Book Review: Sharh Mukhtasar al-Karkhi & Sharh al-Jami῾ al-Ṣaghir

Review by Mawlana Abu Asim Badrul Islam

Title:  Sharḥ Mukhtaṣar al-Karkhi Author: Imām Abu ‘l-Ḥusayn al-Qudūri (b. 362 AH/973 CE) Editor:  Dr. ῾Abd Allāh Nadhῑr Aḥmad Genre:  Ḥanafi fiqh Publisher:  Asfār (Kuwait) Year of publication:  1443/2022 (1st edition) Number of volumes:  9  عنوان الكتاب : شرح مختصر الكرخي المؤلف : الإمام أبو الحسين أحمد بن محمد القدوري البغدادي المحقق : د. عبد الله نذير أحمد عبد الرحمن الموضوع : الفقه الحنفي الناشر : أسفار (الكويت) سنة النشر : 1443 هـ _ 2022م رقم الطبعة :1 عدد المجلدات : 9
Title:  Sharḥ al-Jāmi῾ al-Ṣaghῑr Author: Imām Fakhr al-Dῑn al-Ḥasan ibn Manṣūr al-Auzjandi al-Farghāni (d. 592 AH/1196 CE) – known as Qāḍῑkhān Editor:  Dr. ῾Abd Allāh Nadhῑr Aḥmad Genre:  Ḥanafi fiqh Publisher:  Ismaeel Books (United Kingdom) Year of publication:  1443/2022 (1st edition) Number of volumes:  3  عنوان الكتاب : شرح الجامع الصغير المؤلف : الإمام فخر الدين الحسن بن منصور الأوزجندي الفرغاني المعروف بقاضيخان المحقق : د. عبد الله نذير أحمد عبد الرحمن الموضوع : الفقه الحنفي الناشر : مكتبة إسماعيل (بريطانيا) سنة النشر : 1443 هـ _ 2022م رقم الطبعة :1 عدد المجلدات : 3
Title:  Sharḥ al-Jāmi῾ al-Ṣaghῑr Author: Imām Abu Bakr Muḥammad ibn Abi Sahl Aḥmad al-Sarakhsi (b. 400 AH/1009 CE) Editor:  Dr. Ertugrul Boynukalin Genre:  Ḥanafi fiqh Publisher:  Türkiye Diyanet Vakfı Yayinlari (Turkey) & Dār al-Rayāḥῑn (Beirut/Amman) Year of publication:  1443/2021 (1st and 2nd editions) Number of volumes:  2  عنوان الكتاب : شرح الجامع الصغير المؤلف : الإمام أبو بكر محمد بن أبي سهل أحمد السرخسي المحقق : أ. د. أرطغرل بونيكالن الموضوع : الفقه الحنفي الناشر : نشريات وقف الديانة التركي (تركيا) و دار الرياحين (بيروت\عمان) سنة النشر : 1443 هـ _ 2021م رقم الطبعة : 1 و 2 عدد المجلدات : 2

شرح مختصر الكرخي للإمام القدوري ط. أسفار
Published in nine large and beautiful volumes (each volume comprising 650-700
pages) by Asfār (Kuwait), this is the first time this monumental work of a leading and
authoritative imam of the ḥanafi legal school (madhhab) is being published. It is the detailed commentary of the short fiqh text (mukhtaṣar) of another yet greater and
earlier (by a century) imām of the school.
Imām Abu ‘l-Ḥasan al-Karkhi – b. 260 AH (874 CE) – of Iraq and Imām Abu ‘l-
Ḥusayn al-Qudūri – b. 362 AH (973 CE) – of Baghdad (Iraq) require no introduction
to scholars and students of knowledge of the ḥanafi school, and to scholars of the
other three schools.
This beautiful edition has been produced using five manuscripts. The researcher-
editor, Shaykh Dr. ῾Abd Allāh Nadhῑr Aḥmad of King ῾Abd al-῾Azῑz University
(Jeddah), states that he relied mainly on two of these manuscripts and consulted a
third when needed. He also sporadically consulted the other two partial and poor-
quality manuscripts.
The overall quality of the print, in terms of the paper, binding, design, font etc., is
very good. This is reflected in the current price tag of £150 for 9 volumes, here in the
UK. On the downside, as with the researcher-editor’s recent first ever publication of
شرح مختصر الطحاوي (Sharḥ Mukhtaṣar al-Ṭaḥāwi) by Imām al-Isbῑjābi in four large
volumes, it is very difficult (practically impossible) for the reader to ascertain where
the original text (matn) of the author (Imām Karkhi) begins and ends, and where the
commentary of Imām Qudūri begins and ends. He explains in his introduction (p. 10)
that the reason for this is that the commentator, Imām Qudūri, per the style of many
commentators during that period, has not indicated where the original text of the
author is and where his own commentary begins and ends. The result is that the two
works – the original text (matn) and the commentary (sharḥ) – have been diluted.
This makes the reading experience frustrating, unless you read it as if the entire
book is written by Imām Qudūri. Any attempt to demarcate the text from the
commentary is further compounded by the fact that the original text of Imām Karkhi,
as a separate and independent work, has been lost.
The other shortcoming, in my view, is the overall academic value of the editor’s
footnotes. They contain mainly brief takhrῑj of the aḥādῑth in the earlier volumes, and
a few comments here and there in the later volumes. The researcher-editor excuses
himself for doing so, citing the need for brevity and avoidance of unnecessary
expansion of the book. Some may like this while others not. My personal preference
– and this is something not every student of fiqh may agree with – is to have a
moderate level of cross-referencing and explanatory notes (with references),
wherever there is a need for this. I also like a moderate level of ḥadῑth takhrῑj in the
footnotes, but not dumping everything that one can copy and paste from electronic
sources like Maktabah Shāmilah! A moderate level of pointing out differences in the
manuscripts used, wherever these occur, is also interesting and beneficial, in my
view. Doing so is part and parcel of the preservation of the original academic
heritage. This must all be moderate, which, of course, is a relative and subjective
term. Having browsed through the volumes, I am conscious that many may feel that
this is precisely what the researcher-editor of this current publication has done, and
that it is how it ought to be – وللناس في ما يعشقون مذاهب. The researcher-editor’s other
work – Sharḥ al-Jāmi῾ al-Ṣaghῑr by Imām Qāḍῑkhān – which has been published
around the same time (see my comments below) fares worse in this regard. It
contains very few footnotes.
In terms of the contents of the book, I must admit that I found it much richer than I
had anticipated. Without any doubt, this is one of the most detailed works of the early
jurists of the ḥanafi legal school – especially, of the ῾Irāqi branch of the school. Imām
Qudūri goes into tremendous depth in expounding each mas̕alah (ruling). He
presents the various opinions of the imāms within the ḥanafi school and some who
were not adherents to the school, scrutinises, comments and gives preference.
Some of these are opinions of imāms, which have not been recorded elsewhere. He
also presents the opinions of the imāms of the other three schools of sunni
jurisprudence with their evidences and legal theories – especially, the shāfi῾i school,
which has historically been the second most dominant school in the world after the
ḥanafi school and seen as its main rival in jurisprudence – before strongly critiquing
and refuting them with textual evidences from the Qur̕ān and ḥadῑth, and
logical/intellectual evidences. The book is rich in this, and, as such, is a treasure
trove for scholars and students alike.
Imām Qudūri has added a huge amount of additional topics to what Imām Karkhi has
included in his text. Often, where Imām Qudūri feels Imām Karkhi’s topics and sub-
topics are incomplete or imbalanced, he has pointed this out and added extra
material, clearly marked as his own.
In analysing and commentating on each mas̕alah, Imām Qudūri also presents a lot of
elucidation from Arabic lexicography (lughah) and Qur̕ānic exegesis (tafsῑr), making
his own comments as he does so.
Overall, this is an excellent publication, marking another milestone in the growing
field of preservation of ḥanafi academic heritage specifically, and Islamic heritage
generally. The money spent on the book will be very well invested, in-shā̕Allāh.
Considering the very lofty status of the author (Imām Karkhi) and the commentator
(Imām Qudūri) within and beyond the ḥanafi legal school, the early period that they
were both from, and the comprehensiveness, depth, overall richness and
encyclopaedic nature of this work, one may draw similarities and a parallel with the
first ever publication of the eight-volume Sharḥ Mukhtaṣar al-Ṭaḥāwi in 1431 AH
(2010 CE) – the author being the magnificent imām of the ḥanafi school, Imām Abu
Ja῾far al-Ṭaḥāwi (d. 321 AH/933 CE), and the commentator, Imām Abu Bakr al-
Jaṣṣāṣ al-Rāzi (d. 370 AH/981 CE).

