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Islamic Studies Hadith
by
Jonathan A.C. Brown

Introduction

A Hadith (Arabic plural aHadith; the word “Hadith” is used as both a singular and a collective plural in English) is a report attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, describing his words and actions and representing the chief source for knowing his authoritative precedent (Sunna). Each Hadith consists of a text ascribed to Muhammad (matn) and a chain of transmission (isnad) for that text. Muslims view Hadith as the second major source for Islamic law and dogma. In effect, however, Hadith are arguably more important than the Qurʾan. While the Qurʾan is the foundation of authority in Islam, it provides few legal injunctions. The details of Islamic law are far more commonly derived from Hadith, and many tenets of Islamic theology and dogma come not from the Qurʾan but from Hadith (for example, a belief in the Antichrist). Unlike the Qurʾan, which was compiled and standardized during and immediately after Muhammad’s life, the Hadith were set down gradually during a period of five centuries after the beginning of Islam. This presented the serious problem of Hadith forgery, with the different groups and schools of thought that emerged during the early Muslim civil wars and intellectual debates all creating Hadith to support their points of view. Muslim scholars developed the isnad as a tool for trying to distinguish authentic from forged Hadith based on the reliability and reputation of the transmitters who made up the isnad. The question of when one should believe a Hadith based on the fact that it had been attributed to Muhammad’s divine inspiration or reject it because its meaning seemed unacceptable has remained a contentious issue among Muslim scholars. Since they believed in Muhammad’s prophethood, Muslim scholars did not think it unusual for Hadith to predict future events or describe things that a typical person could not know. Western scholars who began evaluating the historical reliability of the Hadith corpus in the 19th century did not share these assumptions. Because there are no surviving textual records of Hadith from the actual time of the Prophet, Western scholars have questioned the authenticity of the Hadith corpus in general, with many reasoning that the Hadith tradition was elaborated as part of the growth of Islam and not as its original foundation.

General Overviews

There are few general works on Hadith. The most comprehensive introduction is Brown 2009, which considers both Muslim (Sunni and Shiʿite) and Western scholarship on Hadith. Abd al-Rauf 1983 packs an astounding amount of information of the Sunni Hadith tradition into a manageable size and provides a valuable reference. Works such as Burton 1994 assume a more limited and dated Western perspective, while those of Siddiqi 1993 and Kamali 2005 proceed from a more pietistic Muslim point of view.

  • Abd al-Rauf, Muhammad. “Ḥadīth Literature—I: The Development of the Science of Ḥadīth.” In The Cambridge History of Arabic Literature: Arabic Literature until the End of the Umayyad Period. Edited by A. F. L. Beeston et al., 271–288. London: Cambridge University Press, 1983.

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    One of the most succinct and useful descriptions of the genre of Sunni Hadith scholarship.

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  • Ahmad, Shahab. “Ḥadīth.” In Encyclopedia Iranica, Vol. 11. Edited by Ehsan Yar-Shater, 442–447. Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1982–.

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    An excellent and brief overview of the Hadith tradition with supplements on the role of Hadith in Sufism and Iranian history. Available online.

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  • Brown, Jonathan. Hadīth: Muhammad’s Legacy in the Medieval and Modern World. Oxford: Oneworld, 2009.

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    The most comprehensive and up-to-date discussion of Hadith, including Hadith collection and criticism in Sunni and Shiʿite Islam, the functions of Hadith in Islam law, theology, and Sufism; modern Muslim debates over Hadith, and Western scholarship on the authenticity of the Hadith corpus.

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  • Burton, John. An Introduction to the Hadīth. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1994.

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    A dated but still useful book. In particular, chapters 3, 4, and 5 provide clear and accessible discussions of the political, ritual, and theological role of Hadith. The Introduction is a helpful if outdated summary of the Western study of Hadith.

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  • Guillaume, Alfred. The Traditions of Islam: An Introduction to the Hadith Literature. Oxford: Clarendon, 1924.

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    A dated by still useful introduction to Hadith, which should be used selectively; the most useful parts are the translations of sections from major Sunni Hadith collections. Reprint, New York: Books for Libraries, 1980.

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  • Kamali, Mohammad Hashim. A Textbook of Ḥadīth Studies: Authenticity, Compilation, Classification, and Criticism of Ḥadīth. Markfield, UK: Islamic Foundation, 2005.

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    An interesting modern Muslim perspective on the Sunni collection and criticism of Hadith, with many excellent examples. It lacks a critical or historical perspective, however.

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  • Robson, James. “Ḥadīth.” In Encyclopaedia of Islam. 2d ed. Edited by P. J. Bearman et al. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1960–present.

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    A brief history of Hadith and Hadith criticism from a distinctly Western academic perspective. New edition published in 2005. Available online.

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  • Shah Abd al-Aziz. The Garden of the Hadith Scholars. Translated by Aisha Bewley. London: Turath, 2007.

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    A translation of a 19th-century Indian Muslim’s history of the Hadith tradition, coming from a parochial Muslim and premodern perspective.

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  • Siddiqi, Muhammad Zubair. Ḥadīth Literature: Its Origins, Development and Special Features. Rev. ed. Cambridge, UK: Islamic Texts Society, 1993.

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    A distinctly Muslim perspective on Hadith with little critical consideration, it is nonetheless very useful because of the biographies of major Muslim Hadith scholars and descriptions of their books.

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Major Hadith Collections in Arabic

The number and vastness of Hadith collections in Arabic, the liturgical language of Islam, are difficult to comprehend. This section provides a list of the mainstay Hadith collections of Sunni and Imami Shiʿite Islam. For online access to some of these collections, see the section on Hadith Concordances.

Sunni Hadith Collections

The Encyclopedia of Hadith and Ibn Hanbal 1993–present are the best editions for the major Sunni Hadith collections—the canonical Six Books of al-Bukhari (d. 870), Muslim (d. 875), al-Tirmidhi (d. 892), Ibn Majah (d. 887), Abu Dawud (d. 889), and al-Nasaʾi (d. 916)—as well as the major collections of Ibn Hanbal (d. 855) and Malik (d. 796).

  • Encyclopedia of Hadith. 17 vols. Stuttgart, Germany: Tradigital, n.d.

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    This is the best edition of the Six Books and the Muwattaʾ of Malik. Not only have the editors of this project found the most accurate manuscripts for the books it includes, they also provide a two-volume index that cross-references the Hadiths found in the books and also includes explanations of unusual words. There is also a searchable CD-ROM index.

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  • Ibn Hanbal, Ahmad. Musnad. Edited by Shuʿayb Arnaʾut, et al. 1993–present. Beirut, Lebanon: Muʾassasat al-Risala.

