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The Supreme Method and the Pure Source on the Rules of Notarization
Aḥmad ibn Yaḥyá al-Wansharīsī (1430 or 1431–1508) was a jurist and scholar of the Maliki school of Islamic jurisprudence. He was born in Jabal Wansharīs, but his family moved when he was a child to nearby Tilimcen in present-day western Algeria, where he studied and later taught Maliki law. His relationship with Tilimcen ruler Sultan Muhammad IV of the Banu Abd al-Wad dynasty soured under circumstances that are unclear, and he consequently fled to Fez, Morocco. With the help of his former student Muhammad ibn al-Gardīs, al-Wansharīsī was able ...
Treatise on Holy War
The first Persian printing press in Iran was established in 1816 in Tabriz, and the first book published by the press was Jihādīyyah (Treatise on holy war), written by Abu al-Qasim ibn 'Isá Qa'im'maqam Farahani (circa 1779–1835), the prime minister of Persia at that time. During the reign of King Fath Ali Shah (1772–1834, reigned 1797–1834), while the Qajar government was absorbed with managing domestic turmoil, rival European colonial powers sought to establish themselves in the region. The British competed for influence in the south ...
In preparation for the peace conference that was expected to follow World War I, in the spring of 1917 the British Foreign Office established a special section responsible for preparing background information for use by British delegates to the conference. Mohammedan History is Number 57 in a series of more than 160 studies produced by the section, most of which were published in 1920, after the conclusion of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. Part I of the book is an overview of the history of Islam from the time of ...
The Basis for Judges
Asās al-Quz̤āt (The basis for judges) is a lithographic book on Islamic jurisprudence, published in the late 19th century by the royal publishing house in Kabul. It was intended as a source for judges charged with applying the law on the basis of Islamic jurisprudence. The fine quality of the book and the binding reflect the importance given to law books in Afghanistan and other Islamic countries. Lithographic printing was invented in Europe in the late 18th century and spread widely on the Indian subcontinent from the early 19th ...
Zakarīyā ibn Muḥammad al-Anṣārī, a Shafi’i jurist, teacher, and Sufi, was born in Egypt and studied at al-Azhar, the Sunni Islamic center of learning in Cairo. Throughout his long career (he lived about 100 years), al-Anṣārī held many positions as judge and Sufi authority. He is recognized as a major figure in medieval Sunni jurisprudence. He studied under the greatest teachers of the age and influenced later generations, being referred to by the honorific Shaykh al-Islam. Manhaj al-Ṭullāb (Students' guide) is an abridgement of Nawawī’s Minhāj al-Ṭālibīn (Path ...
The Ideal Way to Shed Traditions and Embrace First Principles
This printed work by Nūr al-Ḥasan b. Ṣiddīq b. Ḥasan Khan (also seen as al-Qannawjī) deals with taqlid (adherence to Islamic tradition) and ijthad (flexible interpretation of religious principles), issues that have occupied Muslim thinkers for 1,400 years. Al-Ṭarīqah al-muthlá fī al-irshād ilá tark al-taqlīd wa-ittibāʻ mā huwa al-awlá (The ideal way to shed traditions and embrace first principles) is in itself less important than the context in which it was published. The author was from the Muslim court of Bhopal in India. He was the son of a ...
The Judges’ Assistant for Issues Raised by Adversaries at Law
Mu’in al-Hukam fi-ma Yataraddudu bayn Khusmin al-Ahkam (The judges’ assistant for issues raised by adversaries at law) is a handbook of Islamic law procedure. It was written in the 15th century by ‘Ali ibn Khalil al-Tarabulsi, also known as ‘Ala’ al-Din ibn al-Hasan ‘Ali ibn Khalil al-Tarabulsi (or al-Tarabulusi), a Hanafi jurist in Jerusalem. After introducing his book with references to the singular importance of al-shari’ah (Islamic law) in the Qur’an and among the prophets, al-Tarabulsi proceeds to explain that he wrote in order to elucidate the ...
