Islamic Studies

Notes on The Diminutive Explanation [Sharh al-Saghir] of Sidi al-Dadir D. 1201 A.H [part two]

Sidi Ahmed al-Dardir wrote:

“This grand text [is one which] I gathered from the condensed work of Imam Khalil, regarding the school of Imam Malik [may Allah have mercy on him]. I restricted myself [in this texts] to the soundest opinions; replacing the unreliable opinions [mentioned by Imam al-Khalil  with them, while restricting what he [Imam al-Khalil] left universal or the opposite, in order to facilitate [learning the school’s opinions]. I named this work Aqrab al-Masalik li Madhab al-Imam Malik. I ask Allah to benefit with this work as He benefited with the original [Mukhtasar al-Khalil]. Indeed, He is the Most High the Wise, the Forgiver the Exerciser of Mercy.”



“This grand text”

Meaning its importance is grand due to the following:

  • It contains a massive amount of rulings related to Islamic law according to the Maliki school

  • It was written in a very assessable and simple style

I gathered from the condensed work of Imam al-Khalil”

If translated verbatim the sentence would say, “Which I plucked from the fruit from the mukhtasar of Imam Khalil.” Here Sidi al-Dardir, who was considered an Imam in the Arabic language, is using a device in rhetoric that paints an image that what Imam al-Khalil left was a fruitful garden which Sidi al-Dardi picked from and composed his book with. This is a sign of humility on Sidi al-Dardi’s part and it shows the great respect he had for Khalil.

“Imam Khalil”

Abu al-Diya Khalil bin Ishaq D.767 A.H- 1366 C.E [May Allah have mercy upon him]

“[ This awesome text in which] I restricted myself to the soundest opinions, exchanging them for what was not relied upon [mentioned by Imam al-Khalil in his text]”

Meaning in this text the author restricted himself to the sounder opinions found in the school if there were differences mentioned by Imam Khalil. For that reason, as mentioned by the author in his commentary one will rarely find two opinions mentioned.

The Malikis terminology regarding opinions:

  1. Arjah [the soundest opinion] it is recognized as what is the strongest based on proofs. Its opposite is rajih [sound].

  2. Rajih [sound opinion] it is recognized as the M’utamad [relied upon opinion] in the school which means a majority spoke in favor of it. Its opposite is marjuh [weak].
  3. Marjuh [a weak opinion]

“replacing the unreliable opinions [mentioned by Imam Khalil in his text] with the sounder opinions [of the school], while restricting what he [Khalil] left universal or the opposite, in order to facilitate [learning the school’s opinions].”

Meaning if Khalil mentioned opinions which were not relied upon, Sidi al-Dardi replaced them in his text with the sounder opinion according to the school. At the same time he, Sidi al-Dardi, would restrict those things that Khalil left open, and, he would universalize what Khalil left restricted. All of this was done…

“In order to facilitate [learning the school’s opinions]”

Meaning he wrote this in order to facilitate the learning process for the student of knowledge since mentioning all the things above [in detail] would prove difficult on the student.

Three level of students within the school

  1. A beginner
  2. Intermediate
  3. One who has completed the school

What are the most important texts for a beginner in the school?

Sh. Bashir Dayif al-Jazairi wrote that the most important texts for a beginner in the school are: [here we only mention four although the author mentioned 21]

1. The Manzuma [didactic Poem] of al-Qurtubi Its composer was al-Sheikh Sabiq al-Din Abi Bakr Yahya bin ‘Umar al-Azadi al-Qurtubi. The most important print of this work is that of ‘Esa al-Baba al-Halabi in Egypt. It was printed in 1938.

2. The Manzuma [didactic poem] of Ibn Ashir

Its composer was ‘Abdul Wahid bin Ashir. This poem’s fame has spread from the East to the West especially in the Maghrib, and it is considered the second step after the memorization of the Qur’an. The number of explanations of this text has reached more than 60!

3. Matn al-‘Ishmawiyah of Abdu al-Bari al-‘Ishmawi al-Masri.

It is a text who enjoyed a large circulation and popularity. It is composed of around 30 pages beginning with the chapter on prayer.

4. Matn al-‘Iziyah of Imam al-‘Izi.

It is another one of the popular texts. It begins with the chapter on prayer.

