Notes: Hakim al-Ummat’s Comments on the Method of Teaching in Madrasahs

Hakīm al-Ummah Mawlānā Ashraf ʿAlī al-Thānawī is known to have proposed some very interesting modifications to the Dars Niẓāmī syllabus as well as a number of condensed versions of the course to meet the divergent needs of the general Muslim populace.

Amongst the proposals is his emphasis on exercises and practice questions of the rules and principles taught in the classical works. Thānawī (may Allah shower him with His mercy) argued that the pace of lessons had to be slowed down while more attention and greater emphasis should be accorded to the application of the rules of Arabic syntax (naḥw) and morphology (ṣarf). He noted that the memorization of grammar rules was wholly inadequate, especially in today’s times. It is more effective to occasionally skip lectures and devote the time to exercises and revision. Continue reading

On the Validity of Backbiting in Hadith Criticism

Question:

When we talk about a specific narrator being ʿādil (upright), isn’t it backbiting to label someone a liar or a sinner? How is this justified?

Answer:

In the name of Allah, the All Merciful, the Most Mercy-giving. The act of backbiting (ghībah) as it applies to speaking unfavorably of a person who is not present is without a doubt abhorrent, repugnant, and prohibited in the sharī‘ah. Numerous verses of the Holy Qur’an as well as prophetic narrations clearly explicate the gravity of this sin, equating it even to consuming the flesh of a dead brother. Continue reading

How to Study Arabic Morphology (Ṣarf) Based on Mufti Taqi Usmani’s Recommendations

The following recommendations are from Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani’s short treatise on how to study the dars nizāmī. The advice, though aimed at students of the Mīzān al-Ṣarf or ʿIlm al-Ṣīghah, is largely applicable to any beginning student of Arabic morphology.

1) Its absolutely necessary to memorize the conjugation tables. In fact, the conjugations should be practiced to such an extent that they flow from the tongue without hesitation or pause. Continue reading

Madrasat al-Hasanayn: Further Details on the Curriculum

Year 4:

1. al-Balaghat al-Wadihah/Jawahir al-Balaghah: The first was the primary text that was used this year. Jawahir was only used as a supplement, as it contains certain discussions not in al-Wadihah. A lot more than Balaghah and Adab could have been covered this year. In any case, our teacher gave so much emphasis to Balaghah for this year that students got a good taste of Arabic literature, Qur’anic rhetoric and commentary, and the science of Balaghah itself. al-Balaghah al-Wadihah was studied exhaustively. Every practice exercise was covered in class and with the teacher. Continue reading

Consolidating the Divergent Rulings of Imam Abū Ḥanīfah and His Students

Question:

When reading the rulings in the book we come by several instances where Imam Muhammad differs from Abu Hanifa. As one who does taqleed, which ruling should we follow? Do we take Imam Muhammad’s ruling or do we take Abu Hanifa’s?

Is it acceptable to take either opinion or does one need to consider the circumstances surrounding a fiqh issues prior to following a specific ruling? If one ruling is superior to another would it be wrong/sinful for someone to follow the weaker position whether it be Imam Muhammad or Abu Hanifa? Continue reading

Madrasat al-Hasanayn: Educational Outlook, Curriculum, and Methodology of Instruction

To learn more about Madrasat al-Hasanayn’s method of teaching and its curriculum, here is a brief synopsis of the books/subjects covered each year and how they are taught. Keep in mind that this is how the curriculum looked when I was there around fifteen years ago. There have been significant changes in the curriculum since then. I was there during the testing phases and saw many aspects of the syllabus evolve over time. Continue reading

The Solitary Report (Khabr Wāḥid) in the Ḥanafī Madhhab: Selection from an Unpublished Article

The khabar wāḥid (sometimes translated as a “solitary report”), as defined by the Ḥanafī jurists, refers to a narration that is transmitted by any number of narrators that does not reach the level of mashhūr or mutawātir. (Bazdawī 112) It may be narrated by one, two, or any other varying number of narrators at every level of the chain as long as the number does not reach the level of mashhūr.

The khabar wāḥid, or āḥād, is not necessarily a weak or strong ḥadīth, as its strength is decided by the condition of its narrators. However, regardless of the strength of its narrators and therefore the narration itself, the āḥād’s status is one that at best necessitates ʿamal (binding practice) and not ʿilm (decisive knowledge). In other words, the legal status of the āḥād is of speculative authority (dhann) and not decisive authority (qatʿ). This is the agreed-upon stance of all the Ḥanafī jurists and legal theorists. (Jaṣṣāṣ 1:551, Dabūsī 170, Sarakhsī 1:321, Bazdawī 112, Shāshī 172, Samarqandī 448, Asmandī 240-250, Khabbāzī 1:327, Ibn al-Sāʿātī 163-164, Nasafī 2:13-14, Ṣadr al-Sharīʿah 2:8, Fanārī 2:245, Mullā Khusraw 116, Bukhārī 2:678, Itqānī 5:36-37, Babirtī 4:158) Continue reading

Some Notes from Reading Makdisi’s “The Rise of Colleges”

Here are some interesting points I noted down from reading Makdisi’s The Rise of Colleges:

1. Fiqh was studied over the course of four years. It was taught without any focus on dialectics (jadal), disputation (munazarah), or comparitive fiqh (ikhtilaf). Study of ikhtilaf, academic disputations, and dialectics was taught to students after the four year course and to those serious and capable of legal argumentation.

2. Striking a balance between emphasis on memorization and comprehension was key to a strong Islamic education. Continue reading

Unfinished Notes on the Islamic Ethics of Childrearing

Over the years, through classes, personal research, seminar preparation, and textbook development projects, various incomplete documents began to collect metaphorical dust on my hard-drive. In light of the fact that many of such writings were unfortunately left unfinished and I have no immediate intention to give them attention in the near future, I thought it would be in the interest of anyone who could benefit from the content itself or the goal behind the production of the content to post some samples of the unfinished works on this blog.

Below is an extract from my notes on Islamic manners, specifically the manners related to children, pregnancy, childbirth, and child-rearing. Continue reading