A sharp reader and unparalleled expert in rare books and manuscripts, Imam al-Kawthari long ago revealed that the printed version of Imam Mahmud ibn `Abd Allah al-Husayni al-Alusi al-Baghdadi's (1217-1270) tafsir entitled Ruh al-Ma`ani published by his "Salafi" son Nu`man al-Alusi in Bulaq (Egypt) in 1301 (then again twice by the Damascene "Salafi" Munir `Abduh Agha at his Muniriyya Press in Egypt) contained alterations and accretions from foreign hands, responsibility for which al-Kawthari laid squarely at the feet of Nu`man: "He cannot be trusted over the publication of his father's commentary, and if someone were to compare it [the latter edition] with the [autograph] manuscript kept today at the Raghib Basha library in Istanbul, which is the manuscript gifted by the author to the Sultan `Abd al-Majid Khan, one would certainly find in it what will make him certain of that."(1)
In his 1968 372-page book al-Alusi Mufassiran, Muhsin `Abd al-Hamid(2) petulantly denied the charge that there had been any tampering with the Tafsir as "a bizarre fiction," claiming he had compared the manuscript kept at Baghdad's general Awqaf library and found no discrepancies, and that he consulted with [the "Salafi"] Muhammad Bahjat [al-Baytar] and Munir al-Qadi who were of one mind with him.
Recently, in an internet communication on February 26, 2006 the Riyadh genealogist and historian of scholarship Dr. Muhammad ibn `Abd Allah Aal Rashid mentioned all of the above and commented:
"This claim [by Muhsin `Abd al-Hamid] avails us nothing, since al- Kawthari very precisely referred to the autograph manuscript and its location. In the Hajj of the year that just passed (1426) I met the researcher and teacher Ah.mad ibn `Abd al-Karim al-`Ani who informed me that the Imam al-A`zam Faculty in the city of Baghdad had tasked thirty Master's candidate students to prepare a critical edition of al-Alusi's commentary, Ruh al-Ma`ani, Ustadh al-`Ani being one of those students... and they were basing themselves on the manuscript indicated by Shaykh al-Kawthari. He told me that the printed version was indeed filled with alterations, tamperings, gaps and suppressions in many places, which confirms the words of Shaykh al-Kawthari that the printed version which is in circulation contains tamperings and suppressions."(3)
(1) Al-Kawthari, Maqalat (p. 344) and marginalia on al-Subki's al-Radd `ala al-Nuniyya (p. 108)
(2) He also authored the 1983 book Jamal al-Din al-Afghani: al-Muslih. al-Muftara `alayh (Mu'assasat al-Risala).
(3) Muhammad Aal Rashid: http://www.elnafeas.net/montada/index.php?showtopic="38.
© GF Haddad