Translated by Zameelur Rahman
In Allah’s Name, the All-Merciful, the Beneficent
All praise to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, and blessings and peace be upon our leader and our master, Muhammad, the Seal of the Prophets, and on his progeny and all his companions, and all who follow them in excellence to the Day of Recompense.
The Noble Qur’an is a scripture from Allah (Exalted is He) which is distinguished from other heavenly books in that it is the Seal of the Scriptures, just as the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is the Seal of the Prophets, and in that it is the only scripture which Allah (Glorified is He) assured would remain protected to the Final Hour (Qur’an 15:9), no word from it changing and no letter from it being disturbed. Indeed it is the only book which will remain till the establishment of the Hour fresh and unsullied in its text and its meaning, its guidance and its import, its wonders never ending and its marvels never finishing; its expressions never being disliked despite the development of different [literary] styles and its meanings never wearing out despite the passage of time. Every time you look carefully at it with the eye of reflection and guidance, you find in it a new message and an instructive directive – “A book the verses of which have been made firm, and then elaborated by the All Wise, All Aware.” (Qur’an 11:1)
Allah (Glorified and Exalted is He) had willed that the ummah of Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) would be the one addressed by this Mighty Revelation. Thus He chose from this ummah luminaries and geniuses who would assume responsibility of the service of the Noble Qur’an from every angle and perspective. [They rendered such] a service that none of those who undertook the service of any book can be compared to them. They spent their lives on it, in recitation and reading, elocution and chanting, explanation and commentary, derivation and extraction, invitation and propagation, such that it is not possible for anyone today, whatever level of knowledge and experience he may have reached, to encompass these services in number, let alone encompass them in reading and understanding.
The Islamic library is rich with exegeses which the ‘ulama of this ummah compiled in service of this Glorious Book. Thus from them were those who gathered in their exegeses all the sciences of exegesis onto one platform. And from them were those who sufficed with an angle from its angles, so some of them paid attention to explaining the sentences and explaining the uncommon words and explaining the forms of the diacritical marks; and some of them attempted to gather all the narrations and reports transmitted on exegesis; and some of them turned their aspirations towards dialectical investigations arising from the Noble Qur’an; and some of them devoted themselves to elucidating the forms of rhetoric and inimitability; and [others paid attention to] other [aspects] besides these of known exegetical subjects.
One of the most prominent of these subjects in rank, and the highest of them in estimation, and the greatest of them in benefit, is derivation of the laws of the Shari‘ah from the Noble Qur’an, since the laws of the Shari‘ah are the practical message of the Qur’an which illuminates the path for humanity in its everyday life, and takes his hand to the best [outcome] in all situations which he faces in his day and his night.
Thus a group of the ‘ulama attempted to gather these rules, and consequently many books were compiled on this [subject]. From the earliest of the known compilations on this subject is the book Ahkam al-Qur’an by Imam al-Shafi‘i (Allah Almighty have mercy on him), rather the author of Kashf al-Zunun mentioned that it is the first book to be compiled on the rulings of the Qur’an, although it has not reached us and the widely-circulating book printed with the title Ahkam al-Qur’an li al-Shafi‘i is only one of the compilations of Imam al-Bayhaqi, in which he collected the discussions on the rulings of the Qur’an from various books of Imam al-Shafi‘i (Allah have mercy on him).
Then the jurists of every school succeeded [him] in writing Ahkam al-Qur’an and from the most reputable of what was compiled on this subject are:
- Ahkam al-Qur’an by Shaykh Abu al-Hasan ‘Ali ibn Hujr al-Sa‘di (d. 244 H)
- Ahkam al-Qur’an by Qadi Abu Ishaq Isma‘il ibn Ishaq al-Azdi al-Basri (d. 282) which is in accordance with the Maliki school. Al-Jassas refutes him frequently. Bakr ibn al-‘Ala’ al-Qushayri summarised it under the title Mukhtasar Ahkam al-Qur’an
- Ahkam al-Qur’an by Abu al-Hasan ‘Ali ibn Musa ibn Yazdad al-Qummi al-Hanafi (d. 305 H)
- Ahkam al-Qur’an by Abu Ja‘far Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Tahawi al-Hanafi (d. 321 H)
- Al-Jami‘ li Ahkam al-Qur’an by Abu Muhammad al-Qasim ibn Asbagh al-Qurtubi the grammarian (d. 340 H)
- Ahkam al-Qur’an by Shaykh Mundhir ibn Sa‘d al-Baluti al-Qurtubi (d. 355 H)
- Ahkam al-Qur’an by Imam Abu Bakr Ahmad ibn ‘Ali popularly known as al-Jassas al-Razi al-Hanafi (d. 370 H)
- Ahkam al-Qur’an by Shaykh Imam Abu al-Hasan ‘Ali ibn Muhammad popularly known as Ilkiya al-Harrasi al-Shafi‘i al-Baghdadi (d. 504 H). He was from the associates of Imam al-Ghazali.
