fath al-Qadir Sharh al-Hidayah by Ibn al-Humam (7:291) 244
  19. Rumz al-Haqa’iq Sharh Kanz (243)
  20. Ibn Abi Zayd – al-Risalah (4:329) 238
  21. Kifayat al-Talib al-Rabbani (8:246) 217
  22. Minhaj al-Talibin 202
  23. al-Mukhtar by al-Mawsili [d.683] 199

Most popular Shafi’i Works

  • Fath al-Wahhab 325
  • al-Iqna by al-Khatib al-Shirbini 321
  • al-Qawl al-Mukhtar (i.e. Fath al-Qarib) (8:178) 272
  • Tuhfat al-Tullab (2:388) 257
  • Minhaj al-Talibin 202
  • Tuhfah al-Muhtaj 178 plus 16 hawashi
  • Nihayah al-Muhtaj 165 plus 5 hawashi
  • Rawdat al-Talibin 146
  • Fath al-Aziz (7:268) 126

Abu Ishaq al-Shirazi

  • al-Tanbih (2:804) 31
  • al-Muhadhab (10:696) 22


  • al-Mustasfa (9:611) 33
  • al-Wasit (11:540) 33
  • al-Wajiz (11:518) 26
  • al-Basit (2:121) 17


  • Fath al-Aziz (7:268) 126
  • al-Muharrar (9:149) 88


  • Rawdat al-Talibin 146
  • al-Majmu 35
  • al-Tahrir (al-Tanbih) 15
  • al-Manasik 11
  • Tashih al-Tanbih 3
  • al-Tahqiq 3

Minhaj al-Talibin 202

  • Tuhfah al-Muhtaj 178 plus 16 hawashi
  • Nihayah al-Muhtaj 165 plus 5 hawashi
  • Kanz al-Raghibin (8:424) 114 plus 12 hawashi
  • Mughni al-Muhtaj 24

Zakariyah al-Ansari

  • Fath al-Wahhab Sharh Manhaj al-Tullab (3:1942) 325 with 22 hawashi
  • Tuhfat al-Tullab Sharh Tahrir Tanqih al-Lubab (2:388) 257 plus 5 hawashi (al-Sharqawi)
  • Asna al-Mutalib 86 plus 1 hashiya
  • Manhaj al-Tullab 72 plus 4 hawashi
  • al-Ghurar al-Bahiyah (6:421) 39 plus 2 hashiyatayn
  • Tahrir Tanqiq al-Lubab (2:313) 17

Abi Shuja

  • al-Iqna 321 plus 15 hawashi
  • al-Qawl al-Mukhtar (Fath al-Qarib) 272 plus 17 hawashi
  • Ghayat al-Ikhtisar 91 (6:353)
  • Hashiyat al-Barmawi (Fath al-Qarib) 83
  • Kifayat al-Akhyar 53 plus 1 hashiya
  • Hashiyat al-Qalyubi (Fath al-Qarib) 52
  • Hashiyat al-Bujayrami (al-Iqana) 20

Works of the Muta’akhirin (post al-Nawawi/al-Rafa’i)

  • Hashiyat al-Sharqawi ‘ala Tuhfat al-Tullab (3:356) 75
  • al-Minhaj al-Qawim 61 plus 8 hawashi
  • Ibn al-Wardi – al-Buhjah Nazm al-Hawi al-Saghir (2:159) 36
  • Ibn al-Muqri – al-Irshad 34
  • Umdat al-Salik 30 plus 7 shuruh (Jami’ al-Shuruh 2:1235) plus 1 new sharh
  • al-Qazwini – al-Hawi al-Saghir (3:724) 27
  • al-Ramli – Fath al-Rahman 21
  • al-Ramli – Ghayat al-Bayan fi Sharh Zubad (6:366) 20
  • Ibn Hajar – al-Iy’ab Sharh al-‘Ubab 16
  • Ibn al-Muqri – al-Rawd al-Talib 15
  • Fath al-Mu’in 11 plus 3 hawashi
  • Ibn Hajar – Fath al-Jawad 11
  • Ibn Hajar – al-Imdad 7
  • Ba Fadl – al-Muqaddimah al-Hadramiyah 7
  • al-Mawahib al-Samad 6
  • a-Risalat al-Jami’ah 2


