Remember what Youve Forgotten!: Some Notes on the Question of Commentary and Annotation
Classical texts usually emerged and have developed in the form of works on other texts. There has been a variety of reasons for choosing a particular text to work on, including its size, the clarity of its style, its being a textbook, its being easy to memorize, its author, its sacred status and its richness as a source. Other factors on its choice include the scientific outlook of a particular era, intellectual traditions and the relationships between teachers and pupils. The fact that classical texts, including commentaries, annotations, abridgments, were started to be perceived as useless and unscientific, and to be discredited with heavy criticisms is closely related to the loss of self-confidence and self-reliance in the Islamic world. This article first discusses the emergence, logic and organization of different types of classical texts, which are indispensible sources to fully understand Islamic intellectual and cultural heritage. It then examines the criticisms addressed to these works, as well as their implicit and explicit causes and consequences, during the modernization period. It emphasizes the significance of the question of whether it is possible to revisit Islamic sciences without returning to classical commentaries and annotations both practically and psychologically.
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