COMMENTARIES AND TRANSLATIONS OF MISHKAT AL-MASABIH
Mishkat al-Masabih, within a short period of time, gained the acceptance of the scholars and this was a contributing factor for its popularity. The extent of its popularity and value can be estimated by the large number of commentaries and translations that have appeared in due course in various languages. Important commentaries and translations of Mishkat al-Masabih are discussed in this chapter.
Al-Kashif 'an Haqa'iq al-Sunan, written by Sharf al-Din al-Husayn ibn Muhammad al-Tibi (d. 743/1342), was the very first commentary on Mishkat al-Masabih. Al-Tibi was well-versed in Tafsir (Commentary on the Qur'an), Arabic grammar and linguistics. He was equally recognised as an authority on the science of influencing juridical principles from the Hadith. Interestingly, he was the teacher of al-Tabrizi, the compiler of the Mishkat. This was indeed a matter of unique honour for the student, al-Tabrizi, that the teacher wrote a commentary on the student's work. Al-Tibi may have undertaken to write this commentary in view of the fact that the Mishkat is a complete compilation of Ahadith, covering practically all aspects of the teachings of Islam. In his commentary, al-Tibi explained the difficult words, elucidated upon the grammatical structure of the Hadith and provided details of the rules of rhetorics as applicable to the Hadith.
Furthermore, he interpreted the Ahadith of the Mishkat in detail, and also explained the salient juridical deductions based on these Ahadith. He relied, in his explanation, as he himself points out, on the work of the renown Shafi'i scholar 'Allamah Abu Zakariya Yahya al-Nawaw-i (d.676/1277) entitled al-Minhaj 'ala Sharh Muslim which is a commentary on Sahih Muslim.
Al-Kashif 'an Haqaa'iq al-Sunan is not available in print but it seems that Mulla 'Ali al-Qari (d. 1014/1605) had access to the manuscript since he made references to it in his famous Mirqat al-Mafatih. Copies of the handwritten manuscripts of this commentary are available in Pir Jhandu Muhibb Allah Shah Library in Sind, Pakistan and in the University of the Punjab Library, Lahore, Pakistan. 'Allamah Yusuf Binnuri (d. 1977), the then Rector of Madrasah al-'Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah, Newtown, Karachi, Pakistan, had in his possession a leather-bound copy of the manuscript on which were the signatures of some great Afghan scholars. Muslim scholars used to sign on the manuscripts of other scholars as a token of tabarruk and historicity (for obtaining blessings).
Minhaj al-Mishkat was written by 'Abd al-'Aziz al-Abhari (d. 843/1439). Nothing much is known about al-Abhari's life. His commnetary on the Mishkat is brief. In it, al-Abhari explained the unfamiliar words used in the Ahadith that are to be found in the Mishkat.
Hashiyat al-Mishkat was written by 'Allamah 'Ali ibn Muhammad al-Jurjani (d. 843/1413). Al-Jurjani was called al-Sayyid al-Sharif and was born in Taju, near Astarabadh, present-day Iran, in 740/1339. He studied in Herat, present-day Iran, and Egypt and taught in Shiraz where he finally passed away. His commentary was also a brief one. A copy of this commentary in manuscript form has survived and is being available in the University of the Punjab Library, Lahore, Pakistan.
Mirqat al-Mafatih by 'Ali ibn Sultan Muhammad al-Qari (d.1014/1605) is the most comprehensive and excellent Arabic commentary on Mishkat al-Masabih. He came to be popularly known as Mulla 'Ali al-Qari and belonged to the Hanafi School. He was born in Herat, Iran, where he received his basic Islamic education. Thereafter, he travelled to Makkah al-Mukarramah, Saudi Arabia, and studied under the celebrated scholar Shaykh Ahmad ibn Hajar Haythami Makki. Mulla 'Ali al-Qari eventually decided to remain in Makkah al-Mukarramah where he taught, died and was laid to rest. It ought to be noted here that his commentary was the first one to have been written by a Hanafi scholar. In this commentary, the author touches upon the authenticity of the Ahadith based upon the opinions of the early Hadith scholars. He also points out that since al-Tabrizi was a Shafi'i scholar he had restricted himself to include only those Ahadith which were important and relevant to legal deductions and teachings according to the the Shafi'i School.
In this commentary, al-Qari refutes the Shafi'i juridical opinions and puts forth the Hanafi opinions. In certain instances he questions whether the Ahadith were of weak (Da'if) ranking or alternatively he gives his reasons as to why a particular Hadith cannot be accepted to be a source for a specific Shafi'i ruling. Thus, he added in his commentary such Ahadith from which Hanafi legal deductions are made.
Mirqat al-Mafatih was published in Cairo for the first time in five volumes in 1309/1891 with the text of Mishkat al-Masabih in the margin. A beautiful edition of the same has recently been published in eleven volumes in Multan, Pakistan, but unfortunately the year of its publication has not been mentioned.