  • Nur al-Idah 116
  • Maraqi al-Falah (9:427) 88
  • al-Mukhtar 199
  • Majma’ al-Anhur by Zada (9:74) 108 on Multaqa al-Abhur


  • Murshid al-Mu’in 66
  • Aqrab al-Masalik (1:621) 22
  • Sharh al-Saghir (5:220) 110


  • al-Mughni 53
  • Dalil al-Talib 14

Posted by on December 13, 2014 in Books, History


The Famous Five

Al-Nawawi (631-676) mentioned, in Tahdhib al-Asma’ wa al-Lughat, that the five most important texts in the Shafi’i school up to his time were (chronologically):

  • Mukhtasar al-Muzani (175-264)
  • al-Tanbih by al-Shirazi (393-476)
  • al-Muhadhab by al-Shirazi
  • al-Wajiz by al-Ghazali (450-505)
  • al-Wasit by al-Ghazali

He adds that they were widely known and available across all the domains of the Middle East, being popular with both students and scholars, especially in the absence of a comprehensive compilation that could replace all these aforementioned books. What is significant about these textbooks is that they are summaries of the two historical schools, namely the Iraqis (represented by al-Shirazi) and the Khurasanis (represented by al-Ghazali).

Some thoughts: Mukhtasar al-Muzani played a central role in the early transmission of the school. Indeed, for a long time researchers believed that it was the very first mukhtasar written in any madhab. Recent research now indicates that honour belongs to Abd Allah b. Abd al-Hakam of the Malikis a couple of decades earlier. Nevertheless, the mukhtasar was commented upon by many prominent Ashab al-Wujuh, climaxing in the magnificent Nihayat al-Matlab of Imam al-Haramayn al-Juwayni (419-477) of the Khurasani Tariqah.

Nihayat al-Matlab (i.e. Sharh Mukhtasar al-Muzani) was abridged several times by al-Juwayni’s brilliant student, Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, two of which became significant: al-Wajiz, and al-Basit. These twin texts became the focus of the Khurasanis with their more rational approach and al-Ghazali became pivotal in summarising and transmitting the madhab’s Khurasani tariqah.

Mukhtasar al-Muzani also indirectly spawned Abu Ishaq al-Shirazi’s works. Al-Tanbih was abridged from Abu Hamid al-Marwazi’s (d.376) Ta’liqah on Mukhtasar al-Muzani, whilst Al-Muhadhab was drawn from the Ta’liqah of Mukhtasar al-Muzani by Abu Tayyib al-Tabari (d.450). Al-Shirazi’s works became the focus of the Iraqis with their more traditional approach and al-Shirazi became pivotal in transmitting the madhab’s Iraqi tariqah.

By al-Nawawi’s time, these four works of al-Shirazi and al-Ghazali were very much in vogue. This was largely down to the Shafi’i madrasa building policies of Nizam al-Mulk (408-485), Nur al-Din al-Zanki (511-565), and Salah al-Din al-Ayubi (532-589). The first and greatest of these institutes for the training of Shafi’i jurists was the Nizamiyyah of Baghdad, which was built in 457. The first professor was, of course, Abu Ishaq al-Shirazi. This institute was followed by the Nizamiyyah of Naysabur with Imam al-Haramayn al-Juwayni as its professor. Al-Ghazali received his advanced training with al-Juwayni at this very institute and later taught at both the Nizamiyyah of Baghdad and later the Nizamiyyah of Naysabur. Thus, the great Shafi’i texts of the fifth Hijri century (al-Tanbih, al-Muhadhab, Nihayat al-Matlab, and its abridgements al-Wajiz and al-Wasit) were written and taught to students who then assumed teaching positions across the Nizamiyyah network from Syria through Iraq all the way to Khurasan.

