Of all al-Juwaynī’s books, the Kitāb al-Waraqāt became the most popular, not because it reflected his most original thinking but precisely because it did not. It was nothing more than a teaching tool, an extremely concise summary of the state of the discipline of legal theory as it existed at the end of the eleventh century. By that time the sharp debates of the ninth and tenth centuries had run their course, and a broad consensus on the main questions had crystalized into what all the surviving Sunnī schools of law now recognize as classical Sunnī legal theory. Al‑Juwaynī was a Shāfiʿī, and his text reflects the particular emphases of his school, but it is not a polemical text. In his masterpiece al‑Burhān fī uṣūl al‑fiqh al‑Juwaynī argued every fine point, sometimes in very original ways; but his Kitāb al‑Waraqāt avoids argumentation, rarely mentions disagreements, and indeed avoids saying anything that would render the book objectionable to teachers or students of any Sunnī legal school. Commentaries on it have been composed not only by dozens of Shāfiʿī scholars, but also by at least one Ḥanafī, one Ḥanbalī, and five Mālikīs.1 As generations of commentary have shown, this little handbook—the shortest known treatise on its subject2—is detailed enough to teach the main terms and concepts of legal theory, but restrained enough to be interpreted and elaborated in accordance with the views of each teacher or commentator.
Consequently, the Waraqāt is far less nuanced than the Burhān, and sometimes even at odds with it.3 This casts some doubt on its authorship. Ibn al‑Firkāḥ, writing two centuries after al‑Juwaynī, would only say that it was attributed (mansūb) to him, and when he briefly narrated al‑Juwaynī’s biography he credited him with authoring valuable works, “among them, according to what has become widely affirmed (fīmā ishtahara), this book.” Ibn al‑Firkāḥ plainly felt it prudent to reserve judgment, without explicitly challenging the book’s traditional attribution. In my opinion, the different audiences and purposes of the Burhān and Waraqāt are a sufficient explanation for why one presents al‑Juwaynī’s own arguments and convictions, while the other proffers only the more mainstream views that students were expected to know. Although the text was simple to begin with, and was eventually shorn of its stylistic distinctives, in the early form reconstructed here it contains the same kinds of elegant irregularities and ellipses that one would expect from the legendary eloquence of al‑Juwaynī. I am content, therefore, like Ibn al‑Firkāḥ, to let the work’s ascription to al‑Juwaynī stand both unproven and unchallenged.
Indeed the work’s authorship is far less significant than its reception. It must have been in use as a teaching tool within a century or so of al‑Juwaynī’s death, because a written commentary upon it—which for such a handbook suggests a pedagogical use—was produced in the early thirteenth century by Abū ʿAmr ibn ʿAbd al‑Raḥmān Ibn al‑Ṣalāḥ (d. 1243).4 It was soon followed by the commentary of Ibn al‑Firkāḥ (d. 1291), al‑Darakāt, which was being copied assiduously by the early fourteenth century, and is still being reprinted in the twenty-first.5 From the later fourteenth century we have a commentary titled Irshād al‑fuḥūl by Saʿd al‑Dīn al‑Taftāzānī (d. 1389).6 The most famous and widespread commentary was produced by Jalāl al‑Dīn Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad al‑Maḥallī (d. 1460);7 it consists of a concise gloss interwoven with the base text, and has itself been the object of at least ten supercommentaries:
- Aḥmad ibn ʿAbd al‑Laṭīf al‑Khaṭīb al‑Jāwī al‑Shāfiʿī (fl. 20th century), Ḥāshiyāt al‑Nafaḥāt ʿalā Sharḥ al‑Waraqāt.16
- ʿIzz al-Dīn al‑Badrānī al-Mawṣilī (a modern scholar), al‑Muḥallā ʿalā Sharḥ al‑Maḥallī li‑Waraqāt al‑Juwaynī fī ʿilm uṣūl al‑fiqh.18
Following al‑Maḥallī’s gloss, from the middle of the fifteenth century through the seventeenth, there was a proliferation of new commentaries on the Waraqāt:
- Shams al‑Dīn Muḥammad ibn ʿUthmān ibn ʿAlī al‑Mārdīnī (d. 1467), al‑Anjum al‑zāhirāt ʿalā ḥall alfāẓ al‑Waraqāt.19
- Kamāl al‑Dīn Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd al‑Raḥmān Ibn Imām al‑Kāmiliyya al‑Shāfiʿī (d. 1469).20 His commentary was glossed by Nūr al‑Dīn ʿAlī ibn Ibrāhīm ibn Aḥmad al‑Ḥalabī (d. 1634).
