Al-Átāyā an-Nabawiyyah fi’l Fatāwā ar-Riđawiyyah
Bestowal of Prophetic Blessings in Raza’s Rulings
A major fatāwā collection, with rulings in Urdu, Arabic and Persian; known as Fatāwā e Razawiyyah in the Indo-Pak subcontinent. This collection comprises of fatāwā of only fifteen years, as many previous fatāwā were lost as duplicate copies were not made before dispatch. Alahazrat himself organised it and compiled extensive indices, a practice uncommon in that age. Unfortunately, his pioneering efforts in indexing have remained largely unnoticed; the three separate indexes he made for his Fatāwā speak volumes about his creativity and initiative. [See footnote for more details]
Discussing indexes, Alahazrat says in the preface of the first volume:
This volume ends with the topic of tayammum. Initially, I thought of dividing the fatāwā in 12 volumes, and each volume containing approximately 800 pages; and the first volume would contain the complete chapter on matters of purity. But, even after 850 pages, only the topics until tayammum could be covered. Hence, it was decided to close this volume here. At the outset, this volume contains only 114 fatāwā and 28 monographs. Yet, praised be Allāh táālā, there are numerous issues on various subjects and sub-topics discussed in the course of these rulings; and hundreds of key points that may not be found elsewhere.
We shall have two main indexes: the first, a topic-wise table of contents; and the second, a list of monographs contained within the volume. This volume contains rulings that mainly pertain to matters of purification/cleanliness, until the topic of tayammum; but in the course of discussing the main topic, and explaining the issue, many sub-topics and related issues are mentioned; from ritual purity to prayer, and then subsequent fiqh topics until [the topic of] inheritance; thereafter, issues other than fiqh, like topics on áqīdah, ĥadīth, uşūl, geometry, mathematics etc. Therefore, I think it is appropriate to split the first index into two parts:
a) Index of main topics, and arranged in the order of [fiqh] chapters
b) Index of related and secondary issues mentioned alongside the main topic of the fatwā.
It was originally published in twelve volumes of approximately 800 large size pages each [See here and here for a history of publishing], this has been recently republished in thirty volumes of approximately 800 A4 size pages each, totalling 22,000 pages containing 6847 fatāwā, which also contain 206 monographs. Another major highlight about the fatāwā is the number of scholars and muftis seeking answers and explanations; Alahazrat was the mufti’s mufti – an authority towards whom leading scholars of the day turned for answers. According to one statistic, it was found that 1061 questions out of 4494 were asked by 541 scholars and notables [See here for details].
Fatāwā collections are usually in one or two volumes, and by sheer volume only the Fatāwā al-Hindiyyah comes close to Fatāwā al-Riđawiyyah; even that was compiled by more than 50 scholars, whereas Fatāwā al-Riđawiyyah is the work of just one man and a large part of which is lost for ever. As for quality and content, answers to fatāwā are brief and usually a few lines; lengthier fatāwā may be a few pages; but some of Alahazrat’s fatāwā are voluminous tomes, sometimes running into hundreds of pages with hundreds of references, apart from the aqūl – the insights of the Imām himself, his own analyses and derivations, which cannot be found anywhere else. In the first volume, there are 3536 such instances just until the topic of tayammum.
Indexing as a science is in itself, a fairly modern phenomenon. The Society of Indexers was established by Norman Knight and inaugurated in 1957 and the first issue of its journal The Indexer was published in 1958. The American Society for Indexing, inspired by the SI, was formed about ten years later in 1968-69.
Norman Knight, in his oft-cited article ‘Book Indexing in Great Britain: A Brief History’, from The Indexer, Vol. 6, p17, 1968, mentioning the pioneering efforts of indexers says:
Other excellent examples published during that century include The analytical index to the works of Jeremy Bentham (1843), compiled by J. H. Burton, George Birkbeck Hill’s index to his own edition of Boswell’s Life of Johnson (1887)-the Life (1791) had originally been indexed in characteristic fashion by the biographer himself-and the index to Wheatley’s edition of the Diary of Samuel Pepys (1893-9).