The second work:
شرح الجامع الصغير للإمام قاضيخان ط. مكتبة إسماعيل – also published for the first time in three
beautiful volumes by Ismaeel Books (UK) from Beirut, is the famous commentary of
one of the most authoritative fuqahā̕ (jurists) of the ḥanafi legal school on the Al-
Jāmi῾ al-Ṣaghῑr (الجامع الصغير) of Imām Muḥammad ibn al-Ḥasan al-Shaybāni, the
student of the greatest imām – Abu Ḥanῑfah al-Nu῾mān. Al-Jāmi῾ al-Ṣaghῑr is one of
the five pivotal and foundational texts of the ḥanafi legal school – all authored by
Imām Muḥammad ibn al-Ḥasan.
Imām Qāḍῑkhān (or Qāḍi Khān) – d. 592 AH (1196 CE) – of Fergana, modern day
Uzbekistan, also requires no introduction to scholars and students of the ḥanafi
رحمهم الله تعالى جميعاً ورضي عنهم
This coincides with the first ever publication of another commentary on Imām
Muḥammad ibn al-Ḥasan al-Shaybāni’s Al-Jāmi῾ al-Ṣaghῑr by another towering figure
amongst the ḥanafi fuqahā῾ of the early centuries – Shams al-A̕immah Imām
Sarakhsi – b. 400 AH (1009 CE). That commentary has been researched by Dr.
Ertugrul Boynukalin and jointly published by Türkiye Diyanet Vakfı Yayinlari (Turkey)
& Dār al-Rayāḥῑn (Beirut/Amman), the former – a part of a governmental
department/ministry for religious affairs – has dedicated commendable resources for
these projects in recent years.
This edition has been produced from just a single manuscript that has been
preserved in Istanbul, and which is of an overall poor quality. The researcher-editor
describes how the weakness of the copyist’s Arabic is evident from the manuscript
and how he had to fill in gaps using Imām Sarakhsi’s most famous work, the 30-
volume Al-Mabsūt, and other ḥanafi works.
It is amazing that we are seeing these monumental works of the guardians and
defenders of the Dῑn and Sharῑ῾ah being published today, during our lifetime – in
some cases (e.g., the text of Imām Karkhi incorporated in the commentary of Imām
Qudūri) more than 1100 years after they were authored. There have been many
such publications in recent years, and there are more expected in the coming years.
May Allāh Most Gracious reward the great authors and those contemporary research
scholars who are working so tirelessly on these projects.

Abu Asim Badrul Islam
Northampton, ENGLAND
12 Dhu ‘l-Qa῾dah 1443/12 June 2022

The nine volumes of Sharḥ Mukhtaṣar al-Karkhi.
The front cover of Sharḥ Mukhtaṣar al-Karkhi.
Sample pages of Sharḥ Mukhtaṣar al-Karkhi.
Sample pages from the manuscripts of Sharḥ Mukhtaṣar al-Karkhi that were used.
The three volumes of Sharḥ al-Jāmi῾ al-Ṣaghῑr by Imām Qāḍῑkhān.
The front cover of Sharḥ al-Jāmi῾ al-Ṣaghῑr by Imām Qāḍῑkhān.
Sample pages of Sharḥ al-Jāmi῾ al-Ṣaghῑr by Imām Qāḍῑkhān.
Front cover of Sharḥ al-Jāmi῾ al-Ṣaghῑr by Imām Sarakhsi.
Sample pages from Sharḥ al-Jāmi῾ al-Ṣaghῑr by Imām Sarakhsi.
Sample pages from the manuscript of Sharḥ al-Jāmi῾ al-Ṣaghῑr by Imām Sarakhsi that was used.

