Shaykh Akram is a classicist-traditionalist: he favours classical scholarship, and he fits, on the whole, within the normative intellectual paradigm of late Islamic history. At the same time, he is a great upholder of the highest standards of scholarship so he has a dynamic relationship with the Islamic scholarly tradition that he hails from. This vigour was on full display as a learned audience attended Shaykh Akram being hosted by Doha Mosque and the Safeenah Fellowship over a weekend in which an usul al-fiqh primer – namely, al-Waraqat of Imam Juwayni – was covered. In my own parting gratitude to Shaykh Akram after the course, I mentioned to him that whether we agreed, disagreed or were still undecided about many of his discussions, we were sure that he made us think and had diligently prepared himself for the weekend. As such, teachers like him are priceless and highly under-valued in our community. After the course, Shaykh Akram advised me to do a write-up of the weekend, and with great hesitation (due to knowing my own deficiencies) I agreed and proceeded with the suggestion out of respect and honour for my teacher. What follows is a presentation and discussion of some major themes – not fine details of technical differences of a less practical benefit – that are worth our consideration as a western community that needs to still successfully grapple with the challenge of facing the modern world with an authentic Islamic voice. Nevertheless, this discussion has not been read by Shaykh Akram, so it is not some official representation of him. Moreover, I hope that when my own voice is speaking it is clearly not Shaykh Akram’s.
The Purpose of Teaching
The Shaykh commenced the sessions with his usual disavowal of egotism. Thus Imam Abu Hanifa, he reminded us, taught people to understand, and not to merely follow him. Now such a statement coming from Shaykh Akram cannot possibly be taken as some denouncement of following the Hanafi school, for, as he pointed out, he is himself ninety-nine percent “Hanafi”; hence the one percent of issues where he is seen to be controversial can hardly be taken as casting him out of the Hanafi fold. Instead, such reminders were there to inspire a learned audience to critically engage with the presentations, and to even challenge his assertions. Indeed, this was a gathering of passing around jewels amongst jewellers – apart from me – and not a gathering of casting jewels amongst children to play with them like toys, oblivious of their purpose and true worth. Therefore, Shaykh Akram exhorted the audience to make knowledge their own possession, and not simply the quotation of their teachers (including him). For him, it is the Greek tradition that makes pure followers of their teachers, not Islam!
The Case of Usul al-fiqh
Usul al-fiqh was pointed out as having the same relation to Islamic law as grammar has to language: it is a science that protects you against error. Moreover, the science discusses four matters according to the fuqaha: 1) ahkam (rulings); 2) adillah (sources of the ahkam); 3) how to derive rulings from the sources (culminating in the science of ijtihad, or independent legal reasoning); and 4) qawa’id (legal precepts) and masalih (benefits). The early jurists like Abu Hanifa and Malik had a pure Islamic understanding of the sources; yet, after the second hijri century, Muslim usul came to be dominated by the Muslim engagement with the Greek-Hellenic tradition. This led to the division of the usuliyyin first put forward by Ibn Khaldun in al-Muqaddimah: namely, the division between the tariqa al-fuqaha and the tariqa al-mutakallimin. Of course, such a binary understanding, as is usually the case with such attempts at simplification, obscures the method of those who tried to join the two tariqas. Shaykh Akram lamented that usul al-fiqh lost importance after the third hijri century, as it was not actually used to produce fiqh, because in most cases usul became preoccupied with philosophical generalities (kulliyyat) divorced from practical legal cases and/or fiqh became a process of producing fatwas according to naza’ir (taking a known legal case and then applying it to similar matters, as opposed to looking at the foundational sources for direct answers to new occurrences). In terms of preserving a “pure” theory of usul al-fiqh, Shaykh Akram considered the Hanafis to be less affected by Greek-inspired ‘ilm al-kalam than the other madhhabs.
