Al Fasi's Dala'il Commentary

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Scholars have authored a number of commentaries on the Dala'il Al Khayrat. In this edition of the newsletter, we'll look at one commentary by Muḥammad Al Mahdi Al Fasi (d. 1605). The text is titled Matali‘ Al Masarrat Bi Jalaa’ Dala’il Al Khayrat (مطالع المسرات بجلاء دلائل الخيرات), translated as The Rise of Joys in Clarifying the Guide to Goodness. The popularity of the commentary led to at least five different printed editions in the 19th century.

This particular text was important in spreading the Dala'il Al Khayrat in the Islamic East, about two hundred years after Imam Al Jazuli wrote it. Al Fasi's work can be seen through two lenses: collation and commentary. As Guy Burak writes:

Like many other later commentators on the Dalā’il, al-Fāsī commented on al-Jazūlī’s text, but his use of the genre of the commentary to document his work as a collator and indeed editor of the text was instrumental to the popularity of Dalā’il al-khayrāt in the Ottoman lands.

Through collation and scrutiny of variations in different manuscripts, Al Fasi created a version of the Dala'il text that was perceived to be stable and reliable. Al-Fasi drew on the most important early copies of the Dala'il Al Khayrat, notably the Sahliyya, which was acknowledged as the most authoritative text since it was said to have been read in company with Imam Al Jazuli himself by his pupil, Muhammad Al Sughayyir Al Sahli. He mentions variations in the Sahliyya compared to other known copies of the Dala'il.

In the introduction to his commentary, Al Fasi informs his reader that he wanted to explain the structure of the work and to elucidate its meaning. Al Fasi's interwove his commentary within the text of the Dala'il Al Khayrat, following a traditional sharh mamzuj pattern.
Al Fasi drew on various Islamic sciences and texts, including texts from the Islamic East. Throughout the commentary, he refers, for instance, to the canonical hadith compilations, to exegetical works, to the theological works of the Ash‘arīs and the Mu‘tazilis, to the works of Al Ghazali (d. 1111) and Al Suyuti (d. 1505), to Sufi doctrines and discourses, and to the legal views of the different Sunni schools of law.

The Author
Al Fasi was born to an Andalusian family from Malaga that migrated to North Africa and settled in Fez in the late fifteenth century. His great-grandfather, Abu Al Mahasin Yusuf Al Fasi (d. 1605) founded the Fasiyya Sufi network. He was not a jurist, but was trained in the Islamic sciences. He authored twenty known works, of which the most significant is his Dala'il Al Khayrat commentary.

Source: Collating The Signs of Benevolent Deeds: Muhammad Mahdī al-Fāsī’s Commentary on Muhammad al-Jazūlī’s Dalā’il al-Khayrāt and Its Ottoman Readers, Guy Burak 2019

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