Firstly, thank you for putting this up for public reading and comment. In principle, I think this is an example we should all follow. I am in two minds as to whether to do the same for my forthcoming book on Mālikism, so I would be very interested to hear how the experiment goes for you. A minor quibble which I wouldn’t think to raise if it didn’t have to do with the way you translate the title: “Leaflet” captures well the Arabic sense of “waraqāt” as “leaves of [material on which one writes]”, but I wonder whether it connotes a cheapness or populism that is a little out-of-step with the work in question. I suppose the relevant question to ask is what its intended readership was. You say that it was “intended for students in the Shāfiʿī school of law”, so I take it that it was a school-text, intended for circulation not among the masses but within an educated elite, albeit one of whom knowledge of the finer points of legal theory was not assumed. Have you considered “pamphlet”? “Scholarly pamphlet” is quite common whereas “scholarly leaflet” is not.
Thank you, Paul. I had not paused to consider the popular connotation of leaflet. This is certainly a text for a small elite. Though today, of course, it is all over the web, including YouTube, and is being studied by all sorts of literate people the world over. “Leaflet” may have finally become an appropriate title!
Thanks also for your stimulating work on the history of Islamic law. I look forward to the publication of your book on Malikism.
Many thanks. Here is a mini-review that I posted on my facebook page: Any students or professors of Arabic, Persian, or Ottoman should model online work on texts after David Vishanoff’s “A Critical Introduction to Islamic Legal Theory.” https://waraqat.vishanoff.com/v/v1/ . Users should pay particular attention to the three tabs “Arabic, English, and Commentary.” The present link will bring up the “Commentary” tab, which contains not just commentary in the footnotes but the Arabic text of the work plus its English translation in two facing columns. The English tab is particularly useful for students because of its “key terms” feature. Lest readers get the impression that such an approach should be followed only for translation of legal texts, I should emphasize that this approach should be followed in all translations from all genres of Islamic texts, from Sufi texts to law to philosophy, whether in poetry or prose. My only suggestion is that Professor Vishanoff (in contrast to any skilled magician!) should show us the magic behind his handiwork, including precise instructions for developing and formatting of such webpages so that others may follow in his footsteps. In this work, Professor Vishanoff has established a professional standard by which the presentation of all online scholarly translations in Islamic Studies should be judged.
Thank you very much, Alan, for your comments on waraqat.vishanoff.com, and for recommending the site on Facebook. Coming from you, who have done so much to bring the field of Islamic studies into the digital age, this recommendation constitutes high praise indeed.
I have noted your comments at several points on the site, and have added notes to my offline draft to follow your suggestions in version 2.0. I especially like your idea of adding an explanation of the web design, with links to samples of the html and css used to create the Arabic/English/Commentary tabs and the facing Arabic and English. The credit for those goes to my wife Beth. I’m glad you find them so reader-friendly.
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October 27, 2022 at 5:14 pm
I agree with the condescending language, but it helps to create debate.
See in context
July 15, 2022 at 6:12 pm
Again, you are contradicting yourself in the same paragraph. How can you obey an inauthentic (ahad) hadith even though you will discard it in favour of a mutawatir hadith? Or if you have one ahad hadith overrule another? What does it mean to “obey” it if it is overruled?
July 15, 2022 at 4:48 pm
You seem to be confused about what was understood to be the “Sunnah”. This is discussed in Wael Hallaq’s work on the sharia. The reason why these scholars (as opposed to the ahl al-hadith scholars) aren’t fixated on specific hadiths is because they understood the Sunnah to have been transmitted, yes, through texts but also through practice, specifically of those who lived with the Prophet himself. This is why, in particular, the Maliki and Hanafi schools tend to prioritize the actions of the sahaba over specific reports. They believe that if a sahabi, for example, prayed in a certain way, that has the same or even higher epistemological value than a report that gives a description of the way he prayed. This is why they tend to interpret and weigh up the texts of the hadith in the light of the actions of the sahaba.
July 15, 2022 at 4:44 pm
Exactly, al-Juwayni does *not* say that all reports are to be obeyed. Do you not see the contradiction to what you wrote in the previous block?
July 15, 2022 at 4:42 pm
Again, you are not being faithful to what al-Juwayni actually wrote. He does *not* claim that nearly all reports have to be obeyed. He is making a distinction between mutawatir and ahad reports, that is the only point he is making, whereas you are reading things into that statement. He is certainly *not* saying that all or nearly all ahad reports are the same. You have ahad reports that are mawdu’ (fabricated), for example. No one would argue that these have to be obeyed. The reason why he doesn’t spell this out here is because he is making an entirely different point. Simply go back to the chapters about abrogration and concensus, and you’ll see that he has already explained that reports that are abrogated or those that are not to be followed by consensus are not to be obeyed.
July 15, 2022 at 4:34 pm
Your conclusion doesn’t seem to fit with what those historians are arguing (particularly Dickinson). You seem to be saying that narrators were accepted as trustworthy if they agreed with the zeitgeist whereas what is being said here is that narrators were deemed reliable if their reports were corroborated, i.e. it wasn’t just a matter of trusting a narrators memory but you had to compare what he was saying with what others were saying about the same thing. So if I say that my teacher was wearing a fedora whereas the rest of the students in the class say that he was hatless – that is when I am deemed unreliable. There were objective criteria, as opposed to a general understanding that I have a weak memory.
July 15, 2022 at 4:01 pm
No, al-Juwayni speaks here of “actions”. Not doing something is, first of all, not an action in this context but rather its opposite. Nevertheless, even if we were to refer to it as an action, jurists *not* doing something does not give it the legal status of forbidden. It could be makruh (disliked), but even that would be a stretch. In fact, the default would be to consider it mubah, i.e. that the shari’a is neutral toward it, because the general principle is that everything is allowed unless explicitly prohibited and someone neglecting to taste something does certainly not amount to an explicit prohibition. However, if certain jurista had explicitly prohibited it, and the rest of the scholars remained silent on this issue, then you could invoke al-Juwayni’s point here.
July 14, 2022 at 12:44 pm
The problem with this example is that whilst al-Juwayni here discusses the Prophet’s *actions* the question of the legal status of the beard belongs to the realm of his *commandments* (a hadith tells us that the beard should be grown) and hence was discussed by al-Juwayni in an earlier chapter.
July 13, 2022 at 8:03 am
This is a very condescending section. France – a Western country, no? – espouses religious freedom, yet many religious acts are nevertheless criminalized because they are considered primarily political. Similarly, public apostasy is prohibited in Islamic law.
June 25, 2021 at 4:40 pm
Thank you, Salman, for this confirmation and illustration of the practice.
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