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July 15, 2011


Kamal Lounaci

On the whole, the development of class 297.122, as proposed, perfectly reflects the theological realities of the Koran. My comments are limited to some observations relating to the draft text itself, which I offer, however, with a degree of uncertainty.
Some details regarding the order of precedence of the religious rites of Islam are instructive of the difficulties of situating each of these currents in its true dimension. In the present case, I feel that it is relevant to review the precedence of the term Ibadite on the term Kharidjite [Commentaries of Ibadites - 122 76].
Ibadism is a religious current which emanates from Kharidjism, which is clearly distinct from Sunnism and Shiism. Furthermore, Kharidjism, due to the significance which it has held in the political and social history of Islam, should be found at the same level as Sunnism and Shiism, thus the pertinence of putting it at 297.12276 instead of Ibadism. I propose, therefore, to replace the phrase « Commentaries of Ibadites » by « Commentaries of Kharidjites » at class 297.12276.
In addition, regarding the translation of certain expressions which are already widely attested, from Arabic into English:
- 297.122 3 Fadā’il al-Qur’ān (Merits of Koran): The expression « Virtues of Koran » seems to me to be more plausible and more widely used in the literature about Islam than « Merits of Koran ». The term « Fada’il » in Arabic translates as « virtues » in English.
- 297.122 712 Tafsīr bi-al-ra’y (Commentary based on reasoning) : The use of the term « reasoning » creates the impression that it refers to an interpretation belonging to the Motazilite school [297.122 74], which is known for having attempted to introduce reason (logos) into the theological foundations of Motazilism. As we are in commentaries in general, that is, not specifying the source or origin of the exegesis, the translation of the term here given as « reasoning » would better express its full meaning if replaced by « opinion ». [Commentary based on opinion] is appropriate both literally and in spirit, since the term « al-ra’y » in Arabic means « opinion » in both French and English, and that the expression « people of opinion », or « gens d’opinion » in French, is widely used in exegetical circles.

As for the Sunnite schools [297.140 181], there are four[[1]] of them:the Hanafi school [297.140 181 1], the Shafii school [297.140 181 2], the Maliki school [297.140 181 3], and finally the Hanbali school [297.140 181 4]. This last is particularly known for being at the origin of the manifestations of Wahhabism and Salafism, two politico-religious currents which advocate a rigid reading of the Koran. On the other hand, the Zahiri school proposed as a fifth school (Zahiri school 297.140 181 5) is no longer extant (along with dozens of other schools[[2]]). It disappeared entirely after the fall of Andalusia. It would be more correct, in my opinion, to retain only the 4 schools known and recognised by scholars and historians as being the ones, still in existence, which influenced the theological foundations of Sunnism, and even Islam as a whole.

[1] Messaoud Boudjenoun, Les Quatre Imâms : fondateurs des écoles sunnites. Paris : Universel, 2004. 264 p., 23 cm. (ISBN 2-911546-41-5).
[2] Idem

Kamal Lounaci,
Bibliothèque et archives nationales du Québec
Trad. Pat Riva

Annick BERNARD, on behalf of Ahmad Taleb

[The following was first posted on the “AuteursArabes” listserv on August 11 - http://listes.cines.fr/info/auteursarabes]

Dear all,

I have reviewed the proposed Classification of Islam. In principle it looks fine, however I have few general and minor comments:
1. A large no. of Arab libraries have adopted the option stated under class 290, i.e. classing Islam under 210-219. The Arab League Documentation and Information Center (ALDOC) have published 2 editions in coordination with OCLC adopting this option. Will this option be available in the projected Arabic version? If not, the no. of libraries who would adopt this edition – or at least the section on Islam—will be minimal.

2. The heading for 297 bears in addition to Islam, Babism, Bahai faith. This is confusing or even not suitable. Babism is not an Islamic sect and should be removed to other religions (299). If the editors of DDC think it’s an Islamic sect—which is not correct—it should not be added in the main heading of Islam, otherwise all other sects should be added then?

3. The sect of Alawites or Nosairians is a Shiite sect and should be classed under 297.82, e.g., 297.825, etc.

4. The 5 pillars of Islam (English version since I did not see the Arabic version) should have been classed more logically and consecutively as follows: Shahadatan (profession of faith), Salat (Prayer), Zakat (Almsgiving) , Sawm (Fasting) and Hajj (Pilgrimage). They are now scattered in different places. They could have been classed all under 297.31 -35, etc. I think the whole section of 297.31—297.5… need to be reclassified.

5. The first four Caliphs are classified either under 297.46 as religious leaders or 953’s. This seems to be inconsistent. Those caliphs are really Religious leaders even if they were also political leaders?

6. Islamic law (Fiqh, Sharia): 340.59. This class no. could be easily expanded to cover all aspects of Islamic law especially secular matters under 297.591-297.599

7. I would like to add the following general remarks :

· Arabic and Maltese languages and literatures. This is a strange combination between 2 different topics. They belong to 2 different civilization and people. Maltese could be reclassed somewhere else.

· 956: Middle East. This class no. is mainly used by Arab libraries to cover the Arab world in general. The 956.01 Early history to 1900 need be expanded to cover specific historical periods of the Middle East. In fact this no. as first devised by Melvil Dewey represented the Ottoman Empire. That’s why there are 6 subclasses for Turkey, 1 subclass for Iraq and 1 subclass for Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus, Israel and Jordan. I wish Cyprus was given another no. I also wish to have Arab countries had been classed consecutively ( India and Iran come between other Asian Arab countries.

· The Lebanese National Library has developed the following area notations for Lebanon and which does not conflict with any other areas as follows: 56921 Northern Lebanon ; 56923 Mount Lebanon; 56925 Beirut (available); 56927 Baka’a; 56929 Southern Lebanon


Ahmad Taleb
Technical Service librarian (Lebanese American University)
Consultant (Lebanese National Library)

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