Fundamentals and Rules by Imam al-Nawawi
This short manuscript, Usul wa Dawabit lil-Imam al-Nawawi (Fundamentals and rules by Imam al-Nawawi), by the leading Shafi’i jurist known as al-Nawawi (1233−77), outlines the principles to be applied and the procedures to be used in personal conduct and ritual. The tract is divided into several parts. The first defines the limits of human action and argues against the “exaggerations” of the Mu’tazalite school of philosophy and its deviance from text-based orthodoxy. The work then covers rules for everyday living, including business transactions, marriage contracts, and gender ...
Correction of “The Method,” i.e., “Minhaj al-talibin” by al-Nawawi
This manuscript comprises five volumes of a six-volume work (volume two is missing) on Islamic law. It is a practical manual for judges of the Shafi’i legal tradition. It offers principles and precedents, with few of the linguistic and other digressions often found in legal writing. The work covers many topics including treatment of prisoners of war, alcoholic drinks, and chess. The manuscript is ascribed to jurist ‘Umar ibn Raslan al-Bulqini (1324−1403), but it may have been written by another of the several scholars of his family, there ...
Untitled Outline in Verse of Islamic Obligations
This untitled Arabic manuscript is an urjūza (versification) of Muqaddimat Ibn Rushd (Ibn Rushd’s introduction). It is a work on Mālikī Islamic jurisprudence by Ibn Rushd al-Jadd (the grandfather), otherwise known as Abū al-Walīd Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad (circa 1058−circa 1126), not to be confused with his famous grandson, the philosopher Abu al-Walid Ibn Rushd (1126−98). This versification, commonly known as Naẓm muqaddimat Ibn Rushd (The versification of Ibn Rushd’s introduction), is ascribed to ʻAbd al-Rahman ibn ʻAlī al-Ruqʿī al-Fāsī (died in Fez, in present-day Morocco, circa ...
Fatwa on the Millennium
Kashf ‘an mujawazat hadha al-ummah al-alf (Fatwa on the millennium) is a portion of a more comprehensive genealogical work, Lubb al-Lulab fi Tahrir al-Ansab (The essence of constructing genealogies). It treats the Last Days in Sunni eschatology. The fatwa (legal opinion) was stimulated by a question brought to the author, al-Suyuti (1445−1505), regarding the resurrection of the Prophet Muhammad within a thousand years of his death. Al-Suyuti states that many people are interested in the question of the millennium. He dismisses this belief, saying that it ...
Letter to the Warring Tribes
Timbuktu, founded around 1100 as a commercial center for trade across the Sahara Desert, was also an important seat of Islamic learning from the 14th century onward. The libraries of Timbuktu contain many important manuscripts, in different styles of Arabic scripts, which were written and copied by Timbuktu’s scribes and scholars. These works constitute the city’s most famous and long-lasting contribution to Islamic and world civilization. In this work, the author, a scholar and religious leader, urges warring factions to make peace and live in peace. He supports ...
The Shares According to Siraj
Sirāj al-Dīn Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad 'Sajāwandī was a 12th-century Hanafi jurist whose treatise on the laws of inheritance is regarded as the most important work in this field. This edition of his influential work was published in Lahore, Pakistan (then a part of British India), in 1886 or 1887. The English philologist and jurist Sir William Jones (1746-94) published the first English translation of this work in Kolkata (Calcutta), in 1792. Islamic inheritance law is a complex and refined system of rules that developed over several centuries, and that is ...
A Friendly Gift on the Science of Arithmetic
This treatise deals specifically with basic arithmetic, as needed for computing the division of inheritance according to Islamic law. It contains 48 folios and is divided into an introduction, three chapters, and a conclusion. The introduction discusses the idea of numbers as an introduction to the science of arithmetic. Chapter I discusses the multiplication of integers. Chapter II is on the division of integers and the computation of common factors. Chapter III deals extensively with fractions and arithmetic operations on them. The author, an Egyptian jurist and mathematician, was the ...