In two of the mentioned works above, indexes for multi-volume books are compiled as a separate volume, Vol.9 in the case of Diary of Samuel Pepys and Vol.6 for Boswell’s Life of Johnson. Alahazrat’s approach to indexing is strikingly similar; even though he was contemporary, one can safely assume that he did not have access to the aforementioned works or had any knowledge of such developments. As far as I know, such detailed topic-wise indexing was practically non-existent in Urdu or Arabic literature at that time, and absent in books of Fatāwā. Another issue is that an alphabetic index of words in English is much different than a topic index; Alahazrat’s index is therefore, comparable with the second volume of Index to Legal Periodical Literature by Leonard A. Jones, published in 1899, who writes in its preface:
“The general plan of this volume is the same as that of my Index published in 1888, a portion of the Preface to which is now reprinted. In one respect, however, this volume differs, not in plan, but in result, from the former; and that is, it contains many more references to articles relating to Legal Science in general, and many more references to articles relating to Political Science, to Economics, and to Sociology; for in the years since the former Index was compiled, the Bar Associations organized in many States have published a great number of addresses, papers, and reports upon general, rather than technical, subjects connected with the law; and since that time also there have appeared numerous periodical publications devoted to subjects which have an important, if not direct, bearing upon Law and Legislation”.
It should be noted that such pioneers were specialist indexers; and Alahazrat was an author who also made his own indexes. The legal index mentioned above was certainly not the work of one man. Given below is a photocopy of the index in Imam Ahmad Rida Khan’s own hand:
This is a translation of an informal talk by Mufti Aslam Raza which was translated by a brother who wishes to remain anonymous and was given to me for editing. I did some revisions, some rewriting and editing and added my own notes which is now available as a PDF for download. My own article on the history of the Fatawa is still incomplete – and this talk was very much similar (as we both draw from similar sources such as Mufti Abdul Mannan’s introductions in the old 12-vol edition of FR) and as I found the Urdu talk very informative, I present this here. The original talk is also linked on this page.
Muftī Ábd al-Qayyūm Hazārvī (May Allāh have mercy upon him) started the work on the revised edition of Al-Áţāyā al-Nabawiyyah fi al-Fatāwā al-Riđawiyyah [Fatāwā Riđawiyyah].
Only the first volume of Fatāwā Riđawiyyah was published in the lifetime of A’ala Hazrat Imām Aĥmad Riđā Khān (May Allāh have mercy upon him). After the publication of this volume, A’ala Hazrat continued to receive queries on matters of sharīáh and he would answer them. Copies of some fatāwā were retained and some were not.
Here we are talking about the late 1800s and early 1900s in British India. There were no photocopying machines in those days, and if two copies had to be made, they would be copied by hand by two people.
The original fatwā would be written by A’ala Hazrat himself and if copies were to be made, one or two scribes among his students would have to write them down. This practice was followed and a number of fatāwā were gathered years after the publication of the first volume as we described above, and the collection of A’ala Hazrat’s fatāwā became bigger.
A’ala Hazrat himself says on one occasion regarding the compilation of his fatāwā, that they are in twelve hefty volumes. In some places, he says seven volumes or eight volumes as well. However, commentators have noted that when he has said seven or eight, he was referring to the volumes completed at the time of his comment and A’ala Hazrat lived for many more years and consequently more volumes were added. All in all, in the course of his blessed life, twelve volumes were gathered, but were not published except one, as noted earlier.
Many years after A’ala Hazrat had passed into Allah’s Mercy, Hafiz ‘Abd Al-Rauūf Baliyawi, a senior scholar from Jāmiáh Ashrafiyyah, Mubarakpur, India, took some volumes from Shaykh Muşţafā Riđā Khān (Mufti A’azam Hind), V, and started to work towards having these published.
In those days, publishing books was a long and manual process. Every page had to be calligraphed and then sent to print [unlike computers used for composing in our time]. It was not easy to find a competent calligrapher, and when they were found, in the lengthy course of transcribing such big volumes, the work would be interrupted as one of the scribes would fall ill or travel or a scribe would die. Sometimes, after the pages were composed it would come to the notice of the organisers that the scribe was a heretic and had messed with the content and hence had to be rewritten.
This was a laborious process and Hafiz ‘Abd Al-Rauūf Baliyawi and his team spent years to complete a single volume. Once the pages were transcribed, they had to be proofread and this was not the age of computers, where mistakes can be corrected instantly. In those days, corrections to hand-written pages was difficult and made by primitive methods available at that time: one would have to scratch the ink using a blade and apply whiteners or paste a small patch of paper and write on it.
