The Canonization of Ibn Mâjah: Authenticity vs. Utility in the Formation of the Sunni Ḥadîth Cano

Summary:   In Sunni Islam, the canonical ‘Six Books’ of hadith derive their authority as doctrinal references from scholarly consensus on their reliability as representations of the Prophet’s Sunna. One of the Six Boooks, the Sunan of Ibn Majah, however, presents a bizarre exception. Although it has been considered part of the Six Book collection…

IS THE DEVIL IN THE DETAILS? Tension Between Minimalism and Comprehensiveness in the Shariah

Summary: The comprehensiveness of Islamic law has been questioned seriously in the modern period by Muslim reformists like Rashīd Riḍā . Such reformists have used as evidence Qur’anic verses and Prophetic reports that seem to state clearly that the strictures of Islamic law are few and limited and that Muslims should not extend them to…

Did the Prophet Say It or Not? The Literal, Historical, and Effective Truth of Hadīths in Early Sunnism

Summary The article contends that ahl-al-hadīth did not view the historical reliability of hadīths through the epistemological lens of later Sunni legal theorists. It claims that the ahl-al-hadīths conceived of sound hadīths as providing what will define a historical certainty. It explores the extent to which the term ahl-al-hadīth, which means Partisans of Hadityh, was…

How We Know Early Ḥadīth Critics Did Matn Criticism and Why It’s So Hard to Find

Summary Western scholars generally agree that early ḥadīth critics limited their authentication of ḥadīths to examining isnāds. The argument that these critics took the matn into account has relied on material of dubious reliability or on works produced after the formative period of the Sunni ḥadīth tradition. By providing examples of matn criticism from the…

New Data on the Delateralization of Ḍād and its Merger with Żā’ in Classical Arabic

Summary The history of the phoneme ḍād and its merger with the phoneme żā’ has proven enigmatic. By presenting data from Old South Arabian speech communities and lexical data from the Islamic tradition, this article brackets a period of ḍād / żā’ free variation between the fourth and mid-eighth centuries CE. These data support the…