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Arabic Text

A Reconstruction of Ibn al-Firkāḥ’s Edition
of Imām al-Ḥaramayn al-Juwaynī’s
Kitāb al‑Waraqāt fī uṣūl al‑fiqh

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A Note on the Arabic Text

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Al‑Juwaynī’s Kitāb al‑Waraqāt fī uṣūl al‑fiqh has been since the thirteenth century one of the most widely copied, commented, and studied textbooks of Sunnī legal theory. For this very reason, it has undergone significant modifications over the centuries, and the numerous copies in print today differ on nearly every line. This edition does not presume to rediscover the text exactly as it was written by al‑Juwaynī himself; instead it aims to recreate the Kitāb al‑Waraqāt as it was critically recon­structed from multiple copies by one of its earliest commen­tators, Abū Muḥammad ʿAbd al‑Raḥīm ibn Ibrāhīm al‑Fazārī, better known as Ibn al‑Firkāḥ (d. 1291). In this early form, the text is elegant but still fresh and spontaneous, not yet worn down to the stylistically monotonous and predictable forms in which it has been memorized by so many students.

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The proliferation of copies, commentaries, versifications, appendices, and other appendages to the Waraqāt, has made it quite difficult to reconstruct the wording of the original base text (matn). In addition to the usual errors and corrections introduced through the copying of the matn, the commentarial process has itself led to important textual divergences. Manuscript copies of commentaries integrate the text of the matn into the body of the commentary, sometimes (but not always) distinguishing it by means of markers such as an introductory “qawluh…” (“his words…”) or overlining (a black or red line above the words of the matn). These markers, however, often leave a good deal to the imagination—especially the question of when a quotation from the matn ends and the commentary begins. Each copyist, therefore, had the burden of deciding what was matn and what was commentary. Because the Waraqāt was studied and copied mainly with an accompanying commentary, and because even copies of the matn alone1 were sometimes produced by extracting the matn from a commentary, numerous explanatory phrases that probably stem from commentators came to be treated, in some copies, as part of the matn. Conversely, phrases of an explanatory nature that may have belonged to the original text were omitted by some copyists, on the assumption that they must stem from a commentary.

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It is no small matter, therefore, to distinguish al‑Juwaynī’s original text from all the later material with which it has become intertwined. Nevertheless, it is possible to discern amid the many extant texts two distinct and fairly consistent matn traditions, one reflected in the commentary of Ibn al‑Firkāḥ and followed (more or less) in a significant minority of subsequent commentaries and matn copies, and the other reflected in the immensely popular commentary of Jalāl al‑Dīn al‑Maḥallī. There are in circulation numerous variations that are not attributable to either of these traditions, and further work should make it possible to discern other textual families; but at present I am able to identify only what I will call the Ibn al‑Firkāḥ and Maḥallī textual traditions.

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For this edition I have chosen to reconstruct the original form of the Ibn al‑Firkāḥ tradition, by which I mean the matn as Ibn al‑Firkāḥ believed it to have been originally composed. There are two reasons for this choice. First, Ibn al‑Firkāḥ, who lived two centuries after al‑Juwaynī, was one of the Waraqāt’s earliest commentators, and he used multiple copies of the already famous text, making astute critical decisions and preserving what he thought to be the original wording even when he thought the text was redundant or needed improvement. Second, the matn that Ibn al‑Firkāḥ gives us has a relatively raw and off-the-cuff quality, compared to the more prim and predictable language of the Maḥallī tradition. This makes Ibn al‑Firkāḥ’s matn more fun to read, and also suggests that it is probably a more accurate reflection of the text al‑Juwaynī actually dictated to his students. The Maḥallī matn is clearer and cleaner, incorporating helpful glosses and omitting (or relegating to the status of commentary) anything that seems like unessential verbiage, such as al‑Juwaynī’s enumeration of the five senses. For the sake of comparison, I refer in the notes to the Maḥallī tradition as a whole, indicating its most significant divergences from the Ibn al‑Firkāḥ tradition.

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When Tāj al‑Dīn Abū Muḥammad ʿAbd al‑Raḥmān ibn Ibrāhīm ibn Sibāʿ ibn Ḍiyāʾ al‑Fazārī, known as Ibn al‑Firkāḥ (b. 1227, d. 1291), sat down to compose his commentary al‑Darakāt, the Kitāb al‑Waraqāt was already in wide circulation. Consequently, Ibn al‑Firkāḥ had to construct his own edition of the matn to serve as the basis of his sharḥ. He did so as a historically-minded textual critic, often citing in his comments the variant texts he had before him. For example:

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  • In chapter 5 he remarks that some copies of the matn erroneously omit al‑ḥaqīqa al‑lughawiyya.2
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  • In chapter 5 he says that at least one copy says مثل قوله عممت زيدا وعمرا, which is incorrect, and that another copy says في مثل قوله عممت , which is even worse.3
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  • In chapter 6 he cites a variant matn about whether obeying a command actually relieves one of the responsibility that the command imposed.
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  • In chapter 7, in his commentary on the verbal forms that express generality, he says that the correct matn is والجزاء, but that most copies say والخبر , which he rightly identifies as a corruption.4
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  • In chapter 12, in his comments on the authority of consensus, he gives three different readings, explaining what each one means, identifying the first as the majority reading, showing a clear preference for the ideas expressed in the second reading, and dismissing the third as not saying much at all.5
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This last example illustrates that Ibn al‑Firkāḥ was working with at least three copies of the Waraqāt (and probably more). It also shows that he was intent on preserving the textual evidence available to him, even when he disagreed with it. In other places he conscientiously quoted a phrase, such as والعموم قد تقدم شرحه in chapter 8, only to point  out that it is redundant, unnecessary, or even false. He was not intentionally seeking to improve or correct the matn, either stylistically or substantively.