ذكريات مع عملاق البحث والتحقيق سماحة العلامة الدكتور عبد الحليم النعماني

ذكريات مع عملاق البحث والتحقيق سماحة العلامة الدكتور عبد الحليم النعماني

سماحة الأستاذ المفتي محمد قاسم القاسمي

مكثتُ في مدينة كراتشي ١٢ عاما أدرس، وسمعتُ حينئذ ما سمعت عن المحقق الكبير مولانا المحدّث الشيخ محمد عبد الرشيد النعماني، وعرفت من أعماله «ما تمس إليه الحاجة»، فتمنيتُ لقاءه والاستفادة منه، ولكن لم يقدّر لي ذلك، ثم في سفرٍ لي إلى باكستان وفّقتُ لزيارته، فاستقبلني بأيّما حبّ وحفاوة. ومما تكلمتُ معه في تلك الزيارة بشأنه علم الحديث والشبهات التي تُثار من قبل أدعياء العلم والتحقيق حول الفقه الإسلامي من حين إلى حين، فتكلم الشيخ ودلّ على كتب وأساليب، وأوصاني بمطالعة كتاب «ذبّ ذبابات الدراسات عن المذاهب الأربعة المتناسبات» للشيخ الفقيه الأصولي عبد اللطيف بن محمد هاشم السندي، والذي تولّى الشيح محمد عبد الرشيد النعماني تحقيقه.

وأهدى إليّ نسخة منه، وما كنتُ أعرف آنذاك أنّ له أخًا باحثًا محقِّقًا في علم الحديث أشبّ منه، فلما انتقل الشيخ عبد الرشيد نعماني إلى رحمة الله تأسّفنا على عدم الاستفادة منه، ثم عندما جاءنا الخبر عن طريق الطلاب الوافدين إلى باكستان بأنّ له أخا شقيقا يواصل طريقه، وهو الشيخ الدكتور عبد الحليم النعماني، وقد ملأ الفراغ الذي حدث برحيل شقيقه في جامعة العلوم الإسلامية التي أسسها العلامة السيد محمد يوسف البنوري رحمة الله عليه، اشتقنا إلى لقائه وزيارته فحقق الله تعالى هذا خلال رحلة قمت بها إلى باكستان، فرحّب بنا، وأبدى ارتياحًا وسرورًا، وغمرنا بشفقته وحفاوته وخلقه الحسن، فدعوناه إلى إيران لافتتاح «التخصص في الحديث النبوي الشريف» بدار العلوم زَاهِدَان، فرحّب بالدعوة، وبعد العودة أخبرَنا فضيلة الشيخ عبد الحميد بقبول الدعوة، ففرح بذلك وتمّ التنسيق وتحديد الموعد، ثم راسلنا الشيخ النعماني، فلبّى الدعوة مُخبرًا إيانا بموعد السفر، وعند الموعد ذهبنا إلى الحدود استقبالًا له، منتظرين قدومه بفارغ الصبر وكل سرور وشوق [1]، نعدّ الدقائق واللحظات حتى شرّفنا بقدومه الميمون، فوصل إلى دار العلوم زاهدان، وأقام فيها حوالي أسبوع، وعقدت حفلة افتتاح التخصص في الحديث، حسب المقرر، حضرها فضيلة مولانا عبد الحميد والأساتذة والطلاب، فخطب الشيخ، وأفاد وأجاد، وزوّد الحاضرين بنصائح قيمة.

ومن الجدير بالذكر أن الافتتاح كان بقراءة كتاب «نخبة الفكر» للعلامة ابن حجر العسقلاني، ومن حسن حظي أنّي تشرّفت بقراءة العبارة ناويًا التلمذ المباشر عليه، فشرح الأستاذ ما وسعه الوقت مسلطًا الأضواء على أهمية الفن وفضله. وهكذا تم تأسيس قسم التخصص في الحديث لأول مرة في إيران بكلمة الشيخ ودعائه ونصائحه، جعله الله صدقة جارية له ولمؤسس الدار الراحل مولانا الشيخ عبد العزيز رحمه الله وللمعنيين بالأمر. وانعقد حفل في الجامع المكي لتكريمه، فألقى فيه خطابا عاما نصح به المسلمين، ولما شاع خبر قدومه بدأ أهلُ العلم يَفِدُ لزيارته والاستفادة منه من المدن الأخرى.

أشار يومًا إلى أنه راغب في زيارة جامعة سِيستان وبلُوشِستَان، فتمّ التنسيق مع بعض الأساتذة بالجامعة فذهبنا هناك حيث قابل طائفة من الأساتذة وتبادل معهم الآراء حول التعليم والتربية. ولما سألهم عن عدد الأساتذة من أهل السنة – وكانت الإجابة أن عددهم قليل جدًّا لا يتجاوز العشرين من مجموعة يتجاوز عددها ٤٠٠ شخصًا – تعجّب الشيخ، وتأسف جدًّا، وعلّق على ذلك مبيّنا أهمية الدراسات العليا في حياة الشعوب وتأثيرها في مستقبلها.

كانت أيام إقامة شيخنا الدكتور أيام فرحة وسرور وتنشيط للطلاب والأساتذة، قد متّعنا بفيوضه وبركاته وأحاديثه وذكرياته الحلوة مع أساتذته ومشايخه، وكان يحكي لنا قصص أساتذته في دِيُوبَند، سيّما سماحة الشيخ المجاهد مولانا السيد حسين أحمد المدني رحمه الله وكان معجبًا به جدًّا، يذكر أحواله وصفاته، ويومًا – وقد كان في ضيافة الشيخ عبد الحميد – دعاه إلى منزله لوجبة العَشاء، فحكى هناك نبذةً من أحوال العلامة السيد حسين أحمد المدني، فلم يتمالك نفسه، وأجهش بالبكاء تسيل دموعه بغزارة، فتأثر الحاضرون جدًّا.

إلى خراسان وتهران

بعد أن قضى الشيخ أياما في دار العلوم زاهِدَان أبدى رغبته لزيارة خراسان حيث كانت مركزا للعلم والعلماء سيما مدينة مَشهَد، فحجزنا التذاكر متوجهين إلى مشهد، وهناك نزلنا في بيت أحد الإخوة، فاجتمع بعض الناس في بيت المضيف من هنا وهناك، ممن عرفوا قدومه واستفادوا من كلماته ونصائحه القيمة.

في طوس

ذهبنا إلى طوس لنزور مرقد الإمام الغزالي رحمه الله، فزرنا قبره، وذكرنا الأيام الخالية التي كانت تتلألأ فيها شمس معارف الغزالي وعلومه في خراسان وبغداد، وتمنّينا عودتها في المستقبل، وليس ذلك على الله بعزيز لأنه على كل شيء قدير.