[Comment Br. Suhaib] All praise is to Allah! All of these important texts are currently found at al ‘Esa al-Baba al-Halabi in Cairo. Although they are hard on the eyes, the texts, for the most part, are checked and reliable for one to memorize from.

Thoughts on the introduction:

I heard one of my teachers say that once he had a sheikh who would only teach him the introduction to scholar’s works. Reason being is that, in those introductions, one will find the keys and reasons why the author decided to compose the work and the thought processes of those who Allah has shined light upon their hearts and minds.


For that reason, I encourage all of you, who read this, to give time to it and think deeply on it. For, inshallah, very soon the goals outlined by Sidi al-Dardir are going to be presented.


This concludes the notes to part 2 of the Diminutive Explanation [Sharh al-Saghir] of Sidi Ahmed al-Dardi 1201 A.H- 1787 C.E May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon the Prophet, his family, companions and his nation.

About the author

Suhaib Webb

Suhaib Webb is a contemporary American-Muslim educator, activist, and lecturer. His work bridges classical and contemporary Islamic thought, addressing issues of cultural, social and political relevance to Muslims in the West. After converting to Islam in 1992, Webb left his career in the music industry to pursue his passion in education. He earned a Bachelor’s in Education from the University of Central Oklahoma and received intensive private training in the Islamic Sciences under a renowned Muslim Scholar of Senegalese descent. Webb was hired as the Imam at the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, where he gave khutbas (sermons), taught religious classes, and provided counselling to families and young people; he also served as an Imam and resident scholar in communities across the U.S.

From 2004-2010, Suhaib Webb studied at the world’s preeminent Islamic institution of learning, Al-Azhar University, in the College of Shari`ah. During this time, after several years of studying the Arabic Language and the Islamic legal tradition, he also served as the head of the English Translation Department at Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah.

Outside of his studies at Al-Azhar, Suhaib Webb completed the memorization of the Quran in the city of Makkah, Saudi Arabia. He has been granted numerous traditional teaching licenses (ijazat), adhering to centuries-old Islamic scholarly practice of ensuring the highest standards of scholarship. Webb was named one of the 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in 2010.

Add Comment

  • Asalamu alaykum,

    1. al-Risalah of Abi Zaid
    2. al-Talqin of al-Qadi ‘Abdul al-Wahab
    3. al-Ma’una of al-Qadi ‘Abdul al-Wahab
    4. Jam’i al-Umuhat of Ibn al-Hajib al-Maliki
    5. al-Mukhtasar of Ibn al-Hajib al-Maliki
    6. al-Kahfi of Ibn ‘Abdul al-Barr
    7. Sharh al-Tawdih of Khalil in which he explains the Mukhtasar of Ibn al-Hajib
    8. Mukhtasar of Khalil
    9. Muwahib al-Jalil min Adilat Khalil of Ahmed bin Muhammad bin al-Mukhtar al-Shanqiti
    10. Matn Aqrab al-Masalik [the text used in these articles]

    Advanced [lighter texts]
    1. al-Muqadimat wa al-Mumhidat of Abi al-Walid Ahmad bin Rushd wa al-Tahsil by the same author
    3. al-Dakhira of al-Qarafi
    4. al-Tanbihat al-Mustanbitah of al-Qadi ‘Iyad
    5. al-M’iyar al-M’urab ‘an fatwa ‘Ulema Ifriqiya wa al-Andalus wa al-Maghrib
    6. al-M’yar al-M’urab al-Jadid ‘an fatawa al-M’utakhirin min ‘Ulema al-Maghrib of al-Wazani
    7. Sharh al-Jam’i of Abu Bakr al-Abhari al-Maliki

    Advanced texts [heavy]

    1. al-Mudawana of Abu Qasim al-Masri
    2. al-Asadiya of Adad bin al-Farat
    3. Kitab ray al-Fuqaha al-Sab’a wa Makhtalfu fihi of Abd al-Rahman ibn abi Zaid
    3. Al-‘Atabiyah of ‘Abdul al-Aziz al-‘Atabi
    4. al-Nawadir wa al-Ziyadat of Abu Zaid al-Qayrawani

    This list is not complete but just a few of the more important texts within the school. Hope that helps?


Leave a Comment