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Posted By Topic: Abridging a Book or Summarizing it is an Academic Service that Requires Knowledge

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07-01-2011 @ 9:04 AM    Notify Admin about this post
Abul-'Abbaas Moosaa ibn John Richardson (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Posts: 1280
Joined: Sep 2002
In the Name of Allaah...

I would like to bring up a point about tah-theeb, ikhtisaar, and jam' for the benefit of my brothers and sisters who translate the works of the scholars hoping to benefit themselves and others.

First of all:

tah-theeb - a re-writing or re-organizing of a book, which may include ommitting some material and even adding new material to the original

ikhtisaar - an abridgement without additions

intikhaab - selected passages singled out

jam' - a compilation of the works or one or more author, which is actually ta'leef (authorship) itself, and the jam' is ascribed to the compiler, not those whose words have been compiled.

These are all academic services to previously existing books.  None of them are suitable for the beginning student of knowledge.

The beginning student of knowledge is not yet qualified to perform any of these tasks properly.  How will he decide what to include and what to delete?  How will he decide how to make additions?  How will he decide how to organize the words of a scholar who spoke about an issue from two different angles, possibly with some contradiction between them?

Here is an amazing and prolific quote from the senior scholar of his time, the one who 'Alee ibn al-Madeenee and Ahmad ibn Hanbal used to consider their superior: Yahyaa ibn Ma'een (may Allaah have Mercy on him)

He said regarding students of hadeeth who used to gather narrations selectively in the beginning years of their study:
As a beginner (student of knowledge), no one does intikhaab properly!  We did that (as beginners), and we regretted it.

Of course, the context here is regarding a time when the Sunnah was being recorded and preserved, so when someone picked and chose some narrations, he would miss narrations that he later needed and wished he recorded.

However, the lesson here is clear.  As a beginner, you are not capable of making important decisions about which things are important and which things should be excluded.  So then, how could you make such decisions on behalf of the whole English speaking audience?!

Na'am, it is the way of the profiteers and corrupt businessmen in charge of printing companies to print extremely important books, like the tafseer of Tabaree or Ibn Katheer ABDRIDGED, or the works of ibn taymiyyah, ibn al-qayyim, ibn Rajab, etc. ABRIDGED, RE-WRITTEN, or SUMMARIZED.  Yet, few of them do that using a reliable scholar or student of knowledge.  Sometimes, they have agendas in the method of their compilation.  Their actions are not a proof for the legitimacy of this act of negligence.

As a beginning student of knowledge who wants to translate something into English, you should consult your scholars about the choices of material, and then translate them entirely as they are originally.

For more important tips and guidelines on translating, see the following article:

ibn John

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