وذهبنا إلى نيشابور كوطن للإمام المحدث مسلم بن الحجاج النيشابوري والعارف الكبير الشهير فريد الدين العطار النيشابوري، وتحسّر الشيخ مُبدِيًا أسفه البالغ على جفاء الأيام وحوادث الدهر واندراس حلقات العلم في تلك الديار ونسيان أهليها تاريخ سلفهم الصالح.

إلى طهران

غادرنا مشهد إلى طهران وكان السفر بالقطار، ومن الجدير بالذكر أني كنتُ أواصل قراءة كتاب

«نخبة الفكر» على الشيخ طولَ الطريق في الطائرة وفي القطار وحيثما تيسّر، مستفيدًا من شرحه وآرائه، وختمتُ الكتاب قبيل مغادرة الشيخ طهران. والحمد لله.

وفي طهران نزلنا في منزل الشيخ عبيد الله موسى زاده، حيث قد اجتمع كثير من أهل طهران ممن دُعوا إلى استماع محاضرة الشيخ ونصائحه، فاستفادوا وفرحوا بلُقياه، وبعد فراغ الشيخ من الخطاب اقترب إليه المستمعون محاولين تقبيل يديه، فلم يرض بذلك، وقال كلمة عجبية لا أنساها: «إنهم يُحسنون بنا الظنّ، ولعلهم ينجون، لكننا نخشى أن يأخذنا الإعجابُ بأنفسنا فنؤاخَذ». فقلتُ: «إن هذا العمل تقليد سائد لدينا»، ولكن الشيخ لم يطمئن قلبه ولم يقنع.

كانت إقامته في طهران قصيرة بَيد أنها كانت مباركة مفيدة، قد هزّ النفوس، وألقى الفكرة، وبيّن السبيل والمناهج، وحثّ على المجاهدة والاستقامة.

فودّعناه إلى المطار مغادرًا إلى كراتشي بعد أن أفاض علينا من معين علومه وفيوضه، وأوصانا وشرّفنا بدعواته الصالحة وتشجيعاته. جزاه الله خيرا ورفع درجاته.

اللقاء الأخير

كلما قدِّر لي الرحلة إلى كراتشي حاولتُ زيارته في مقرّه بجامعة العلوم الإسلامية قسم التخصص في الحديث. وكان دعاه الشيخ المفتي عبد الرحيم في السنوات الأخيرة إلى جامعة الرشيد، استفادةً من بركاته ونصائحه وتوجيهاته التعليمية والتربوية.

وقبل ثلاث سنوات لما ذهبت إلى جامعة الرشيد بكراتشي تشرّفت بزيارته ففرح جدّا، ودعاني إلى بيته، وأراني مكتبته الزاخرة بالكتب القيمة، مُكرِمًا إياي بما لا أستحق، وكانت فرصة سعيدة لتبادل أطراف الحديث بشأن التعليم والدراسة والتحقيق وتكوين الرجال الباحثين، فأعجبني آرائه القيمة الحصيفة، ويا ليت أهل العلم والجامعات الدينية يلتفتون إلى آرائه القيمة ويطبّقونها. قد فوجئنا بنبأ رحيله وقد كنا نتمنّى التمتّع بحياته والاستفادة من حضرته، ولكن كان أمر الله قدرا مقدورا. فإنا لله وإنا إليه راجعون، وإنّا لِفراقه لمحزونون.

لقد فقدنا برحيله عالما ربّانيا ومُربّيًا ناجحًا وباحثًا كبيرًا ومحقّقا عملاقا تذكّرنا أعماله وجهوده بالسلف الصالح، مما يقتضي أن نأخذ دروسا وعظات من حياته ونقتدي به في مجال خدمة الإسلام والمسلمين وتحمّل الشدائد والصبر في سبيل العلم والدين. كما ينبغي أن نتأسّى به في الاعتناء بالتحقيق والدراسة والمحافظة على الأوقات واغتنام الفرص واللحظات واختيار حياة الزهد والتقشّف والتواضع في القول والعمل والحلم وأدب الأساتذة والاتصال الدائم بالمشايخ الكبار والاهتمام بالتزكية والتقوى في جميع شؤون الحياة.

وهناك ذكرى رائعة أخرى حدثت خلال مدة إقامة الشيخ في زاهدان، لا يفوتني بيانها، وهي أنها جاءت فئة من شباب أهل العلم من مدينة خاش لزيارة الشيخ طالبين منه أن ينصحهم، فتواضع الشيخ أوّلا ثم أنشد شعرا باللغة الفارسية:

من نمی گویم زیان کن یا به فکر سود باش

ای ز فرصت بی خبر در هر چه باشی زود باش

«لستُ أقول لك اربح أو اخسر، وإنما نصيحتي لك أيها الغافل عن فوات الفرصة أن أسرع فيما تريد»، ففرحوا بإرشاده وقالوا: لقد كفانا هذا، ثم ودّعوه شاكرين.

حقيق بنا أن نستفيد من كتبه ومآثره، ونقدّمها للجيل المعاصر والقادم ونواصل طريقه، ولا ننساه في دعواتنا، فإن له علينا حقّا.

اللهم اغفر له، وارحمه، وعافه، واعف عنه، وأكرم نزله، ووسّع مدخله، وأبدله دارًا خيرًا من داره وأهلا خيرًا من أهله، وارزق أهله وذويه وأصحابه صبرًا جميلًا وأجرًا عظيمًا.

اللهم لا تفتنّا بعده، ولا تحرمنا أجره، وجازه أحسن الجزاء عن الإسلام والمسلمين.


(فاتحة مجلة «الصحوة الإسلامية»، العدد (١٤٦_١٤٥) الخاص لحياة الشيخين الدكتور محمد عبد الحليم النعماني والدكتور محمد عادل خان رحمهما الله)


[1] في الأصل: «وكلنا سرور وشوق».

Book Review: Islam in Victorian Liverpool

By Mawlana Ismaeel Nakhuda

A version of this review was earlier published in the Asian Image newspaper. Additional information has been added to the review for the and readership – Ismaeel.

The story of Islam in Britain as told nowadays would always be incomplete without mention of the so-called ‘Shaykh al-Islam of the British Isles’ Abdullah Quilliam (d. 1932), the Victorian-era solicitor who converted to Islam and founded and presided over the Liverpool Muslim Institute.

