The Most Wondrous of Crafts in Arrangement of Paths


Badāʼiʻ al-ṣanāʼiʻ fī tartīb al-sharāʼiʻ (The most wondrous of crafts in arrangement of paths) by the Hanafi scholar Abu Bakr al-Kasani (died 1191) is a compendium of the judicial principles and practices established by the eighth century jurist Nuʿman ibn Thabit, better known as Abu Hanifa, the founder of the most widespread school of sharia (Islamic law). Al-Kasani is one of a number of medieval fuqaha’ (legal authorities) influenced by Abu Hanifa and his early followers. The work covers the fundamental tenets of Islam and the obligations of Muslims. Topics are examined in multiple facets, including historical, textual, circumstantial, and procedural. In the section on purification before prayer where no pure running water is available (tayammum, or dry ablution), for example, al-Kasani examines principles established in the Qur’an and by the practice of the Prophet Muhammad, customary practice, and the methods of performing tayammum. The last part of the work covers adab al-qadi (the conduct of judges) and includes procedure for manumission of slaves, punishment for a variety of crimes, jihad, testimony, and evidence. Al-Kasani, dubbed “king of hadith scholars” by his contemporaries, was a student of Muhammad al-Samarqandi, whose daughter, Fatima, he married. His mahr (marriage offering) was said to be this book, which he wrote for the occasion and which Fatima’s father readily accepted in preference to offerings from richer but less learned and less pious suitors. Fatima was a prominent Hanafi authority and judge in her own right who assisted her husband in his judicial opinions. Al-Kasani died in Aleppo, Syria, and is buried with Fatima bint Muhammad al-Samarqandi. The work was published in 1909−10 in Cairo in seven volumes by Muhammad Amin al-Khangi who, along with others, financed publication.

Publication Information

Sharikat al-Maṭbūʻāt al-ʻIlmīyah and Maṭbaʻat al-Jamālīyah, Cairo


Title in Original Language

بدائع الصنائع في ترتيب الشرائع

Type of Item

Physical Description

7 volumes ; 28 centimeters


  • Volumes 1 and 2 published by Sharikat al-Maṭbūʻāt al-ʻIlmīyah; volumes 3-7 published by Maṭbaʻat al-Jamālīyah.


  1. Hodgson, Marshall G. S. The venture of Islam. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1974. Volume 1, pages 332-348.
  2. Sarkis, Yusuf Ilyan. Mu’jam al-matbu’at al-‘Arabiyah wa-al-Mu’arrabah. (Dictionary of Arabic Imprints). Cairo: Sarkis, 1928, column 1540

Last updated: April 9, 2015