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Kifayat al-usul (book)

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Kifayat al-usul (book)
Author Muhammad Kazim Khurasani
Original title كفاية الأصول
Language Arabic
Subject principles of jurisprudence
Published 1409/1988
Publisher Al al-Bayt Institute
Pages 554

Kifāyat al-uṣūl (Arabic: كفاية الأصول) is a book written by Akhund Khurasani (d. 1329/1911), covering a whole range of issues in the principles of jurisprudence (usul al-fiqh) in Arabic. Akhund Khurasani was a student of Mulla Hadi Sabziwari, al-Shaykh al-Ansari, and Mirza Shirazi. He was a Shiite authority.

Since its writing, Kifaya has been an advanced textbook in Islamic seminaries and a central text in advanced lectures of the principles of jurisprudence. About 200 commentaries and expositions were written for Kifaya. The contents of the book are described as careful and well-organized. It is characterized by the use of short phrases for conveying its concepts.

Kifayat al-usul was published during its author's lifetime and then it was frequently published after his death. A manuscript of the work with Akhund Khurasani's handwriting is kept in the Library of Majlis in Tehran, Iran. It was published in 1409/1988 as edited by Al al-Bayt Institute in 554 pages.

The Author

Muhammad Kazim Khurasani (b. 1255/1839 - d. 1329/1911), known as Akhund Khurasani, was a Shiite authority based in Najaf and a supporter of the Iranian Constitutional Movement. Mulla Hadi Sabzawari, al-Shaykh al-Ansari, and Mirza Shirazi were his teachers. He wrote works about the principles of jurisprudence, jurisprudence, and philosophy. His best-known work is Kifayat al-usul, for which he came to be titled the "Author of Kifaya" (Sahib al-Kifaya).

Significance

Kifayat al-usul is a seminary textbook of the principles of jurisprudence, on which many commentaries have been written. The article "Kitabshinasi kutub darsi hawza-Kifayat al-usul" (The bibliography of seminary textbooks—Kifayat al-usul) provides a list of about 200 expositions and commentaries on Kifaya.

According to Ahmad ‘Abidi, a professor of advanced level in the Seminary of Qom, Kifaya is unique in its carefulness, organization, and eloquence. This is why it serves as the central work in advanced seminary lectures, and all later works are influenced by it in their methods and order.

It is said that Akhund Khurasani began writing Kifaya in 1321/1903. This is his best-known work and is more important than other works by Akhund because it contains his latest theories in the principles of jurisprudence and the most fundamental issues in this disciplines. Moreover, the purpose of writing Kifaya is said to be the refinement of the principles of jurisprudence and elimination of its unnecessary contents. Notwithstanding this, it is said to cover a whole range of issues in the principles of jurisprudence.

The Scholarly Method and the Style of Writing

According to Aqa Buzurg Tihrani, Akhund Khurasani introduced many more philosophical problems into the principles of jurisprudence than did al-Shaykh al-Ansari, Muhammad Husayn Ha'iri Isfahani (the author of al-Fusul) and Mirza al-Qummi (the author of al-Qawanin). He drew upon seventy philosophical rules in his Kifaya.

As to its writing style, Kifaya is characterized by its use of brief phrases. According to Kifayi Khurasani, Akhund briefly and succinctly cites the views of earlier scholars of the principles of jurisprudence, then he enumerates their weaknesses and strengths, and finally he argues for his own position.

Content

Kifayat al-usul covers a whole range of issues in the principles of jurisprudence, discussing the latest views until the author’s time.

It has an introduction, eight parts (known as “Maqsad” or “Destination”), and an epilogue:

  • Introduction: It includes issues such as the nature of disciplines, the subject-matter of the principles of jurisprudence, the relationships between words and their meanings, literal and figurative uses, homonymy and synonymy, religiously literal meaning, use of words in sound referents (sahih) or both sound and flawed (a‘amm) referents, and the problem of mushtaqq.
  • First destination: commands (e.g. whether commands imply simple wants or obligatory wants).
  • Second destination: prohibitions (e.g. whether doing a prohibited action in a worship or a religious contract invalidates the worship or the transaction in question).
  • Third destination: implicatures or mafhum (such as those of conditionals, those of attributes, those of the limit, those of exceptions, and those of numbers).
  • Fourth destination: general (‘amm) and specific (khass).
  • Fifth destination: unqualified (mutlaq) and qualified (muqayyad), ambiguous (mujmal) and clarified (mubayyan).
  • Seventh destination: practical principles (exemption or bara’a, option or takhyir, caution or ihtiyat, and continuity or istishab).
  • Eighth destination: conflicts among religious evidence (balances and preferences).

Publication

The original manuscript of Kifayat al-usul with the handwriting of Akhund Khurasani is kept in the Library of Majlis in Tehran, Iran. It was published during the author's lifetime. It was edited by his son based on a manuscript taught by Akhund.

Kifayat al-usul was frequently published later, both independently and with commentaries. It was translated into Persian, Urdu, English, and Japanese.

The book was critically edited by Al al-Bayt Institute in 1409/1988 and published in 554 pages. In this edition, references of Quranic verses, hadiths, and the cited views of the scholars of the principles of jurisprudence are cited. Moreover, it has a 34-page introduction by Sayyid Jawad Shahristani, in which a historical account of the principles of jurisprudence in seminaries, the book, and its author is provided.

Expositions and Commentaries

According to Aqa Buzurg Tihrani, a bibliographer of Shiite works in the fourteenth/twentieth century, Kifaya has been a textbook in the Seminary of Najaf, which is why many commentaries and expositions were written for it. Some of these were not published and some cannot be identified. In the book, al-Muslih al-mujahid, about Akhund Khurasani, 60 commentaries on Kifaya are listed. In his article, Kitabshinasi kutub darsi hawza-Kifayat al-usul (The bibliography of seminary textbooks—Kifayat al-usul), Nasir Baqiri Hindi lists about 200 expositions and commentaries, including:

References