As Muslims began settling in the UK in large numbers following World War Two, there was a time when we knew very little if anything about Quilliam and the Liverpool Muslim community. This unknown history, however, began to unravel itself bit by bit as historians and academics began piecing together Quilliam’s life through archives, his personal papers and, more importantly, past issues of his periodical, The Crescent.

Aside from being the main source of what we know today about this fledgling community situated at the second most important port of the mightiest empire of the day, The Crescent was at that time Quilliam’s main vehicle for raising his profile and that of his community and institute. It made him famous and drew funds from across the globe. In addition to a readership in Britain, thousands of copies were regularly sent abroad to subscribers across the world, from the Americas to the Malay Archipelago and as far south as Cape Town.

As a result, Quilliam became well known throughout the Islamic world. Eccentric, flamboyant and peculiar is how he is perceived. Those who have studied his life and his congregation often mention that there is still much to discover about the Brit who converted to Islam in Morocco in the late 1800s. To, therefore, come across a Muslim account of Quilliam and his community written by someone who was Quilliam’s contemporary is surely a novelty.

Having heard of the community and Quilliam, Yusuf Samih Asmay (d.1942), an Ottoman intellectual, travel writer and journalist who lived in Cairo, spent over a month in Liverpool observing the institute and interviewing its leader and the people associated with it. On his return to Egypt, he corresponded with the people he met and wrote a unique and intriguing eyewitness account of Britain’s first mosque community in the Ottoman language. What makes Asmay’s account specifically stand out is that he presents Quilliam and his institute in a way that is at odds with the image depicted in The Crescent.

Asmay does not take any prisoners. He criticises both Quilliam and the Liverpool Muslim Institute. His main denunciations revolve around how religious services are unorthodox and at odds with Sunni Islam (there seems to be a mixing of Islamic practices with Anglican Christianity). According to Asmay, prayers were conducted not at the appointed hours or in the necessary Islamic format. Ablutions and prescribed purity rituals seem to be ignored or not performed in the proper way, and Asmay laments “if only the brothers and sisters-in-faith in Liverpool could study the Qur’an and … a concise manual of Islamic faith, worship and ethics under a religious scholar one evening a week at this school it would be of great benefit.” This was something that fell on deaf ears with Asmay suggesting this himself as did other well-intentioned people.

Asmay also criticises how anti-Christian polemics are often the topic of discussions at the institute, something that he considers unwise in a deeply Christian Victorian society. He further observes that the private Islamic school and museum at the Liverpool Muslim Institute are not as grand as one may be led to believe going by The Crescent.

In relation to the museum housed at the Liverpool Muslim Institute, he amusingly writes that “the contents of the room are no more than a few fish and cat skeletons, some stuffed birds and a few stones and ores of different minerals and suchlike. There are antique shops that sell similar items on Manchester Street in Liverpool and if you are familiar with the contents of a single display cabinet in these shops, then it would suffice to describe the objects in this room. To have the audacity to name a room that lacks historical or scientific objects a museum can only be explained by Quilliam being an attorney.” The reference to the cat skeletons really caught my eye. Though not mentioned by the editors, I would not be surprised if the cat skeletons that Asmay observed were one of the estimated 180,000 mummified Egyptian cats that were sold at auction at Liverpool docks in 1890. Almost all were crushed and used for manure, except for a few that were saved and are housed today at Liverpool’s World Museum.

Asmay also reproduces an Ottoman translation of an advertisement that is regularly printed in The Crescent about the Liverpool Muslim Institute and its activities. He then comments, “Muslims in general in Liverpool are not members of the elementary school that is named an institute, which in reality is a small room where Mr. Quilliam’s children study. The mosque is not open for visitors every day let alone for worship. Saying [we are holding] Friday prayers is only lip-service. A lecture room and library has not come into existence. The [desultory] state of the museum has been mentioned above. The day school is an embellishment as is the case with the Friday prayers.”

He then amusingly adds, “Writing that there are evening classes for Oriental languages is like putting one zero in front of another. Alas, how much do the events of our times suffer from the pens of English journalists and the speeches of their lawyers? They have the ability and power to make a grain as small as a speck appear as big as a ladle. With our brother Mr. Quilliam being both a lawyer and a journalist, is it hard to imagine what he might be capable of, if we give it a little consideration?”

The publicity that The Crescent generated attracted funds from across the Muslim world. In relation to this, Asmay alleges financial irregularities and calls for the need to improve governance to oversee the donations that poured in. He also stresses the need for regulating the institute as a waqf or Islamic endowment. In the context of the improper use of funds, Asmay provides a profile of Mawlana Barakatullah Bhopali [1] (d.1927), an Indian who Asmay says Quilliam employed as a secretary due to his proficiency in Arabic, Persian and Urdu to write letters to Muslim rulers seeking financial assistance. Asmay was clearly unimpressed by Bhopali and writes that “his additional job is to be introduced as the Mufti of Liverpool to Muslims from the Orient who come to visit the city.”

What is even more damning are the questions that Asmay raises around Quilliam’s character, providing details that I certainly have never come across before. He also dubs The Crescent as a tool for propaganda and interestingly mentions that Quilliam and the Liverpool Muslim Institute is a British imperial project with some sort of colonial goal in mind to undermine pan-Islamic solidarity. As the editors mention in their introduction, for some the Liverpool Muslim Institute was a “political attempt to undermine Islamic unity through propaganda about an English mosque with Muslim converts to buttress Britain’s imperial authority” and “to counter Islam as a unifying anti-colonial force and to assimilate Muslims as imperial subjects.”

Interestingly, the editors’ also mention that Quilliam’s “designation as ‘Sheikh-ul-Islam of the British Isles’ came about through nomination” and election at a Liverpool Muslim Institute meeting with “no hard evidence to date that the Ottomans ever formally recognised the title or that its officials ever used the title in connection to Quilliam.”

Asmay’s book caused great controversy among Liverpool’s Muslims and had the potential to severely damage Quilliam and his institute. For reasons that are unclear, the Ottomans banned the book in 1898 following a private audience between Quilliam and Sultan Abdul Hamid II. This clearly shows that Quilliam had reach into the highest echelons of power within the Sublime Port. It is normally assumed that he enjoyed these relations because of a sense of common Islamic brotherhood. Is this, however, the case or is there something else sinister such as Quilliam’s Freemason links?