As with Shaykh Akram’s approach to theology – which favours a commitment to the early community (salaf), without fitting into the modern “salafi school” in its philosophising theology – he favoured a revival of usul al-fiqh along the lines demanded by a profound reading of the foundational sources of the Quran and Hadith, without being hemmed in by any school of thought from any of the religious sciences. In this revival of usul, Shaykh Akram said that the Prophetic method is the only guide and guaranteed way of attaining Divine favour. In this regard, one sees the Prophetic method being one of having a profound understanding and application of the Quran, first and foremost, not as a mere theoretical principle but as a living reality. This was illustrated by one of Shaykh Akram’s personal reflections on the kaffara (atonement) for sexual intercourse (jima’) during the day in Ramadan, which is not mentioned in the Quran, but reflected in the Sunnah in a hadith in Bukhari and Muslim (see Shaykh Salih Munajjid here). Now the Quran does mention three kaffaras for: 1) killing unintentionally (qatl al-khata’); 2) broken oaths; and 3) zihar (a husband making allusive comments about one’s wife and her marital status). Shaykh Akram showed how the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) made qiyas (analogy) with the Quranic kaffara for zihar for illegal sexual intercourse during the day in Ramadan because the former makes the halal into the haram, in a similar way to how illegal sexual intercourse makes the haram into the halal. Furthermore, the reason for the kaffara for illegal sexual relations during the day in Ramadan being different to the atonement to missed ritual prayers (salat) or zakat relates to the distinction between zarf (that which is obligatory in its time and what is similar to it) and mi’yar (that which can only be performed in one time). Whereas a missed ritual prayer or missed hajj can be made-up (qada) at another prayer time or pilgrimage time, respectively, a fast of Ramadan cannot be atoned for in another Ramadan, where only the current obligatory fast can be performed, without a spoiled or missed fast being made-up at the same time.
In the interests of brevity, I will not recount in full an example that Shaykh Akram gave to further highlight the Prophet’s strictly Quranic method. The case referred to al-muharramat, which are women that one cannot marry, and they comprise two categories in the Quran: 1) those forbidden by blood (mother and her ascendants, and daughters and her descendants) (al-asl wa’l-far); and 2) those forbidden through the breastfeeding of milk. Now the Quran outlines all the blood relations, but does not recount a full list for those forbidden through breastfeeding. Now a hadith in Sahih Muslim has the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) outlining that what is forbidden by lineage is forbidden, likewise, through breastfeeding. While some scholars see this hadith as adding (ziyada) to the Quranic list for breastfeeding of milk, Shaykh Akram pointed out that the hadith is actually merely an explanation (bayan) of the Quran, in this instance, whereby the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) has not considered the Quran to be omitting the relevant prohibited women through breastfeeding; rather, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) saw that the Quran, in its beautiful conciseness, was not going to merely repeat all the categories again that had been stated in relation to those prohibited by blood, thus the Quran was simply mentioning the absolute minimal essential headings of those prohibited by breastfeeding, with the rest of the relevant categories implied.
His project is also conceived as disavowing the kalamist-inspired limitation of the Quran and Sunnah (as exemplified by great and still highly admirable imams like Juwayni), whereby the two sources were seen as very limited and hence the perceived need to produce “foreign” principles (often derived from Greek philosophy – touched upon later in relation to logical concepts like hadd, or definition, and qiyas concepts like qiyas kulli (complete and general analogy)) in order to adequately address peoples’ countless needs. Shaykh Akram said that such an understanding derived from misunderstanding the later division of knowledge into 1) shari’i (scriptural) and 2) aqli (purely rational, non-scriptural). For Shaykh Akram, the shari’i included the aqli, but proponents of the latter often failed to perceive the aqli-comprehensiveness of the shari’i; and he sought to counter this and raise its discussion in western Islamic scholarly discussions. Furthermore, he pointed out that kalamist usuliyyin take knowledge apart from reality (like philosophers), but the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) knew the condition of his people and would rule accordingly (hence the various narrations about what is the best action). In such cases in the Prophetic model, there is, for Shaykh Akram, no ta’arud (conflict) between religious texts, as the text of al-Waraqat states, but simply occasions of ikhtilaf (different contexts addressed accordingly).
