Correspondence Between the Two Imaams, Al-Albaani and Ibn Baaz | A Letter Concerning the Printing of Fathul-Baari
In the Name of Allaah, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful
From Muhammad Naasirud-Deen al-Albaani, to His Eminence, Shaikh Abdul-Aziz ibn Baaz
Wa alaikum as-salaam wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuhu.
So I praise Allaah, besides whom none has the right to be worshipped, [mentioning this praise] to you and I ask Him to continue to give us and you His Blessings, both hidden and apparent.
As for what follows:
I received your [most] gracious letter dated 20th Shawwaal 1378ah [29/4/1959ce] some time ago and through it came to understand your resolve to print a new edition of Fathul-Baari. I thank you for the good opinion you have of your brother in that you nominated me to carry out the checking of the copy being prepared for publishing, and to compare it to other printed copies and manuscripts.
But I feel you should excuse me from that [duty] and charge it to someone else, for no other reason than the fact that I think it is more appropriate if I were to [instead] spend the time that that crucial work would demand by doing what is in dire need of my specialty [like] aiding the Sunnah by distinguishing between its authentic and weak hadiths and deriving rulings and understanding them.
For this reason I propose you look at the following suggestions:
That you ask someone to send the final draft [[fascicle] to me] after it has been corrected and prepared for print so that I can take a quick look at it, perchance I may come across some mistakes and thus correct them, and so that I can make notes in some places which it appears to me are in need of being annotated, something which can be limited according to the following:
1) Pointing out an authentic hadith which the author declared to be weak, or which he kept silent about.
2) [Likewise] pointing out a weak hadith which the author declared to be strong, or which he kept silent about.
3) Declaring the truth which is in accordance with the Book and the Sunnah about those issues which the commentator mentioned in detail but concerning which he did not then go on to choose a particular statement as being the one closest to the truth.
4) Clarifying some areas that need elucidation, especially those that are connected to the Salafi creed and doing that not by way of examination and scrutiny, for that would require free time and a huge effort, but rather according to what is easy for me to do.
In short, I hold that publishing the explanation with these verifications is more beneficial for the people, especially when it has reached me from a reliable source that one of the Moroccan hadith scholars from the Sufis has also made preparations to print this book. And there is no doubt that he will annotate it with comments which will direct the readers to his misguidance and innovations, from which is his taking the hadith, ‘O Allaah, bless us in our Shaam …’ They said, ‘And our Najd, O Messenger of Allaah,’ He replied, ‘Earthquakes and trials/tribulations are there …’ the hadith, which he uses against our monotheistic brothers from Najd and he calls them, rather he labels them [derogatively] as, ‘Qarniyyin.’
And this hadith is in Bukhaari as you know, do you not see the need to comment on it and others like it whose reality the innovators turn away from, and which they exploit to refute the monotheists, and which they use as a support in causing the misguided Muslims to fall into polytheism [shirk]?
Thereafter, I will seize this opportunity to present some suggestions to you which are connected to the printing of the book so that it can be published in an elegant and pleasing fashion:
1) Mentioning the chapter in the middle of the line.
2) Numbering the chapters and sections in an ordinal fashion to narrow down the number of sections in each chapter, for that helps in benefitting from the index of Bukhaari as is done in the book Miftaah Kunooz as-Sunnah.
3) Numbering each hadith sequentially to the end of the book, and with that, the number of hadith of Bukhaari will become clear, placing the numbering at the start of the line.
4) Writing the title of the chapter in the middle of the exegesis.
5) Mentioning the chapter in a header on each page.
6) Clarifying the confusing parts of the explanation through the use of diacritical marks.
7) Publishing each volume in a number of [smaller] volumes as they finally did with Lisaanul-Arab and Tabaqaatul-Kubraa, making it easier for those who want to buy it to do so [i.e., instead of having to buy the whole collection in one go].
8) Covering each volume with an engraved, colour binding in the manner done with Lisaan and Tabaqaat.
This is what I saw fit to mention as suggestions.
And I ask Allaah, the Most High, to grant you the success to print the book in the most correct and perfect manner, and your reward is upon Allaah, the Blessed and Most High.
Was-Salaamu alaikum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuhu and [may this greeting also go] to all of the Shaikhs, teachers and brothers with you.
Muhammad Naasirud-Deen al-Albaani
Ar-Rasaa’il al-Mutabaadilah Bainash-Shaikh Ibn Baaz wal-Ulemaa,pp. 51-53.