Friday, September 30, 2005

The Quran and Me

Etiquette with the Quran

Reviewed by: Ismail Ray

This is a translation of a text by one of the great scholars of the Islamic tradition, Imam al-Nawawi, whose other famous works include ‘Riyadh al-Salihin’ (Gardens of the Righteous) and the ‘al-Arbain’ (Forty Hadith) collection. This particular text deals with the manners of dealing with the most important book to Muslims, the Quran, and as such must be given its due if one wishes to seriously study and benefit from the Book of Allah.

The book begins in true traditional style with a certificate of authorisation or ijaza from the translator’s teacher, including the chain of transmission back to Imam al-Nawawi himself. Following this is a foreword by Shaykh Nuh Ha Mim Keller, and an introduction by translator Musa Furber. The last two sections of the introduction include a valuable biography of Imam al-Nawawi, and a translation of Imam al-Nawawi’s own introduction to the text.

The title may lead one to believe that the book would address issues such as the necessity of ritual purity when handling the Quran and the merits of reciting certain chapters and verses. In fact, it contains not only this, but a wealth of additional information. For example, chapter titles include ‘Honoring the Folk of the Quran’ which deals with the respect that is due to the memorisers and scholars of the Quran; ‘The Etiquette of Recitation’ which addresses topics as diverse as reciting the Quran in a group to the verses of prostration; and ‘Writing the Quran and Respecting the Mushaf’ which covers the history behind the compilation of the Quran as well as the rulings on how the Quran should be handled by non-Muslims. More significant to modern times perhaps is a chapter entitled ‘The Etiquette of All People with the Quran’, the reference to people who use verses from the Quran to support their opinions without the prerequisite qualifications.

Apart from the manners pertaining to dealing with the Quran, knowledge that without a doubt is beneficial to all Muslims, there are a fair amount of legal rulings present in the book specific to the Shafi’i school of thought. Of course, this is not surprising since Imam al-Nawawi was definitely one of the foremost figures of that school. Having said that, the opinions of the other three Sunni schools are often quoted and as Musa Furber correctly states in his introduction:

“While individual rulings are important to Shafi’is, there are still vital lessons for us all. Imam al-Nawawi does not promote his madhhab, the Shafi’i school, at the expense of others.”

The book is tremendously well written, and in usual Starlatch Press fashion, it is well presented and the quality is befitting of such an important text. The text itself is superbly referenced for those who wish to study the proofs and origins of the rulings. In addition, the appendix contains a valuable set of brief biographies of all the luminaries mentioned throughout the book. Surely this is an invaluable addition to the increasing number of classical texts that are available in English, and credit is due to Musa Furber for an excellent choice. Some readers may not find the fiqh particularly useful, however it is by no means a significant proportion of the book and should not deter anyone from reading and benefiting from it. Highly recommended.

Taken from Deenport Deenport
Book available at Wardah Books

A seeker is not a seeker until he is able to find in the Quran everything that he desires- Sidi Abu Madyan


Blogger B said...

jazakAllah, :) for the review on this beautiful book

12:04 pm  

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