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Mukhtasar - 3

January 4, 2017



Bilingual text and explanation (3)


Having explained the motivational genesis of his abridgment, that is, a text by nature tending to cryptic terseness, Khalīl feels compelled to remove ambiguities by explaining core terminology that continuously recurs in the work.

[As for the main body of the text, the most comprehensive work on the author’s technical lexicon is Dr. Muhammad al-Muslih’s Kashf al-Mustalahāt al-Fiqhiyyah min-Khilāl Mukhtasar Khalīl b. Ishāq al-Mālikī, published in Beiut by Dār Ibn Hazm in 2014.]


Author’s introduction

(مُقَدِّمَةُ المُؤَلِّف)


مُشيراً ب: (فيها) لِلْمُدَوَّنَةِ،

indicating, by the phrase “in it”, the Mudawwanah;

 وَ(بِأُوِّلَ) إِلَى اخْتِلافِ شارِحيها في فَهْمِها،

by the phrase “it has been interpreted”, the different understanding of it on the part of its commentators;

 وَ(بِلاخْتِيارِ) لِلَّخْمي،

by the term “the choice”, al-Lakhmī’s juristic choice;

 لكِنْ إِنْ كانَ بِصِيغَةِ الفِعْلِ فَذَلِكَ لاخْتِيارِهِ هُوَ في نَفْسِهِ، وَبِلاسْمِ فَذَلِكَ لاخْتِيارِهِ مِنَ الخِلافِ،

whenever, however, the verbal form is used, that is a reference to al-Lakhmī’s personal choice, whereas the use of the nominal form is a reference to his choice in contentious issues;


“ … indicating, by the phrase “in it”, the Mudawwanah”:

This is a terminological tool specific to Khalīl, who sometimes refers also to “Al-Umm” (the Mother-Book) and to “At-Tahdhīb”, i.e. al-Barādha`ī’s famous abridgment Tahdhīb al-Mudawwanah.

The reference to the Mudawwanah might be in order to quote a corroboration for the ruling laid out by the author or to indicate the judgment in the mas’alah, such as his statement “and in it we find the meritorious nature of slightly delaying the Night prayer after the entry of its time”.

The source- or mother-books relied upon in the madhhab are, as we know, four:

·        Sahnūn (d. 240 AH)’s Al-Mudawwanah al-Kubrā, which is the source of sources;

·        The Andalusian Ibn Habīb as-Sulamī (d. 238 AH)’s Al-Wādihah (fī as-Sunan wa al-Fiqh), most of which has been lost due to poor preservation of the extant manuscript [Only sections on prayer and hajj have been published by the orientalist Miklush Murani];

·        Al-‘Utbiyyah by the Cordovan Muhammad al-‘Utbī al-Umawī (d. 255 AH);

·        Al-Mawwāziyyah by the Alexandrine Muhammad b. al-Mawwāz (d. 269 AH).


“In it” (fīhā):

In the Mudawwanah


“… by “it has been interpreted”, the different understanding of it on the part of its commentators”:

This is another technical term widely encountered in this work. The passive verb “uwwila” (“it has been interpreted”) denotes the divergent way in which the mother-book, the Mudawwanah, has been understood by the scholars who, directly or indirectly, elucidated the meaning of its words.

Ta’wīl or interpretation means for the experts in usūl al-fiqh deflecting a word from its outward meaning to a less preferable possible import, sound if accompanied by a corroborating evidence, otherwise unsound. Khalīl, however, uses it in the sense of clear explanation (tafsīr).

We find thus such expressions as: “Should it be construed as per the outward signification or as denoting obligation? There are two interpretations (ta’wīlān).”

We said “directly or indirectly”. The word “commentators” stands here for the savants who tackled by commentary a specific mas’alah in the Mudawwanah, even if they did not write an actual commentary on that book. It might be found in a general legal text, such as al-Lakhmī’s At-Tabsirah, or in a commentary on, say, Al-‘Utbiyyah, Ar-Risālah or At-Talqīn, or in a commentary on the Mudawwanah itself, such as Ibn Yūnus’, or in abridgments of or explanatory glosses on the Mudawwanah, e.g. al-Qādī ‘Iyād’s At-Tanbīhāt al-Mustanbatah.


Understanding (fahm) is more specific than knowledge, as it only stems from corroborating pointers. It is thus obligatorily created in-time, which explains why Knowledge, but not understanding, is an Attribute of Allah.