While Shaykh Akram emphasised the importance of knowing usul al-fiqh for having a correct understanding of the Quran and Sunnah, so that the Lord’s message can be correctly comprehended, he also outlined its limitations and alternative ways of mastering the Sacred Law. For example, he argued that early jurists like Abu Hanifa and Malik, while being undoubtedly methodical in their own traditions (Malik in the Medinese and Abu Hanifa in the Iraqi tradition of Ibrahim Nakha’i), they were also natural jurists in a way that later great scholars like Juwayni were not. To illustrate the point, he highlighted how knowledge starts as a’yan (individual cases) and then moves into ‘umum (general theories). In this way, one can become a master jurist by reading profoundly and extensively the Quran and Sunnah and the judgements of the early community (through the musannaf literature of ‘Abd al-Razzaq and Ibn Abi Shayba, in particular), without a great deal of philosophical and abstract usul al-fiqh; in the same way that one can master a language by reading a large amount of literature, rather than just merely concentrating on grammar.
Moreover, this natural juristic expertise was encouraged for contemporary jurists to embrace a dynamic perspective on fatwa-giving, as illustrated, firstly, by the Bukhari narration referred above about the Companion (may Allah be pleased with him) who contravened the fast of Ramadan through daylight sexual intercourse. Now the narration gives a great deal of flexibility, whereby the Companion says he could not fast for two months consecutively because of his weakness for sex; and the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) allows him flexibility, apparently, on that basis. Shaykh Akram highlighted that no madhhab displays the flexibility of the hadith in such cases. Instead they often enjoin, in such cases, the fasting of two months consecutively for those who do not own a slave; and Shaykh Akram emphasised that the hadith showed the great nature of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) in calling people back to God (da’i). In addition, Shaykh Akram narrated an example of juristic dynamism displayed by Yahya ibn Yahya al-Laythi al-Maliki (which can also be read here), who was asked for a fatwa from a ruler who had engaged in illegal daylight sexual intercourse during Ramadan; and al-Laythi’s fatwa was that the ruler would have to fast two months consecutively, despite the normative fatwa being that he should (and in this case he could) free a slave, because al-Laythi reasoned that such a ruler could free a slave a day for committing such sexual transgressions throughout Ramadan. Shaykh Akram highlighted thus that contemporary jurists should exhibit such dynamism as exhibited in the hadith and the instance of al-Laythi; however, many jurists do not display such expansiveness and can only work according to an order laid-down in a classical manual, without any deeper understanding. His call is not to dispense with madhhabs, as he is Hanafi, but rather a demand that those who want to deliver public fatwas should be true legal experts, and should not be semi-expert nor unnecessarily rigid!
Complexity of Ahkam
As al-Waraqat states, ahkam can be articulated as seven: wajib, mandub, mubah, mahzur, makruh, sahih and fasid. Shaykh Akram’s concern with the first 5 rulings is that they are not properly defined by later scholars and the implications are not set-out properly. So the wajib, or fard, has many categories that are not the same in all instances. For example, a Shafi’i considering it fard for a follower in a group prayer to recite the fatiha is not the same as the obligation to not drink alcohol. Even actions of sunna mu’akkada (confirmed Prophetic non-obligatory actions) are not the same; for example, the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) once made du’a against someone who did not eat with their right-hand (a confirmed sunna). Ijtihad, he reminded, is only for unclear matters; and for such cases the Prophetic method was not to explicitly set-out the difference between obligations and recommendations; for example, the case (and hence the difference of opinion, or ikhtilaf) on something like the witr prayer. The Shaykh did not completely dismiss following such later distinctions – for he said that non-experts must make taqlid of a legal expert – but he wanted to highlight the theoretical problem; and how the later attempts at specific judgements not explicitly explained in the Prophetic statements did not resolve any perceived confusion.
The Nature of Language
Shaykh Akram conducted a fascinating discussion of language – as one would expect from a Nadwi. This included a respectful presentation of Ibn Taymiyya’s discussion of majaz and haqiqi (metaphorical and literal meanings of words) as contained in his Kitab al-iman (which is included in his al-Majmu’ al-fatawa). In summary, Ibn Taymiyya’s denial of majaz, even if we are not convinced of his theory, is not an ignorant and simplistic one, but one rooted in seeking precision and denying conclusions that are, at best, conjectural. So Ibn Taymiyya’s contention was that nobody in the salaf from the fuqaha employed majaz (as he understood the conjectural nature of assigning majaz to any given word), and who can really assign the meaning of a word? Also, even if a word was first used in the Quran and Sunnah and now has a common meaning, can anyone be certain that the original Arabs had no other understanding of the word that would render a majaz attribution redundant? Finally, Ibn Taymiyya would ask such majaz enthusiasts whether Arabs ever used words unconditionally? Now this sophisticated argument from Ibn Taymiyya is only one that expert linguists can faithfully engage with, it is not one for simple imitative scholarship.