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    This massive and still incomplete edition of Ibn Hanbal’s Musnad is very well indexed, showing all the other Hadith works in which Hadith appear. Most editions of the Musnad follow the standard six-volume Maymaniyya printing. Tradigital is currently in the process of putting out its own edition of the Musnad, which will be more manageable than the voluminous Beirut edition.

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Shiʿite Hadith Collections

These are the best editions of the four canonical Imami Shiʿite Hadith collections of Ibn Babawayh (d. 991, see Ibn Babawayh 1994), al-Kulayni (d. 939, see al-Kulayni 1998) and al-Tusi (d. 1067, see al-Tusi 1991 and al-Tusi 1970), as well as the main Zaydi Hadith book, which is attributed to Zayd b. ʿAli (d. 740, see Zayd 1966).

  • Ibn Babawayh. Man lā yahduruhu al-faqīh. 4 vols. Edited by Muhammad Jaʿfar Shams al-Din. Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Taʿaruf, 1994.

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    This work, in Arabic, was written by the author to provide a comprehensive legal and doctrinal guide for Imami Shiʿites. Hence its title, literally, “He who has no legal scholar at hand.”

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  • Al-Kulayni, Muhammad b. Yaʾqub. Al-Usūl al-kāfī. 9 vols. Edited by Muhammad Jaʿfar Shams al-Din. Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Taʿaruf, 1998.

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    This is the earliest installment of the Imami Shiʿite Hadith canon, designed to address all relevant issues of law and ritual as well as important dogmatic questions such as the nature of the imams’ authority and its legitimacy.

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  • Al-Tusi, Muhammad b. al-Hasan. Tahdhīb al-aḥkām. 10 vols. Edited by Hasan al-Musawi Kharsan. Tehran, Iran: Dar al-Kutub al-Islamiyya, 1970.

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    This Arabic-language work explains and addresses the Hadith found in an important work of Imami Shiʿite law written by one of the author’s teachers.

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  • Al-Tusi, Muhammad b. al-Hasan. Al-Istibṣār fīmā ukhtulifa min al-akhbār. 4 vols. Edited by Shams al-Din, Muhammad Jaʿfar. Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Taʿaruf, 1991.

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    Unlike Ibn Babawayh 1994 and al-Kulayni 1998, this Arabic work attempts to explain and reconcile seemingly contradictory Hadith.

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  • Zayd b. ʿAli. Musnad al-Imām Zayd. Beirut, Lebanon: Dar Maktabat al-Haya, 1966.

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    This short collection contains perhaps the most ecumenically broad and acceptable selections of Hadith found in any book, Sunni or Shiʿite. Sadly, it is only found in Arabic. It is the main Hadith book of Zaydi Shiʿites.

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Translations of Hadith Collections

Many major Muslim Hadith collections have been translated, but their quality and accessibility differs drastically. There is sadly a real paucity of translations of Shiʿite Hadith collections.

Sunni Hadith Collections

English translations of Hadith collections are often produced by publishers in the Arab world and South Asia, where copyright laws are not very strict. As such, one may find reprints or pirated copies of the editions listed in this section; the data on publishing houses and publication dates given below therefore refer to editions that may be duplicated elsewhere. For a representative selection of Sunni legal Hadiths, Bewley’s translation of Malik’s Muwatta (see Malik 1989) is the best and most manageable source. For a selection of Hadiths representing a more holistic view of Muslim dogma and piety, see al-Nawawi 1997.

  • Abu Dawud al-Sijistani. Sunan. Translated by Ahmad Hasan. Lahore, Pakistan: Sh. M. Ashraf, 1984.

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    A translation of the Sunan of Abu Dawud (d. 275/889), one of the canonical Sunni Hadith collections that focuses especially on Hadiths dealing with Islamic law.

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  • Al-Bukhari, Muhammad b. Ismaʿil. The Translation of the Meanings of Sahīh Bukhārī. 9 vols. Translated by Muhammad Muhsin Khan. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: Darussalam, 1997.

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    A full translation of al-Bukhari’s famous Sahih.

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  • Al-Bukhari, Muhammad b. Ismaʿil. Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhari: The Early Years of Islam. Translated by Muhammad Asad. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: A. S. Noordeen, 2003.

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    A translation of the first parts of the Sahih (Authentic collection) of al-Bukhari (d. 256/870), the most authoritative collection of Hadith in Sunni Islam. The translator, himself a great 20th-century Muslim scholar, provides extremely beneficial commentary on the contents.

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  • Ibn Hajar al-ʿAsqalani. Bulūgh al-marām: Attainment of the Objective According to Evidence of the Ordinances. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: Darussalam, 1996.

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    An awkward translation of an important Hadith work, the Bulugh al-maram of Ibn Hajar, the leading Sunni Hadith scholar of the late medieval period. The book is a collection of all the Hadith essential for deriving Islamic law (a genre known as ahkam al-Hadith) as drawn from numerous earlier Hadith books.

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  • Malik b. Anas. Al-Muwatta of Imam Malik ibn Anas. Translated by Aisha Abdurrahman Bewley. London: Kegan Paul, 1989.

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    A clear and accessible translation of the earliest surviving collection of Sunni Hadith, which is also the earliest surviving work of Islamic law.

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  • Muslim b. al-Hajjaj al-Naysaburi. Sahih Muslim. 4 vols. Translated by Abdul Hamid Siddiqi. Lahore, Pakistan: Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, 1975.

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    A translation of the Sahih (Authentic) collection of Muslim b. al-Hajjaj (d. 875), the second most revered collection of Hadith in Sunni Islam. Reprint, Delhi, India: Kitab Bhavan, 2000.

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  • Al-Nasaʾi, Ahmad b. Shuʿayb. Sunan Nasaʾi. Translated by Muhammad Iqbal Siddiqi. Lahore, Pakistan: Kazi, 1997.

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    A translation of another of the Sunni canonical Hadith collections.

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  • Al-Nawawi, Muhyi al-Din. An-Nawawi’s Forty Hadith: An Anthology of the Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad. Translated by Ezzeddin Ibrahim and Denys Johnson-Davies. Cambridge, UK: Islamic Texts Society, 1997.

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    A translation of the famous forty-Hadith collection of al-Nawawi (d. 1277), one of the most widely read and well-known small Hadith collections, in which the author tries to provide a small selection of Hadith that lay out the basic principles of Islam. This edition includes the English translation with the original Arabic text.

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  • Al-Tibrizi, Muhammad al-Khatib. Mishkāt al-masābīh. 5 vols. Translated by James Robson.Lahore, Pakistan: Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, 1963.

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    An excellent translation of a major late medieval Sunni Hadith compendium (with the chains of transmission omitted) written by al-Tabrizi (d. 737/1377), which covers the full range of subjects from law to the miracles of the Prophet Muhammad. Reprint, 1981.