Anyway, in this manner, many Sunni scholars over a long span of years managed to compile the Fatāwā Ridawiyyah. Sometimes a monograph [risālah] would be missing and when it was found, it would be added in the next edition. Thus, the Fatāwā was published many decades after the demise of A’ala Hazrat.
Even after the publication of the Fatāwā, many monographs remained missing or had been published as separate volumes and were not included in the Fatāwā Riđawiyyah that was published at that time. Even to this day, many fatāwā and monographs of A’ala Hazrat are missing. We know that they were written because the Imām has himself mentioned it in his fatāwā or books. However, they have not been found yet.
This is because the Imām’s fatāwā could not be published right away as they were written and a very long time has now passed. After independence and the creation of Pakistan, people were scattered and manuscripts could not be preserved. Some scholars migrated to Pakistan and others stayed back in India. The partition brought with it many issues of its own including the weakening of Indian Muslims in terms of money, resources, finances etc. Due to these reasons, Sunnis could not organize and publish the Fatāwā Riđawiyyah as it should have been done, and scholars did the best they could do in the circumstances and resources available to them.
A’ala Hazrat’s son, Mufti A’azam Hind yearned to organize the compilation and publication of Fatāwā Riđawiyyah in an organized and systematic manner. However, he was constrained by resources and time; he was very busy with his various religious engagements, and he was already in an advanced age and had become frail. In addition to all this, he was an ascetic and a great man; he did not ask for donations from people.
Even though people used to read, publishing books was an onerous task and it was not very profitable for publishers. One would have to spend a lot of money and then wait for the books to be sold, which resulted in years to merely recover the investment, let alone make profits. This was not encouraging for publishers and hence not many came forward to publish books. Many famous treatises and fatāwā of A’ala Hazrat have now been lost due to these reasons. We know that those works were penned by A’ala Hazrat because he mentions them repeatedly in his other works.
The earliest editions (of various volumes) were hand written by different scribes in different periods of time and are hence, not consistent in style and format; in many cases, they are not ordered appropriately and whoever got hold of few fatāwā or a monograph would have this transcribed and/or published as and when they found it. Consequently, there were many discrepancies in formatting and editing.
It should be borne in mind, that up until now, we are talking about the Fatāwā Riđawiyyah – whole or partial volumes transcribed and/or published in India by various people or institutions over a period of many years.
This was eventually published as a set of 12-volumes by Raza Academy, India and the same was published by Qārī Raza-ul-Mustafa from Maktaba Ridawiyyah, Karachi, Pakistan. Those who have seen this edition, will know what it was like in terms of publishing quality, and the best they could manage at that time by people in spite of dedicating all their efforts towards this work.
THE NEWER 30-VOLUME EDITION (1990-2005)
In the mid-eighties, Muftī Ábd al-Qayyūm Hazārvī, decided to produce a newer edition of the Fatāwā (the date is mentioned in the first volume of the current edition). The aim of this new edition, was to to reorganise and reformat the fatāwā. The fatāwā were moved across volumes and based on the structure of topics appearing in standard books of fiqh. He also had the fatāwā transcribed in Pakistan in a modern hand with better readability. In the past, books were printed on the older large size paper; the new edition was composed on a relatively smaller paper-size commonly used in our time.
Another thing that he did in this edition was that he undertook the task of cross-referencing [takhrīj] and listing the references mentioned by A’ala Hazrat in his fatāwā. Even though the cross-referencing is not one hundred percent, still a major portion of references – book name, chapter, page number, etc. were included.
Another important contribution of the eminent mufti in this edition was that he also included Urdu translation of the Arabic and Persian passages mentioned in Fatāwā Riđawiyyah by A’ala Hazrat as his proofs and the basis of his conclusions. Muftī Ábd al-Qayyūm Hazārvī did not do all this work by himself; he had a team of scholars with him who worked on the project. Some were assigned the task of overseeing calligraphy, some worked on the cross-referencing, some were assigned to proofreading, some to editing and formatting, and some others prepared the translations [of Arabic and Persian passages].