- Sirāj al‑Dīn ʿUmar ibn Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad al‑Balbīsī al‑Shāfiʿī (d. 1473), al‑Taḥqīqāt fī sharḥ al‑Waraqāt.
- Ibn Qāwān, al‑Ḥusayn ibn Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad al‑Kīlānī al‑Shāfiʿī (d. 1484), al‑Taḥqīqāt fī sharḥ al‑Waraqāt.21
- Abū al‑ʿAbbās Aḥmad Ibn Zikrī al‑Tilimsānī al‑Mālikī (d. 1495), Ghāyat al‑marām bi‑sharḥ muqaddimat al‑Imām.22
- Shihāb al‑Dīn Abū al‑ʿAbbās Aḥmad ibn Aḥmad al‑Ramlī al‑Shāfiʿī (d. 1550), Ghāyat al‑maʾmūl fī sharḥ Waraqāt al‑uṣūl.23
- Sharaf al‑Dīn Yūnus al‑ʿAythāwī (d. 1570), Zubdat al‑mukhtaṣarāt.24
- Ibrāhīm Ibn al‑Munlā al‑Ḥaṣkafī al‑Ḥalabī al‑Shāfiʿī (d. 1621) wrote three commentaries on the Waraqāt: Jāmiʿ al‑mutafarriqāt min fawāʾid al‑Waraqāt, al‑Taḥārīr al‑mulḥaqāt wa‑l‑taqārīr al‑muḥaqqaqāt, and Kifāyat al‑ruqāh ilā maʿrifat ghuraf al‑Waraqāt.
- Muḥammad al‑Murābiṭ ibn Muḥammad ibn Abī Bakr al‑Fashtālī al‑Dalāʾilī al‑Mālikī (d. 1679), al‑Maʿārij al‑murtaqāt ilā maʿānī al‑Waraqāt.
Rather than writing prose commentaries, some teachers preferred to render the Waraqāt in verse form (naẓm), for easy memorization. This tradition continued to flourish through the nineteenth century:
- Sharaf al‑Dīn Yaḥyā al‑ʿAmrīṭī al‑Shāfiʿī (d. 1485), Tashīl al‑ṭuruqāt fī naẓm al‑Waraqāt.25 This popular poetic rendition was the object of commentaries by ʿAbd al‑Ḥamīd ibn Muḥammad ʿAlī Quds al‑Farāhī al‑Shāfiʿī (d. 1917) (Laṭīf al‑ishārāt ilā tashīl al‑ṭuruqāt li‑naẓm al‑Waraqāt fī uṣūl al‑fiqhiyyāt),26 by Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al‑ʿAthīmīn, and by ʿUmar ʿAbd Allāh Kāmil.27 A scholar named ʿAbd Allāh al‑Baytī, apparently not of the Shāfiʿī school, was dissatisfied with the Waraqāt’s list of sources of law and therefore composed a verse appendix to complete al‑ʿAmrīṭī’s Naẓm, including additional sources of law such as custom and public welfare; ʿUmar ʿAbd Allāh Kāmil printed it under the title Tatimmat Naẓm al‑Waraqāt, and commented upon it, at the end of his commentary on al‑ʿAmrīṭī’s Naẓm.
- Shihāb al‑Dīn Aḥmad ibn Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad al‑Ṭūkhī al‑Shāfiʿī (d. 1488), Naẓm al‑Waraqāt.
- Abū Bakr ibn Abī al‑Qasam ibn Aḥmad al‑Ḥusaynī (d. 1626), Naẓm al‑Waraqāt.
- ʿAbd al‑Jawād ibn Shuʿayb ibn Aḥmad al‑Khawānikī al‑Qinānī (d. 1662), Naẓm al‑Waraqāt.
- Muḥammad ibn Ibrāhīm ibn al‑Faḍl ibn Ibrāhīm al‑Yamanī (d. 1674), Naẓm al‑Waraqāt.
- Muḥammad ibn Qāsim ibn Zākūr al‑Fāsī al‑Mālikī (d. 1709), Naẓm al‑Waraqāt.
- Abū ʿAbd Allāh ibn Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd al‑Raḥmān al‑Jazāʾirī (d. 1854), Sullam al‑wuṣūl ilā ʿilm al‑uṣūl. He wrote his own commentary on this verse rendition, calling it al‑Nuṣḥ al‑mabzūl li‑qurrāʾ Sullam al‑wuṣūl.
