First: Encyclopedic works in the Islamic heritage..
1- Lexicalinvestigations in the Islamic heritage
“Encyclopedias” in the Islamic heritage were first associated with language investigations whereas the second century AH scholars have tended to monitor the vocabulary of the language and determine its structures and meanings, so lexical books have appeared, such as: Al-Ain book by Al-Khalil bin Ahmed Al-Farahidi (175 AH), and Al-Jim book by Abu Amr Al-Shaibani (206 AH). and Jamhrat al-Lughah by Ibn Duraid (321 AH), and the Dictionary of al-Zamakhshari (the basis of rhetoric), which is precious and innovative in its composition and the goal of dealing with the vocabulary included in it.
This was followed by the emergence of major dictionaries and general encyclopedias, which differed in their topics and purposes from language dictionaries, and expanded their fields to include literature, history, geography and thought. The owners of those encyclopedias worked individually, spending many years collecting all the information he could reach, summarizing all the knowledge he understood, providing in-depth analyses when necessary, adding explanations, historical backgrounds, influential personalities, references and scholarly conventions.
Some historians (Brockelmann, for example) indicate that this type of Arabic encyclopedic composition began at the end of the fourth century AH with Al-Khwarizmi’s Book of Keys to Science (T.: 387 AH / 997 AD), but this opinion is inaccurate, as the encyclopedic composition appeared almost a century before the era of Al-Khwarizmi, where we find – for example – important encyclopedic works by Ibn Qutayba al-Dinori (d. 276 AH/889 AD) and Ibn Abd Rabbo al-Andalusi (d. 328 AH). The former excelled in encyclopedic composition and wrote “The Book of Knowledge”, pointing, in its introduction, that his book includes many arts of knowledge, the first of which is the principle of creation and the stories of the prophets, the news of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. the famous mosques and Al-Futuh News. As for his other important encyclopedia, it came under the title of “Oyoun Al-Akhbar.” He made the first chapter in this encyclopedia entitled “The Sultan’s Book,” in which he collected texts, news, correspondence, advice, and consulting, all of which are at the heart of politics. It was relied on by those who came after him who wrote about royal rulings and legal politics, and it reveals a deep understanding of the beginnings of political thought, its most important sources and stages of development during the first Islamic centuries.
As for Ibn Abd Rabbo al-Andalusi (d. 328 AH), he followed the same path, and wrote the book “The Unique Contract”, which is one of the book typesetting. Although it is considered one of the general encyclopedias, and despite its greater interest in poetic and prose anthologies, its first chapters was about the Sultan and wars, as well as other chapters on the history of caliphs, governors and writers, and on good politics and the establishment of the kingdom, which in its entirety is a political material that adds many and varied details to what is contained in the politics books.
2- Science encyclopedias
If the first three centuries in Islamic civilization were characterized by linguistic dictionaries and general encyclopedias, the fourth century AH was distinguished by the emergence of another type of encyclopedic research, which is “encyclopedias of science” Muhammad bin Ahmed bin Yusuf Al-Khwarizmi (died: 387 AH) was the first to initiate this approach, then Others came after him, such as Al-Sakaki, Al-Jarjani, Tash Kubbar Zadeh (t. 962 AH), Haji Khalifa (t. 1067 AH), and Al-Thanoni, and they followed his path or were close to it. Al-Khwarizmi says in the introduction of his book “The Keys to Science” that his purpose in organizing the book is to be “a collector of the keys to science and the first industries, including between every class of scholars all or most of the positions and conventions that books of linguistics are devoid of, so that if the prominent linguist in literature contemplates one of the books that were classified in the sections of science and wisdom, and he was not drawn to that industry, he will not understand anything from it.” Al-Khwarizmi devoted half of his encyclopedia to legal sciences, and the second half to the Greek and other nations, but he did not address political jurisprudence in either section.
This, and “Encyclopedias of Science” in Islamic civilization cannot be mentioned without a reference to “Rasa’il Ikhwan al-Safa and Khallan al-Wafa” (10th century), or to “Nahayat al-Arb fi Fonun al-Adab” by al-Nuwairi (1272-1332 AH). The latter is a huge encyclopedia in all sciences, but it is distinguished by the fact that it contains a large section in the field of Islamic political jurisprudence, the fifth section, and it contains an important subject, detailed by the following headings: on the king and what is required from him, what he needs, what is obligatory for the subjects, and what the subjects must do. It is related to the mention of ministers, commanders of armies, descriptions of weapons, governors of religious positions, writers and rhetoricians, and it contains fourteen chapters. We note that these chapters have included everything that is mentioned in the jurisprudence of politics, which was reported by the previous ones (such as Al-Mawardi and Abi Ya’la Al-Fara’), with many additions. In addition, this encyclopedia is characterized by a detailed account of the history of the Islamic kingdoms.