The translation of Arabic and Persian content of the first few volumes was done by various scholars. Thereafter, the responsibility of translation of passages in all of the remaining volumes fell upon my esteemed teacher, Ĥāfiż Ábd al-Sattār Saýīdī. In addition to translations, he also supervised transcription and proofreading. Furthermore, he would make corrections, send them for rewriting and would proof read the second and third time, until its final correction. After this, the book would be ready for being published.
The life and soul of this entire project was Mufti Ábd al-Qayyūm Hazārvī of Lahore, Pakistan. He started this mammoth project and to deliver this, he gathered a team of close associates and senior scholars who assisted him and completed various tasks in the course of its execution.
The prominent figure of Mufti Ábd al-Qayyūm’s team and their lead editor was Ĥāfiż Ábd al-Sattār Saýīdī. This project of 30 volumes could not be completed in the lifetime of Mufti Ábd al-Qayyūm Hazārvī. He passed into Allah’s Mercy after the publication of around 20 or so volumes of the current edition (with new editing and formatting) and the remaining six or seven volumes were yet unpublished. After his demise, Ĥāfiż Ábd al-Sattār Saýīdī took over the reins and led the team towards the completion of the project. The new edition of Al-Áţāyā al-Nabawiyyah fi’l Fatāwā al-Riđawiyyah in 30-volumes was thus published.
 This short essay is based on an informal talk by Muftī Aslam Raza, circulated on social media which was translated by a brother who wishes to remain anonymous. His translation has been edited for clarity.
 He is probably among the students of Ĥāfiż e Millat.
 According to Mawlānā Ábdu’l Mannān Aáżami, the compilation of the first volume was completed in 1327 AH and published in the lifetime of the author by 1335 AH. The second volume was published nine years later by Şadru’sh Sharīáh Mawlānā Amjad Álī in 1344 AH from Matbaá Ahl e Sunnat in Bareilly. The compilation of the fourth and fifth volume was started in 1345 AH and completed by 1347 AH [but was not published]. Thereafter, there was no activity for 29 years. This is between 1347-1376 AH or 1928-1956 CE. For perspective, India gained independence in 1947 and Pakistan was formed the same year – after partition there was tumult and a long period of recovery and resettlement. The third volume was published in 1381 AH. The fourth volume was published in 1387 AH. The fifth volume was published in 1397 AH. The sixth volume was published in 1401 AH. The seventh volume was published in 1407 AH. The eighth volume was published in 1416 AH. [See the foreword to the ninth volume of the first edition of the older 12-volume edition.].
 Such as Salţanat al-Muşţafā fi Malakūti Kull al-Warā. Alahazrat speaks highly of this book and recommends looking it up, but unfortunately it remains missing until now .
 In the preface to the first volume, it is mentioned that the work on cross-referencing [takhrīj] and translation had already started in 1985. A publishing arm Raza Foundation under the aegis of Jamiáh Niżāmiyyah of Lahore was established in March 1988 with the major objective of producing and publishing a cross-referenced, translated and reformatted edition of Fatāwā Riđawiyyah. Ĥāfiż Ábd al-Sattār Saýīdī says in the preface of the 30th volume dated Rajab 1426 / August 2005: “The publication of the new edition of Fatāwā Riđawiyyah started in Shábān 1410 / March 1990, and in a short span of 15 years thirty volumes have now been successfully published”.
 See the end of this article for images from both editions.
 The new edition is printed on B5 size paper; i.e. 17.6 cm x 25.0 cm.
 Muftī Ábdu’l Qayyūm Hazārvī Qādirī passed away in August 2003.
This is a bird’s eye-view of the Fatawa Ridawiyyah – the topics in each volume and the monographs included in each volume. Also indicated are the number of pages and the number of fatawa in the volume. This is based on the 30-volume Raza Foundation edition. The images below are reproduced from a single page infographic published by Ridawi Press. A hi-resolution printable PDF can be downloaded here.
Statistical information is taken from the preface of the first volume published by Raza Foundation-Jamia Nizamia Razawiyyah, Lahore, 2006 edition.
Names of monographs in the volume are mentioned in the lower pane; upper pane mentions prominent topics and sub-topics
Pages include indexes and bibliographies.
All thirty volumes in PDF can be downloaded from: http://www.ridawi.org/downloads/
Critical studies on Fatawa Ridawiyyah and related essays can be found on this page.