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Sunni Hadith Collections on Specific Topics

These works are not comprehensive collections of Hadith. Instead, they deal with specific topics such as manners (see al-Bukhari 2003, al-Nawawi 1975), the life of the Prophet (see Ibn Hisham 1978, al-Tirmidhi 2008), or mysticism (see Nurbakhsh 1981).

  • Al-Bukhari, Muhammad b. Ismaʿil. Moral Teachings of Islam: Prophetic Traditions from al-Adab al-Mufrad. Walnut Creek, CA: Altamira, 2003.

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    A translation of al-Bukhari’s al-Adab al-mufrad, a small Hadith collection devoted to proper manners and etiquette in Sunni Islam.

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  • Ibn Hisham. The Life of Mohammad. Translated by A. Guillaume. New York: Oxford University Press, 1978.

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    A translation of the most famous biography (Sira) of Muhammad, edited by Ibn Hisham (d. 833) on the basis of the earlier biography by Ibn Ishaq (d. 767). Although it is not a Hadith collection proper, since it is organized as a narrative, it does include chains of transmissions and many famous Hadith. Reprint, 2001.

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  • Al-Nawawi, Muhyi al-Din. The Gardens of the Righteous. Translated by Muhammad Zafrulla Khan. London: Curzon, 1975.

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    A translation of al-Nawawi’s (d. 676/1277) Riyad al-salihin, a collection of ethics-, piety-, and etiquette-related Hadith that has been very influential in modern Islamic thought, especially in the transnational Muslim missionary movement Tabligh-i Jamaat.

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  • Nurbakhsh, Javad. Traditions of the Prophet. Translated by Leonard Lewisohn and Ali-Reza Nurbakhsh, edited by Jeffrey Rothschild. New York: Khaniqahi-Nimatullahi, 1981.

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    A collection of Hadith widely used in the Islamic mystical (Sufi) tradition.

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  • Al-Tirmidhi, Muhammad b. ʿIsa. A Portrait of the Prophet as Seen by His Contemporaries. Translated by Muhtar Holland. Louisville, KY: Fons Vitae, 2008.

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    A beautiful and affordable small translation of the Shamaʾil of al-Tirmidhi (d. 279/892), a collection of Hadith describing Muhammad’s virtues, characteristics, and behavior. This is one of the most widely read books among Muslims throughout Islamic history, and this translation includes introductory essays by leading modern Muslim scholars.

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Shiʿite Hadith Collections

Several major Shiʿite Hadith collections have been translated, some only partially. Al-Kulayni’s al-Kafi (al-Kulyani 1995 and al-Kulyani n.d.) is an actual collection of Hadith, while the Nahjul Balagha (al-Sharif 1981) is a literary work that includes many early Shiʿite Hadith. The best and most accessible introduction to reading Shiʿite Hadith would be the Rizvani translation of an important chapter of the al-Kafi (al-Kulyani 1995).

  • Al-Kulayni, Muhammad b. Yaʿqub. Al-Kafī. Translated by Muhammad Hasan al-Rizvani. Karachi, Pakistan: 1995.

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    A partial translation of the famous Usul al-kafi of al-Kulayni (d. 939), the earliest installment in the Imami Shiʿite Hadith canon. This volume only includes the Book of Knowledge (kitab al-ʿilm), but it is a fascinating introduction to the Imami vision of how authority and revealed knowledge are transmitted. The book also includes tables that introduce the reader to the main figures in Imami Hadith transmission and religious scholarship.

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  • Al-Kulayni, Muhammad b. Yaʿqub. n.d. Al-Kafi. 2 vols. New York: Islamic Seminary.

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    A partial translation of the al-Kafi of al-Kulayni with facing Arabic and English text.

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  • Shah-Kazemi, Reza. Justice and Remembrance: Introducing the Spirituality of Imam Ali. New York: I. B. Tauris, 2006.

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    This introduction to the life and teachings of ʿAli b. Abi Talib includes many well-translated sermons of ʿAli from the Nahj al-balagha.

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  • Al-Sharif al-Radi. Nahjul Balagha: Peak of Eloquence; Sermons, Letters, and Sayings of Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib. Translated by Mohammad Askeri Jafery. Elmhurst, NY: Tahrike Tarsine Qurʾan, 1981.

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    The Nahj al-balagha is supposedly a collection of the sermons and letters of ʿAli b. Abi Talib, the son-in-law of the Prophet and central figure of Shiʿite Islam. The collection was made by the Shiʿite scholar al-Sharif al-Radi (d. 406/1015). Although parts of the book certainly are not actually the words of ʿAli, it does include some of the oldest examples of Arabic prose.

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Hadith Concordances

Searching for a specific Hadith, or all the versions of that Hadith, is very difficult. The best printed concordances are Wensinck 1992 and Zaghlul 1989. The websites Al-Muhaddith and the University of Southern California Compendium of Muslim Texts are the best options for searching English translations of Hadith from Sahih al-Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, Sunan of Abu Dawud, and the Muwattaʾ of Malik.

Collection and Debates over Authenticity: Hadith Collection in the Early Islamic Period (632–900 CE)

The collection of Hadith and the creation of the Hadith genre in the early Islamic period (roughly the first three centuries of Islam) is the best-studied area of Hadith literature. This is due mainly to Western scholars’ abiding interest in determining how reliable the Hadith tradition is as a source for the history of Muhammad’s life and the origins of Islam. Strong interest in this subject also stems from the importance of understanding the emergence of Hadith for studying the development of Islamic law and theology. In this light, readers should be aware that, in consulting scholarly literature on Hadith of the early period, they are entering into the highly contested and controversial debate over the origins of Islam and the nature of Muhammad’s mission. There is thus a great deal of disagreement, both among different generations of Western scholars and among Western scholars more sympathetic to the traditional Muslim view of history and those less so, over the reliability of the Muslim narrative of the formation of Islam. Motzki 2005, chapter 8 of Brown’s Hadith (Brown 2009), and the first chapters of Berg 2000 are accessible introductions to this complicated subject.

Critical Scholarship on Collection and Reliability of Hadith

Consulting the works listed in this section must be done with care. They represent different schools of thought on the historical reliability of the Hadith corpus.

Early Western/Orientalist Criticism of Hadith

The earliest works, such as those of Muir (d. 1905, see Muir 1923), Goldziher (d. 1921, see Goldziher 1971), Schacht (d. 1969, Schacht 1975, and Schacht 1949), and Juynboll (see Juynboll 1983, Juynboll 2001, and Juynboll 1996), represent the Orientalist school of skepticism, which questioned particular Hadith but accepted the overall Muslim narrative of Muhammad’s life.

