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Abridgment of the Compendium of Ologies and Aphorisms

Mukhtasar Jami’ Al Uloom Wal Hikam

  • Book Title:
 Abridgment Of The Compendium Of Ologies And Aphorisms
  • Book Author:
ibn Rajab
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Mukhtasar Jami’ Al Uloom Wal Hikam Imam lbn Rajab Al Hanbali


Among the [many narrations which make up the] Sunnah, there are certain hadith to which the scholars have devoted special attention and care, collecting them, writing about them, explaining them and giving commentary on them. These hadith are examples of the eloquence and density of meaning characteristic of Allah’s communication to mankind. In just a few sentences there is so much meaning that, if it were to be thoroughly explained along with all the meaning that cascades from these few words, their eloquence, power, brevity and clarity, all pens would dry up before this could be completed.

This is one of the unique characteristics of the nation of Muhammad. In these brief texts are found massive amounts of knowledge and benefit.(1) Al- lah said: {And, whoever is given wisdom has been given an immense good.} Qur’an: Al-Baqarah: 269. So, whoever is given wisdom and [understanding of] the Qur’an has been given what was never given to any other, even to one who collected all knowledge from the entire history of mankind from every other [human] source such as manuscripts, scrolls and the like. Allah said: {And you have not been given knowledge except a little.} Al-Qur’an: Al-Israa’: 85. A small number of words from the Sunnah of Muhammad contains a huge amount of knowledge.

Among the most famous books which collected this type of narrations is: “The Forty Regarding the Structure of Islam and the Foundation of its Rulings” by the Imam Yahya ibn Sharaf An-Nawawi. This book of his is the keystone of this field. Many great imams and students of knowledge have devoted their effort to this book, memorizing it and understanding it.

The origin of this book is a previous book entitled: “The Fundamental Narrations” by Al-Hafidh Abi ‘Amr ibn Salah. In it, he collected twenty-six narrations. An-Nawawi added to these until there was a total of forty-two narrations.

There have been more books and commentaries written about it than any other book of such humble size. Infact such works number over 100 books. And the best of these works in value, the one with the greatest understanding, which has had the greatest impact and is the most inclusive of the knowledge of both nar- ration and understanding is the book: “The Collected Knowledge and Wis- dom” by Al-Hafidh and Critical Thinker Abi Al-Farj Abdur-Rahman ibn Ra- jab Al-Hanbali. Anyone who knows this author will not be surprised by the content of this book.

Things are defined by their source and when they are of the same quality, there is no surprise. He brings together the sciences of narration and of understanding. He was master of criticism and finding flaws (in chains of narration), as well as knowing the reliability or lack thereof of the narrators. No one comes near him in his knowledge of the fine points of flaws in narrations among any who came after him – as far as I know. He had vast knowledge of the statements of the best generations. He knew about their lineage, where they lived and the specialties of each of them. He was following in the footsteps of Ahmad ibn Hanbal, walking on the same path. His book: “The Collected Knowledge and Wisdom” is the most trustworthy witness to that. So, who is that who could approach him or even come near?

Most students of knowledge have benefitted from this book. Even though it is rather large (four volumes), there is no single spot in it without beneficial knowledge to be gained. Unfortunately, many average people or beginning students have been unable to get its full benefit because of the comprehensiveness of the author’s analysis. So not everyone who looks into it is able to benefit from everything in it. As for the educated and sophisticated, wherever he may wander in this book he will find benefit and knowledge.

A distinct characteristic of this book is the great length to which the author goes regarding the meaning of each word in the Prophetic narrations. He cites evidence for all of that from the Qur’an, other hadith and statements from the early generations.

At the same time, giving a powerful and detailed analysis of the chain of narration and any possible flaws in it, fine shades of linguistic meanings and juristic principles, all of which shed light on the meanings contained in the narration. All of this clearly shows the author’s firm footing, strengths, and vast background knowledge in all of the relevant sciences.

Such a comprehensive book is in need of a simplified and abridged version to make it more accessible to beginning students of knowledge and to the general public. At the same time, it can serve as “notes” to the scholars already familiar with the deeper elements of analysis – all in a manner which does not detract from the author’s original intent. Not everyone can do such things well.

Abridged versions of works vary widely in quality just as original works do. Actually, creating a good abridged version of a great work by someone who is not expert and knowledgeable in that is often more challenging and difficult than writing an original work. The point of an abridged version is not just to reduce the number of letters and words. Rather, the one doing the abridgement must delete only what does not destroy meaning.

And, he should not leave lengthy passages where sufficient understanding could be had from half of it. That which goes beyond conveying the funda- mental meaning is additional detail and not all people have the same need for that level of detail or explanation. If too much of this is left in, the abridge- ment fails in its goals of making the meanings accessible to more people and expressing things more simply.

 Rather, it becomes burdensome, jumbles meanings together, actually making them more difficult to understand, and ultimately wastes the reader’s time – time which would have more beneficial spent reading the unabridged original work. Abridged works of this nature amount to wasting of time for no benefit.

More than one of the great scholars have commented that the reason for the decline in knowledge is the lack of skills among the scholars due to their excessive reliance on abridged versions, which actually lessens understanding. They compete in retaining brief texts which have little to offer. They waste their lives in closed solutions (answers) and only very general understanding. They neglect the books of the earlier generations, never opening the commentaries and the original great books which go into great detail and present clear meanings and evidence. These books give those who spend their time with them skills, understanding and the ability to think critically in less time. And no one truly knows this for certain except for those who have tried it and experienced it.

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