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Ibn al‑Firkāḥ’s full commentary exists in a number of excellent manuscripts and one laudable edition, which will be described below. The principal difficulty in reconstructing Ibn al‑Firkāḥ’s own “critical edition” of the matn from his commentary is that it is not always entirely clear where his quotations from the matn end and where his own comments begin. The overlining by which some manuscripts designate the matn is often demonstrably incomplete; for instance, in the Berlin ms Lbg. 256, on folios 2b-3a, the phrase أحدهما أصول والآخر الفقه is not overlined but is nevertheless repeated and explained as part of the matn. Ibn al‑Firkāḥ’s usual practice is to quote a block of text several lines long, and then comment upon one phrase at a time, in turn, repeating each phrase more or less verbatim before explaining it, and often introducing the explanation with a word such as yaʿnī. This practice usually makes it quite obvious what is matn and what is sharḥ. (It also results in most of the matn being quoted twice, which is occasionally helpful in deciphering unclear words or identifying mistakes.) In those few instances where it is genuinely unclear where the quotation from the matn ends and Ibn al‑Firkāḥ’s comments begin, I have been guided by the Berlin manuscript Spr. 601, which is generally quite close to the Ibn al‑Firkāḥ tradition.

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Furthermore, on rare occasions Ibn al‑Firkāḥ does not actually quote all of the matn upon which he comments—at least not in neat blocks of sequential text. For example, after commenting on the title of the book, he moves naturally into a commentary on the second sentence of the book (ذلك لفظ مؤلَّف من جزأين مفردين أحدهما أصول والآخر الفقه) and only later quotes the first sentence (هذه ورقات تشتمل على معرفة فصول من أصول الفقه) in order to explain what the demonstrative pronoun ذلك refers to. He also has little to say about the list of chapter headings that al‑Juwaynī gives in chapter 4, and therefore does not bother to quote the list in full, but contents himself with quoting the first and last topic headings so as to indicate what portion of the matn he is talking about. He seems to assume that the reader has a separate copy of the matn in front of him—or, more likely, that the student has already memorized it. Occasionally he makes smaller and perhaps unintended omissions. For instance, when Ibn al‑Firkāḥ cites al‑Juwaynī’s definition of ʿilm muktasab in chapter 3, he omits wa‑l‑istidlāl, but then refers back to the fact that al‑Juwaynī said al‑naẓar wa‑l‑istidlāl. When defining uṣūl al‑fiqh in chapter 1 Ibn al‑Firkāḥ rambles on and on dealing with things he did not quote as part of al‑Juwaynī’s definition, but his comments make sense if we assume the matn he had before him actually included additional wording about those things—as do other versions of the matn such as Spr. 601. Also, if we assume that Ibn al‑Firkāḥ’s matn included in chapter 3 the list of five senses and the reference to tawātur that are included in Spr. 601 and in many other copies, then his commentary can readily be understood as a commentary on that list, even though he did not quote it in full.

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The text in this edition, therefore, is not exactly the matn as it appears in Ibn al‑Firkāḥ’s commentary, for the sole reason that Ibn al‑Firkāḥ did not quote every word he thought belonged in the matn. My edition is not a reconstruction of the base text quoted in his commentary, but rather of the text upon which his commentary was based—the text that Ibn al‑Firkāḥ reconstructed in his own mind from his multiple copies, and that he taught to his students as he expounded it to them.

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This edition is based on two excellent early manuscripts of Ibn al‑Firkāḥ’s commentary, a critical edition of the commentary based on later manuscripts, and an early manuscript copy of the matn that follows the Ibn al‑Firkāḥ tradition. Significant differences in the Maḥallī tradition are also noted.

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Lbg. 256: The base manuscript, which I follow whenever possible, is Landberg 256 in the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (whom I wish to thank for providing an excellent digital reproduction). It consists of 82 folios, and is written in a very clear hand, though water damage mars the edges of the text starting on fol. 37. It contains Ibn al‑Firkāḥ’s entire commentary, and has the distinction of having been checked against the author’s own autograph manuscript in 705/1306—just fifteen years after the author’s death. It is missing several folios: one after fol. 3, one after fol. 5, two after fol. 9, two after fol. 13, and six after fol. 36. At these junctures I have based my edition on BM 3093.

