Ever since I laid my hands upon the famous short Hanafi fiqh text al-Hadiyyah al-‘Ala’iyyah in 2005, I had been longing to find a similar beginner’s book on Hanafi fiqh that was worthy of translation into English and that shared al-Hadiyyah’s conciseness, flow, and choice of content. The special characteristic of al-Hadiyyah that I sought so intently for an English fiqh primer was its inclusion of chapters on etiquette in addition to the normal chapters on the acts of worship. This I believed, and still believe, is absolutely important for an introductory fiqh text.
Therefore, back in 2006 whilst studying hadith sciences under the great research scholar, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Halim Nu’mani, when I chanced upon a short fiqh text that fit such a description even better than al-Hadiyyah in the Jami’ah’s library, I was nothing short of elated.
The book, neatly bound and beautifully composed, claimed in the publisher’s introduction to be one of the mutun mu’tabirah in the Hanafi madhhab. Interestingly enough, I had never come across this matn before and was not aware of its inclusion by scholars amongst the core Hanafi fiqh texts. Entitled Tuhfat al-Muluk fi Fiqhi Madhhab al-Imam Abi Hanifah al-Nu’man, the text was authored by none other than Imam Zayn al-Din Muhammad ibn Abi Bakr al-Razi (died 666 a.h.), the famous author of the renowned dictionary, Mukhtar al-Sihah.
What was so special about the book was that despite its brevity and exclusion of the main chapters on mu’amalat, the book had added the following important chapters to the normal list of ‘ibadat, some chapters which, in my humble opinion, no beginning fiqh text should be without:
- Sayd wa ‘l-Dhaba’ih
- Kasb wa ‘l-Adab
Fortunately, I was able to purchase the Tuhfah from Mufti Husain Kadodia last year and while reading through the introduction more thoroughly, I noticed that the book had a commentary that had been written by the famed scholar, Imam Badr al-Din al-‘Ayni (may Allah have mercy on him). The title of the commentary was Minhat al-Suluk and because of the prestigious rank of Imam ‘Ayni, I was, of course, keen on finding out more about its availability.
Knowing that most such small commentaries on Hanafi texts remain yet unpublished, I didn’t keep much hope in finding the text in published form. At the same time, I was hopeful in being able to find at least a manuscript of the text from libraries in Egypt.
You can imagine my joy then, when during my Hajj trip this year, I stumbled upon a published version of Imam ‘Ayni’s commentary in the library of Masjid Nabawiyy. Beautifully printed in four volumes, the commentary included marginal notes by, surprisingly enough, the Hanbali Khatib and Imam of the Masjid Nabawiyy, Shaykh Abdul Muhsin al-Qasim. The marginal notes were entitled al-Masbuk and despite being simply tahqiq, ta’liq, and takhrij work, its title donned the cover of the four-volume set. While searching for the Minhat al-Suluk online, I was able to find a downloadable copy of the commentary with its marginal notes.
I highly recommend that readers take out the time to read through at least portions of the book and benefit from its style and content. It would be also extremely beneficial if the book be translated into English and included in the course material of introductory fiqh classes at weekend Islamic schools or maktabs.