Though not mentioned in Asmay’s book or the editors’ introduction, notes and appendixes, it is now widely understood that Quilliam was a Freemason and member of several lodges before and after his conversion. He also enjoyed close associations with the Grand Master and Mayor of Liverpool John Houlding who was even awarded the Order of the Imtiyaz on the instructions of Sultan Abdul Hamid II. Several prominent Ottoman statesmen and dignitaries were masons who played crucial roles in palace politics, intrigue and kingmaking.

What the nature of Quilliam’s ties to Freemasonry in Constantinople was is unclear. What we do, however, know is that Quilliam suddenly left Liverpool in 1908 for Turkey and then returned to the UK under an alias in 1914. It is assumed that he was running away in advance of being struck off the Roll of Solicitors for unprofessional conduct as a solicitor. However, Quilliam’s arrival in Turkey coincided with the time when the Committee of Union and Progress (or the Young Turks), a secretive revolutionary organisation that had deep ties to Freemasonry, was forcing Abdul Hamid to reinstate the Young Turk constitution that eventually led to his deposition in 1909. Did Quilliam play a role in the political changes that took place in Turkey during that period and did his links to Freemasonry enable this? We know he assumed different aliases. Could it be that he assumed another identity to play a role in Constantinople and if so what was this role? Perhaps there is an Ottoman record chronicling this. These are questions that remain unanswered and hopefully as time passes, we can learn more.

Returning to Asmay’s book, this English translation has once more allowed this book to see the light of day. It includes a brilliantly written detailed introduction by the editors, followed by the actual book with meticulous notes and then an appendix consisting of brief biographies of key individuals mentioned within the text and other relevant information. Though it does not do any favours to Quilliam and the Liverpool Muslim Institute, it is an excellent contribution that enriches our understanding of the early days of Islam in Britain.

Book details
Title: Islam in Victorian Liverpool
Author: Yusuf Samih Asmay
Translated, notes and introduction: Yahya Birt, Riordan Macnamara and Münire Zeyneb Maksudoğlu
Publisher: Claritas Books


1It would seem Mawlana Barakatullah’s involvement with the Liverpool Muslim Institute was not one of his proudest moments. He is remembered today as a prominent Indian revolutionary, delivering fiery speeches and revolutionary writings in newspapers calling for India’s independence. While in Liverpool, Asmay reached out to the mawlana in relation to a host of problems at the institute from finance issues to lack of authentic Islamic instruction, something that might have struck a guilty note and prompted him to separate from the Liverpool Muslim Institute. Many years later, Mawlana Barakatullah appears in Afghanistan where he took on the role of Prime Minister of the first Provisional Government of India, which served as the Indian Government in exile during World War I and was presided over by Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh (d.1979). The government in exile was established by the Indian Independence Committee which was a broad coalition of Indian freedom fighters representing Muslims and non-Muslims of various shades and colours, including the then head lecturer at Dar al-‘Ulum Deoband, Shaykh al-Hind Mawlana Mahmud Hasan Deobandi (d.1920) and Mawlana Obaydullah Sindhi (d.1944). Mawlana Barakatullah died in San Francisco and was buried at Sacramento City Cemetery, California.

Taken from

Book Review: Maktūbat-i-Mashāyikh

By Mawlana Ismaeel Nakhuda

There are three genres of literature that are perhaps unique within the context of Islam in South Asia: malfuzattazkirahs and maktubat (aphorisms, hagiographies and letters). Often written in Urdu or Persian, all three are a delight to read, and overflow with wisdom and academic nuggets that really help us not only gain a better understanding of notable religious individuals and their temperaments, but also provide unique context of the social milieu people lived and operated in.

When it comes to the maktubat there are numerous famous collections of epistles written and received by luminaries from the Sub Continent. Perhaps one of the most famous being the Maktubat of Mujaddid Alf-i-Thani Shaykh Ahmed Sarhindi (d.1624) (may Allah enlighten his grave), which has been translated into various languages. Likewise, those connected to Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhalawi (d.1981) (may Allah have mercy on him) have also tirelessly produced compilations of his letters. Those connected to the silsilah are regularly advised to read them with the aim of gaining spiritual blessings (fayd) and an understanding of the way of our elders.

Within the UK, Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Yusuf Motala (d.2019) (may Allah have mercy on him) – one of Shaykh Zakariyya’s leading khalifahs – led the way on this with several compilations of Shaykh Zakariyya’s letters, including Makatib-i-Shaykh al-Hadith and Mahabbat Nameh, and a third compilation entitled ‘Inayat Nameh consisting of the letters he received from leading religious luminaries. Another lovely compilation of Shaykh Zakariyya’s letters was published by Shaykh Mawlana Hashim Patel, another one of Shaykh Zakariyya’s leading UK-based khalifahs, entitled Mereh Hadrat keh Khutut. (And as I write these words one of Mawlana Yusuf Motala’s khalifahs, Mawlana Ahmad ‘Ali Lunat has also published Jamal-i-Yusufi, a beautiful and heart touching collection of Shaykh Zakariyya’s letters to Mawlana Yusuf Motala that I hope to also write about soon.)

Maktubat-i-Mashayikh is a continuation of this Islamic tradition and consists of some eighty letters received by my teacher, the most erudite, hadith expert and accomplished lecturer in hadith, Shaykh al-Hadith Mufti Shabbir Ahmed Patel of Blackburn, UK. The letters span over 40 years and are from several leading scholars, particularly the late Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Yunus Jawnpuri (d.2017) and the late Shaykh al-Hadith Mawlana Yusuf Motala.

As a former student of Dar al-‘Ulum Bury, I saw Mufti Shabbir in his prime and had the honour of attending his classes and lectures in the final years of my time at the madrasah (1996-2001). His deep understanding, passion for imparting knowledge, wide reading, erudition and engaging style of lecturing was something that energised me then and the memories of sitting in his class still provide solace today, some 20 years later. His lessons were engaging and packed to the brim with wisdom and wit. Not only was he a conscientious lecturer, he was also diligent in covering the books he taught at a steady pace, ensuring the book would be comfortably completed by the end of the academic year without the need to rush due to lengthy discussions towards the beginning of the year. Later, I would read in Shaykh Zakariyya’s autobiography, Aap Biti, that this was also the habit of his father, Mawlana Muhammad Yahya Kandhalwi.