In addition, Shaykh Akram pointed out that the meanings assigned by usuliyyin to matters such as ‘amm, khass, zahir and nass suffer from the same openness to criticism as terms like the fard and sunna. Furthermore, the aqsam al-kalam (types of speech) section in al-Waraqat was subjected to a grammarian’s criticism, where Juwayni’s points of kalam being acceptable if consisting of only a fi’l and a harf (where opponents would say that an ism is required) or that it could consist of simply an ism and a harf (only supported by Jurjani) are matters of contention.
During the class, this was the only discussion which Shaykh Akram mentioned should be kept in the classroom. When I later privately discussed it with him, and I mentioned how some might understand it, he advised me to clarify it in this present overview. In light of his definition of naskh, it is appropriate that I do not actually translate it in the normal manner, namely, abrogation. This is because Shaykh Akram defined naskh as taking into consideration the situation and condition of people, so one can bring into effect what has been “abrogated.” In other words, if the circumstances of those “abrogated” verses of the Quran emerge then the significance or wisdom (hikma) of them again becomes effective. To illustrate, by way of clarification (and this is the example I privately used with Shaykh Akram and he agreed with my understanding), wine remains haram, or prohibited, in its ruling, or hukm; but if one encounters a Muslim struggling with the problem of drinking wine, then, although the hukm does not change, the scholar should take guidance from the abrogated, accept the fact that most people only gradually leave sins they have become addicted to, and try to advise a gradually realistic programme for the person to effectively leave the sin. Nevertheless, and this is where Shaykh Akram emphatically cautioned against any abuse of such theory, such efforts to utilise the mansukh could only be performed by completely expert scholars (mujtahids).
This type of hikma, as opposed to fatwa, reminds me of Ibn Rajab’s commentary of hadith 8 in his Jami’ al-‘ulum wa’l-hikam, where he writes: “The Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) did not stipulate that those who came to him wishing Islam had to cling to the prayer and the zakah. On the contrary, it has been narrated from him that he accepted Islam from a people who stipulated that they should not have to pay zakah…[After narrating traditions in Musnad Ahmad to this effect regarding converts seeking to leave zakat, jihad and prayer without bowing, or ruku’,] Imam Ahmad took the stand based on these hadith and said, ‘[The acceptance of] Islam can be sound with an unacceptable precondition, but the person is then required to fulfil all of the judgements and rulings of Islam’” (trans. Abdassamad Clarke, in Ibn Rajab, The Compendium of Knowledge and Wisdom, pp. 130-1).
This discussion reminded me of my mother’s case just before she converted to Islam (may Allah have mercy on her and everyone who says amin to this prayer). She did not have the strength of character to immediately adopt the hijab and she worried about converting and not donning the head scarf. I therefore sought the advice of an English-based scholar Shaykh Abdullah al-Juday’, and he advised me to tell my mother to convert, even if she did not adopt the hijab, as long as she did not consider it lawful to not wear the hijab. I mentioned to Shaykh Akram that this story reminded me of what I understood to be his intended meaning behind saying the mansukh would again be applicable. And he agreed with me, Alhamdulillah.
Scholarly Consensus (ijma’) on Juristic Matters
Shaykh Akram praised the ijma’ section in Imam Shafi’i’s Risala. Furthermore, he pointed that often the ijma’ declared in fiqh works in later madhhab history are often instances where no ijma’ exists. He and I discussed in private how madhhab claims of ijma’ on three declarations of divorce being three divorces, even if intended as only one divorce – which is the position of the four Sunni schools of law, in opposition to Ibn Taymiyya and a number of contemporary scholars – is not a clear and binding consensus (al-ijma’ al-sarih), but is rather a non-binding and non-absolute consensus (al-ijma’ al-sukuti). Moreover, he highlighted that the conditions of absolute ijma’ for later generations are simply theoretical and have never occurred as theorised, whereby generations after the Companions (may Allah be well pleased with them) reached such a consensus and bound future generations to it. In addition, he argued that the jama’a (group) that the hadith tell the Muslim umma to follow means the Companions (may Allah be well pleased with them all).