Al-Ta'liq al-Sabih 'ala Mishkat al-Masabih of Mawlana Muhammad Idris Kandihlwi (1394/1974). Mawlana Kandihlwi was born in 1312/1894 in Kandihla, India, which is a village near Delhi. At the age of 11 he memorized the Qur'an. He studied Islamic Sciences at the renown Islamic institution, Mazahir al-Ulum, in Saharanpur, India. He specialised in Hadith under the renown scholar 'Allamah Anwar Shah Kashmir. Mawlana Kandihlwi taught at the Dar al-'Uloom, Deoband, and finally migrated to Pakistan in 1949 where he was finally laid to rest. His work happens to be the most recent commentary on Mishkat al-Masabih. This commentary is in effect an abridged version of Mirqat al-Mafatih. Mawlana Kandihlwi did not manage to complete his commentary. Thus, his equally well-known son, Mawlana Muhammad Malik completed the work and published it in five volumes in Lahore, Pakistan.
Lamahat al-Tanqih was written by Shaykh 'Abd al-Haq Sayf al-Din al-Dihlawi (d. 1052/1642) and is a short Arabic commentary on al-Tabrizi's Mishkat al-Masabih. 'Abd al-Haq al-Dihlawi was born in India and completed his studies of the Islamic Sciences in Delhi. Thereafter, he travelled to Makkah al-Mukarramah, Saudi Arabia, and specialised in Hadith under Mulla 'Ali al-Qari and other notable scholars. He was a prolific writer and wrote on a wide variety of subjects. He passed away in 1052/1642 at the age of 94 and is buried in Delhi. A manuscript of his Lamahat al-Tanqih is found in al-Asafiyah Government Library, Hyderabad Deccan, India.
Zujajat al-Masabih. Its author Abu al-Hasanat al-Sayyid 'Abd Allah ibn Mawlana al-Sayyid Muzaffar Husayn al-Hydarabadi al-Hanafi (d. 1384/1964) wrote Zujajat al-Masabih on the pattern of Mishkat al- Masabih. He attained his religious education in Hyderabad Deccan, India, under prominent scholars. He was a prolific writer and wrote on a variety of subjects. He passed away in Hyderabad, India, at the age of 92.
Abu al-Hasanat undertook writing his commentary on the Mishkat entitled Zujajah al-Masabih while visiting Turkey and Afghanistan. Since the majority of the Muslim population in these two countries follow the Hanafi School of Islamic Jurisprudence, his commentary is based upon the Hanafi juridical opinions. Some salient features of his commentary are as follows: firstly, he has included at the beginning of every chapter relevant verses of the Qur'an pertaining to the topics discussed in the chapters; secondly, since Al-Tabrizi, the author of the Mishkat, had included only such Ahadith which have a Shafi'i bias, he, on the other hand, replaced these Ahadith with others that are in conformity with the Hanafi rulings; thirdly, unlike the Mishkat he grouped all the Ahadith which deal with juridical matters under relevant headings. This commentary has been translated into Urdu by a group of scholars and entitled as Nur al-Masabih.
Farsi Translation and Commentary
Ashi'at al-lama'at of Shaykh 'Abd al-Haq Sayf al-Din al-Dihlawi represents the first attempt at translating Mishkat al-Masabih into Farsi' (the Persian language). It also incorporates a full commentary on the same. It was published for the first time in 1277/1860 in Lucknow, India and another edition of the same was later published in 1390/1970 in Lahore, Pakistan.
Urdu Translation and Commentary
Mazahir al-Haq of Muhammad Qutb al-Din Khan Dihlawi (d. 1289/1872) is in five volumes and is considered to be the most comprehensive commentary on Mishkat al-Masabih written in the Urdu language. The author was born in 1219/1804 in Delhi, India, and began his studies under the learned scholar Shah Muhammad Ishaq of Delhi. He then travelled to Saudi Arabia, where he studied under prominent scholars in Makkah al Mukarramah and al-Madinah al-Munawwarah. He passed away in Makkah al Mukarramah. In his commentary on the Mishkat he quotes extensively from the other commentators. Though it is an excellent translation and commentary, it does not appeal to the laymen because of the fact that the style and language are too high-flown. The translation contains Arabic and Persian words and constructions which make the language highly Arabicised and Persianised, making it difficult to follow.
Tarjamat al-Mishkat is purely an Urdu translation of Mishkat al-Masabih. It is the work of Mawlana Karamat 'Ali Jawnpuri (d. 1290/1873). Karamat 'Ali was born in Jawnpur, India, but the year of his birth is uncertain. He studied Islamic Theology and other Islamic Sciences under Shah 'Abd al-'Aziz Muhaddith al-Dihlawi (d. 1239/1824). He was a disciple of Sayyid Ahmad Shahid of Breyli (d. 1246/1831), India. He was a trained qari (i.e. reciter of the Qur'an) and an expert calligraphist. He is buried in Rangpur, India. All his literary works have been written in the Urdu language.