  • Goldziher, Ignaz. Muslim Studies II. Translated and edited by S. M. Stern and G. R. Barber. Chicago: Aldine Atherton, 1971.

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    A translation of Goldziher’s Mohammedanische Studien (1889–1890), this book remains one of the most lucid and perspicacious studies of early Islamic civilization. Goldziher’s analysis of Hadith and his theories about the causes and process of Hadith forgery remain extremely influential. Reprint, 1973.

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  • Juynboll, Gautier H. A. Muslim Tradition: Studies in Chronology, Provenance, and Authorship of Early Ḥadīth. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1983.

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    The major monograph by one of the leading scholars of Western Hadith studies, which further develops the school of Schacht on dating the forgery of Hadith by examining their isnads.

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  • Juynboll, Gautier H. A. Studies on the Origins and Uses of Islamic Ḥadīth. Aldershot, UK: Variorum, 1996.

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    A collection of Juynboll’s articles, some formative in the field of Hadith studies in the West. “Some Isnād-Analytical Methods Illustrated on the Basis of Several Women-Demeaning Sayings from Ḥadith Literature” is the most comprehensive example of Juynboll’s critical methodology. In “Nāfiʿ, the Mawlā of Ibn ʿUmar, and His Position in Muslim Ḥadīth Literature,” Juynboll uses his method to cast doubt on the status of a major early Muslim Hadith transmitter.

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  • Juynboll, Gautier H. A. “(Re)Appraisal of Some Hadith Technical Terms.” Islamic Law and Society 8.3 (2001): 303–349.

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    Along with Juynboll 1983 and Juynboll 1996, this article represents the Orientalist school of skepticism, which questioned particular Hadith but accepted the overall Muslim narrative of Muhammad’s life.

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  • Muir, William. The Life of Moḥammad. Edinburgh: John Grant, 1923.

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    One of the earliest English works on producing a historical-critical biography of Muhammad with an evaluation of the Muslim sources. Muir was a missionary and official in the British colonial administration in India.

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  • Schacht, Joseph. “A Revaluation of Islamic Tradition.” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (1949): 143–154.

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    A discussion of Schacht’s theories of Hadith criticism that is more concise than Schacht 1975.

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  • Schacht, Joseph. The Origins of Muhammadan Jurisprudence. Oxford: Clarendon, 1975.

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    One of the most influential Orientalist works on the reliability and forgery of Hadith as part of the development of Islamic law. In it Schacht introduces his important theory of the Common Link. Reprint, ACLS Humanities E-Book, 2008.

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Responses to Orientalist Skepticism

Some works, such as Abbott 1967 and Azami 2000, have defended the Hadith corpus against some of the Orientalists’ more extreme critiques.

  • Abbott, Nabia. Studies in Arabic Literary Papyri II: Qur’anic Commentary and Tradition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1967.

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    An influential and very readable rebuttal of some of the more extreme skepticism of early Orientalists like Ignaz Goldziher, based on papyrus fragments of early Muslim Hadith collections.

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  • Azami, Muhammad. Studies in Early Ḥadīth Literature. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Islamic Book Trust, 2000.

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    Argues that early Muslim Hadith scholars did indeed write down their Hadith collections. It includes lengthy Arabic appendices of examples of such early Hadith writings.

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  • Goldziher, Ignaz. Schools of Koranic Commentators. Edited and translated by Wolfgang Behn. Wiesbaden, Germany: Harrassowitz, 2006.

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    Includes an English translation of the introduction in Sezgin 1967, a critique of Goldziher’s theory.

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  • Sezgin, Fuat. Geschichte des arabischen Schrifttums Band I: Qur’anwissenschaften—Ḥadīt Geschichte—Fiqh—Dogmatik—Mystik bis c. 430H. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1967.

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    In the introduction to the early bibliographical listings on Hadith works (pp. 53–84; English translation in Goldziher 2006), Sezgin argues that many early isnads actually represented the transmission of written Hadith texts instead of simply oral transmission.

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Revisionist Scholarship

The works of Crone 1987a, Crone 1987b, Cook 1981, and Cook 1992 are revisionist, casting doubt on the commonly accepted Muslim narrative altogether.

  • Berg, Herbert. The Development of Exegesis in Early Islam: the Authenticity of Muslim Literature from the Formative Period. Richmond, Surrey, UK: Curzon, 2000.

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    Although this study focuses on Hadith and early historical reports about the meaning of the Qurʾan, it is also an important contribution to the revisionist argument against the general reliability of the early Hadith tradition. Includes a lengthy summary of scholarship in the field.

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  • Cook, Michael. Early Muslim Dogma: A Source-Critical Study. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1981.

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    A major work of skeptical revisionist scholarship on the early Hadith tradition, with a focus on how and why Hadith dealing with dogma were forged.

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  • Cook, Michael. “Eschatology and the Dating of Traditions.” Princeton Papers in Near Eastern Studies 1 (1992): 23–47.

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    A short but interesting revisionist study on how the methods of isnad dating proffered by scholars like Joseph Schacht and Gautier H. A. Juynboll do not catch all of the potential Hadith forgeries.

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  • Crone, Patricia. Meccan Trade and the Rise of Islam. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987a.

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    One of the most important works by this leading skeptical revisionist scholar. Crone develops her argument that Hadith were forged to explain ambiguous Qurʾanic references.

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  • Crone, Patricia. Roman, Provincial and Islamic Law. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1987b.

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    In this revisionist theory on the origins of Islamic law, Crone expresses the most severe skepticism about the possibility of finding any reliable Hadiths.

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  • Rubin, Uri. The Eye of the Beholder: The Life of Muḥammad as Viewed by Early Muslims. Princeton, NJ: Darwin Press, 1995.

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    An interesting study of how Hadith about Muhammad’s life and mission mutated in the first three centuries of Islam as part of the Muslim community’s effort to shape its identity in relation to other religions.

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Responses to Revisionism

Recent works, including Donner 1998, Motzki 1991a, Motzki 1991b, Motzki 2000, Motzki 1996, Motzki 2002 have rebutted the revisionist claims.

  • Donner, Fred M. Narratives of Islamic Origins. Princeton, NJ: Darwin Press, 1998.

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    The most current and comprehensive treatment of the development of the early Islamic historical tradition, this book offers a succinct rebuttal of the revisionist school in its early chapters. Includes valuable appendices listing all the known (if no longer surviving) works of early Muslim historians.

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  • Motzki, Harald. “Der Fiqh des Zuhrī: die Quellenproblematik.” Der Islam 68 (1991a): 1–44.

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    An influential rebuttal of revisionists, arguing that early Hadith transmitters like al-Zuhri were far more honest and reliable than previously thought.

