One of the Best Commentaries of ‘Aqida Tahawiyya
Al-Qala’id Sharh al-‘Aqa’id
I recently had the opportunity to read Mas’ud ibn ‘Umar’s commentary (may Allah be pleased with him) on ‘Aqida Tahawiyya. After having heard much praise for it and seeing it frequently referenced in Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari’s commentary on Al-Fiqh al-Akbar, I had anticipated it to be very useful.
Qunawi’s commentary is extremely satisfying. He is very consistent and thorough in his discussions and does not miss much. He is lucid and measured in his expression and is not overly verbose or long winded in his commentary. Despite the number of complex issues he covers, he is not too difficult to comprehend. He avoids the lengthy intricate discussions such as those quoted by Maydani from Ibn al-Humam’s Musayara and Taftazani’s Sharh al-‘Aqa’id, which sometimes require returning to the original works and their commentaries to unravel and overcome the editing errors.
What I find most fascinating about Qunawi’s commentary is the arrangement of his arguments. He presents them in a very systematic manner assisting the reader in understanding the issue right from the outset. This is unlike, for instance, Mulla ‘Ali al-Qari’s work, who also avoids terse expressions and is easy to read, but whose arguments are not always as well ordered as that of Qunawi. Qunawi presents many of his important discussions on the differences between the theological schools in a “question and answer” or “objection and response” format, after setting out the core issue at the outset. He then deals with each argument and counter argument in much detail.
He is very particular in explaining the specific words and terms used by Imam Tahawi, a point generally ignored by other commentators. This is very useful in revealing the nuanced usage of common terms such as bariyya (creation), ajal (appointed time), jinn, naas (people), din (religion), ihsan (beautification) and ni’ma (blessing) in their particular contexts, which many commentators and readers may just gloss over.
He clearly delineates the Ash’ari and Maturidi positions, generally providing the divergences within each school. He quotes directly from Abu Mansur al-Maturidi and Abu al-Hasan al-Ash’ari (may Allah have mercy on them) on many occasions. He responds in detail to the Mu’tazila, and the Khawarij, Karramiya, Mujassima, Murji’a on each issue of contention, and responds to their proofs, after setting out their arguments.
In-sha Allah, many useful parts of this commentary have been selected for inclusion in our forthcoming super-commentary on the ‘Aqida Tahawiyya. I pray that the editing of the manuscripts of this work that is being undertaken by some South African scholars be completed soon and it be published for general benefit.
Mufti Abdur-Rahman ibn Yusuf Mangera