- Ahkam al-Qur’an by Qadi Abu Bakr Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah popularly known as Ibn al-‘Arabi al-Maliki (d. 543 H)
- Ahkam al-Qur’an by Shaykh ‘Abd al-Mun‘im ibn Muhammad ibn Faras al-Gharnati (d. 597 H)
- Mukhtasar Ahkam al-Qur’an by Shaykh Abu Muhammad Makki ibn Abi Talib al-Qaysi (d. 437 H)
- Talkhis Ahkam al-Qur’an by Shaykh Jamal al-Din Mahmud ibn Ahmad popularly known as Ibn al-Siraj al-Qunawi al-Hanafi (d. 770 H)
- Al-Iklil fi Istinbat al-Tanzil by ‘Allamah Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti al-Shafi‘i (Allah have mercy on him) (d. 911 H)
- Al-Tafsirat al-Ahmadiyyah by Shaykh Ahmad al-Jonpuri al-Hindi al-Hanafi popularly known as Mulla Jiwan (Allah have mercy on him) (d. 1130 H)
- Nayl al-Maram fi Tafsir Ayat al-Ahkam by Sayyid Muhammad Siddiq Hasan al-Qinnawji al-Bukhari (Allah have mercy on him) (d. 1307 H)
- And from the last of what was authored on this subject is the book Rawa’i‘ al-Bayan fi Tafsir Ayat al-Ahkam by Shaykh Muhammad ‘Ali al-Sabuni al-Hanafi (Allah Almighty preserve him).
These books have not been printed till now as far as we know besides the books of al-Bayhaqi, al-Jassas, Ibn al-‘Arabi, Ilkiya al-Harrasi and the last four books.
The imam, the great caller, Mawlana Shaykh Ashraf ‘Ali al-Thanawi (Allah Almighty have mercy on him), was from the most avid of people in [authoring] a new book on this subject. Initially, his plan was that this book will be inclusive of the proofs of the Hanafis from the Noble Qur’an with elaboration and exhaustion, just as the book I‘la al-Sunan which Mawlana Shaykh Zafar Ahmad al-‘Uthmani (Allah have mercy on him) compiled upon the instruction of his teacher, [Shaykh Ashraf ‘Ali] al-Thanawi (Allah have mercy on him), was inclusive of the evidences of the Hanafis from the Sunnah. For this [reason], initially he proposed that the name of the book be Dala’il al-Qur’an ‘ala Madhhab al-Nu‘man (The Proofs of the Qur’an for the School of Nu‘man). Later, it occurred to him to not suffice with only listing proofs, rather to mention all that is extracted from the verses of the Noble Qur’an, of jurisprudence and principles, etiquettes and behaviour, guidance and counsel, with a special attention to the issues which have occurred in the latter times on which comprehensive analyses with respect to them are not found in the books of the early scholars. Thereupon, he changed the name of the book to Ahkam al-Qur’an.
Shaykh [Ashraf ‘Ali al-Thanawi] (Allah have mercy on him) wanted to compile this book himself, but it was during the end of his life [when he] had many commitments, a decreased health and severe illnesses. He had delegated the composition of I‘la al-Sunan to his nephew, the erudite scholar, the eminent researcher, Shaykh Zafar Ahmad al-‘Uthmani (Allah have mercy on him). Thus he accomplished this magnificent work brilliantly and perfectly, but at this time he had travelled to another country, and Shaykh [Ashraf ‘Ali] al-Thanawi (Allah have mercy on him) wanted to complete the compilation of Ahkam al-Qur’an in the quickest time possible, so he (Allah have mercy on him) chose to delegate this task to four of his disciples:
- The great scholar, the eminent researcher, Shaykh Zafar Ahmad al-‘Uthmani (Allah Almighty have mercy on him)
- My respected father, the great scholar, the jurist, Mawlana Shaykh Mufti Muhammad Shafi‘ (Allah Almighty have mercy on him)
- The great scholar, the learned hadith master, Mawlana Shaykh Muhammad Idris al-Kandhlawi (Allah Almighty have mercy on him), the author of al-Ta‘liq al-Sabih
- The great and firm scholar, Mawlana Shaykh Mufti Jamil Ahmad al-Thanawi (Allah Almighty preserve him).
