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Defence Against Disaster –  in accurately determining the positions of the Companions after the death of the Prophet by Qadi Abu Bakr ibn al-‘Arabi is an unparalleled study of the controversies and trials that arose among the first generations of Islam, starting with the sedition at the time of ‘Uthman that led to his murder. It continues right through to the terrible events that brought about the death of al-Hussein ibn Ali. 

Given that the author assumes a command of the source texts and knowledge of the events and personalities involved that is now much rarer than it was, the commentary by Muhibb ad-Din al-Khatib is extremely helpful for the modern reader. He helpfully gives a biography of Qadi Abu Bakr that helps the reader realise his greatness and the vastness of his scholarship.

Qadi Abu Bakr (468 – 543 AH/1076 – 1148 CE) was born and grew up in Seville and as a young man travelled with his father in search of knowledge to Egypt, Sham and Iraq, meeting and studying with the greatest scholars alive among whom was Imam al-Ghazali. When he returned to Andalusia, the people of knowledge immediately recognised the immensity of his learning and gathered around him, among them such luminaries as Qadi ‘Iyad, author of the Shifa, and Qadi Abu-l-Waleed ibn Rushd the great Maliki and grandfather of the philosopher and author of the Bidayat al-Mujtahid.

Muhibb ad-Din al-Khatib (1303 – 1389 AH/1886 – 1969 CE) was born in Syria. He lived through some of the key events of the late 19th and 20th century including the collapse of the Caliphate, and was active both politically and in terms of knowledge and authorship of books.

Aisha Bewley is the translator of a large number of classical works of Islam and Sufism, often in collaboration with Abdalhaqq Bewley, notably The Noble Qur’an – a New Rendering of Its Meanings in English; Muhammad, Messenger of Allah – the translation of Qāḍī ‘Iyāḍ’s ash-Shifā’; the Muwaṭṭa’ of Imam Mālik ibn Anas; and Imam an-Nawawī’s Riyāḍ aṢāliḥīn. She is  also the author of a number of works including Democratic Tyranny and the Islamic Paradigm.

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