The Gift of the Followers of the Path of Muhammad
Timbuktu, founded around 1100 as a commercial center for trade across the Sahara Desert, was also an important seat of Islamic learning from the 14th century onward. The libraries of Timbuktu contain many important manuscripts, in different styles of Arabic scripts, which were written and copied by Timbuktu’s scribes and scholars. These works constitute the city’s most famous and long-lasting contribution to Islamic and world civilization. This work is about the Songhai Empire, one of the most important states in West Africa during the 14th and 15th centuries ...
A Summary Explanation of the Pronouncements of the Scholars and Theologians
Timbuktu, founded around 1100 as a commercial center for trade across the Sahara Desert, was also an important seat of Islamic learning from the 14th century onward. The libraries of Timbuktu contain many important manuscripts, in different styles of Arabic scripts, which were written and copied by Timbuktu’s scribes and scholars. These works constitute the city’s most famous and long-lasting contribution to Islamic and world civilization. In this work, the author examines theologians' and scholars' approaches to various issues in Islamic law and society and offers an explanation ...
Askiyah's Questions and al-Maghili's Answers [al-Maghili's Tract on Politics]
Timbuktu, founded around 1100 as a commercial center for trade across the Sahara Desert, was also an important seat of Islamic learning from the 14th century onward. The libraries of Timbuktu contain many important manuscripts, in different styles of Arabic scripts, which were written and copied by Timbuktu’s scribes and scholars. These works constitute the city’s most famous and long-lasting contribution to Islamic and world civilization. This treatise is about the Songhai Empire, which flourished in West Africa during the 14th and 15th centuries. It consists of the ...
Life of Animals
This manuscript is a copy of the long version of al-Damīrī’s Hayāt al-hayawān (Life of animals), an encyclopedic work that was widely disseminated in the Islamic world in three versions or recensions—long, intermediate, and short. Muhammad ibn Musā ibn Isā Kamāl al-Din Ibn Ilyās ibn Abd-Allāh al-Damīrī (circa 1342–1405) was an Egyptian tailor who became an author and scholar. Building upon earlier work on animals by Jāhith (780–868), al-Damiri combined the Arabic and Persian literary tradition of animal tales with the legacy of Greece and Rome ...
The Commentary on “The Little Sparkles on the Science of Calculation”
The treatise in this manuscript is a commentary on a mathematical treatise by Šihāb al-Dīn Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad Ibn al-Hā’im (circa 1355–1412). Ibn al-Hā’im taught mathematics and Islamic jurisprudence, subjects on which he wrote extensively. The erudite Badr al-Dīn Muhammad Sibt al-Māridīnī (circa 1423–1506), who was at the time working as muwaqqit (timekeeper) at the Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo, composed this short commentary less then 60 years after the death of Ibn al-Hā’im. Following widespread tradition in Islamic lands, Sibt al-Māridīnī included in the title ...
The Little Sparkles on the Science of Calculation
The treatise preserved in this manuscript, Al-Luma‘al-yasīra fī ‘ilm al-hisāb (The little sparkles on the science of calculation), deals with Muslim inheritance. Of the social innovations that came with the Islamic conquest, the introduction of the system of fara'id (shares) for inheritances was one of the most radical and socially advanced. The fourth surah of the Qur'an, verses 11–12, criticizes the traditional pre-Islamic system of agnatic succession, under which only men could inherit property, and provides for a proportional division among all the heirs, women included ...
Commentary on "The Little Sparkles on the Science of Calculation"
The system of fara'iḍ (shares) for inheritances is considered to be one of the most advanced innovations introduced by Muslim conquerors in Middle Eastern and North African societies. The exact calculation of shares of inheritance is a complex chapter in Islamic law, and it is not surprising that Muslim intellectuals and scientists developed a system of mathematical tools in order to master "the science of the shares" (‘ilm al-fara'iḍ). An important contribution to this field can be found in the work of Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad Ibn ...