He distributed the sections of the Noble Qur’an to these four, so each one of them began to compile what was delegated to him of this book, and sometimes Shaykh [Ashraf ‘Ali al-Thanawi] (Allah Almighty have mercy on him) would call them to his residence in the village of Thana Bhawan in order that he would be able to examine that [section] the writing of which had been completed, and they would be able to consult him if needed.
Shaykh [Ashraf ‘Ali al-Thanawi] (Allah Almighty have mercy on him) paid the utmost attention to this blessed project which his disciples were working on. Thus he would examine whatever they wrote and guide them in its complexities and instruct them to make amendments and changes, and above all this, he made this composition the night companion of his two eyes and the close companion of his thoughts. He would constantly contemplate on what will make the book more beneficial and more useful, and every time a subtle derivation occurred in his heart from any verse of the Noble Qur’an – and that was during his recitation or contemplation of the Qur’an – he would report it to whoever’s section from those four that verse was in, and they would include this lesson in what they wrote under the exegesis of the verse, and they would expand on it and bring evidences and examples of it.
My spiritual teacher, the imam, the great caller, Shaykh Dr. Muhammad ‘Abd al-Hayy (Allah Almighty have mercy on him), who was from the most distinguished of the spiritual successors of Hakim al-Ummah Shaykh [Ashraf ‘Ali] al-Thanawi (Allah have mercy on him), told me that he saw him many times during his final illness, when sickness had reached its peak in him, that he would be lying on his bed with his eyes closed shut, and when he opened them and moved his gaze across his room, he would say: “Where is Shaykh Mufti Muhammad Shafi‘?” and Shaykh Mufti Muhammad Shafi‘ (Allah have mercy on him) was occupied with writing his section of Ahkam al-Qur’an in another room, so his disciples would summon him, whereupon Shaykh [Ashraf ‘Ali al-Thanawi] (Allah have mercy on him) would say to him: “It just occurred to me that from such-and-such a verse such-and-such a ruling can be derived,” so Shaykh Mufti Muhammad Shafi‘ (Allah have mercy on him) would record what Shaykh [Ashraf ‘Ali al-Thanawi] said in his diary and then return to his place.
By this you can gauge the degree of his attention to this book, that he made it the companion of his heart and he put it at the forefront of his mind even on his deathbed (Allah Almighty have mercy on him and make pleasant his resting place).
Thus, Mawlana Shaykh Zafar Ahmad al-‘Uthmani (Allah have mercy on him) compiled the exegesis of the first section from the beginning of Surah al-Baqarah to the end of Surah al-Nisa’; Mawlana Mufti Jamil Ahmad al-Thanawi (Allah preserve him) compiled [the exegesis of the second section] from the beginning of Surah Yunus to the end of Surah Nahl; Mawlana Shaykh Mufti Muhammad Shafi‘ (Allah Almighty have mercy on him) compiled [the exegesis of the third section] from the start of Surah al-Shu‘ara’ to the end of Surah al-Hujurat; and Mawlana Shaykh Muhammad Idris al-Kandhlawi (Allah have mercy on him) compiled [the exegesis of the fourth section] from the start of Surah Qaf to the end of the Noble Qur’an.
Subsequently, the latter two from these four completed what was delegated to them, and the first two were not able to complete their part, so they compiled half of them, and the other half remained outstanding, due to their many commitments and the length of their sections, and due to what had occurred during the creation of Pakistan of events forcing many of the Muslims to migrate to Pakistan, and these two scholars were from amongst them. Thus with great sadness two sections remain incomplete of this book:
- From the start of Surah Ma’idah to the end of Surah Tawbah
- From Surah Bani Isra’il to the end of Surah Furqan
The written part of this book remained in the form of rough manuscripts for some years, and that was because of waiting for someone to finish the final remaining part. When it remained like this for many years, and no one was able to fill this gap, Mawlana Shaykh Shabbir ‘Ali al-Thanawi, who was Hakim al-Ummah Shaykh al-Thanawi’s (Allah have mercy on him) publisher, feared the written manuscripts would be lost. Therefore, he published the first, third and fourth parts. His objective was only to bring these manuscripts into the confinement of print, so they are not lost by [the passage of] time, and it remains preserved for the people of [sound] taste from the ‘ulama. For this [reason], despite the lack of sufficient means, he printed it in lithographic print with bad quality writing on simple paper. As for the second part, which is the compilation of Mawlana Shaykh Mufti Jamil Ahmad al-Thanawi (Allah preserve him), it was a very worn-out manuscript, which needed to be reconstructed, but Shaykh [Shabbir ‘Ali al-Thanawi] could not find anyone who would reconstruct it, so he was unable to publish it.
