Dar al-Minhaj of Jeddah has published an edition of the Iḥyāʾ in ten (10) volumes. Nine volumes of the Iḥyāʾ and un-numbered (tenth?) volume of introductory matter. In keeping with Dar al-Minhaj the books are impeccability produced to a very high standard for Arabic books that are published in Lebanon. On the half title page the publisher says that it is the 900-year commemorative edition on the occasion of the Imām’s death. It comes in a specially designed box that fits the whole set. It is nearly 1700 pages of text in clear naskh font with the Qurʾānic text of the muṣḥaf of the Qurʾān printing complex in Medina. The headings are in nastaliq font, that will take some getting used to. Since the audience is Arabic-speaking, a good number of readers will have a problem reading the headings and chapter titles. Each book of the forty books has its title in specially written in thuluth script, and this adds a pleasing aesthetic.
Use of Iḥyāʾ manuscripts:
The publisher states that they have used 20 manuscript copies of the Iḥyāʾ to compare the text including an early printed edition. Electronically modified (photoshopped to add color) photostat copies of the first and last pages of each of the manuscripts are included. A good number of manuscripts come from Bosnia’s Ghazi Husrev-Bey Library and Chester Beatty Library in addition to many other libraries. Needless to say, just about every major manuscript collection includes a copy of the Iḥyāʾ in its collection. Creating a critical edition of this work is an impossible task.
On the text:
It is printed on cream (shamu) paper with generous leading (line spacing). The text is broken up into paragraph and sentences, and includes punctuation marks and vowel marks not only on the end of each word, but on other important words and the names of personalities and book titles.
The publisher says that it took their research department about four years to complete the compilation of the final text. After it was entered into a computer it was checked three times against the compilation. Then they sent it to various scholars who read the whole text and commented on it. The whole process took seven years to complete.
There are very few places in the text where variations of readings from the manuscripts are listed. I am assuming that the publisher only wanted to mention the most important variations of the text and simple variations are not listed. Since the publisher wanted to create a readable edition this is a necessity. Next in importance is the fact that the publisher lists all the editions of the reference works that are used in preparing the text. This is important as the editors have gone back to the references that Imām Ghazālī quotes and tracked those down. For example all the quotes from Qut al-qulub are listed.
Al-ʿIrāqī’s al-Imlaʾ, traditionally printed as footnotes in the hadith citations in the Iḥyāʾ, has now been incorporated and reworked with Zabīdī’s Itḥāf, meaning that whenever Zabīdī mentions that a hadith is cited somewhere the editors have tracked this down where Zabīdī or ʿIrāqī have found it. So it becomes a new work and they (ʿIrāqī and Zabīdī) are credited in the introduction. This is good because now we have the references to go back to the book of hadith, but we do not have al-ʿIrāqī’s grading of hadith. The argument for this may be that grading the hadith is the purview of scholars and those who are really interested in finding hadith status will be able to check the references.
More to come . . .