General Comments

4 general comments

  1. 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.

    1. 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.

  2. 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.


    1. 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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