These published sections which Shaykh Shabbir ‘Ali al-Thanawi (Allah have mercy on him) printed, despite the bad quality of their printing and the many errors, were an important phase in the preservation of this priceless treasure, and were it not that Shaykh [Shabbir ‘Ali al-Thanawi] (Allah have mercy on him) printed it at this time, we would be deprived today of this valuable treasure, which is from the dearest aspirations of Hakim al-Ummah Shaykh Ashraf ‘Ali al-Thanawi (Allah have mercy on him).
By the grace of this edition, the book has reached the hands of those ‘ulama who give knowledge its value and favour the message over the messenger and give more attention to the worth of the seed than they do the beauty of the skin and the pleasantness of the cover. Thus they began to take benefit from it, and were eager to acquire it, until its printed copies ran out, and the demand continued to increase. There were many times various ‘ulama in different Islamic cities asked me to make it possible for them to acquire a copy of this book and [they said that] they will spend whatever price the seller wanted! But I was not able to respond to their request due to its copies having run out, even with its publisher.
Thus the need arose to reprint it. The people of knowledge suggested that this time it be printed with type printing according to what suits the modern taste in publishing books. However, Arabic printing in Pakistan is very difficult, due to the absence of Arabic letters and its formatting, and the paucity of proofreaders, and the expensiveness of the various stages of printing, and above all of that, because of not finding one who will spend nights in order to accomplish this task such that he directs his full attention to it and his utmost effort.
Thus, Allah (Glorified and Exalted is He) raised our deceased teacher, Shaykh Nur Ahmad (Allah Almighty have mercy on him), founder of Idarat al-Qur’an wa al-‘Ulum al-Islamiyyah, who is known amongst his contemporaries for his lofty aspirations and his vigorous energy, and Allah (Glorified and Exalted is He) inspired him in the end part of his life to take the responsibility of publicising our priceless academic legacy by producing rare books in meticulous dresses of print. As such, he is the one who completed the publication of I‘la al-Sunan – that spectacular and immense book – in 20 volumes, the publication of which the publishers of Pakistan feared to administer due to the aforementioned obstacles. Thus he attended to the production of this book in his night and his day, and he persisted in subduing its obstacles morning and evening, and he struggled in this cause for around two years not knowing boredom or tiredness, until he was able, by the guidance of Allah (Glorified is He), to produce this immense book as a wonderful gift to the admirers of knowledge and its seekers.
Then he (Allah have mercy on him) turned his attention to the publication of other rare books like the Musannaf of Ibn Abi Shaybah, Kitab al-Asl by Imam Muhammad, Sharh al-Hamawi ‘ala al-Ashbah wa al-Naza’ir, Kitab al-Athar and al-Jami‘ al-Saghir by Imam Muhammad (Allah Almighty have mercy on him).
Towards the end of his life, he began, with Allah’s (Glorified is He) guidance, to print this beneficial book Ahkam al-Qur’an which is before your hands now. Something that saddens us all is that he was not destined to see this book printed in this form, and it was not destined for this book to see the light (nur) [i.e. Shaykh Nur Ahmad] before his death, for he passed on into the safety of the mercy of Allah when there only remained a few sections before the completion of its publication. May Allah (Exalted is He) show him expansive mercy and reward him greatly on behalf of all the Muslims.
It pleases me that his gifted children – who are scholars in their own right – followed in his footsteps, and continued his journey in the path of publishing valuable academic books, and the favour goes to them for producing this book today in this form by which the eye of every seeker of knowledge is cooled. May Allah (Glorified and Exalted is He) reward them with goodness and enable them to increase in the likes of such appreciated works, and assist them in this path with guidance and ease. Verily, He (Exalted is He) is Able over all things.
As for a description of the book, I do not wish to delve into this, as once it has reached your hands, it is free of the description of the describers and the praise of the eulogisers, for it is better to know a fragrance by its smell rather than know it by its commendations. I pray to Allah (Glorified and Exalted is He) to benefit the Muslims by means of it and make it a great weight in the good deeds of the one whose idea this was and its writers, its publishers and its printers, and all who helped in producing it and presenting it to the hands of the people seeking [this book]. Verily, He (Exalted is He) is All-Hearing, Near, Ever-Responding to the callers.
Muhammad Taqi Usmani wrote it
Servant of the students at Dar al-‘Ulum Karachi
Member of the Shari‘ah Appellate Bench, Supreme Court of Pakistan
25 Jumad al-Thaniyah 1407 H (February, 1987)
Ahkam al-Qur’an, Idarat al-Qur’an wa al-‘Ulum al-Islamiyyah, Karachi: Pakistan, Third Edition, 1429 H, 1:5-14