When Nur al-Din peacefully conquered Damascus in 549, he found 11 privately endowed religious institutions – 5 Shafi’i madrasas, 5 Hanafi madrasas, and a Sufi khanaqah. Inspired by the model of Nizam al-Mulk, he stepped up the madrasa building process as part of the Sunni Revival to counter Ismaili Shi’ism (i.e Fatimid Egypt) and raise religious awareness among the masses in preparation for the fight with the Crusaders. By the end of his reign he had added 11 madrasas to Damascus, hundreds more elsewhere, and imported teachers from Iraq who brought with them the works of al-Shirazi and al-Ghazali. By the end of the Ayubid Damascus, when the Mongols conquered it in 658, there were 92 madrasas in Damascus alone.

The great centres of learning in Iraq, centred in Baghdad, and Khurasan, centred in Naysabur, were absolutely demolished by the devastating Mongol destruction. Thus Syria, and later Egypt under the Mamluks, inherited the legacy of these schools. This was the environment in which al-Nawawi trained and taught. It also gives us a context as to why and how the four aforementioned texts become so popular by al-Nawawi’s time.

Al-Nawawi himself engaged with each these texts directly or indirectly in Tashih al-Tanbih, al-Majmu’, Rawdat al-Talibin, and al-Tanqih. Indeed, al-Nawawi’s remark about the absence of a compilation that would suffice other books is telling. He himself attempted such a compliation in al-Majmu’ Sharh al-Muhadhab, but unfortunately died after completing only the first quarter.

One could see al-Nawawi’s later career as an attempt to refine the school in an easy to navigate curriculum, whilst still maintaining a connection to Mukhtasar al-MuzaniMinhaj al-Talibin to compliment Rawdat al-Talibin; al-Tahqiq to compliment al-Majmu’. Minhaj al-Talibin is indirectly spawned from Mukhtasar al-Muzani via al-Ghazali’s abridgement of it in al-Khulasah, which was the basis of al-Rafi’i’s (d.623) al-Muharrar, the mother book of Minhaj al-Talibin. Rawdat al-Talibin’s connection to Mukhtasar al-Muzani is via al-Juwayni’s sharh Nihayat al-Matlab, which was abridged by al-Ghazali in al-Wajiz, which in turn was commented upon by al-Rafi’i in Fath al-Aziz, the mother book of al-Rawdah.

By the late Mamluk Sultanate the original ‘five works’ indeed did lose favour to Minhaj al-Talibin and a number of works based upon two abridgements upon Fath al-Aziz Sharh al-Wajiz by al-Rafi’i.

The first of these is al-Hawi al-Saghir by al-Qazwini (d.665), which spawned Nazm al-Bahjah by Ibn al-Wardi (d.749) and al-Irshad by Ibn al-Maqri (d.837). Nazm al-Bahjah was commentated upon by Shaykh al-Islam Zakariyah al-Ansari (d.926) in al-Ghurar al-Bahjah. Al-Irshad was commentated upon twice by Ibn Hajar al-Haytami (d.974) in al-Imadad, which was expanded in Fath al-Jawad.

The second abridgement of Fath al-Aziz to draw much attention in late Mamluk Egypt was al-Nawawi’s Rawdat al-Talibin. Ibn al-Muqri abridged it in Rawd al-Talib, which was commentated upon by al-Ansari in Asna al-Mutalib. Ibn Hajar also wrote an abridgement of Rawd al-Talib called al-Na’im. Al-Suyuti (d.911) abridged Rawdat al-Talibin in al-Ghunya. Al-Muzajjad (d.930) also abridged Rawdat al-Talibin in al-‘Ubab, which also attracted commentaries by Ibn Hajar and al-Ramli.

However, no works subsequent of al-Nawawi have reached the status of his primary works. He easily supplanted the Famous Five and summarised the entire spectrum of the classical Shafi’i school. Ibn Kathir commented in al-Bidayah wa al-Nihayah that had al-Majmu Sharh al-Muhadhab been completed, it would have been the best book ever written in the fiqh of any madhab. Why so? Because it extensively engages with revelation and the juristic disputes in understanding it.


