Book Review: Selections from the Fath al-Bari

Fath al-Bari

Title: Selections from the Fath al-Bari
Author: Imam Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani
Translator: Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad
Publisher: The Muslim Academic Trust (2000)

This is a short booklet consisting of 42 pages of hadith commentary. The book Fath al-Bari (‘Victory of the Creator’) is a well known commentary of Sahih al-Bukhari. Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad states that at least 70 full commentaries have been written on Imam Bukhari’s great Sahih. Shaykh writes in his introduction:

This booklet intends to introduce non-Arabic speakers to one of the most seminal genres of Muslim religious literature, namely, the hadith commentary. It is surprising that no translations at present exist from this voluminous and influential body of writing, given that there are few hadiths which can be understood adequately without reference to the often complex debates which have taken place concerning them between the scholars. These discussions have included investigations of the precise linguistic and lexicological meaning of the Prophetic speech, studies of the isnad, debates over the circumstances surrounding the genesis of each hadith (asbab al-wurud), and issues of abrogation by stronger or later hadiths of by Qur’anic texts. For this reason no Muslim scholar of repute uses a hadith before checking the commentaries to ascertain its precise meaning, context and application.

Further on, Shaykh Abdal Hakim writes:

However the most celebrated is without question the magnificent Fath al-Bari (‘Victory of the Creator’) by Imam Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, a work which was the crown both of its genre and of the Imam’s academic career. It is appreciated by the ulema for the doctrinal soundness of the its author, for its complete coverage of Bukhari’s material, its mastery of the relevant Arabic sciences, the wisdom it shows in drawing disputes over variant readings.

The hadiths that have been selected are from the chapter of Kitab al-Raqa’iq (Section on ‘Words that Soften the Heart). May Allah bless all those who have assisted in making this booklet available, and those that have sought to preserve this Prophetic guidance, by traveling from hadith narrator to hadith narrator and teacher to teacher, in order for later generations, like us, to partake in this beautiful journey to our Lord. Ameen.

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