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Mukhtasar - 2

January 2, 2017



Bilingual text and explanation (2)


We saw in the first part the standard introduction to a classical text by a savant openly acknowledging his slavehood, turning to Allah and sending prayers on the Prophet, Sallallāhu ‘alahi wa-Sallam.

After the normal partition phrase (wa-ba`du), Khalīl goes on to explain the concrete inducement to the work and pinpoint what kind of juristic work he was commissioned to write.


Author’s introduction

(مُقَدِّمَةُ المُؤَلِّف)


فَقّدْ سَأَلَنِي جَماعَةٌ أَبانَ اللهُ لِي وَلَهُمْ مَعالِمَ التَّحْقيقِ، وَسَلَكَ بِنا وَبِهِمْ أَنْفَعَ طَريقٍ:

A group of people, may Allah make the landmarks of verified truth plain to me and to them and may He cause us and them to proceed along the most beneficial road, asked me for:


 مُخْتَصَراً عَلَى مَذْهَبِ الإِمامِ مالِكٍ رَحِمَهُ اللهُ تَعالَى،

An abridgment on the methodology of Imām Mālik, may Allah, Exalted is He, have mercy on him,

 مُبَيِّناً لِما بِهِ الفَتْوَى،

clarifying that by which fatwas are given in the school.

 فَأَجَبْتُ سُؤَالَهُمْ بَعْدَ الاسْتِخارَة،

I accordingly acceded to their request after entrusting the choice on that to Allah


“… a group of people”:

What is meant by jamā`ah, those who asked Khalīl to pen his famous abridgment, is a group of scholars / devotees of knowledge (three or more): Khalīl did not put pen to paper out of his own accord, following a thought which came upon him independently. He seconded an externalized need, and did so having deemed himself qualified to discharge the weighty task.


“… may Allah make (the landmarks of verified truth) plain”:

Syntactically, abānallāhu is a parenthetical sentence interposed between the verb sa’ala (asked) and its second object / maf`ūl = mukhtasaran [The first object is the yā’ of the attached first person pronoun, “me”].

The verb abāna can be intransitive or, as here, transitive (with the meaning of: manifested; made plain = May Allah manifest or make plain), exactly like the trilateral form bāna + bayyana + tabayyana + istabāna.


“… (may Allah make the landmarks of verified truth plain) to me”:

Read as lī or as liya.

The author mentioned himself first in the supplication, in conformity with the etiquette set out in the Book and the Sunnah:

«ربّنا اغفر لي ولولدَيّ» (Sūrah Ibrāīm: 41).

It is reported that when supplicating the Prophet, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam, would begin by entreating Allah for his own self. Of course, we are aware of other, less frequent occurrences in the hadith literature where he, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-Sallam, deviated from that standard course and supplicated for specific individuals alone.


“… (may Allah make the landmarks of verified truth plain to me and) to them”:

“To them” = to the group of petitioners. He supplicated on their behalf as a recompense for having occasioned the writing of the abridgment and having thus acted as the medium of the abiding reward for it.


“… landmarks”:
In Arabic ma`ālim, the singular of which is ma`lam, meaning the place where something is presumably found (= its most likely location) and the pointer to something else one extracts from it.

Here, the loci where we expect ascertained truth to be found.


“… ascertained truth”:

More literally, ascertainment of truth.

The word tahqīq is in fact the original (masdar) of the verb haqqaqa ash-shay’a yuhaqqiquhu = to attain certainty about something / to authenticate it in full / to thoroughly ascertain its truth (One can also say haqqahu yuhiqquhu in the simple trilateral form).

The author intended by it both the attainment of certitude and the arrival at a preponderant thought that is equated to it. In this context, certitude or preponderant thought about the correct Mālikī judgments on doctrinal and juristic issues dealt with in the text.


“… (may Allah make) the landmarks of verified truth (plain to me and to them)”:

Ma`ālim at-tahqīq: The evidences leading to certainty in beliefs about inner realities and about practices.

Tahqīq can mean either affirming the truth by establishing the proof thereof or actualized certainty and the like.

Here, the author is supplicating so that Allah might cause him and the inspirers of this text to attain thorough verification of judgments relating to inner truths and actions.  


“… may He cause us and them (to proceed along the most beneficial road)”:

The author has moved from the first person singular of the initial supplication to the first person plural of this second supplication. The reference is probably to his dear ones, as a way of fulfilling the obligation of love.


“… (may He cause us and them) to proceed along the most beneficial road”:

The letter bā’ in salaka binā wa-bihim makes the verb transitive, since salaka is used intransitively as well.

One says:

  •  Salaka Zaydun at-tarīqa = Zayd went along the path (Intransitive) – “مَن سلك طريقا يلتمس فيه علما سهّل الله طريقا إلى الجنة” (“Whoever treads a path where he seeks knowledge, Allah will facilitate a path to the Garden”), as in a famous hadith.
  • Salaktu bi-Zaydin at-tarīqa = I caused Zayd to proceed along the path (Transitive).

The letter bā’ in the latter scenario does not indicate that you have proceeded along the path with Zayd, in his company, that is. Its use is transitivity, not accompaniment: it is an instrument by which the verb takes an (indirect) object.


“… an abridgment”:

Syntax-wise, the second object of the verb sa’ala.

What did they ask for? An abridgment.

Morphologically, it is a noun of the patient (= something abridged) from ikhtisār, i.e. conveying abundant meaning through a paucity of words. Conciseness (ījāz) is similar to it.

Why did they call for an abridgment, despite the fact that the well-distended juristic texts of the earlier scholars were easier to understand?

Because the levels of people’s yearning had fallen short of the earlier style (mother-books and their commentaries), hence abridgments had become necessary.


“… may Allah, Exalted is He, have mercy on him”:

Rahimahullāh is a parenthetical sentence of supplication, based on Mālik’s benefaction to the ummah generally and to the Mālikiyyah specifically.

Ta`ālā is a parenthetical sentence to laud Allah by declaring His utter transcendence above and absolute purity from whatever is not a perfection in His respect.


“… clarifying that by which fatwas are given in the school”:

Fatwā is a notification of the judgment of the Law in a mas’alah that is not binding on its addressees, unlike a judicial determination or qadā’.

For some, its meaning here is iftā’, the pronouncement of such fatwas.

For others, what is meant in this case is, rather, the judgment that must find obligatory expression in the fatwā.

Fatwā is a notification of the judgment of the Law in a mas’alah that is not binding on its addressees, unlike a judicial determination or qadā’.


 “I accordingly acceded to their request”:

The letter fā’ is here causative, i.e. because such group of people had asked me for an abridgment, I complied with their petition, without any harmful tardiness on my part (the fā’, in fact, indicates a brief interlude between cause and effect). As it is said: ‘The best good is the most expedited one (khayr al-khayr a`jaluh).’


“… after entrusting the choice on that to Allah”:

In other words, he engaged in the well-known salāt al-istikhārah.


Having mentioned the reason for his authorship of the abridgment, the result of people’s need for such a condensed text, he then steps into the clarification of the terminology he adopted therein.


We will look into that next, Allah the Exalted willing.

Recent Comments
Abu Zaynab - January 03, 2017 01:12 AM
Abu Salif is the mastermind of our time
The Islamic Community - January 14, 2017 16:38 PM
You are too kind.
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