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The Traditions of Islam - By Alfred Guillaume M.A.

The Traditions of Islam - By Alfred Guillaume M.A.

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Published by: Gilbert Hanz on Sep 23, 2011
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THETraditions of ISLAM
An Introduction to the study of theHADITH LITERATUREBy ALFRED GUILLAUME, M.A.
 
5
 
PREFACE
 IT is a curious fact that an empire containing more than a hundred million Muslims has notproduced a book in the English language dealing with and explaining a great branch of Muhammadan literature which stands beside the Quran as a source of Muslim belief andpractice. The lack of such a book on the traditions of Islam is difficult to explain, because theeveryday life of Muslims throughout the world is governed and directed by these traditions.But, at any rate, it absolves the author from the necessity for an apology for venturing to treatof so vast a subject.I need not point out my indebtedness to the work of older scholars, particularly the late IgnazGoldziher, whose
 Muhammedanische Studien
must form the basis of any work on the
hadith
 literature. Scholars will recognize that I have drawn freely from his writings, and thisacknowledgement of my indebtedness must suffice. I have not, however, shirked the obviousduty of studying the literature at first hand, especially in the
Kanzu-l-'Ummal
compiled byAla-al-Din b. Muttaqi of Burhanpur, who died in 975 A.H., and in the
 Mishkatu-l-Masabih
,'The Niche of the Lamps, an anthology of tradition selected by Waliu-l-Din Abu 'Abd Allah(
 fl
. 737), and based on the
 Masabihu-l-Sunna
of Muhammad Abu Muhammad Al Baghawi(d. 516). It would be difficult to over-estimate the
 value of the
 Mishkat 
as a synopsis of the hadith literature. The author has
(a)
omitted the
isnad 
chain of narrators of each tradition,
(b)
arranged his material according to the subject-matter with sub-divisions of 'genuine', 'good', and 'weak' authority,
(c)
ranged almost thewhole field of the literature, and
(d)
given a representative selection of the tradition free fromthe constant repetitions occurring in almost all the original collections. I have not alwaysbeen careful to cite the individual author from whom the anthologist has culled his hadith,because a most laborious search would be necessary to determine whether a parallel hadithwas preserved by other writers, and the point is often of no importance. Moreover, when thegreat concordance to hadith which is now being prepared by Professor Wensinck of Leyden,with the assistance of many British and Continental Arabists, has been published the curiouswill be able at a glance to determine such question for themselves. Nor do I propose to noticethe prolific growth of compendia and commentaries to hadith which form excrescences onthe original literature.The Shi'a collections of traditions deserve a separate treatise, and are not dealt with in thesepages.
 
I cannot hope my work of this size to have given more than an outline of a vast territorywhich has not yet been opened to the Western student.Experience as a political officer in the Arab Bureau during the war convinced me of theimportance of hadith. I have, for instance, seen it invoked by doctors to settle the question asto whether the faithful might eat horseflesh, and by Bolshevists to persuade Muhammadansthat republics are of divine appointment.
 My thanks are due to my friend Sir Thomas Arnold, who first suggested this undertaking tome, and who has constantly assisted me with helpful criticism; and to Professor Margoliouth,without whose advice no old pupil of his would venture to write on matters Arabian. Finally,I desire to express my deep gratitude to the Librarians and sub-Librarians of the India Officeand the Indian Institute, Oxford, who lent me for long periods books which were otherwiseinaccessible.
CONTENTS
 — 
Guillaume, Alfred.
The Traditions of Islam - An Introduction to the Study of Hadith Literature
. Khayats, Beirut, 1966 (www.answering-islam.org/Books/Guillaume/Traditions/).
9
 
THE EVOLUTION OF HADITH
 
 Meaning and use of the word hadith and its relation to sunna.
 — 
Are any hadith genuine?
 — 
 Their genesis and historical value.
 — 
When were hadith first written down?
 — 
Authoritiescontradict one another.
 — 
Malik's Muwatta.
 — 
Musnad of Ahmad.
 — 
The six canonicalcollections, Bukhari, Muslim, Abu Daud, Al Tirmidhi, Ibn Maja, and Al Nasai.
 — 
Other collections.
 
 
INQUIRY into the content, scope, and character of the traditions of Islam must necessarilybegin after the death of Muhammad; for the
raison d'être
of this vast literature is to providean authoritative standard of belief and conduct based upon the word and deed of Muhammadwhich shall be binding upon the whole of the Muhammadan world. It is notorious that thoughthe Quran contains a certain number of laws, e.g. rules in regard to marriage, inheritances,and the care of orphans, it cannot be successfully invoked to settle questions arising in suchdiverse categories as systematic and moral theology, ritual, and civil and military law. TheJews found the Mosaic law with its wealth of detail insufficient by itself without theassistance of case law and tradition, and the Talmud arose to supply this need. Similarly, theMuhammadan community found itself at the death of Muhammad with a holy book and theliving memory of a prophet; from these two sources the ecclesiastical and temporal polity of the Islamic world was for all time built up.
10
 The word
hadith
is a noun formed from the verb
hadatha
'to be new' (cf. the Hebrew
hadash
 with the same meaning and the noun
hodesh
'new moon'). Properly hadith means 'news' andthen a tale or verbal communication of any kind. It may with propriety be used of an accountof a tribal raid, of old sagas, of incidents in the life of the prophet, and even of the Quranitself. The great impetus given to religious thought and speculation by Muhammad and theQuran could not fail to influence the language of Muhammadan writers, and thus the wordhas acquired its narrowed technical connotation of an oral tradition which can be traced back to a Companion or to the prophet Muhammad. Arabic preserves clearly the consciousness of the special connotation given to the word
hadith
, for Bukhari records a saying of 'Abd Allahb. Mas'ud that 'the best hadith is the book of God';
1
and of the prophet in reply to AbuHuraira's question, 'Who will be the happiest on the day of resurrection thanks to yourintercession?' 'I thought you would be the first to inquire of me about this hadith because Ihave noticed your eagerness in regard to the hadith.'
2
 Hadith enshrines
sunna
or 'beaten track'
 — 
the custom and practice of the old Mohammadancommunity inasmuch as hadith were often invoked to prove that a certain act was performedby the prophet, and was therefore to be imitated by all pious believers, it follows that hadithand sunna are sometimes names for one and the same thing. But there is no necessaryconnexion between them, and we often find that tradition is in conflict with custom. Thegreat merit
1
Bab I'tisam, ed. Krehl, iv, p. 420.
2
Bab Riqaq 51, Krehl, iv, p. 245.
11
 of Malik b. Anas in the eyes of his contemporaries was that he was an authority both oncustom law and on oral tradition. Perhaps the best example of the distinction is in the title of a book cited by the Fihrist, 'the book of the sunnas with confirmatory hadith'.
1
 The conservatism of the East has long been proverbial, and the Arab may fairly claim a sharein the building up of this reputation. The acceptance of monotheism, it is true, marked a break 

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