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  • Motzki, Harald. “The Muʾannaf of ʿAbd al-Razzāq al-Ṣanʾānī as a Source of Authentic Aḥādīth of the First Century A.H.” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 50 (1991b): 1–21.

    DOI: 10.1086/373461Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that early Hadith collections are more historically reliable sources for early Islamic history than skeptics had claimed.

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  • Motzki, Harald. “Quo vadis, Ḥadīt-Forschung? Eine kritische Untersuchung von G. H. A. Juynboll: ‘Nāfiʿ the Mawlā of Ibn ʿUmar, and His Position in Muslim Ḥadīt Literature.’” Der Islam 73.1 (1996): 40–80.

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    Rebuts Gautier H. A. Juynboll’s main arguments.

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  • Motzki, Harald. “The Murder of Ibn Abī Ḥuqayq.” In The Biography of Muḥammad. Edited by Harald Motzki, 170–239. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2000.

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    Exhibits Motzki’s method of dating a Hadith, using both its matn and isnad, and showing that it can be proven to come from a much earlier time than previously thought.

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  • Motzki, Harald. The Origins of Islamic Jurisprudence: Meccan Fiqh before the Classical Schools. Translated by Marion H. Katz. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2002.

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    Motzki’s main argument for revising the revisionist dating of early Hadiths and reconsidering their relationship to Islamic law.

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  • Ozken, Halit. “The Common Link and Its Relation to the Madār.” Islamic Law and Society 11.1 (2004): 42–77.

    DOI: 10.1163/156851904772841417Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A rebuttal of Gautier H. A. Juynboll’s use of Joseph Schacht’s common link theory.

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  • Powers, David S. “On Bequests in Early Islam.” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 48.3 (1989): 185–200.

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    Although this article deals principally with the legal issue of inheritance in Islamic law, it includes an important discussion of whether Hadith should be considered reliable unless proven otherwise.

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Discussions of Other Features of the Early Hadith Tradition

The study of the early Hadith tradition is not limited to questions of authenticity; issues such as the question of writing versus orality (discussed in Cook 1997) and the ways in which Muslim scholars shaped the genres of early Hadith literature (see Speight 2000) provide important insight into Islamic intellectual history.

  • Cook, Michael. “The Opponents of the Writing of Tradition in Early Islam.” Arabica 44 (1997): 437–530.

    DOI: 10.1163/1570058972582317Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An exhaustive investigation of the conflicting Muslim attitudes toward recording Hadith in writing.

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  • Gilliot, Cl. “Le Traitement du ḥadīt dans le Tahḍīb al-aṭār de Ṭabarī.” Arabica 41.3 (1994): 309–351.

    DOI: 10.1163/157005894X00010Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A discussion of how the famous Muslim scholar and historian al-Tabari (d. 310/923) dealt with Hadith.

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  • Heck, Paul L. “The Epistemological Problem of Writing in Islamic Civilization: al-Khaṭīb al-Bagdādī’s (d. 463/1071) Taqyīd al-ʿilm.” Studia Islamica 94 (2002): 85–114.

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    This article demonstrates how the debate over whether or not Hadith should be written lasted long after written collections were compiled—proof that there was an emphasis on the oral nature of knowledge even after writing had been accepted as a tool for keeping records.

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  • Kister, M. J. Studies in Jāhiliyya and Early Islam. London: Variorum, 1980.

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    A collection of articles by a uniquely text-based historian who studies how a Hadith transforms over time due to changing theological, communal, or legal forces affecting the early Islamic community. One chapter discusses Muhammad’s position on using Jewish and Christian lore.

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  • Melchert, Christopher. “The Musnad of Aḥmad Ibn Ḥanbal: How It Was Composed and What Distinguishes It from the Six Books.” Der Islam 82 (2005): 32–51.

    DOI: 10.1515/islm.2005.82.1.32Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An article on the Musnad of the famous scholar Ibn Hanbal, discussing how it differs from the canonical Sunni Hadith collections.

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  • Melchert, Christopher. “The Life and Works of Abū Dāwūd al-Sijistānī.” Al-Qanṭara 29.1 (2008): 9–44.

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    An essay on the life and works of an influential collector of Hadith and author of one of the canonical Sunni Hadith collections.

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  • Schoeler, Gregor. The Oral and the Written in Early Islam. Translated by Uwe Vagelpohl.. New York: Routledge, 2006.

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    The leading work on the importance of the oral transmission of religious knowledge in early Islamic thought and its relationship to written works of Muslim scholarship.

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  • Speight, R. Marston.. “Narrative Structures of the Ḥadīth.” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 59.4 (2000): 265–271.

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    This article investigates how Hadith were shaped according to certain narrative schemes, perhaps in order to make them easier to remember and pass on.

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  • Zaman, Muhammad Qasim. “Maghazi and the Muhaddithun: Reconsidering the Treatment of ‘Historical’ Materials in Early Collections of Hadith.” International Journal of Middle East Studies 28 (1996): 1–18.

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    A study on how Hadith scholars analyzed reports about the military campaigns of Muhammad and the early Muslim community.

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Studies on Hadith in Later Islamic Civilization

Quite apart from their early collection and uses in law and dogma, Hadith have served essential functions in Islamic civilization. The studies listed in this section examine some important functions. The Dickinson 2002 and Graham 1993 articles in particular give excellent illustrations of how Hadith could function as a medium of connection to the Prophet and serve as conduits for the transmission of religious authority.

  • Brown, Jonathan. The Canonization of al-Bukhārī and Muslim: The Formation and Function of the Sunni Ḥadīth Canon. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2007.

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    A study of how, when, and why the Sunni Hadith canon formed as well as its functions in Islamic civilization and debates over its criticism in the modern world.

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  • Dickinson, Eerik.. “Ibn al-Ṣalāḥ al-Shahrazūrī and the Isnād.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 122.3 (2002): 481–505.

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    A groundbreaking article on the use of Hadith and isnad as relics and conduits of the Prophet’s blessing (baraka).

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  • Graham, William. Divine Word and Prophetic Word in Early Islam. The Hague: Mouton, 1977.

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    A beneficial discussion of the thematic importance of Hadith in Islam as well as an important resource for researching Hadith qudsi, or Hadith in which Muhammad quotes God.

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  • Graham, William. “Traditionalism in Islam: An Essay in Interpretation.” Journal of Interdisciplinary History 23.3 (1993): 495–522.

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    A peerless discussion about the importance of the isnad as a paradigm of connection among major areas of Islamic civilization.

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  • Reichmuth, Stefan. “Murtaḍā al-Zabīdī (d. 1791) in Biographical and Autobiographical Accounts: Glimpses of Islamic Scholarship in the 18th Century.” Die Welt des Islams 39.1 (1999): 64–102.

