Notes on The Diminutive Explanation [Sharh al-Saghir] of Sidi al-Dadir D. 1201 A.H – Imam Suhaib Webb

Sidi Ahmed al-Dardir wrote:

“This grand text [is one which] I gathered from the condensed work of Imam Khalil, regarding the school of Imam Malik [may Allah have mercy on him]. I restricted myself [in this texts] to the soundest opinions; replacing the unreliable opinions [mentioned by Imam al-Khalil  with them, while restricting what he [Imam al-Khalil] left universal or the opposite, in order to facilitate [learning the school’s opinions]. I named this work Aqrab al-Masalik li Madhab al-Imam Malik. I ask Allah to benefit with this work as He benefited with the original [Mukhtasar al-Khalil]. Indeed, He is the Most High the Wise, the Forgiver the Exerciser of Mercy.”


“This grand text”

Meaning its importance is grand due to the following:

  • It contains a massive amount of rulings related to Islamic law according to the Maliki school
  • It was written in a very assessable and simple style

I gathered from the condensed work of Imam al-Khalil”

If translated verbatim the sentence would say, “Which I plucked from the fruit from the mukhtasar of Imam Khalil.” Here Sidi al-Dardir, who was considered an Imam in the Arabic language, is using a device in rhetoric that paints an image that what Imam al-Khalil left was a fruitful garden which Sidi al-Dardi picked from and composed his book with. This is a sign of humility on Sidi al-Dardi’s part and it shows the great respect he had for Khalil.

“Imam Khalil”

Abu al-Diya Khalil bin Ishaq D.767 A.H- 1366 C.E [May Allah have mercy upon him]

“[ This awesome text in which] I restricted myself to the soundest opinions, exchanging them for what was not relied upon [mentioned by Imam al-Khalil in his text]”

Meaning in this text the author restricted himself to the sounder opinions found in the school if there were differences mentioned by Imam Khalil. For that reason, as mentioned by the author in his commentary one will rarely find two opinions mentioned.

The Malikis terminology regarding opinions:

  1. Arjah [the soundest opinion] it is recognized as what is the strongest based on proofs. Its opposite is rajih [sound].
  2. Rajih [sound opinion] it is recognized as the M’utamad [relied upon opinion] in the school which means a majority spoke in favor of it. Its opposite is marjuh [weak].
  3. Marjuh [a weak opinion]

“replacing the unreliable opinions [mentioned by Imam Khalil in his text] with the sounder opinions [of the school], while restricting what he [Khalil] left universal or the opposite, in order to facilitate [learning the school’s opinions].”

Meaning if Khalil mentioned opinions which were not relied upon, Sidi al-Dardi replaced them in his text with the sounder opinion according to the school. At the same time he, Sidi al-Dardi, would restrict those things that Khalil left open, and, he would universalize what Khalil left restricted. All of this was done…

“In order to facilitate [learning the school’s opinions]”

Meaning he wrote this in order to facilitate the learning process for the student of knowledge since mentioning all the things above [in detail] would prove difficult on the student.

Three level of students within the school

  1. A beginner
  2. Intermediate
  3. One who has completed the school

What are the most important texts for a beginner in the school?

Sh. Bashir Dayif al-Jazairi wrote that the most important texts for a beginner in the school are: [here we only mention four although the author mentioned 21]

1. The Manzuma [didactic Poem] of al-Qurtubi Its composer was al-Sheikh Sabiq al-Din Abi Bakr Yahya bin ‘Umar al-Azadi al-Qurtubi. The most important print of this work is that of ‘Esa al-Baba al-Halabi in Egypt. It was printed in 1938.

2. The Manzuma [didactic poem] of Ibn Ashir

Its composer was ‘Abdul Wahid bin Ashir. This poem’s fame has spread from the East to the West especially in the Maghrib, and it is considered the second step after the memorization of the Qur’an. The number of explanations of this text has reached more than 60!

3. Matn al-‘Ishmawiyah of Abdu al-Bari al-‘Ishmawi al-Masri.

It is a text who enjoyed a large circulation and popularity. It is composed of around 30 pages beginning with the chapter on prayer.

4. Matn al-‘Iziyah of Imam al-‘Izi.

It is another one of the popular texts. It begins with the chapter on prayer.

[Comment Br. Suhaib] All praise is to Allah! All of these important texts are currently found at al ‘Esa al-Baba al-Halabi in Cairo. Although they are hard on the eyes, the texts, for the most part, are checked and reliable for one to memorize from.

Thoughts on the introduction:

I heard one of my teachers say that once he had a sheikh who would only teach him the introduction to scholar’s works. Reason being is that, in those introductions, one will find the keys and reasons why the author decided to compose the work and the thought processes of those who Allah has shined light upon their hearts and minds.

For that reason, I encourage all of you, who read this, to give time to it and think deeply on it. For, inshallah, very soon the goals outlined by Sidi al-Dardir are going to be presented.

This concludes the notes to part 2 of the Diminutive Explanation [Sharh al-Saghir] of Sidi Ahmed al-Dardi 1201 A.H- 1787 C.E May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon the Prophet, his family, companions and his nation.

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