When Ramadan came, students at the Dar al-‘Ulum in those days would normally return home or go abroad to lead Tarawih. As someone who was not hafiz of the Qur’an and did not have the responsibility of leading the Tarawih prayers, it would happen that I would often spend several weeks during Ramadan at Dar al-‘Ulum Bury. This time would be spent either in khidmah of those sitting in seclusion (i‘tikaf) or in seclusion myself. It would also often be the case that Mufti Shabbir would be sat in seclusion and oversee the i‘tikaf programme himself. For a teenager from the back-to-back terrace streets of Lancashire, this was an opportunity to observe how the pious spent Ramadan and what I saw then still elicits a sweet taste in my mouth today. I saw a man who ate and slept little, just the bare minimum. Though he had a profound interest in the hadith sciences, Ramadan was dedicated to the Qur’an. He would spend his day constantly and consistently in its recitation from memory. How much he read was anyone’s guess, but I am sure it was no less than the entire Qur’an during the whole day if not more. His attachment to the Qur’an really stuck out. In those days, his children were young and he would often be flanked by them. He would recite his own Qur’an and then listen to his children’s hifz.

Mufti Shabbir had his own way of reciting. His voice was solemn, heart touching and emotional. Anyone who has had the fortune of listening to his recitation will testify to that. On the verses of punishment his voice would tremble and on the verses relating to Allah’s mercy and the bounties He has in store for the pious there would be a freshness in his voice that reflected the subject being recited. One would never bore of listening to his Qur’an and even now, decades later, I relish those invaluable moments.

He was always full of energy and I saw this increase during the holy month. I recall one Ramadan some 25 years ago, when it fell in winter and the nights were long. That year Mufti Shabbir’s daily routine was to lead a portion of the Tarawih at the Sajidin Mosque in Blackburn and then head to the Markaz al-‘Ulum madrasah (also in Blackburn) where the Tarawih began a little later. He would lead a number of rak‘ahs there and then midway head for Dar al-‘Ulum Bury (some 12 miles away) where the prayer began even later. He would join the Dar al-‘Ulum congregation in between their Tarawih and lead a large portion of the prayer and end with witr. His memory was excellent and recitation steady and flawless. I also observed that he would be reciting the Qur’an from memory while he travelled from one venue to another. In fact, every time I ever travelled with him by car, rather than frivolous talk, his time would be spent reciting the Qur’an in a quiet but audible voice.

Despite being a senior lecturer in hadith and a teacher of individuals who themselves are senior scholars and hadith lecturers, I often recall Mufti Shabbir during the i’tikaf helping us pick up the dastarkhwan and tidying up after the iftar meal. And as my years at Dar al-‘Ulum passed I often saw Mufti Shabbir spending long days and weekends supervising and organising the cleaning of the madrasah, especially in preparation for official visits or annual gatherings such as the graduation ceremony of the final year students studying Sahih al-Bukhari. He was not hands off but got in with the students, and using the art of coaxing and persuasion led from the front and commanded the respect of students to deliver what needed to be done.

On one occasion, I remember the Dar al-‘Ulum cook not being able to prepare lunch for some reason and so Mufti Shabbir himself rolled his sleeves up and, in between lessons, prepared lunch on that day for the madrasah’s 400 students and teaching staff. A mammoth task indeed. If my memory serves me right, he said he had cooked Lucknowi Biryani. As someone who has never tasted Lucknowi Biryani I’m unsure whether this was the case, but I can certify it was a tasty meal and I ate to my fill.

On graduation from Dar al-‘Ulum, I became busy with university and employment in Saudi Arabia and perhaps became distant from our respected teacher. Just a few days before last Ramadan, I was visiting my mother’s home and ventured outside to take a call due to poor reception when a car pulled up next to me. Engrossed in the conversation I initially failed to recognise who it was and then when the window came down realised it was Mufti Shabbir. We met and seeing him unexpectedly made me extremely happy. He then handed me a box of Madinah dates and said this is a gift for you for Ramadan and went on his way. That memory remains with me and I cherished every date in that box. It also then dawned on me that I had taken so much from Mufti Shabbir but given nothing in return.

Maktubat-i-Mashayikh is an interesting read. The letters from Shaykh Yunus Jawnpuri are particularly noteworthy and exemplify the attachment between the two. They also contain a wealth of information on the science of hadith and its commentary. Perhaps the most interesting letter in the collection is the one on page 171 in which Mawlana Yusuf Motala grants Mufti Shabbir khilafah in Tasawwuf and provides some unique and useful advice that would be relevant to any salik. We pray Allah Most High grants Mufti Shabbir a long life, that He accepts his services for the faith and enables us to value this gem who is still among us. Amin.

This review was written at the request of Mawlana Khalil Ahmed Kazi of Madina Academy, Dewsbury, UK.

Taken from

Book Review: al-Taḥqīq al-Bāhir Sharḥ al-Ashbāḥ wa ʾl-Naẓāʾir

Book review by Mawlana Abu Asim Badrul Islam

التحقيق الباهر شرح الأشباه والنظائر (للإمام ابن نجيم المصري – 926-970

للإمام العلامة هبة الله التاجي (1151-1224 هـ)

المؤلف : الإمام العلامة هبة الله التاجي

المحقق : د. الشيخ أسامة محمد شيخ

الموضوع : الأشباه والنظائر في المذهب الحنفي

الناشر : دار اللباب (إسطنبول ، دمشق ، بيروت)

سنة النشر : 1443 هـ _ 2021م

رقم الطبعة : 1

عدد المجلدات : 8

Title:  Al-Taḥqῑq al-Bāhir Sharḥ Al-Ashbāh wa ‘l-Naẓā̕ir

Author:  Imām ῾Allāmah Hibat Allāh al-Tāji (1151-1224 AH)

Editor:  Mawlana Dr. Osama Muhammad Sheikh

Genre:  Ḥanafi legal maxims/legal analogy/jurisprudence

Publisher:  Dār al-Lubāb (Istanbul/Beirut)

Year of publication:  1443/2021 (1st edition)

Number of volumes:  8

Imām ῾Allāmah Ibn Nujaym’s (926-970 AH) Al-Ashbāh wa ‘l-Naẓā̕ir is a key work that is taught and studied by scholars of the ḥanafi legal school, who specialise in the issuing of legal rulings/edicts (fatwa). It is a work that has received much praise from jurists of the school throughout the centuries (Al-Taḥqῑq al-Bāhir, 1:31-33). Until now, there has been no good print of a commentary on this book. Extending over eight large volumes, Al-Taḥqῑq al-Bāhir is the only complete and detailed commentary on Al-Ashbāh wa ‘l-Naẓā̕ir – although, about 30 other works have been written on Al-Ashbāh wa ‘l-Naẓā̕ir, including several marginalia, most of which are incomplete, or do not include the entire text of Al-Ashbāh wa ‘l-Naẓā̕ir within the commentary and explanatory notes. Written by Imām ῾Allāmah Hibat Allāh al-Tāji (1151-1224 AH), Al-Taḥqῑq al-Bāhir is the only work on Al-Ashbāh wa ‘l-Naẓā̕ir that has commentated on every part of the author’s text in a detailed yet clear and simple style. The importance of this cannot be overemphasised – especially, considering the challenging and often ambiguous nature of the text.