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BM 3093: My second manuscript, which I have used to fill in gaps and resolve difficulties and correct mistakes in Lbg. 256, and whose variants are always cited in the notes, is British Museum Oriental 3093, now housed in the British Library (whom I wish to thank for providing a very reasonably priced digital reproduction). It contains Ibn al‑Firkāḥ’s entire commentary, and consists of 84 folios. Folio 74 is out of place, and should be read between fols 80 and 81. The manuscript was produced in 739/1338, and was checked against an autograph manuscript in the same year.

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SH: I have also consulted a critical edition of Ibn al‑Firkāḥ’s full commentary, produced by Sārah Shāfī al‑Hājirī as her Masters thesis at the University of Kuwait, and published in 2001 in Beirut by Dār al‑Bashāʾir al‑Islāmiyya. It is based on four manuscripts, all apparently later than the ones I have used, and several incomplete. I have indicated in the notes wherever her edition, or any of her manuscripts, departs significantly from my text. Her manuscripts are: Damascus, al‑Maktaba al‑Waṭaniyya al‑Ẓāhiriyya, no. 9655 (possibly eighth/fourteenth-century, containing only the first part of the commentary); Riyadh, Markaz al‑Malik Fayṣal al‑Khayrī, no. 5878 (dated 821/1418, her base manuscript); Kuwait, Maktabat ʿĀlim al‑Kuwayt al‑Shaykh ʿAbd Allāh ibn Khalaf Daḥyān al‑Ḥanbalī, deposited in Maktabat al‑Mawsūʿa al‑Fiqhiyya bi‑Wizārat al‑Awqāf wa‑l‑Shuʾūn al‑Islāmiyya, no. 167/4 (undated, containing only the first part of the commentary); and Kuwait, Maktabat ʿĀlim al‑Kuwayt al‑Shaykh ʿAbd Allāh ibn Khalaf Daḥyān al‑Ḥanbalī, deposited in Maktabat al‑Mawsūʿa al‑Fiqhiyya bi‑Wizārat al‑Awqāf wa‑l‑Shuʾūn al‑Islāmiyya, no. 231 (dated 1181/1767, riddled with careless mistakes).

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Spr. 601: I have also referred to an early copy of the matn of the Waraqāt in the second part (fols 154b-157b) of Sprenger 601, in the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin (whom I wish to thank for providing an excellent digital reproduction). It is bound with a copy of Ibn Qudāma’s Mīzān fī uṣūl al‑fiqh that was produced in 725/1325. It is very close to the Ibn al‑Firkāḥ textual tradition, and I have found that when Ibn al‑Firkāḥ’s comments leave doubt about what was in his matn, his comments can usually be explained quite well by assuming that his matn matched Spr. 601. I have therefore used Spr. 601 as a reference, to help me fill in parts of the matn that Ibn al‑Firkāḥ does not actually cite, and to resolve ambiguities in the commentary manuscripts about what is matn and what is sharḥ. I have noted all instances in which Spr. 601 departs from my text, except that I have not cited the last folio (157) because it is a replacement for a lost folio, on different paper, in a different hand, based on a different textual tradition.

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Finally, I have also cited the most significant variations that appear in the Maḥallī textual tradition (for which I have relied principally on two printed editions that include the supercommentary of Aḥmad ibn Muḥammad al‑Dimyāṭī: Cairo, Maktabat Muḥammad ʿAlī Ṣubayḥ wa‑Awlādih, n.d., and Cairo: Muṣṭafā al‑Bābī al‑Ḥalabī wa‑Awlādih, 1374/1955).

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Since the occasional differences in spelling between the manuscripts are of no particular interest for the study of this text, I have not noted them. I have used the orthography I thought would be most familiar and helpful to beginning students of Arabic, and have supplied many vowels and other marks. I have also added chapter numbers and headings, following where possible the list of topics that al‑Juwaynī gives in chapter 4. These additions are printed in a lighter typeface, like this.

  1. Manuscript copies of the matn alone are no doubt beyond counting; the copies that have come to my attention are: Berlin Spr. 601 #2, Br. Mus. Add. 6532 #3, Berlin Lbg. 151 #2, Berlin We. 1728 #8, Berlin Lbg. 357 #3, Berlin Do. 163 #2, Paris Bibliothèque Nationale 672 #6, Algiers 213 #3, Algiers 959/62, Escur.2 102 4, Leipzig 882 ii, Ambr. F. 269 iv, Vat. V. 1155 #4, Vat. V. 1459, Alger 213 3, and Kairo2 I App. 52. The matn is printed separately in many of the commentaries listed in the Introduction, and is printed alone in the following: Cairo, 1306 (on the margin of al‑Qarāfī, Sharḥ Tanqīḥ al‑fuṣūl); Damascus, Muḥammad Hāshim / al‑Maktaba al‑Hāshimiyya, 1906 (Jamāl al‑Dīn al‑Qāsimī, ed., Majmūʿ mutūn uṣūliyya, pp. 28-39); and Cairo, Maktabat Dār al‑Turāth, 1977 (ed. ʿAbd al‑Laṭīf Muḥammad al‑ʿAbd).
  2. Lbg. 256 12b.
  3. Lbg. 256 22a-b.
  4. Lbg. 256 25a.
  5. Lbg. 256 43b-54b.
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Source: https://waraqat.vishanoff.com/a/a-note/