It is worth noting that the nucleus of political material might be born first in the books of jurists, where the jurist usually dedicates in his book a chapter on “the Imamate”, in which he talks about its definition and conditions, and then some of jurists began to single out this with an independent research, so the books of philosophers have appeared, especially Al-F arabi (T.: 339 AH / 950 AD), and Ibn Sina (T: 428 AH). Nevertheless, these books were more interested in explaining and commenting on the works of the Greek philosophers than in the issues of Islamic thought, which made another group of thinkers and jurists rise to this task, and it appeared since the fifth century AH the books of Sultanate rulings and religious states, which are a group of books that are completely abstract from the topics of Islamic politics in which the author collects all the legal laws related to the issues of the Imamate and its conditions, the pillars of bay’ah (pledge of alliance), then he adds what is suitable of kings, sultans, ministers and judges’ conditions . In this regard, the writings of Al-Mawardi (died: 450 AH), Abu Ya’la al-Farra, al-Juwayni, al-Ghazali, Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn Khaldun and others emerged.
It is clear from this brief narration that the books of Islamic heritage were replete with politics and its issues, but that material remained scattered among books of jurisprudence, general encyclopedias (literary and historical), books of royal rulings, books of philosophers, groups and doctrines. Although many encyclopedias on “sciences” have appeared, no comprehensive encyclopedia of Islamic political jurisprudence has appeared, which makes the need for this type of composition urgently needed, as it sheds the light on only one science among other sciences.
Second: Islamic Political Jurisprudence Encyclopedia
Its subject, objectives and features:
1- Objectives of the encyclopedia:
There is a deep feeling among readers that the Islamic library lacks a comprehensive book on Islamic political jurisprudence, which includes what is dispersed among the sources, and what is dispersed in heritage books, starting with books of jurisprudence and biographies, to history books, and ending with major encyclopedias, which include, in addition to political jurisprudence, other sciences that are very diverse. We have intended from this encyclopedia to fill that void by creating a comprehensive book that will be a reference in this field, in which we include everything that a researcher can aspire to in the sources of Islamic political thought..
It goes without saying that this encyclopedia does not seek to achieve any partisan or sectarian goals, as much as it seeks to enhance the scientific capabilities of researchers of different intellectual backgrounds, guided by what Boutros al-Bustani wrote a century and a half ago in the introduction of his encyclopedia, where he says that he made the basis for writing the encyclopedia “Purpose free from any party, and avoid partisanship, so that the encyclopedia is a general book for all sects, benefiting those who have no book, as the author of the book benefits from it.”
2- Topics of the encyclopedia and its preferential feature:
The owners of comprehensive encyclopedias used to count the sciences and arts and arrange them into divine and philosophical sciences, then civil and political sciences, historical sciences, until they ended up with machine and nature sciences, then literature and crafts (as Ibn Qutayba and Ibn Abd-Rabbo did in the past, and as al-Bustani did recently). This encyclopedia is concerned only with one field of knowledge that it does not go beyond; it is the field of Islamic political thought as it seeks to collect and analyze material and issues of political jurisprudence in the Islamic heritage, whether that material is in the Qur’an and Sunnah, in the jurisprudential blogs of imams and sects, in books of royal rulings, or in correspondence and institutions.
The encyclopedia aims to be distinguished from its predecessors through the following:
- Adherence to just one field of Islamic sciences.
- The originality of the topics and the avoidance of repetition and rumination.
- The suitability of the material and its interaction with contemporary scientific production.
- Clarity of the method and structure of the tight research.
- The logical sequence of arguments and narration.
- Taking into account the contemporary global dimension.
- Taking into account the issues of women, minorities, and civil society.
- Mixing between traditional and modern sources.
3- The encyclopedia approach
- The encyclopedia, unlike the previous works, follows the approach of collective authorship, which is based mainly on three categories:
- Authors: This is a category of able researchers, and it is characterized by multi-disciplinarity..
- Editors: They are a group concerned with linguistic proofreading, material sequencing, clarity of style, and other editing work..
- Reviewers: They are the group to whom the process of arbitration, evaluation and examination is entrusted for the validity of information, soundness of logic and following the scientific approach.
