In an effort to avoid the subjectivity of individual reason, Sunni Islam elaborated a
method of ḥadīth criticism that subordinated evaluating the meaning of a report to
an examination of its chain of transmission. With the fourth/tenth-century epistemological
compromise of Ashʿarism, however, Sunni ḥadīth scholars adopted rationalist
criteria of content criticism that included explicit rules for rejecting ḥadīths because
of their meaning. is resulted in a strong internal tension within Sunni ḥadīth
criticism from the fifth/eleventh century onwards, with one and the same scholar
upholding rigid rules of content criticism but not employing them or even rejecting
them in application. e inherent subjectivity of content criticism resulted in different
Muslim scholars either rejecting or affirming the same ḥadīths. Some scholars were
much more inclined to reject a ḥadīth out of hand because of its meaning, while
others were willing to extend a ḥadīth more interpretive charity. e tension created
by the subjectivity of content criticism emerged in unprecedented relief in the modern
period, when ‘science’ and modern social norms presented an unmatched challenge
to the interpretive awe in which pre-modern (and Traditionalist scholars today) held
attributions to the Prophet.

The Rules of Matn Criticism – There are No Rules – Islamic Law and Society