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An Introduction to the Conservation of Hadith

Since the past century, orientalist works had challenged the authenticity of Hadith material (sayings of the Prophet), claiming that these collections of hadiths were done orally and therefore subject to misreporting and alterations. Dr Hamidullah discovered very early collections of hadiths preserved in libraries in Turkey, France and Germany, and on the basis of these, refuted the misgivings spread by orientalists.
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Details

  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 206
  • Publisher: Islamic Book Trust (June 1, 2010)
  • ISBN-10: 983915494X
  • ISBN-13: 978-9839154948

Since the past century, orientalist works had challenged the authenticity of Hadith material (sayings of the Prophet), claiming that these collections of hadiths were done orally and therefore subject to misreporting and alterations. Dr Hamidullah discovered very early collections of hadiths preserved in libraries in Turkey, France and Germany, and on the basis of these, refuted the misgivings spread by orientalists. This work selects the collections of Hammam ibn Munabbih, a disciple of a companion of the Prophet to substantiate his arguments.

Dr Muhammad Hamidullah's contribution to Hadith studies is unique well as phenomenal in so far as he paved the way for other scholars to establish definitively the historicity of the Hadith material with convincing arguments and a wealth of historical evidence. Dr Hamidullah's interest in Hadith was mostly confined to the history of 73 compilation about which some scholars, mainly orientalists, had expressed serious doubts.

Since the middle of the 19t1, century several scholars had come Nit with a series of works challenging the authenticity of the Hadith material. Their starting points were: that the major collections of Hadith had been compiled in the third century; and that these compilations were based on oral transmission which, in their estimate, provided much scope for misreporting, adding and altering Hadiths from the Prophet, salla Alldhu alayhi wasallam.

This theory of the oral transmission of Hadith was so forcefully articulated by a number of scholars that many readers, in the east as well as in the west, felt convinced that the Hadith material was indeed based on hearsay and its worth was hardly more than that of folklore Narrations of old women and story tellers of the countryside. In fact, it w as Dr Hamidullah's illustrious teacher, the late Mawlana Manazir Ahsan Gilani (d. 1956/1376 H) who had initially opened before his promising student new avenues in this fecund field.

The late Mawlana had taken pains to collect evidence to show that it was the Companions of the Prophet who had prepared written material containing the sayings and instructions of the Prophet (s). Taking cue from his great teacher, Dr Hamidullah vigorously pursued the subject with his characteristic zeal, depth of knowledge and exhaustive approach.

Dr Hamidullah discovered some very early collections of ahadith preserved in the libraries of Turkey, France and Germany. On the basis of these collections he refuted the misgiving spread by orientalists and even some unknowing Muslim scholars that the ahadith had been transmitted only orally and, therefore, according to their view, they were probably less accurate or less reliable. He arrayed impressive evidence to show that apart from a number of Companions who had prepared their own personal collections of ahadith, a large number of ahadith had been dictated by the Prophet (c) himself for a variety of readers and purposes.

These ahadith consisted of the Prophet's instructions and directives which were first preserved by the Companions and then by the Successors and subsequently by jurists and historians. These include the Charter of Madinah which contained more than 52 sections dealing with the rights and obligations of the various entities that formed a part of the Madinan society. These collections also include, among others, a census report, letters-patent by the Prophet to different rulers and tribal chiefs, letters addressed to rulers inviting them to Islam, correspondence with tribal chiefs, instructions to governors and other state functionaries, and the tariff of zakat and other dues.