Posted by on January 11, 2014 in Books, Fiqh, History


Composition Dates of Al-Nawawi’s Final Works

Dr Muhammad Ibrahim’s edition of Imam al-Nawawi’s Tashih al-Tanbih is currently the critical edition of this important work. On page 57 he quotes al-Subki from a manuscript of Tarshih al-Tawshih in an interesting passage regarding the composition dates of al-Nawawi’s later works in fiqh, namely Rawda, Minhaj, Tashih al-Tanbih, and al-Majmu’. To this I add al-Suyuti’s comments from Minhaj al-Sawi, al-Nawawi’s comments within his books, and my own observations in order to get an idea of the chronological relationship between al-Nawawi’s works.

al-Tibyan commenced on Thursday 12th Rabi’ al-Awwal in 666 and was completed on Thursday morning 3rd Rabi’ al-Akhir 666 when the imam was 35 years old.

al-Adhkar was completed in Muharram in 667 when he had just turned 36.

al-Arba’un was completed in 668.

Rawdat al-Talibin began on Thursday 25th Ramadan 666 and was completed on Sunday 15th of Rabi’ al-Awwal 669 when he was 38.

Minhaj al-Talibin was completed on 19th Ramadan in 669 when he was 38.

Riyad al-Salihin was completed on Monday 14th Ramadan in 670 when he was 39.

Tashih al-Tanbih was completed on Friday 27th Rajab 671 when he was 40.

al-Majmu’ Sharh al-Muhadhab commenced on a Thursday in Sha’ban 662. Now, this could be a typo intending 672 because the introduction in al-Majmu’ refers to Rawdat al-Talibin. However, al-Nawawi adopted such an expansive approach in the earlier chapters that it had reached a few volumes in manuscript by the time he had completed the chapter on menstruation (which itself is huge!). Thereafter, he mentions that he will adopt an intermediate style, between excessive length and extreme brevity. Nevertheless, al-Nawawi reached Bab al-Jana’iz on the Day of Ashura 673. He then began Kitab al-Zakah on the same day. He completed Bab al-Ihram on Monday 9th Shawwal in 673 and began Bab Sifat al-Hajj on the same day. He completed the Quarter on Ibadah on Sunday 14th Rabi’ al-Awwal 674. He never managed to complete Kitab al-Buyu’, reaching Bab Riba before dying in 676 aged 45, may Allah have mercy on him. He achieved in his short life what most scholars cannot in a life twice as long.

Other works that were incomplete when the Imam died are al-Tahqiq (considered to be an abridgement of al-Majmu’), al-Tanqih fi Sharh al-Wasit of Imam al-Ghazali, and Bustan al-Arifin.

To the discerning eye, it is worth noting that Imam commenced and completed his works mostly during holy days and months. This might partly explain the blessings he had in the time of composition and the widely received acceptance his works have had to this day.

It is from these completion and incompletion dates that the muta’akhirin established a hierarchy of al-Nawawi’s works. What is interesting is that Rawdat al-Talibin was completed just before Minhaj al-Talibin, and that these works were written simultaneously. There is certainly a close relationship between these two works. A student studying al-Minhaj might reap immense rewards through supplementing his studies with reading and reviewing al-Rawdah.

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Posted by on September 15, 2013 in Books, Fiqh, History


Islamic Philosophy

Here is a great series of academic lectures, produced by LMU and KCL, covering the history of Islamic philosophy:


Posted by on August 2, 2013 in History


Martin Lings’ Muhammad

The famous biography (sirah) of Martin Lings (1909-2005) has acquired an excellent reputation due to its lofty English prose, so rare for Islamic works written or translated in English by writers of limited skill. Unfortunately, there are a number of alarming mistakes in the text. The following resources should be utilised when reading the text.

Here are shaykh Hamza Yusuf’s lecture series based upon Lings’ text. He expounds upon the sirah and points out major mistakes in his view, whilst being respectful of Lings’ effort.


Next we have GF Haddad’s critical reading of the text:


The following is a bit of a harsher Salafi criticism, though it does make valuable points:


Lastly, we have a link to the text itself, which after corrections should serve as a wonderful account of the life of our noble Messenger, peace and blessings be upon him!
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Posted by on February 27, 2013 in Books, History


Abdal Hakim Murad’s Course in Islamic History

Abdal Hakim Murad’s Crash Course in Islamic History I – Abdal Hakim Murad’s Crash Course in Islamic History – Muhammad (pbuh) – Prophet of Islam.


Posted by on February 7, 2013 in History