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    An informative example of how Hadith could be used in Muslim scholarly culture in the early modern period.

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  • Sayeed, Asma. “Women and Ḥadīth Transmission: Two Case Studies from Mamluk Damascus.” Studia Islamica 95 (2002): 71–94.

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    An illuminating examination of how the transmission of Hadith collections became an area in which medieval Muslim women could excel.

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  • Spellberg, Denise. “Niẓām al-Mulk’s Manipulation of Tradition.” Muslim World 78.2 (1988): 111–117.

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    A short study on the political uses of Hadith in the Seljuq period (11th–12th centuries), specifically at the hands of the powerful vizier Nizam al-Mulk (d. 1092 CE).

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  • Voll, John O. “ʿAbdallah b. Salim al-Basri and 18th Century Hadith Scholarship.” Die Welt des Islams 43.3 (2002): 356–372.

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    An article on how the transmission of Hadith achieved renewed importance in the early modern Middle East on the eve of the great 18th-century movements of revival and reform.

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Region-specific Studies

These books and articles discuss the function and study of Hadith in specific regions, such as Spain (see Fierro 1989) and India (see Ishaq 1955 and Zaman 1999).

  • Berkey, Jonathan. The Transmission of Knowledge in Medieval Cairo: A Social History of Islamic Education. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992.

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    A worthwhile study of how the transmission of Hadith and other forms of Islamic religious knowledge shaped scholarly society in Mamluk Cairo.

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  • Fierro, Maribel. “The Introduction of Ḥadīth in al-Andalus.” Der Islam 66 (1989): 69–93.

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    A study on how Hadith and Hadith scholarship reached Spain.

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  • Ishaq, Muhammad. India’s Contribution to Hadith Literature. Dhaka, Bangladesh: University of Dhaka, 1955.

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    An exhaustive list and description of the Hadith works written by Muslim scholars of South Asia.

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  • Zaman, Muhammad Qasim. “Commentaries, Print, and Patronage: Ḥadīth and the madrasas in modern South Asia.” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 62.1 (1999): 60–81.

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    A unique study of commentaries on Sunni Hadith collections written by modern Indian scholars, focusing on the effect of print technology on the circulation and use of these works.

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Transmission of Specific Hadith Collections

Scholars have also devoted attention to studying the use and transmission of specific Hadith collections. All together Robson 1949, Robson 1952, Robson 1954, Robson 1956, and Robson 1958 tracked the history of transmission of Sunni Hadith manuscripts.

  • Fück, Johann. “Beiträge zur Überlieferungsgeschicte von Bukhārī’s Traditionssammlung.” Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 92 (1938): 60–82.

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    A study of how al-Bukhari’s famous Sahih was transmitted and edited. For nonreaders of German, it provides much of its information in accessible charts.

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  • Robson, James. “The Transmission of Muslim’s Ṣaḥīḥ.” Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (1949): 46–61.

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    The first of a series of short articles in which Robson traces the manuscript transmission of the Sunni canonical Hadith collections.

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  • Robson, James. “The Transmission of Abū Dāwūd’s Sunan.” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 9.3 (1952): 579–588.

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    The second of a series of short articles in which Robson traces the manuscript transmission of the Sunni canonical Hadith collections.

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  • Robson, James. “The Transmission of al-Tirmidhī’s Jāmiʿ.” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies 16.2 (1954): 258–270.

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    The third of a series of short articles in which Robson traces the manuscript transmission of the Sunni canonical Hadith collections.

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  • Robson, James. “The Transmission of al-Nasāʾī’s Sunan.” Journal of Semitic Studies 1.1 (1956): 38–59.

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    The fourth of a series of short articles in which Robson traces the manuscript transmission of the Sunni canonical Hadith collections.

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  • Robson, James. “The Transmission of Ibn Mājah’s Sunan.” Journal of Semitic Studies 3.2 (1958): 129–141.

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    The fifth of a series of short articles in which Robson traces the manuscript transmission of the Sunni canonical Hadith collections.

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Hadith and Islamic Law

Hadith are one of the major sources of Islamic law, along with the Qurʾan, consensus, early scholarly opinion, and legal reasoning. As such, many scholars have attempted to understand how Hadith fit into this complicated process of legal derivation. The best introduction to the role of Hadith in Islamic law is chapter 5 of Brown 2009.

Scholarly Studies

These studies examine how Sunni Muslim jurists used Hadiths in elaborating law as well as their varieties of approaches. Lucas 2006, Lucas 2008a, and Lucas 2008b offer an especially direct plunge into how Sunni jurists fit Hadith into their larger legal framework but also expose how much of Islamic law did not come from the Qurʾan or Hadith at all.

  • Dutton, Yasin. “An Innovation from the Time of the Banī Hāshim: Some Reflections on the Taslīm at the End of the Prayer.” Journal of Islamic Studies 16 (2005): 147–148.

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    A study of how Hadith communal practice influenced early Muslim scholars in defining elements of prayer.

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  • Fadel, Muhammad. “Ibn Ḥajar’s Hady al-Sārī: a Medieval Interpretation of the Structure of al-Bukhārī’s al-Jāmiʿ al-Ṣaḥīḥ: Introduction and Translation.” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 54 (1995): 161–195.

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    An interesting study on how al-Bukhari’s famous Hadith collection functioned as a book of Islamic law, including a study on the subject by the famous later medieval Muslim scholar Ibn Hajar.

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  • Lucas, Scott C. “The Legal Principles of Muḥammad b. Ismāʿīl al-Bukhārī and their Relationship to Classical Salafi Islam.” Islamic Law and Society 13.3 (2006): 289–324.

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    A study of al-Bukhari’s legal theory as derived from his famous Hadith collection.

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  • Lucas, Scott C. “Divorce Ḥadīth-Scholar Style: From al-Dārimī to al-Tirmidhī.” Journal of Islamic Studies 19.3 (2008a): 325–368.

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    A study of how Hadith scholars used their Hadith collections to demonstrate their legal opinions. In this case, the focus is divorce in Islamic law.

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  • Lucas, Scott C. “Where Are All the Legal Ḥadīth? A Study of the Muṣannaf of Ibn Abī Shayba.” Islamic Law and Society 15 (2008b): 283–314.

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    This article demonstrates that early Islamic law was derived from the opinions of early Muslim scholars as often as from Prophetic Hadith.

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  • Melchert, Christopher. “The Traditionist-Jurisprudents and the Framing of Islamic Law.” Islamic Law and Society 8.3 (2001): 383–406.

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    An excellent discussion of the major trends in early Sunni Islamic thought and the role of Hadith in defining them.

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  • Motzki, Harald. The Origins of Islamic Jurisprudence: Meccan Fiqh before the Classical Schools. Translated by Marion H. Katz. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2002.

