A Note on Mukhtasar al-Muzani

Posted on: 25 April 2019

Imam Muzani penned a work on the fiqh of his teacher, Imam Shafi’i, which would serve as the basis for many of the primary fiqh writing which would subsequently develop. This work is known as Mukhtasar al-Muzani or just al-Mukhtasar. In fact, when the jurists mention a book just by the name al-Mukhtasar, then it is understood Mukhtasar al-Muzani.

In al-Hawi al-Kabir, Mawardi said: “The students of Imam Shafi’i confined themselves to the Mukhtasar of [Imam] Ibrahim b. Yahya al-Muzani. This was because the encyclopedic works are too spread out for the student to understand and to lengthy for the scholar to review. The students of Imam Shafi’i made this work a primary source easy to present to the beginner and sufficient for the advanced scholar…”

This is a work on which the As-hab al-Wujuh expended tremendous resources studying, reviewing, elucidating, and commentating on. Thus, we can surely note that it is one of the primary works in the Shafi’i Madhhab.

Imam Muzani arranged the work's chapters starting with purity, then prayer and the other chapters of worship, followed by business and trade, then marriage and the chapters connected to it, and then on into crimes and punishments, statecraft and judiciary issues, etc. This chapter layout is still used in books of fiqh (more or less) up to today.

As the years passed, other works in the madhhab developed -often being based on commentaries on al-Mukhtasar- and to a certain extent, Mukhtasar al-Muzani being used as a teaching text became less frequent. While in some biographical literature we can find later scholars using it too. For example, in Khulasat al-Athar, it is mentioned that Shaykh ‘Abd al-Ra’uf al-Munawi would teach it in al-Madrasah al-Salahiyyah in Cairo neighboring the resting place of Imam Shafi’i, and Nur al-Din al-Shabaramallisi (the author of the Hashiyah on Nihayat al-Muhtaj mentioned above) was one to have attended his lessons. And some have ascribed a commentary to Munawi on the Mukhtasar as well.