- Muḥammad Muṣṭafā Māʾ al‑ʿAynayn al‑Maghribī (d. 1910), Aqdas al‑anfus.28
- Muḥammad ibn al‑Muḥammad Ibn al‑Sharīf, al‑Durar al‑musriyāt fī naẓm al‑Waraqāt.29
- Another example is apparently to be found in the anonymous excerpt, Kalimāt fī uṣūl al‑fiqh, with commentary, preserved in ms Ambr. C 154 xvii (FSO VII 624).
In the twentieth century versification fell out of favor, but prose commentaries made a comeback, and are still being composed today:
- ʿAbd al‑Raḥmān ibn Ḥamad ibn Muḥammad al‑Juṭaylī, al‑Taʿlīqāt ʿalā matn al‑Waraqāt (Beirut: al‑Maktab al‑Islāmī; Riyadh, Maktabat al‑Ḥaramayn, 1983).
- ʿAbd Allāh ibn Ṣāliḥ al‑Fawzān, Sharḥ al‑Waraqāt fī uṣūl al‑fiqh (Riyadh, Dār al‑Muslim, 1993).
- Abū ʿUbayda Mashhūr ibn Ḥasan Āl Salmān, al‑Taḥqīqāt wa‑l‑tanqīḥāt al‑salafiyyāt ʿalā Matn al‑Waraqāt maʿa al‑tanbīhāt ʿalā al‑masāʾil al‑muhimmāt (Abu Dhabi, Dār al‑Imām Mālik, 2005).
- ʿAbd al‑Ḥamīd ibn Khilyawī al‑Rifāʿī, al‑Sharḥ al‑wasīṭ ʿalā matn al‑Waraqāt (Riyadh, Dār al-Ṣamīʿī, 2006).
- A university teacher in al‑Aḥsāʾ has even come out with a full color textbook for students, complete discussion questions, a foldout diagram of the contents of the Waraqāt, and a resource CD: ʿAbd al‑Salām ibn Ibrāhīm al‑Ḥuṣayn, Iḍāʾāt ʿalā matn al‑Waraqāt (Riyadh: n.p., 2006).
All these works are in Arabic, a language from which Islamic legal theory can scarcely be separated. I have not sought out works in other Islamic languages, but in European languages only a few translations and commentaries have been produced:
- A French translation with extensive notes based on Islamic commentaries: L[éon] Bercher, “Le ‘Kitāb al‑waraqāt,’ traité de méthodologie juridique musulmane traduit et annoté,” Revue Tunisienne (1930): 93-105, 185-214; reprinted Paris, Iqra, 1995.
- A translation of al-Maḥallī’s commentary by Musa Furber (n.p.: Islamosaic, 2015).
- A commentary by Mahmud Adam, Introductory Studies in Usul al-Fiqh: An Annotated Translation of Imam al-Haramayn’s Waraqat (London: The Imam Shafi‘i Bookstore, 2014), which draws on al-Maḥallī’s commentary.
In addition to these written commentaries, videos of lengthy oral commentaries or lessons on the Waraqāt, in several languages, are now proliferating on the internet and may be found by searching for “waraqat” at www.youtube.com–a fitting development in the reception history of this short medieval handbook, and a telling sign of its continued relevance to the present and future of Islamic law.
- The Ḥanafī Ibn Quṭlubughā (d. 879/1474); the Ḥanbalī Ibn Sind al‑Baṣrī (d. 1242/1826), who rendered it in verse form; and the Mālikīs al‑Ḥaṭṭāb (d. 954/1547), al‑Dalāʾilī (d. 1090/1679), Muḥammad ibn ʿUbbādī (d. 1193/1780), Ibn Zikrī (d. 900/1495), and Ibn Zākūr al‑Fāsī (d. 1120/1709), who rendered it in verse. Details may be found in the lists of commentaries below.
- According to Wael Hallaq, who points out (“Uṣūl al‑Fiqh: Beyond Tradition,” Journal of Islamic Studies 3 (1992): 194-195) that it consists of about 1600 words. My edition has 1573 words.
- Several instances are pointed out in my commentary below. Muṣṭafā Maḥmūd al‑Azharī, in his introduction to his edition of Sharḥ al‑Waraqāt fī ʿilm uṣūl al‑fiqh by Ibn Imām al‑Kāmiliyya (Riyadh: Dār Ibn al‑Qayyim, and Cairo: Dār Ibn ʿAffān, 2008), lists thirty topics on which the Burhān disagrees with the Waraqāt, but he leaves the question of authorship open, arguing on pp. 39-40 that al‑Juwaynī could very well have written the Waraqāt when young and then changed his mind by the time he wrote the Burhān.
