Ḥadīth Commentary in the Presence of Students, Patrons, and Rivals: Ibn Ḥajar and Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī in Mamluk Cairo

In: Oriens

The following essay shows how commentaries on Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī in the Mamluk period were deeply embedded in the ethics and culture of live performance and vice versa. By focusing on the figure of Ibn Ḥajar al-ʿAsqalānī (d. 852/1449) and the composition of his Fatḥ al-bārī, the primary objective is to make visible the complex web of institutional, political, economic, personal, and normative motivations that determined how the Ṣaḥīḥ was commented on, and who had the authority to comment in the first place. Parts one through three of this four-part essay examine the formulation of Fatḥ al-bārī in the presence of students, patrons, and rivals respectively. Part four is a case study that compares a chronicle account of Ibn Ḥajar’s commentary on a ḥadīth in the garden of the sulṭān on a summer afternoon with a section of Fatḥ al-bārī concerning the same ḥadīth. While previous investigations of medieval reading and commentarial practices have often been limited to manuscript and printed commentaries or glosses as source material, this study draws on evidence from Mamluk era chronicles, biographical dictionaries and commentarial prolegomena to offer a “thick” history of the local times, spaces, and stakes of live and written commentary on the Ṣaḥīḥ.

  • 17

    al-ʿAsqalānīIntiqāḍ al-iʿtirāḍ1: 7.

  • 21

    Shams ad-Dīn as-Sakhāwīaḍ-Ḍawʾ al-lāmiʿ li-ahl al-qarn at-tāsiʿ (Beirut: Dār al-Jīl1992), 1: 43–5.

  • 23

    See as-Sakhāwīal-Jawāhir wa-d-durar2: 675; al-ʿAsqalānī, Intiqāḍ al-iʿtirāḍ, 1: 7.

  • 28

    as-Sakhāwīaḍ-Ḍawʾ al-lāmiʿ2:38. For relative values of dīnārs, consult Wan Kamal Mujani, “The Fineness of Dinar, Dirham and Fals during the Mamluk Period,” Journal of Applied Sciences Research 7, no. 12 (2011): 1895–900.

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  • 32

    al-ʿAsqalānīIntiqāḍ al-iʿtirāḍ1: 8.

  • 34

    al-ʿAsqalānīIntiqāḍ al-iʿtirāḍ1: 8; s.v. “Ibn al-DJazarī, Shams al-Dīn,” EI II (M. Bencheneb).

  • 35

    al-ʿAsqalānīIntiqāḍ al-iʿtirāḍ1:8. For a competing account, consult Anne Broadbridge, “Academic Rivalries and the Patronage System in Fifteenth-Century Egypt: al-ʿAynī, al-Maqrīzī, and Ibn Ḥajar al-ʿAsqalānī,” Mamlūk Studies Review 3 (1999): 85–107.

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  • 36

    as-Sakhāwīaḍ-Ḍawʾ al-lāmiʿ2: 38; Mujani, “The Fineness of Dinar, Dirham and Fals during the Mamluk Period,” 1895–900.

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  • 43

    Badr ad-Dīn al-ʿAynīʿUmdāt al-qārī fī sharḥ Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī (Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-ʿilmiyya2001), 6: 311 (Kitāb al-Jumuʿa: Bāb Khuṭba ʿalā l-minbar).

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  • 47

    See JaquesIbn Hajar106.

  • 53

    al-ʿAsqalānīIntiqāḍ al-iʿtirāḍ1: 10.

  • 63

    al-ʿAsqalānīInbāʾ al-ghumr3: 62.

  • 65

    al-ʿAsqalānīInbāʾ al-ghumr3: 62.

  • 68

    ad-DihlawīBustān al-muḥaddithīn235.

  • 71

    al-ʿAsqalānīInbāʾ al-ghumr3: 63.

  • 79

    To name only few, see John HendersonScripture, Canon, Commentary (Princeton: Princeton University Press1991); Glenn Most, ed. Commentaries—Kommentare (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1999); Paul Griffiths, Religious Reading: The Place of Reading in the Practice of Religion (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999); José Ignacio Cabezón, Buddhism and Language: A Study of Indo-Tibetan Scholasticism (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1994); Christina Shuttleworth Kraus, “Reading Commentaries/Commentaries as Reading,” in The Classical Commentary: Histories, Practices, Theory, ed. Roy K. Gibson and Christina Shuttleworth Kraus (Leiden: Brill, 2002).

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  • 80

    José Ignacio Cabezón, ed.Scholasticism: Cross-Cultural and Comparative Perspectives (Albany: State University of New York Press1998), 237ff.

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  • 81

    Ibid.248.

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