Transmitted Reports (akhbar) and the Sunnah
Our dear teacher (may Allah increase him and his family with all good) gave the logical advice that the science of reports is taken from the experts of hadith rather than texts of usul al-fiqh (including the one being taught). Although he was quite positive about the section in al-Waraqat, he was critical of the hadith section in the Hanafi Usul al-Shashi (which Shaykh Akram had edited and published, with a foreword by Shaykh Yusuf Qaradawi). He also spoke of the brilliance of Imam Bukhari in actually looking at individual hadith on a case-by-case basis, without using general principles in a half-baked way. An example of a half-baked approach to the science of hadith is seen in people performing tad’if (weakening of narrations) or tashih (authenticating of narrations) by merely looking at abbreviated comments on the status of various narrators in something like Ibn Hajar’s Tahdhib al-tahdhib, or applying general principles from an usul al-hadith text like Ibn Hajar’s Nuzhat al-nazar.
With regards to the Sunnah, he adopted the division articulated by Shah Waliullah in his Hujjat Allah al-baligha: 1) sunna al-huda (guidance): which are sanctioned to be religiously followed; and 2) sunna al-‘ada (not part of the mission, such as eating Arab food or dressing like an Arab). He stated that the following of sunna al-‘ada does not attract Divine reward for its performance by itself, but is only rewarded by the Divine if performed out of love for the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), so one is really rewarded for love of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) rather than the action itself.
Some of the most profound discussions related to this topic. He contrasted Prophetic usul which is the qiyas of a juz’i to juz’i, as opposed to the Greek qiyas of kulli to kulli; and how a methodology of qiyas based on early practice accepts one of tamthili rather than the Greek-inspired mutakallim approach that seeks to be shumuli. What all of these contrasting terms come down to is the idea that the early-Muslim approach makes qiyas of one small case to another small case, and the possibility of being mistaken here is limited; while the Greek-inspired mutakallim approach seeks to establish a general rule and then apply it to others (despite struggling to find specific examples of such generalities that they can apply, as highlighted by Ibn Taymiyya in his al-Radd ‘ala’l-mantiqiyyin). It was this Greek-inspired approach to usul that led, according to Shaykh Akram, Imam Juwayni in al-Burhan to accuse Imam Abu Hanifa of not knowing qiyas, because the qiyas which Abu Hanifa was famous for extensively and expertly utilising was not in accordance with the Greek method that Juwayni favoured. The early community derived rulings on the basis of ta’rif (specific-case based characterisation), and not the method of hadd (all-encompassing definition), tasawwur (full conception) and tasdiq (full judgement) that was taken from the Greeks.
Shaykh Akram highlighted the various aspects of traditional qiyas. Included was the fact that the essence of qiyas is tahqiq al-manat, or deriving from general rulings, and everyone agrees on it in principle (even the Zahiris), even if people might differ on application. What is more controversial (and here the Zahiris do disagree) is takhrij al-manat: taking a specific case and applying it specifically to another similar case because the ‘illa or why is present in the new case (far’) as exists in the original case (asl). Moreover, he highlighted important aspects of qiyas:
- Qiyas al-‘illa: the why of the ruling (very important, and stronger than the khabar al-wahid or solitary hadith);
- Qiyas al-shubha: when the same ‘illa is found in another case then the same original ruling is applied – in cases of tard, not ‘aks (when ‘illa is not found and the ruling cannot be applied);
- Qiyas al-dalala: to make effort to understand the hukm beyond the mere outer words.
He highlighted that qiyas al-‘illa is difficult to ascertain in worship (‘ibada), so it was more utilised in social laws (mu’amalat) by Abu Hanifa and Malik. Due to the danger of qiyas being corruptly applied, Shaykh Akram said that it is dangerous and that it should be applied cautiously by the fully qualified. Therefore, he quoted Jassas’ limitations of qiyas: that it should not remove the hukm of a sacred text of Quran or hadith (nass), nor oppose the ijma’ of the Companions. Moreover, he added that qiyas was not to be applied in hudud (Divinely-set penal codes) and kaffara.