- The encyclopedia depends on collecting facts and information related to Islamic political thought, which were recorded by previous scholars in their published works (or manuscript), or dealt with by modernists through addition or criticism and correction.
- The encyclopedia’s reliance on these works, both traditional and modern, does not mean merely transferring, summarizing and translating, but rather includes many clarifications, notes and additions that are required by the context or that grant the material a contemporary character away from arbitrariness or exaggeration.
The encyclopedia covers the subject of political jurisprudence, starting from the first foundation stage, then the stage of specialization and distinction, then the modern era until the middle of the twentieth century.
5- Encyclopedia entries
We aspire, through this encyclopedia, which we review its main entries, to be a qualitative turning point in the course of Islamic political writing thanks to the information and data it will provide about Islamic political thought, ancient and modern, with its various schools and sects. These data serve as a starting point for more in-depth research and studies on the issues and topics of this thought. They also provide a solid educational material that goes beyond the academic’s needs and demands to those of the general reader..
A- Definition of the entry
The entry is a keyword that indicates the following:
- A concept, term, or institution in the field of Islamic political jurisprudence, which enjoys an appropriate amount of collective understanding among art owners..
- A well-known name for those with opinions and doctrines.
- A name for a group or group of people with opinions or doctrines.
- In this encyclopedia, we follow the method of Al-Zarkali (D.: 1396 AH), where he stipulated“ that the translator should have a knowledge that his classifications testify to, or a caliphate, a kingdom, an emirate, or a high position:: such as a ministry or a judiciary in which he had a prominent impact, the head of a doctrine, an art with which he was distinguished, an impact on construction that is mentioned to him, a poetry, or a position in which his name is mentioned.”
b- Entry content:
- The entry begins with a brief definition of the concept under study, then moves on to clarify the historical and political contexts in which it appeared, and then indicates the institutional form it took (if any)..
- Focuses on the essence of the topic.
- Provides basic facts and ideas with broad meaning.
- Avoids precise details and digression and stays away from the emotional language of an advocacy nature..
- The size of the “entry“varies according to the variety of topics. In some cases, we may be sufficient with giving a brief definition of some concepts, or providing an introduction to some personalities while in other cases the size of the” entry“ can be increased to provide a comprehensive presentation of the topic under consideration.
The main topics of the encyclopedia
The proposed entries for this encyclopedia, which exceed 500 entries, can be classified according to their content into four categories:
- A category related to the major political topics and issues that political thinkers in Islam were concerned with, such as legitimacy, sovereignty, and the imamate…etc..
- A category classified as the great figures who had a prominent contribution in the field of political thought, and for whom translation is supposed to have mentioned their political works, and what they excelled at, such as Abdul Hamid Al-Kateb, Al-Jahiz, Al-Mawardi, Al-Juwayni…etc..
- A category classified as the Islamic political sects and currents that were distinguished by a special political and sectarian article, such as the Sunnis and the group, the Kharijites, the Shiites…etc..
- A fourth category is the major political concepts that political thinkers in the Islamic field preoccupied with, such as the concept of justice, Sharia, rights, opposition…etc.
- The encyclopedia is open to all references, with priority given to Arabic literature prepared by specialists as basic sources in Islamic political jurisprudence..
- Not excluding non-Arabic sources. Rather, the encyclopedia management believes that it is necessary to take advantage of these sources, especially since it is not possible in the current era of cultural openness to be sufficient with one language, or to dispense with what is written in foreign languages about Islamic thought..
- Dealing with previous research( quotation or summary) should be clear, documented and brief.
- Clear reference to the original sources and references.
- The researcher’s addition and personal opinions (explanation or criticism) should be clear, with fairness and avoidance of fanaticism..
- The encyclopedia adopts the “cross-references” method, in order to prevent repetition, so that the researcher focuses on one specific topic and then refers side issues to other entries within the encyclopedia.
Encyclopedia entries are arranged lexically, according to the first letter of each word; without considering (the), so we write, for example:: Hisbah, Ministry, Allegiance, and that instead of The Hesba, The Ministry, The Allegiance. In the case of proper names, what is attached to the names, such as Abu, Ibn, Walad, and Al, is omitted, but the nickname or date of death is established in parentheses, for example:: Muhammad bin Jarir (Al-Tabari, d.310 AH).
Paying attention to the arrangement of the material according to special standards that are followed in the order; such as chronological precedence, frequency, references, etc.