The focus of commentators is on what the wording used in the Mudawwanah signifies. Their different understanding has been described by Khalīl as ta’wīlayn / ta’wīlāt, not as qawlayn / aqwāl (two or more juristic views).

Ibn ‘Abdis-Salām, in his commentary on Ibn al-Hājib’s own abridgment (Jāmi` al-Ummahāt) criticised his tendency, shared by several later scholars in the madhhab but not by Khalīl, to equate the different understanding of the words in the Mudawwanah by its commentators to different juristic views, establishing therefore the existence of a juristic disagreement in the school based on such varied semantic interpretations. Rather, the speech they commented upon is one statement, a single qawl, concerning which they differed as to the exact meaning of the wording used in the text, regardless of whether it is legally sound or otherwise; whereas the holders of juristic views (aqwāl) aim at clarifying the correct judgment in the mas’alah [As a result, they quote for corroboration the Book, the Sunnah etc., not other pronouncements of the Imām, and the contrast in the school is as to whether such formulation of the judgment is confirmed as true or otherwise, not whether the meaning of the wording used in the Mudawwanah has been portrayed correctly or not]. The question with the commentators of the Mudawwanah is thus: Has that one single legal statement (qawl) being construed and passed on correctly?

Put it differently, a commentator on the speech of a scholar is saying, implicitly or implicitly: “This is what the author means”; whereas the proponent of a juristic view is saying: “This is Allah’s judgment in the mas’alah”.

The former need not be a mujtahid in the madhhab, let alone an unqualified mujtahid. All that is required is a knowledge sufficient to understand and convey the meaning of the speech he is commenting upon.

The latter, by contrast, must be a mujtahid in the madhhab or an unqualified mujtahid.

The former does not have to believe or endorse the correctness of what he is explaining through his commentary. Commentators of az-Zamakhsharī’s exegesis Al-Kashshāf have faithfully captured his statements conforming to Mu`tazilī doctrine and, having done that, have then moved to a refuting critique thereof.


“It has been interpreted” (uwwila):

The different interpretations of commentators on masā’il of the Mudawwanah concerning the meaning of their words



“… by the term “the choice”, to al-Lakhmī’s juristic choice”:

Meaning the view selected by al-Lakhmī in issues where there is juristic disagreement.

It is, once more, a frequently encountered term in this work.

Al-Lakhmī (d. 478 AH) is Abu’l-Hasan ‘Alī b. Muhammad ar-Raba`ī (an ascription to the tribe of Rabī`ah) al-Lakhmī (an ascription to his maternal grandfather). His family was originally from Qayrawān, though he lived and was buried in Sfax, Tunisia.

A versatile and God-fearing jurist with a penchant for literature and literary refinement, and the teacher of Imām al-Māzarī (who extolled him and used him as proof), he authored, among other works, the splendid and beneficial At-Tabsirah, rich in knowledge, which he modelled after the Mudawwanah.

He was known for an abundance of juristic pronouncements in the school. Given his scholarly boldness, Khalīl began by his legal choices, which on occasions took him out of the Mālikī madhhab, as pointed out by the like of al-Qādī ‘Iyād.

At first, the savants from the sixth and early seventh century did not rely for fatwa on At-Tabsirah, as it had not been taken from him and checked (revised) in his presence. Later, however, accurate verifiers of matters, such as Khalīl himself and Ibn ‘Arafah quoted from it profusely.


The term “his choice” was ambiguous, hence Khalīl decided to shed more light on it in his next sentence.


“… whenever, however, the verbal form is used, that is a reference to al-Lakhmī’s personal choice”:

The form, that is, of the past verb:

·        Ikhtāra, “he chose”, in the active;

·        Ukhtīra, “it was chosen”, in the passive, as in “but if he performs four units of prayer it would be fine, and it was chosen (wa-ukhtīra)”.

Personal choice means a juristic view advocated by al-Lakhmī without any earlier precedent.


“… whereas the use of the nominal form is a reference to his choice in contentious issues”:

The form, that is, of the noun, either the noun of the agent or the noun of the patient (mukhtār).

Here the choice is the one made by al-Lakhmī, between two or more conflicting views in the mas’alah, in favour of a view that had already expressed before him.


Choice (ikhtiyār):

Al-Lakhmī’s juristic choice


“He chose” / “it was chosen”:

Al-Lakhmī’s novel juristic choice

“The chosen (view)”:

Al-Lakhmī’s choice in favour of one of the pre-existing views


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