ABOUT THE BOOK:
"This is based on the creed of Ahlul Sunna wal Jama'ah which has been transmitted by Imam Ahmed al-Bayhaqi with his chain in his book that is widely known as 'al-I'tiqad'. For I have summarised it in the hope of its quick benefits."
That is what Imam al-Sha'rani said in the opening statement of this work. The original work of Imam al-Bayhaqi is slightly larger and has more in depth commentary.
ABOUT IMAM 'ABD AL-WAHHAB AL-SHA'RANI:
Abd Al-Wahhab b. Ahmad al-Misri al-Sha'rani was a scholar of Hadith, Fiqh, Tasawwuf born in Qalqanshada, near Cairo, Egypt in 898/1493. He died in Cairo in 973/1565.
Although disciplined and an expert of all four schools of law, he was a Shafi'i scholar and prolific author of works in Sufism, Sacred Law, and tenets of faith. He was also a sheikh and adept in Sufism, being counted among its outstanding Arab spokesmen, showing the unity between law and way, in works that have remained popular to this day. Imam al-Sha'rani primary objective was to bring people back to the essence of putting Islamic teachings into practice, and thus he focussed on tasawwuf (Islamic spiritual behaviourism), relying heavily on the instructions of his teachers and spiritual guides. Imam ash-Sha'rani's zawiyah (spiritual and academic centre), financially and politically independent, was a centre of academic and spiritual excellence, popular with students and disciples and a retreat for the tired and hungry.
Amongst his works are:
--- al-Mizan al-Kubra (The supreme scale),
--- His seminal work, in which he compares the rulings of all four Sunni schools of Sacred Law as if they were a single school. He considered the differences, according to their difficulty, as either strictness ('azima) or dispensation (rukhsa).
--- al-Tabaqat al-Kubra (The supreme levels),
--- Lata 'if al-minan wa al-akhlaq (Subtleties of gifts and character),
--- Lawaqih ai-an war al-qudsiyya (The fecundating sacred illuminations),
--- Kitab al-yawaqit wa al-jawahir fi bayan 'aqa'id al-akabir (The book of rubies and jewels: an explanation of the tenets of faith of mystic luminaries),
--- Mukhtasar al-I'tiqad lil Imam al-Bayhaqi,
--- Risalat al-Anwar fi Adab as-Suhbah ‘inda’l-Akhyar; translated by Muhammad Tahir Mahmood Kiani as; Etiquettes of Companionship: an English translation of Adab as-Suhbah.
Imam ash-Sha'rani passed away on 12th Jumada al-Ula, 973AH/1565CE and was buried inside his zawiyah.
ABOUT IMAM AL-BAYHAQI:
He is al-Imam al-Faqih ash-Shafi'i, the Hadith memoriser Abu Bakr Ahmed b. al-Hussain b. 'Ali b. 'Abd Allah b. Musa al-Bayhaqi born in Khurasan in Shu'ban 384 Hijri. He initially took hadith studies at the age of fifteen in Khurasan from Abi al-Hussan Muhammad al-'Alawi and the likes of al-Hakim Abi 'Abd Allah the hadith master as well as the theologian Abi Bakr Furak. Then after he travelled to Baghdad, took much knowledge from its scholars then after moved to Kufa. After having also spend there sometime he moved on to the Hijaz and similarly studied there until he became an expert in Hadith, famed and sought after. After a while he returned to his hometown and many scholars came and sat to learn from him, this is where he initially started dictating his famous Shafi'i fiqh work on Hadith titled as Ma'rifat al-Sunnan wal Athar.
It has been said he did not have, nor heard/was transmitted to Sunnan al-Nisa'i, Ibn Maja and Tirmidhi. Although much of its transmissions can be corroborated from al-Hakim collection as seen from his Sunnan al-Kubra. He was jurist with firm principle of jurisprudence, an ascetic who abstained much of the world. Many scholars have studied under him, in their senior as well as junior years. He wrote several beneficial works amongst them being:
- al-Asma' wal Sifat,
- al-I'tiqad wak Hidaya ila Sabil ar-Rashad,
- al-Ba'th wal Nushur,
- Dala'il an-Nubawah,
- al-Jami' li Shu'bil Iman.
- Ithbat 'Adhab al-Qabr,
- Hayatil Anbiya fi Quburihim,
al-Qudha' wal Qadr,
- as-Sunan al-Kubra,
- Ma'rifat Sunan wal Athar,
at-Targhib wal Tarhib,
- al-Mabsut min Nasus al-Shafi'i,
- as-Sunan al-Saghir,
- al-Madkhal ila al-Sunan,
- Fadha'il al-Awqat,
- al-Arba'in al-Kubra,
- al-Arba'in al-Sughra,
- Manaqib ash-Shafi'i,
- Manaqib Ahmed,
- Fadha'il al-Sahabah,
- Takhrij Ahadith al-Umm,
- Bayan Khata' Man Akhta'a ash-Shafi'i,
and many other works. It has been said his work has reached thousand, mostly small epistles.
He said of himself: "My method of writing in my books, be they of the primary or secondary sciences, is that I want to abridge what have been said, according to its most correct/authentic version over the non authentic ones." He says elsewhere: "I am on the path of the Hadith scholars, I love to deduce that which has transmissions based on sound chains."
He was strong supporter and wrote much in defence of Imam Shafi'i and his school. Imam al-Haramain al-Juwayni said: "There is no one that subscribes to the Madhab of Shafi'i except they owe imam al-Shafi'i, except for al-Bayhaqi for al-Shafi'i owes debt to al-Bayhaqi in his defence and penmanship of the madhab."
He became ill and quickly died on Jumad al-Uwla in 458 at the age of 74 years old.