- Manuscript copies exist in Turkey (Hacı Selim Ağa 269) and India (Rāmpūr I, 275 #79). The work has reportedly been edited by Muḥsin Ṣāliḥ al-Kurdī (Mecca: Maktabat Nizār Muṣtafā al-Bāz, 2007).
- Manuscript copies include Berlin Lbg. 256, British Museum Or. 3093, Damascus Ẓāhiriyya 9655, Berlin Lbg. 998, Riyadh Markaz al‑Malik Fayṣal al‑Khayrī 5878, Pertsch Gotha 922, Tübingen 108 M a VI 110, Paris De Slane 1266 #2, British Museum Add. 9621 #3, Köprölü 516, Kuwait Wizārat al‑Awqāf ʿAbd Allāh ibn Khalaf Daḥyān 167/4, Kuwait Wizārat al‑Awqāf ʿAbd Allāh ibn Khalaf Daḥyān 231, and Cairo Dār al‑Kutub uṣūl al‑fiqh 716. Printed editions include Beirut, Dār al‑Bashāʾir al‑Islāmiyya, 1422/2001 (ed. Sārah Shāfī al‑Hājirī), and Beirut, Dār al‑Kutub al‑ʿIlmiyya, 2008 (with Sharḥ al‑Maḥallī, ed. Muḥammad Ḥasan Muḥammad Ḥasan Ismāʿīl, largely or entirely pirated from Sārah al‑Hājirī’s edition).
- Brockelmann lists mss Paris 5311 and Algiers 569 #4.
- Manuscript listings include Süleymaniye Reisülküttab 1185, Tübingen 107 #1, Tübingen 107 #2, Berlin Lbg. 506, Berlin We. 1727 #1, Berlin Pet. 529 #2, Jerusalem Maktabat al‑Badīrī أ/253/37, Berlin Lbg. 868, Jerusalem Maktabat al‑Badīrī أ/253/38, Jerusalem Maktabat al-Masjid al-Aqsā 76, Berlin Lbg. 917, British Library Or. 3101, Berlin Lbg. 866, Berlin Lbg. 867, Berlin Lbg. 507, Gotha 923, Bodl. I 152 (cf. II 570b), Esc.2 102 #1, Esc.2 521 #6, Garr. 1794, Djelfa Bull. De Corr. Afr. 1884 p. 371 no. 34, Bat. Suppl. 364/6, Alex. Fun. 170 #1, Kairo1 II 262, Kairo1 II 254, Kairo1 II 258 and/or 259, Makr. 45, Flor. 19 I, Paris 1396 8, Pet. AMK 946, Princ. 226, and Āṣaf. II 1724 #16 #14. Printed copies include Cairo: Maṭbaʿat Muṣṭafā al-Ḥalabī, 1955; Kerala: Maktabat al-Hilāl, n.d.; Riyadh, Maktabat al-ʿUbaykān, 2001 (ed. Ḥusām al‑Dīn ibn Mūsā ʿAfāna); and Beirut, Dār al‑Kutub al‑ʿIlmiyya, 2003 (together with a pirated edition of the commentary of Ibn al‑Firkāḥ, ed. Muḥammad Ḥasan Muḥammad Ḥasan Ismāʿīl). It has been translated into English by Musa Furber (n.p.: Islamosaic, 2015). The supercommentaries listed below also include al‑Maḥallī’s commentary, often printed as a separate text before or alongside the supercommentary.
- Manuscript listings include Paris Bibliothèque Nationale 813, Gotha Pertsch II 199 no. 924, Esc. 2102 #5, Esc. 2521 #6, Algiers 963, Alexandria Uṣūl 17, Rabāṭ 532 3 4, Cambridge 1498 6, Kairo2 I 100 #66. Printed copies include Cairo  (in the margin of ʿAbd al‑Ḥamīd al‑Farāhī, Laṭāʾif al‑ishārāt); Cairo, Muṣṭafā al‑Ḥalabī wa‑Awlādih, 1950; an edition by Ed. Muḥammad Ṣāliḥ ibn Aḥmad al‑Jarisī; and Beirut, Dār al‑Mashārīʿ, 2001.
- Both were used by L[éon] Bercher, “Le ‘Kitāb al‑waraqāt,’ traité de méthodologie juridique musulmane traduit et annoté,” Revue Tunisienne (1930): 93-105, 185-214. The second was printed in Fez, 1317/.
