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
school.
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.