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    The most thorough analysis of how early Muslim scholars of the 8th century used Hadith to formulate Islamic law in Mecca.

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  • Powers, David. Studies in the Qurʾan and the Ḥadīth: The Formation of the Islamic Law of Inheritance. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986.

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    Focusing on laws of inheritance, this book examines how Muslim scholars balanced Qurʾanic injunctions with Hadith and communal practice.

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  • Spectorsky, Susan. “Ḥadīth in the Responses of Isḥāq b. Rāhawayh.” Islamic Law and Society 8.3 (2001): 407–431.

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    An article analyzing how an influential Iranian scholar of the 9th century used Hadith in his responses to legal questions posed to him.

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Primary Sources

The works in this section are primary sources in which Muslim scholars sought to elaborate Islamic law using Hadith. Al-Shafiʿi 1961 and al-Shafiʿi 2008 are useful introductions to how Muslim scholars developed theories for using Hadith in law, while Ibn Rushd 1994–1996 and Malik 2004 give examples of how this was carried out in practice.

  • Abu Hanifa and Muhammad b. al-Hasan al-Shaybani. The Kitāb al-Āthār of Imām Abū Ḥanīfah. Translated by Abdassamad Clarke. n.p.: Turath, 2007.

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    A translation of a collection of legal Hadith and rulings by early Muslim legal scholars, compiled by Abū Hanifa (d. 150/767) and his student al-Shaybani (d. 198/805).

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  • Ibn Rushd. The Distinguished Jurist’s Primer: A Translation of Bidāyat al-Mujtahid. 2 vols. Translated by Imran Ahsan Nyazee. Reading, UK: Garnet, 1994–1996.

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    A comprehensive manual of Islamic law by Ibn Rushd (d. 1198 CE) that discusses the positions of the various Sunni legal schools and lays out the Hadith relevant to each legal question.

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  • Malik b. Anas and Muhammad b. al Hasan al-Shaybani. The Muwattaʾ of Imam Muhammad. Translated by Mohammed Abdurrahman and Abdassamad Clarke. London: Turath, 2004.

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    The version of Malik’s Hadith collection the Muwattaʾ transmitted from him by al-Shaybani and including the latter’s legal opinions

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  • al-Shafiʿi, Muhammad b. Idris. Islamic Jurisprudence: Shāfiʿī’s Risāla. Translated by Majid Khadduri. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1961.

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    A translation of the seminal legal manual in which al-Shafiʿi (d. 820) proposes his compromise between Muslim jurists advocating legal reasoning and those advocating textual literalism. Reprint, Cambridge, UK: Islamic Texts Society, 1987.

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  • al-Shafiʿi, Muhammad b. Idris. “Kitāb Jimāʿ al-ʿIlm.” In Ḥadīth as Scripture. Edited by Aisha Y. Musa,113–156. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.

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    A translation of al-Shafiʿi’s 8th-century debates with Muslim rationalists who did not approve of the use of Hadith in Islamic law and dogma.

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Islamic Hadith Criticism

The most comprehensive discussion of the nature and historical development of Sunni Muslim scholars’ methods to sort reliable from forged Hadith is chapter 3 of Brown 2009.

Scholarly Studies

Lucas 2004 and Dickinson 2001 offer the most in-depth discussions of early Sunni Hadith criticism, while Hallaq 1999 and Brown 2008 explore how Hadith criticism was influenced by and clashed with Islamic legal theory.

  • Brown, Jonathan. “Critical Rigor vs. Juridical Pragmatism: How Legal Theorists and Ḥadīth Scholars Approached the Backgrowth of Isnāds in the Genre of ʿIlal al-Ḥadīth.” Islamic Law and Society 14.1 (2007): 1–41.

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    A study on how the pragmatic requirements of Muslim lawmaking could sacrifice the critical exactness of Hadith scholars.

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  • Brown, Jonathan. “How We Know Early Hadith Critics Did Matn Criticism and Why It’s So Hard to Find.” Islamic Law and Society 15 (2008): 143–184.

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    A revisionist argument challenging the notion that early Muslim Hadith critics did not criticize the contents of Hadith but only their chains of transmission.

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  • Dickinson, Eerik. The Development of Early Sunnite Ḥadīth Criticism: The Taqdima of Ibn Abī Ḥātim al-Rāzī. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2001.

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    A short and very clear discussion of how early Muslim Hadith critics examined Hadith, based on an analysis of Ibn Abi Hatim al-Razi’s Taqdima (Introduction).

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  • Ess, Josef Van. “L’autorité de la tradition prophétique dans la théologie muʿtazilite.” In La notion d’autorité au Moyen Age: Islam, Byzance, Occident. Edited by George Makdisi, et al., 211–226. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1982.

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    This article traces the perspectives on Hadith among the early Muʿtazilites, or Muslim rationalists.

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  • Hallaq, Wael B. “The Authenticity of Prophetic Ḥadīth: A Pseudo-problem.” Studia Islamica 89 (1999): 75–90.

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    An illuminating study of how Muslim legal theorists approached the reliability of Hadith.

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  • Koç, Mehmet Akif. “Isnāds and Rijāl Expertise in the Exegesis of Ibn Abī Ḥātim (d. 327/939).” Der Islam 82 (2005): 146–168.

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    This article proves that in some genres of thought, Muslim Hadith critics could fail to live up to their own critical standards.

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  • Lucas, Scott C. Constructive Critics, Ḥadīth Literature and the Articulation of Sunnī Islam. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2004.

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    An extensive study of how the science of Sunni Hadith transmitter criticism emerged in the 8th and 9th centuries and the part it played in creating Sunni Islam, with an emphasis on the roles of Ibn Hanbal, Ibn Saʾd, and Ibn Maʾin.

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  • Zaman, Iftikhar. “The Science of Rijal as Method in the Study of Hadiths.” Journal of Islamic Studies 5 (1994): 1–34.

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    This article provides a case study demonstrating how Muslims actually carried out their transmission criticism of Hadith.

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Translations of Muslim Primary Sources

Primary sources such as Ibn al-Salah 2005 and al-Hakim 1953 provide definitions for the technical terms used by Muslim scholars in their criticism of Hadith after their methods had fully matured. The introduction of Muslim 1984 allows a glimpse of how earlier Muslim Hadith critics plied their trade.

  • Al-Hakim al-Naysaburi. An Introduction to the Science of Tradition. Translated by James Robson. London: Luzac, 1953.

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    A translation and brief study of a manual on Hadith criticism written earlier and less complicated that that of Ibn al-Salah 2005.