Ijtihad and Taqlid
Despite his repeated calls for scholars to become expert scholars, and for expert scholars to throw off all-encompassing taqlid of Islamic schools of thought of all sorts, Shaykh Akram remains traditional Hanafi. Therefore, he naturally asserts that complete laypeople should make taqlid of a qualified scholar; but, in turn, those qualified scholars should strive to be experts and not rest on merely parroting what they have been taught or read in books, because it is upon such a blinded method that mistakes in fatwa occur, as the repetitive scholar does not understand what he possesses and what and how he is to wield that possession. As pointed out, fiqh and ijtihad were one thing in the early community; hence a mufti (one who gives a fatwa) was a mujtahid (capable of independent legal reasoning). Shaykh Akram was dismayed at how now, for example, one can be considered a mufti by just repeating a fatwa that one finds in an Urdu collection of fatwas.
In Shaykh Akram’s opinion, there are three types of people in relation to Islamic law: 1) the mujtahid; 2) general scholars who understand a scholarly argument and only follow with knowledge, and can depart from their mujtahid for another when satisfied by scholarly preference to do so; and 3) common people who only make taqlid of a qualified scholar. Nevertheless, he advised that scholars should provide their evidences to laypeople when passing fatwa, even if the latter do not understand, but they should at least make an effort to understand. Yet, he mentioned the classical principle that an ‘ammi (layperson) has no madhhab, and that they simply ask a qualified scholar whenever and wherever he or she is without being restricted to the issuer of the fatwa being from a particular school, or the school that the ‘ammi associates himself with; so, for him, there is no absolute duty to make one’s purification or ritual prayer according to one school, unless one is confined by circumstance to following one scholar who adheres fully to one school. In this regard, Shaykh Akram quoted Ibn ‘Abidin in his Hashiya where the latter quotes Ibn al-Humam saying that an ‘ammi can follow whichever fatwa from two differing muftis that his heart inclines to, but Ibn ‘Abidin said he can even follow the one that his heart does not incline to because the ‘ammi’s heart is not given consideration in such matters because his heart has no way of being more content with one fatwa or another. Then he quoted Hamid al-Din Farahi reiterating what others have said, namely, that every age must have mujtahids. Nevertheless, he pointed out that our ummatic problem is not that we lack mujtahids, but that we collectively lack God-consciousness (taqwa); and we should therefore make more effort in developing God-conscious people than in trying to cultivate mujtahids.
Shaykh Akram praised the Hanafi Jassas’ work on usul al-fiqh. Thus it was appropriate that he ended by presenting Jassas’ conditions of a mujtahid: 1) fully able to conduct independent research of the earliest and primary sources; 2) morally upright and trustworthy (‘adil); and 3) concerned in improving the situation of believers in society (a da’i).
In conclusion, I hope that the many young scholars who attended, and those young scholars who will listen to the recorded material, will take these discussions further and enrich Islamic scholarship in the west. In this regard, the Safeenah Fellowship would welcome the opportunity to support and fund such research. The real beauty and blessing of Shaykh Akram is his tireless effort to raise the English-speaking scholarship so that it is empowered to rise to the many challenges of the age. God knows the secrets of people’s hearts, but I have sensed over the years the least amount of ego and desire for scholarly dictatorship in Shaykh Akram, masha Allah. Hence I have seen students and non-students challenge him and for him to respond in the best and most open of manners, without any sense of “Do you know who I am? How can you challenge me?” That is the secret to him being so loved, because even those who are welcomed to challenge him are not met by arrogance, masha Allah. Ultimately, while our leaders talk of the importance of indigenous scholarship being best suited to tackling our problems, it is hard to envisage such a profound scholarship emerging if it does not benefit and engage with scholars like Shaykh Akram in our midst. It is this willingness to challenge traditions on the basis of actual expertise, and not whim and half knowledge, which best sums up why Shaykh Akram is so crucial to this western enterprise, even if the conclusions and look of it end up being quite radically different to Shaykh Akram. In other words, if I can have the liberty of using giants who over-shadow Shaykh Akram, if a refutation of Imam Malik occurs by someone like Imam Shaybani or Imam Shafi’i, or even an Imam Nawawi or Imam Yahya ibn Yahya al-Laythi al-Maliki, then we are all enriched, because they are truly on the level to critique; but a refutation of Imam Malik by less proficient scholars of Islamic law is hardly going to be worth much except a modern Ph.D thesis, with passing and barely noticeable benefit to the world at large.