In bringing this publication to fruition, the researcher-editor, Mawlana Dr. Osama Sheikh[1] spent seven years working from manuscripts of the book. He mentions in his introduction (1:60-64) that he accessed four complete manuscripts of the work, of which he used two as the principal manuscripts. He also mentions two incomplete manuscripts (1:64-65), which he also used in this critical edition.

The author of Al-Taḥqῑq al-Bāhir, Imām ῾Allāmah Hibat Allāh al-Tāji, has consulted tens of works of the ḥanafi masters in his work. These include principal texts (mutūn), commentaries (shurūḥ), fatāwā (legal rulings/edicts) and uṣūl (jurisprudence). However, when referencing or quoting other works, he often does so through the intermediary of secondary sources (1:57). In critically editing the work, Mawlana Dr. Osama Sheikh has endeavoured to visit the original published source of most of these references to verify the accuracy of the quotation. This proved to be a challenging and cumbersome task, as not all the references that the author mentions have been published, while some may not even be available anywhere in any format. In addition to this, Mawlana Dr. Osama Sheikh also used three commentaries of Al-Ashbāh wa ‘l-Naẓā̕ir in manuscript form. These are ῾Umdat al-Nāẓir, Tanwῑr al-Adhhāni wa ‘l-Ḍamā̕ ir, Kashf al-Khaṭā̕ir. During the course of his critical editing, Mawlana Dr. Osama Sheikh discovered that the author has often been casual in quoting from earlier works, not prioritising accuracy. This has in some places altered the meaning of what the author of the original source had intended. In addition to this problem, all the manuscripts of Al-Taḥqῑq al-Bāhir are filled with errors by the copyists. This made it more important to visit the original source of each reference quoted by the author.

Mawlana Dr. Osama Sheikh has very helpfully added headings in square brackets to each section that discusses a new mas῾alah or issue. This enhances the reading experience and makes it much easier to search for discussions on different issues. 

Where deemed necessary, ḥarakāt and i῾rāb have been added throughout the book. For a final thorough proofreading before going to print, the publisher, Dār al-Lubāb (Istanbul/Beirut), employed a team of in-house proofreaders/researchers. However, despite this, the book contains a lot of errors, which could have been easily avoided. Errors are generally of the following categories: typographical errors, errors in i῾rāb, omitted letters or words, and some mistakes made by Mawlana Dr. Osama Sheikh himself.

Another shortcoming of this edition, in my view, is that the actual matn (text) of Al-Ashbāh wa ‘l-Naẓā̕ir has been omitted by Dār al-Lubāb. For such a work, one would normally expect the matn to be at the top of the page, demarcated from the commentary by a line. Instead, all eight volumes of this edition contain continuous, non-stop commentary with words and parts of sentences of Al-Ashbāh wa ‘l-Naẓā̕ir within brackets in red ink. I believe, this was done by Dār al-Lubāb in its desire to keep the number of volumes down. Had Dār al-Lubāb added the matn at the top of the pages, the book may have been in ten volumes and its beauty and usefulness would have been much enhanced.

I have no doubt that the book will, at some point in the future, undergo a revision and we shall see a better second edition. However, given the sheer size of the book and the finances involved, only Allāh Most High knows when that may be. Until then, the serious student of ḥanafi fiqh and the scholar of fatwa find themselves with a difficult decision to make – whether to purchase this first edition of this brilliant work or risk waiting many years for a better revised second edition, or, even worse, see the book go out of print. This is further compounded by the hefty price tag (currently, £130-£150 here in the United Kingdom).

Abu Asim Badrul Islam
Northampton, ENGLAND
22 Jumāda ‘l-Ūlā 1443/27 December 2021
Special thanks to Mawlana Dr. Osama Sheikh.

Front cover of Al-Taḥqῑq al-Bāhir.
All eight volumes of Al-Taḥqῑq al-Bāhir alongside my extremely poor edition of Al-Ashbāh wa ‘l-Naẓā̕ir by the infamous Dār al-Kutub al-῾Ilmiyyah (Beirut).
Sample pages of Al-Taḥqῑq al-Bāhir. The headings in square brackets have been added by the editor, Mawlana Dr. Osama Sheikh.
Sample pages of Al-Taḥqῑq al-Bāhir.

[1] Mawlana Dr. Osama Sheikh completed his Dars-e-Niẓāmi (also known as Shahādat al-῾Ālimiyyah) course/master’s degree at Jāmi῾ah Fārūqiyyah, Karachi in 2007. He then completed a PhD degree at the Umm al-Qura University in Makkah Mukarramah.

A Short Arabic Biography of ʿAllāmah Dr. ʿAbd al-Ḥalīm al-Nuʿmānī Chishtī by ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Zāhidānī

I am posting a file of an Arabic biography of our shaykh. This is a more detailed biography than the one I wrote many years ago as a preface to one of his works. The work never got published and its title that I suggested but wasn’t completely approved. In fact, I would like to clarify that this piece also lists the title al-Imām al-Bukhārī bayna al-Ifrāṭ wa al-Tafrīṭ, which was my initial suggestion for the piece because I couldn’t think of anything better. Chishtī Ṣāḥib (and I know some of my colleagues) didn’t seem to approve of the title and didn’t feel it represented the purpose of the book, but it stuck and since the book was never published, it remained on the cover of the file. I have worked on several of the discussions of that unfinished work and published some of the research in English for a paper that should be out shortly in Turkey.

This biography, written by one of Haḍrat’s Irani students from Zahedan, does a wonderful job of capturing elements of his character and his thoughts despite its relative brevity.