Al-Hidāya: A Compendium of Hanafi Fiqh

Knowledge is Light

Al-Hidāya: A Compendium of Hanafi Fiqh

Maulana Sadaqat Ali Attari Madani

Al-Hidāya is a central and relied upon work in the Hanafi school of jurisprudence. Initially, the author, ʿAlī ibn Abū Bakr al-Marǵīnānī, wrote Bidāya al-Mubtadī—a concise manual of Islamic law according to the Hanafi school based on Mukhtaar al-Qudūrī and Imam Muhammad’s al-Jāmiʿ al-aghīr.

However, sensing that Bidāya al-Mubtadī was concise but not comprehensive, he wrote an extensive commentary on it, Kifāya al-Muntahā, which 80 volumes. Although this work was comprehensive, it was not a “concise manual” as he had wanted. So, he wrote another commentary on Bidāya al-Mubtadī, called al-Hidāya,[1] which struck the perfect balance between concision and comprehensiveness.

Beginning in Dhu al-Qadah 573 AH, al-Hidāya took 13 years to complete. He spent most of these years fasting in secret.[2]

A brief introduction to the author of al-Hidāya

He is ʿAlī ibn Abū Bakr ibn ʿAbd alJalīl al-Farghāni al-Marǵīnānī, and his lineage extends to the first Caliph, Sayyidunā Abū Bakr al-iddīq رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ. The demonym “al-Marǵīnānī” is a reference to the Marǵīnān region in Uzbekistan where he was born after Asr on Monday, 8 Rajab, 511 AH.[3] Marǵīnān is also known as Margilān. Transoxiana (mā warāʾ al-nahr) is often mention in Fiqh works and refers to the region of central Asia, comprising of present-day Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and south west Kazakhstan. Samarqand, Bukhara, Khujand and Tirmiz were famous centres of Islamic learning in Transoxiana.

From amongst al-Marǵīnānī’s teachers are esteemed personalities such as Najm al-Dīn Abū af ʿUmar al-Nasafī and adr al-Shahīd Muhammad ibn usayn. He passed away on 14 Dhu al-Qadah, 593 AH, and was buried in Samarqand.[4]

His works

His other works include Manāsik al-ajj, Nashr al-Madhhab, Majmūʿ al-Nawāzil, Mukhtār al-Fatāwā, al-Muntaqā al-Marfūʿ, al-Farāʾid, and al-Tajnīs wa al-Mazīd.[5]

His status in Hanafi Fiqh

Hailed as a relative mujtahid, he was qualified to formulate rulings within the Hanafi school. He was also from the evaluators of the school (aṣḥāb al-takhrīj wa al-tarjī). His book has remained a staple of jurists since it was written and remained a core part of curricula in Islamic seminaries.

The approach of al-Hidāya

1.   Legal injunctions are supported with scriptural evidences from the Quran, Sunnah, edicts of the Companions, and rational proofs such as deductive and inductive reasoning.

2.   It is organised into parts (kitab), chapters (baab), and sections (fasl). In some places, under the section, the genera (ajnās) of types (anwāʿ) and lessons (asbāq) have been mentioned.

3.   After listing varying positions and their scriptural and rational evidences about a given issue, the author then forwards the select position of the Hanafi school and justifies it with evidence. In doing so, he rebuttals and discredits the other positions. If he narrates different opinions, he gives preference to the opinion that is the strongest according to the majority of scholars.[6]

4.   Whilst expounding on the rulings of Mukhtaar al-Qudūrī and al-Jāmiʿ al-aghīr, he references the former with “in the book,” (fi al-kitāb). [7]

Terminologies of al-Hidāya

* ماتلونا: in reference to the previous verse.[8]

* مَاذَکرنا: in reference to the rational proof.[9]

* مَارَوینا: in reference to the hadith.[10]

* لِما ذَکَرنا: this also sometimes refers to hadith.

* فِی الْاَصل: this is in reference to the book of Imam Muhammad ibn asan al-Shaybānī known as al-Mabsū.

* قَالوا: this refers to the difference of opinion among the scholars.

* قَال مَشَائخنا: this refers to the scholars of Transoxiana from Bukhara and Samarqand.[11]

* فِی دِیارنا: this refers to the cities of Transoxiana.[12]

* لِما بَیَّنا: this sometimes refers to the Quran, the Sunnah of the Messenger and rational proofs.[13]

Scholarly work on al-Hidāya

References for hadith: References for the Hadiths in al-Hidāya can be found in many books. These not only serve as a database but often provide alternative sources to those cited by of the Shāfiʿī school. Such works include the Nab al-Rāya of Jamāl al-Dīn ʿAbdullah ibn Yūsuf al-Zaylaʿī, the al-Dirāya fī Muntakhab Takhrīj Aādith al-Hidāya of Ibn ajr al-ʿAsqalānī, and al-Kifāya of Muy al-Dīn ʿAbd al-Qādir ibn Abī al-Wafā al-Qarashī.

Commentaries on al-Hidāya

Commentaries on al-Hidāya have been written in Arabic, Urdu, Farsi, and even English. They include: Fat al-Qadīr of Kamāl al-Dīn Muhammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wāid, better known as Ibn al-Humām (d. 861 AH), al-Bināyah of Mamūd ibn Amad al-Ghitabi al-anafī, better known as Badr al-Dīn al-ʿAynī (d. 855 AH), Nihāyat al-Kifāya li Dirāyat al-Hidāya by ʿUmar ibn Amad al-Mabūbī (d. 672 AH), and al-Kifāya by Jalāl al-Dīn ibn Shams al-Dīn al-Khwārizimī (d. 767 AH).

Annotations: Many annotations have been written on al-Hidāya, including those of Imam Ahmad Raza Khan رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْـه. These precious annotations were edited and published as al-Taʾlīqāt al-Radawiyya ʿalā al-Hidāya wa Shurūihā in Beirut by Dawat-e-Islami’s department al-Madinah al-Ilmiyyah (Islamic Research Centre).


[1] al-Fawaid al-Bahiyah, p. 183

[2] Kashf al-Zunoon, vol. 2, p. 2032, Hadaiq al-Hanafiyyah, p. 260

[3] Hadaiq al-Hanafiyyah, p. 259

[4] al-Fawaid al-Bahiyah, p. 183

[5] al-Fawaid al-Bahiyah, p. 183, Kashf al-Zunoon, vol. 2, pp. 1622, 1624, 1852

[6] Nataij al-Afkaar … Fath al-Qadir, vol. 8, p. 247

[7] Kashf al-Zunoon, vol. 2, p. 2032

[8] Nataij al-Afkaar … Fath al-Qadir, vol. 7, p. 160

[9] Nataij al-Afkaar … Fath al-Qadir, vol. 7, p. 160

[10] Nataij al-Afkaar … Fath al-Qadir, vol. 7, p. 160

[11] Fath al-Qadir, vol. 6, p. 275

[12] Fath al-Qadir, vol. 6, p. 281

[13] Fath al-Qadir, vol. 9, p. 166




Security Code