The Famous Five


Islamic Studies

Al-Nawawi (631-676) mentioned, in Tahdhib al-Asma’ wa al-Lughat, that the five most important texts in the Shafi’i school up to his time were (chronologically):

  • Mukhtasar al-Muzani (175-264)
  • Al-Tanbih by al-Shirazi (393-476)
  • Al-Muhadhab by al-Shirazi
  • Al-Wajiz by al-Ghazali (450-505)
  • Al-Wasit by al-Ghazali

He adds that they were widely known and available accross all the domains of the Middle East, being popular with both students and scholars, especially in the absence of a comprehensive compliation that could replace all these aforementioned books.

Some thoughts: Mukhtasar al-Muzani played a central role in the early transmission of the school. Indeed, for a long time researchers believed that it was the very first mukhtasar written in any madhab. Recent research now indicates that honour belongs to Abd Allah b. Abd al-Hakam of the Malikis a couple of decades earlier. Nevertheless, the mukhtasar was commented upon by many prominent Ashab al-Wujuh, climaxing in the magnificent Nihayat al-Matlab

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