Translation of the Introduction to Sunan Abu Dawud

In the introduction to his Sunan imam Abu Dawud (817-888) wrote a short epistle (risalah) to the people of Makkah on the history and methodology of the science of hadith. The Arabic version of the epistle can be downloaded here:

Here the link to the English translation:

Commentaries (Shurûḥ) on “al-Murshid al-Mu’īn” by Ibn ‘Āshir

‘Abd ul-Waḥid ibn ‘Āshir (d. 1040 A.H.) was the author of the in the Maghrib well-known (700 year old) text al-Murshid al-Mu’īn (in short: “The Guiding Helper”) ‘ala al-Darûri min ‘Ulûm il-Dīn fī madhhab al-Imām Mālik.[1] This didactic text (and naẓm: poem) of 317 verses (in rajz) is about ‘aqīdah (Ash’ari), fiqh (Māliki) and tasawwuf (al-Junayd). In Morocco and elsewhere this text was (and still is) memorized from early on by children and also in the Darqāwi tarīqah, where all muridīn needed to memorize this text to ensure they possessed a minimum of religious knowledge. (Links to videos with audio’s of the text:

On this book several commentaries (shurûḥ) and hāshiyyāt were written, of which some of the titles will follow below. The fact there are several commentaries tells us something about the wide acceptance of the text in the Maliki tradition (which has been forgotten and/or neglected by many Moroccans living in the West).

1.) al-Ḥabl al-Matīn ‘ala Naẓm al-Murshid al-Mu’īn

By Muhammad bin Muhammad ‘Abdallah bin al-Mubarak al-Fathi al-Marrakshi al-Maliki; this is the most well-known commentary and easily found in bookshops in Morocco. (Online here:

2.) Mukhtasar al-Durar al-Thamin wa’l-Mawrid al-Mu’īn

By al-Mayyarah (d. 1072); al-Mayyarah was the student of Ibn ‘Āshir; this work can be found in several ‘Moroccan’ mosques everywhere (outside Morocco). On this work there is a hāshiyyah (gloss) by Ibn al-Hājj (d. 1273)[2] (Not to be confused with the famous Ibn al-Hajj al-Maliki -d.737- who authored al-Madkhal)

3.) al-‘Arfu’l-Nāshir fi Sharḥ wa Adillah fiqh Matn Ibn ‘Āshir fi’l-Fiqhi’l-Māliki

By al-Mukhtar ibn al-‘Arabi Mu’min al-Jaza’iri al-Shinqiti, this book is recommended by four contemporary scholars from mostly Mauritania- of which shuyûkh Muhammad bin Mahfuzh Mukhtar al-Shinqiti, Muhammad al-Hasan al-Didu al-Shinqiti and Salman al-‘Awdah (Saudi-Arabia); this book only treats the fiqh part of the matn. This work can be found on the internet as a PDF[3]. As the title says this book provides the student with all the proofs (dalaa’il) from the Qur’an and the Sunnah.

4.) The commentary by shaykh at-Tayyib ibn Kiran (d. 1812)[4]: there is not much known about him and his commentary. Known is that shaykh Muhammad ibn al-Habib (d. 1972 A.D.) studied this commentary, which is apparent from his biography.[5]

5.) al-Risālatu’l-‘Alawiyyah

By the known Algerian (Sufi) shaykh Ahmad al-‘Alawi (d. 1934). This is a treatise in 1000 verses of the matn by Ibn ‘Āshir in clear and simple language.

6.) al-Minah al-Quddusiyyah[6] [7]

By shaykh Ahmad al-‘Alawi

This work is an explanation of the matn fully focused on tasawwuf. This text has been translated to English and has the title: “Knowledge of God” (Madinah Press; foreword shaykh Abd ul-Qadir as-Sufi) and is widely avaible for sale on the net.

7.) al-Sabīl al-Ma’īn ‘ala’l-Murshid al-Mu’īn

Author unknown. This is a summary (mukhtasar) of the above mentioned commentary by al-Mayyarah and hails from 1823.[8]

8.) Mufīd al-‘Ibād Sawā’un al-‘Ākifu fihi wa’l-Bād

By shaykh Ahmad ibn al-Bashir al-Shinqiti[9]


9.) Sayl al-‘Ayn sharḥ Murshid al-Mu’īn

By shaykh ‘Abdullahi ibn Fodio (d. 1829)[10]

10.) Sharḥ Abi Azhari[11]

This text is taught for example in a traditional Māliki mahdarah in Nabbaghiyyah, Mauritania.

11.) Ziyādat al-Tabyīn ‘ala’l-Murshid al-Mu’īn

By Muhammad Salih b. ‘Abd al-Rahman b. Salim al-Awjali[12]

12.) al-Nûr al-Mubīn ‘ala’l-Murshid al-Mu’īn[13]

By shaykh Muhammad bin Yusuf al-Ma’ruf bi’l-Kafi (d. 1426)

13.) Tawdih ad-Din ‘ala Murshid al-Mu’īn

By Muhammad at-Tayyib Bu Sinnah (see here:

14.) An online explanation / lessons (in Arabic) on the text by Hassan al-Kattani ( can be listened here:

Suhaib Webb speaks of an abbreviated explanation of “The Guiding Helper” by a certain shaykh al-Fasi al-Maliki (see here: but unclear is to who exactly he refers. I dropped a question on his website: to be continued!

Then there are also some English translations, including explanation/commentary, by several people, among which:

– ustadh Abdusshakur Brooks ( gave an online course with explanation a while ago on the text.

– ustadh ‘Abdullah bin Hamid ‘Ali, to be found on his website:; he relies on the commentary by al-Mayyarah. The only part which has not been translated yet by him is the part on tasawwuf. He also wrote a bio of Ibn ‘Āshir. (The audio of the matn and translation can be bought on his website as well.) More material on the text is to be expected from him so keep checking his website.

– In the E-books section of the website we can find 3 documents on the text:

1. The Arabic text with footnote translation and some appendices, from the rather obscure, so called “Guiding Helper Foundation”. Their website is offline.

2. “The Guiding Helper”, Main text with (extensive) Notes (353 pages); we can read in the introduction on which 3 books Ibn ‘Āshir based his text (the section on tasawwuf is taken from al-Qushayri).

3. “The Guiding Helper” with some footnotes, from a Boutshishi murid. (Completely in English)

Lastly an upcoming (unpublished) translation by Hamza Yusuf. (He gave a magnificent explanation on the part of tasawwuf years ago, see here:

[1] See for the Arabic text of the naẓm here:

[2] The first part of this hāshiyyah can be read and downloaded here:

[6] These two commentaries are mentioned in the (English) biography by Martin Lings, A Sufi Saint of the Twentieth Century, Shaikh Ahmad al-‘Alawi, his spiritual heritage and legacy, The Islamic Texts Society, Cambridge 2006, pp. 230, 231.

[8] In: Arabic Literature of Africa, vol. 2, The Writings of Sudanic Africa, compiled by John O. Hunwick, pag. 106.

[9] This work has been translated already to English by Abdassamad Clarke but has not been published yet, see: