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Hythem Sidky @therealsidky
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My copies of a new edition of Al-Jazarī’s “Našr al-Qirāʾāt al-ʿašr” or “Reviving the Ten Readings” have arrived!! This one is edited by Dr. Ayman Suwayd. Even my cat is interested (I did not put her there)! Let's take this opportunity to talk briefly about Al-Jazarī
His is Abu al-Khayr Šham al-Dīn Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad ibn Muḥammad ibn ʿali ibn Yūsuf Al-Jazarī (d. 833 AH/1429 CE). That’s a lot of Muḥammads! As an aside, I’ve seen few people with more honorific titles than him. He apparently memorized the Quran at 13, led prayers at 14,
and compiled an early book on variant readings at 17! He had numerous teachers, among them the famous Ibn Kaṯīr who gave him a license to issue fatwas. He was Damascene and founded a Quran school in Damascus in addition to serving as a local judge. He traveled extensively.
He was around during the “escapades” of the warlord Timur, and was driven to Samarqand. He bounced around in the area for some time and eventually died in Shiraz. Of his most famous students is Ibrāhīm ibn ʿumar ibn Hasan al-Rubāṭ ibn ʿali. Also known as al-Biqāʿī!
His book al-Našr is perhaps his most famous. In it he aggregates, criticizes, and expounds transmissions of ten readings: the seven compiled by Ibn Mujāhid and three additional ones. It’s actually this book which was *the most decisive* canonization of the reading traditions.
From then onward, Muslim scholarship converged upon the idea that anything outside of al-Našr was by definition šāḏḏ. This extends to Ibn Mujāhid’s original seven, where al-Jazarī brings additional transmissions from them outside of al-Sabʿah but are still considered canonical.
Despite the authoritative status of al-Našr and its author, one position held by al-Jazarī never seemed to “stick”, and attracted a lot of criticism. In this book he argues that the reading traditions are *not* mutawātir, that is multiply attested through independent chains.
He actually says if the readings were truly mutawātir, then ppl wouldn't have stipulated additional requirements like conformity to the Uthmanic rasm. If a reading was truly such widely attested, then it is ipso facto authoritative, irrespective of its conformity to the rasm.
He goes on to state that if we truly made multiple attestation a condition to accept every variation on a reading, so many of the variants established from the readers would have to be rejected. He then admits: “And I myself used to learn towards this opinion [of tawātur]…
… then its fallaciousness (fasāduhu) became apparent. Thus [it’s more appropriate to] be consistent with the earlier generations of scholars.” Then al-Jazari draws quotes from earlier scholars on this matter.
“It began circulating amongst a group of later readers and other copycats the idea that the seven readings are all widely attested… except that some of them simply do not qualify as such.” This quote is from Abu Šāmah’s Muršid which al-Jazarī brings in al-Našr.
Funny enough, he also quotes this in his other book, Munjid al-Muqriʾīn, authored in his youth. Except there he quite vociferously refutes it as “word of someone who doesn’t know what they're saying”. Now, so many years later, he uses it to support his opinion! #enlightenment
It’s quite interesting then to find many books which abridge or are meant to be companion texts to al-Našr, use “tawātur” in their title! I can go on and on about al-Jazarī and al-Našr, but I’ll end here for now.
I’ll definitely be following up with my thoughts on the edition once I’ve had a chance to go through it in more thoroughly. It was sorely needed considering the quality of previous editions out there, and I’m hoping to see a re-worked edition of Ibn Mujāhid’s book as well!
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