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  • Ibn al-Jawzi and ʿAbd al-Rahman. Ibn al-Jawzī’s Kitāb al-Quṣṣāṣ waʾl-Mudhakkirīn. Translated by Merlin Swartz. Beirut, Lebanon: Dar al-Mashriq, 1971.

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    A very valuable translation of Ibn al-Jawzi’s (d. 597/1201) treatise against popular storytellers in medieval Baghdad, comparing their activities with those of real Hadith scholars. Reprint, 1986.

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  • Ibn al-Salah al-Shahrazuri. An Introduction to the Science of Hadith: Kitāb Maʿrifat anwāʿ ʿilm al-ḥadīth. Translated by Eerik Dickinson. Reading, UK: Garnet, 2005.

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    A superb translation of one of the most important Muslim texts on the technical terms of Hadith criticism, the Muqaddima of Ibn al-Salah, but very dense and complex.

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  • Muslim b. al-Hajjaj. “Muslim’s Introduction to His Sahih.” Translated by G. H. A. Juynboll. Jerusalem Studies in Arabic and Islam 5 (1984): 263–311.

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    A translation and brief commentary on one of the most crucial examples of early Muslim Hadith criticism explained.

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Shiʿite Hadith

The tradition of Imami (Twelver) Shiʿite Hadith has received markedly less scholarly attention than its Sunni counterpart.

Scholarly Studies

The best overviews are Kohlberg’s article on “Shīʿī Ḥadīth” (Kohlberg 1983) and the relevant chapters of Momen’s Introduction to Shiʿi Islam (Momen 1985). The only appreciable study of Hadiths in the Zaydi (Fiver) Shiʿite tradition is found in chapter 4 of Brown 2009. The only study of Ismaʿili (Sevener) Shiʿite Hadith is Madelung 1976.

Primary Sources

The best primary source for Shiʿite Hadith is ʿAbd al-Hadi al-Fadli 2002.

Debates over Hadith in the Modern Muslim World

The proper role of Hadith in understanding Islamic law and doctrine entered a new and intensified era of debate with the Muslim encounter with modernity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Scholarly Studies

The best works on the subject are Brown 1996, Juynboll 1969, and chapter 9 of Jonathan Brown’s Hadīth (Brown 2009).

Primary Sources

These primary sources represent a range of Muslim opinions on the proper role of Hadith in Islam today, from those iconoclastically critical of the authenticity of Hadith (Abu Rayya 1999) and feminist (Mernissi 1987) to a more conservative subordination of Hadith to Islamic legal theory (Qaradawi 2007)

  • Abu Rayya, Mahmud. Lights on the Muhammadan Sunnah. Translated by Hasan Najafi. Qum, Iran: Ansariyan, 1999.

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    A difficult-to-find translation of Abu Rayya’s al-Adwaʾ ʿala al-sunna al-muhammadiyya (1958), the most devastating critique of traditional Sunni reliance on Hadith written by a Muslim reformist. It is available free online (also available here).

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  • Haykal, Muhammad Husayn. The Life of Muhammad. Translated by Ismail al-Faruqi. n.p.: North American Trust Publications, 1983.

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    A translation of the famous Egyptian secular intellectual Muhammad Haykal’s (d. 1956) biography of Muhammad, in which the author attempts to tell the Prophet’s story without relying on controversial Hadith.

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  • Khan, Sayyid Ahmad. A Series of Essays on the Life of Muhammad. Lahore, Pakistan: Premier Book House, 1968.

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    The response of Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan (d. 1898), the most influential Indian Muslim reformist, to the Orientalist William Muir’s criticisms of the Muslim biography of Muhammad.

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  • Mernissi, Fatima. Women and Islam: An Historical and Theological Enquiry. Translated by Mary Jo Lakeland. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1987.

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    Mernissi is a French-trained Moroccan sociologist who has been a major contributor to modern Muslim debates over Hadith. This is a translation of her controversial work Le Harem politique, which includes an incisive critique of the Sunni Hadith tradition.

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  • Shibli Numani, Muhammad. Sirat-un-Nabi: The Life of the Prophet. 2 vols. Delhi, India: Idarat Adabiyat Deli, 1979.

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    A new biography of Muhammad written by Numani (d. 1916), an Indian Muslim reformer trying to publish a modern version of the classic story.

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  • Al-Qaradawi, Yusuf. Approaching the Sunna: Comprehension and Controversy. Translated by Jamil Qureshi. Washington, DC: International Institute of Islamic Thought, 2007.

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    A translation of the influential work Kayfa nataʿamalu maʿa al-sunna al-nabawiyya, written by one of the most prominent Muslim scholars today.

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  • Rahman, Fazlur. Islamic Methodology in History. Karachi, Pakistan: Central Institute for Islamic Research, 1965.

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    A unique combination of Western scholarship on Hadith and a Muslim effort to re-envision the renewal of Islamic law. Rahman was a Pakistani intellectual and public activist whose controversial writing led him to leave and take up a position as professor at the University of Chicago.

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Hadith in a Comparative Light

The notion of a “secondary scripture” that interprets and adds to the primary holy book of a faith tradition is not specific to Islam—Judaism and Christianity feature this as well. Once readers have acquired a familiarity with Hadith in Islam, Jaffe 2001 will introduce them to analogues in the Abrahamic faiths more broadly. Tokuno 1990 provides a surprising parallel to Hadith criticism in the Chinese Zen Buddhist tradition.

  • Brockopp, Jonathan. “Islam.” In Sacred Texts and Authority. Edited by Jacob Neusner, 31–60. Cleveland, OH: Pilgrim, 1998.

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    A succinct summary of the Qurʾan and Hadith in a comparative religious context.

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  • Jaffe, Martin. Torah in the Mouth: Writing and Oral Tradition in Palestinian Judaism 200–400 CE. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.

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    A discussion of the oral Torah, which Jewish rabbis used to interpret the written Hebrew Bible, and its transition to the written Mishnah, a fascinating analogue to Hadith and the Qurʾan.

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  • Schoeler, Gregor. “Oral Torah and Ḥadīth: Transmission, Prohibition of Writing, Redaction.” In Ḥadīth: Origins and Development. Edited by Harald Motzki, 67–108. London: Ashgate Variorum, 2004.

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    A detailed comparison of Hadith and oral Torah.

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  • Tokuno, Kyoko. “The Evaluation of Indigenous Scriptures in Chinese Buddhist Bibliographical Catalogues.” In Chinese Buddhist Apocrypha. Edited by Robert Buswell Jr., 31–59. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1990.

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    Discusses a genre of textual criticism in Chinese Zen Buddhist scholarship that flourished from the 7th to 9th centuries, with a fruitful comparison to Islamic Hadith criticism.

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LAST MODIFIED: 12/14/2009

DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780195390155-0030

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