English Translations and Commentaries
It is appropriate to mention here that most of the relevant informations on the English translations and commentaries on Mishkat al-Masabih have been taken from Dr. James Robson's Mishkat al-Masabih - English Translation with Explanatory Notes. Dr. Robson was an Irish clergyman and was Professor of Arabic at the University of Manchester, England.
The first English translation of Mishkat al-Masabih was done by A N Matthews in two volumes. His translation was printed in Calcutta, India, in 1809. Some of the shortcomings of this translation are as follows: Firstly, a substantial number of Ahadith have been left out and therefore not translated. No reason has been given as to why this was done. Secondly, there are wrong translations of the Arabic texts. Thirdly, at certain places the commentaries on the Ahadith are given in the midst of their translations, thus causing much confusion between the translation of the text and the commentary.
There were some scholars, for example A.A.K. Muhammad, who attempted to translate into English only selected portions of Mishkat al-Masabih. His work entitled The Sayings of Hazrat Muhammad was published in Calcutta, India in 1918. Selections of texts is quite arbitrary and no explanation is given for his selection of the passages.
Another English translation of selections from Mishkat al-Masabih is that of W. Goldsack entitled Selections from Muhammadan Traditions. It was published in Madras, India in 1923. It has not been possible to establish as to why he chose to translate certain selections from the Mishkat.
The celebrated translation and commentary of Moulana Fazlul Karim entitled Al-Hadis was published for the first time in Calcutta, India in 1939 and includes the Arabic text as well. While the author calls it a translation of Mishkat al-Masabih, it is evident that he has rearranged the order of the Ahdith and added some Ahadith on his own initiative and omitted some from the original text. It is, in effect, a new work based on Mishkat al-Masabih.
In view of the previous shortcomings that existed in the abovementioned English translations, Professor James Robson felt that there was a need "to produce a translation in natural English". He undertook the translate the Mishkat. His translation runs into five volumes and is entitled Mishkat al-Masabih - English Translation with Explanatory Notes. It was published in Lahore, Pakistan in 1963. Its language is lucid and the modern system of transliteration has been employed. In his commentary on the Ahadith that are to be found in the Mishkat he has incorporated brief explanations of certain Ahaadith based on the explanations found in Mirqat al-Mafatih and al-Ta'liq al-Sabih 'ala Mishkat al-Masabih.
Professor Robson himself points out that, in his work, he did not discuss the questions of authenticity of the Ahadith, nor did he elaborate upon the salient meanings of the Ahadith. Furthermore, he himself admits that the "notes (in his translation) mainly deal with explanations of some Arabic words, place names, incidents to which reference is made, and the references to the surahs and verses of the Qur'an which are quoted."
'Abdul Hameed Siddiqui translated and annotated the Mishkat and named his work Mishkat al-Masabih. In 1976 Islamic Publications Ltd., Lahore, Pakistan, published it in two volumes. In its introduction, 'Abdul Hameed Siddiqui states that he encountered certain difficulties in translating the Mishkat into English but nevertheless has "endeavoured to convey somehow or the other the meanings of the words of Ahaadith to the English-knowing readers. The value of translation lies in the fact that the Arabic text of the Ahaadith have been retained. While he does explain, in some instances the meanings of certain Ahaadith, a need still exists for a more comprehensive English translation and commentary on Mishkat al-Masabih.
The author of Mazahir al-Haq, Muhammad Qutb al-Din Khan cites al-Masdbih. Diblaw es numerous other commentaries on Mishkd The writer of this thesis has not been able to have access to any one of them but their copies, either in old print or manuscript forms, should be available in India and Pakistan. Thus, only their titles and the names of their authors are listed in what follows:
Sharh al-Mishkat of Abu al-Hasan 'Ali Muhammad 'Ilm al-Din Bukhari (d.841/1438).
Hashiyah al-Mishkat of Shaykh Muhammad Sa'id ibn Mujaddid Alf al-Thaani (d.1070/1658).
Hidayat al-Ruwat ila Takhrij al-Masabih wa al-Mishkat of Abu al-Fadl Ahmad ibn 'Ali ibn Hajar al-'Asqalani(d. 852/1450).
Mir'at al-Mafatih of Mawlana 'Ubayd Allah Rahmani Mubarakpuri
Aziqat al Najat Sharh al-Mishkat of Shaykh 'Abd al-Nabi 'Imad al-Din Muhammad Shatari.
Zinat al-Nuqat fi Sharh al-Mishkat of Muhammad Abu al-Majdi Mahbub 'Alam Ahmad 'Abadi.