ABOUT THE BOOK:
The present volume, 'Umdat al-salik, represents one of the finest and most reliable short works in Shafi'i jurisprudence, a school with perhaps fewer scholarly differences on rulings than others because its main resource is the recession of Imam Nawawi, the great thirteenth-century Shafi'i hadith scholar and jurisprudent who upgraded the work of previous generations in terms of the authenticity and application of hadith evidence.
The author of' Umdat al-salik, Ibn Naqib, closely follows the order and conclusions of Nawawi's encyclopedic al-Majmu' Sharh al-Muhadhdhab [The compendium: an exegesis of "The rarefaction"] with its addendum, al- Takmila [The completion], by Ibn Naqib's own Shaykh, Taqi ai-Din Subki. The present volume is virtually an index of the conclusions of the Majmu', and readers interested in the evidence from Qur'an and hadith for the rulings of the present volume can find them there.
One of the popular commentaries a student should consult is Fayd al-Ilah al-Malik fi hall alfaz 'Umdat al-salik wa 'uddat ai-nasik [The outpouring of the Sovereign Divinity: an interpretation of the words of "The reliance of the traveller and tools of the worshipper"]. There are few other commentaries, some contemporary and some classical.
ABOUT IMAM IBN AL-NAQIB AL-MISRI:
Ahmad ibn Lu'lu' ibn 'Abdullah al-Rumi, Shihab al-Din Ibn al-Naqib al-Misri. His father was a Christian convert to Islam from Antakya, Turkey, who was originally captured and made a slave by a Muslim prince who then educated him and set him free, whereupon he served the prince as a captain (naqib) and later became a Sufi in the Baybarsiyya of Cairo, where his son was born in 702/11302. Ahmad grew up among Islamic scholars, memorizing the Holy Qur'an in its seven canonical readings (qira'at), and at the age of twenty studied Sacred Law, which he pursued until he excelled at it. Among his sheikhs were the great Shafi'i mujtahid and hadith master (hafiz), Imam Taqi ai-Din Subki in Islamic jurisprudence, the hadith master Ibn Mulaqqin in the sciences of hadith, and Abu Hayyan in Arabic grammar.
A master of Qur'an recitation, Shafi'i law, Qur'anic exegesis, fundamentals of Islamic faith and law, Arabic, and Sufism, he memorized a great many hadiths, especially those connected with dhikr and devotions, and worked at length correcting and refining Abu Ishaq Shirazi's al-Muhadhdhab (The rarefaction), condensing Shirazi's al-Tanbih (The notification), and annotating Nawawi's Minhaj al-Talibin (The seekers' road), all of which are reflected in his most famous work, 'Umdat al-Salik wa 'Uddat al-Nasik (The reliance of the traveller and tools of the worshipper), the basic text of the present volume, which follows the order of Shirazi's al-Muhadhdhab and the conclusions of Nawawi's Minhaj in a work he seemingly designed and edited for practical application in life, avoiding rare and obscure legal questions, and presenting only the soundest positions of the school.
He never gave formal legal opinions or accepted an official teaching position, but rather applied himself to worship, writing, and teaching a relatively small circle of students. Those who knew him described him as learned, humble, quiet, dignified, intelligent, polite, God-fearing, and ascetic. Despite his rigorous self-discipline in worship, he had a good sense of humour and a talent for relating amusing anecdotes. Devoted like his father to Sufism, he performed the hajj several times, and stayed for extended periods near the Kaaba. He died of the plague in the middIe of Ramadan at sixty-seven years of age in Cairo in 769/1368.