- Ms listings include Berlin Lbg. 567, Berlin Spr. 596, Berlin We. 1419, Patna II 452628 #1, Dam. ʿUm. 58 #40/1, Tunis Zait. IV 29 #1821/2, al‑Azhar 1590 ʿarūs 42249, Dār al‑Kutub al‑Miṣriyya 264 uṣūl, and Dār al‑Kutub al‑Miṣriyya 135 uṣūl. Printed copies include Cairo, Muʾassasat Qurṭuba, 1995 (ed. ʿAbd al‑ʿAzīz Bad Allāh Rabīʿ); and Beirut, Dār al‑Kutub al‑ʿIlmiyya, 2003 (ed. Muḥammad Ḥasan Muḥammad Ḥasan Ismāʿīl).
- Ms listings include Berlin Lbg. 508, Paris Bibliothèque Nationale 819, Alexandria Uṣūl 12, Haupt 175, Tunis Zait. IV 29 #1823. Printed copies include Cairo, ca. 1890 (on the margin of al‑Qarāfī, Sharḥ Tanqīḥ al‑fuṣūl); and Cairo, Muṣṭafā al‑Bābī al‑Ḥalabī, 1937, and Dār al‑Maʿrifa, 1979 (on margin of al‑Shawkānī, Irshād al‑fuḥūl).
- Mss: Berlin Lbg. 573, Algiers 218 #2, and Qilič ʿA. 310.
- Mss: Berlin Lbg. 1048 #5, Alexandria Uṣūl 9, Alexandria Uṣūl 18.
- Printed copies include Cairo, 1303/1886 (ed. by ʿUthmān ʿAbd al‑Razzāq); Cairo, Maktabat Muḥammad ʿAlī Ṣubayḥ, n.d.; Cairo, Muṣṭafā al‑Bābī al‑Ḥalabī, 1374/1955; and Beirut: al‑Maktaba al‑ʿAṣriyya, 2002 and 1428/2008.
- Ms Dār al‑Kutub al‑Miṣriyya 238.
- Printed Cairo, Muṣṭafā al‑Ḥalabī, 1938; Beirut, Dār al‑Kutub al‑ʿIlmiyya, 1425/2004 (ed. Muḥammad Sālim Hāshim).
- Printed Syria, Maṭbaʿat al‑Ḍabbāgh, 1390/1970.
- Irbid, Jordan: Dār al‑Kitāb al‑Thaqāfī, 1423/2003.
- Riyadh, Maktabat al‑Rushd, 1415/1994, 1996 (ed. ‘Abd al‑Karīm al‑Namla).
- Mss: Paris Bibliothèque Nationale 624 #2, Dār al‑Kutub al‑Miṣriyya 34 uṣūl Taymūr microfilm 14645, Sūhāj (Egypt) Maktabat al‑Amīr Fārūq 20 uṣūl (copy in Cairo Khizānat Maʿhad al‑Makhṭūṭāt al‑ʿArabiyya 65 uṣūl), Br. Mus. Add. 9623 #3, Berlin Lbg. 1048 # 3, Berlin Pet. 529 #1, Alexandria Uṣūl 12, Alexandria Uṣūl 18, Alexandria Fun. 176 #2, Cairo 1II 261, Leipzig 852, Mosul 113 195 #2. Printed copies: ʿAmmān, Dār ʿAmmār, 2001 (ed. ʿUmar al‑ʿĀnī; Riyadh, Dār Ibn al‑Qayyim, and Cairo, Dār Ibn ʿAffān, 1429/2008 (ed. Muṣṭafā Maḥmūd al‑Azharī); Jeddah, Dār Ḥāfiẓ, 2009 (ed. Fatḥiyya bint ʿAbd al‑Ṣamad ibn Muḥammad ʿUbayd).
- Ms Istanbul Aḥmad al‑Thālith 1344 uṣūl (copy in Cairo Maʿhad al‑Makhṭūṭāt 1138 1027/1126; printed Amman, Dār al‑Nafāʾis, 1419/1999 (ed. Saʿd ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn Ḥusayn al‑Sharīf).
- Mss: Kairo2 I 390, Dar al-Kutub al-Qawmiyya 348 uṣūl al‑fiqh. Printed Jazāʾir, 2005.
- Mss: Paris 5049, Alexandria Fun. 114. Printed Beirut, Muʾassasat al‑Risāla, 2005 (ed. ʿUthmān Yūsuf Ḥājī Aḥmad).
- Ms Alexandria Fun. 174 #14.
- Printed Riyadh, Dār al‑Ṣumayʿī [sp?], 1416/1996 (with Matn al‑Waraqāt, pp. 21-30); Damascus, 1422/2001 (ed. Maḥmūd Bayrūtī).
- Printed Cairo ca. 1912.
- Beirut: Bīsān, 2004.
- Printed Fez, ca. 1321/1903.
- Ms: Kairo2 I 385.