How to study Hidayah

It is said that the heart of the Dars Nizami is Hidayah; the seminal work of Allamah Marghinani (d. 593) on the Hanafi fiqh. It is the commentary of the author’s work, Bidayat al-Mubtadi – which is an amalgamation of Quduri and Jami al-Saghir. In Hidayah the author adds further masa’ils to the primary text and outlines both textual and inferential evidences supporting all the edicts. Hidayah is the gateway to Fiqh - it shows the way forward to the initiates and summarises the path for the expert.

A person able to study Hidayah will easily be able to decipher the authoritative book of Allamah Mawsuli (d. 683) entitled al-Mukhtar and its commentary called al-Ikhtiyar which are largely a reworking and refinement of Allamah Marghinani's works. The same can arguably be said about Allamah Nasafi's Wafi and its summary Kanz also. These works are polished whilst Hidayah is raw. As such, Hidayah is given precedence in the dars nizami as it allows easier transition between core source texts.

So the question arises how does one prepare for Hidayah? Start with the Mukhtasar of Imam Abu Hussayn al-Quduri (d. 428); the oldest of the mutun. This will outline the core edicts in all fiqh books.  Follow up with the study of Wiqayah or its summary Nuqayah . These outline all the edicts in Bidayah and Hidayah minus the evidences. This will provide a solid grounding in fiqh as well an ability to read any of the mutun including Multaqa’Abhur, Majma’ al-Bahrayn and Tuhfat al-Fuqaha.

Now on Hidayah, how does one proceed? The masa’ils are known from previous studies so what remains are the evidences which Allm. Marghinani masterfully summarises. The author summarises two forms of evidences present in advanced books – textual (naqli) and inferential (aqli) evidences. Learner content with the summary should read Binayah and Hashyat Lakhnawi to find clarifications and resolve discords within the text or conclusion. This will give them an insight in fiqh and create an aptitude for advancement within the field. Those who wish to gain greater depth have to follow two distinct but inter-related paths but before delving deeper they must learn usul al-hadith and usul al-fiqh.

The first path is concerned with analysing the reliability of the source. This is the path of the Muhaddithin. Read Nasb al-Rayah, Dirayah or Inayah for an analysis on the hadith quoted as evidence in Hidaya. Furthermore, read I’la al-Sunan for a broader view and a greater pool of supporting ahadith.

The second path is concerned with analysing the validity of the inference. This is the path of the Usuliyyin. Read Fath al-Qadir1. The implications and justification of the rationales naturally results in the declaration of many more derivative edicts which can be followed up by studying works such as Radd al-Muhtar.


Muhammad Saifur Rahman Nawhami
4 Jumada II 1433
26 April 2012

Update! The article was previous published here as 'The path to Hidayah'. It has been renamed to 'How to study Hidayah' as it felt to be more descriptive.

  • 1. Fath al-Qadir can be a difficult text to decipher so one may want to study what some have dubbed it its summary – Mulla Ali Qari’s commentary on Nuqaya entitled Fath al-Bab al-‘Inayah for a detailed analysis of the rationales presented in Hidayah.

Nawhami, Muhammad Saifur Rahman. (2012). How to study Hidayah. Islamic Studies Bulletin (DIBAJ), Number 1. Available at