Reading between the Lines: The Compilation of Hadīt and the Authorial Voice

In: Arabica
S. R. Burge Institute of Ismaili Studies (London)

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In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries there were numerous studies of the isnād in Hadīt Studies, but more recently the discipline has focused on the role that Hadīt played in the development of the four schools of Sunnī law. These studies have still had a tendency to focus on the isnād. However, there is a second stage in the compilation of Hadīt that has received little attention, namely a study of the way in which Hadīt have been compiled and presented. The form and structure of a work should be able to give insights into a compiler’s viewpoints and beliefs. This article draws on two methodologies from Biblical Studies (Canonical and Redaction Criticism), as a means to approach and understand the (theological) statements lying behind the compilation of Hadīt collections, using two case studies from al-Buhārī’s Sahīh to explore the potential benefit of analysing the way Hadīts are compiled: (i) the opening book of the work: Kitāb Bad al-wahy and (ii) the Kitāb al-Atima. By exploring the way in which a Kitāb has been compiled, it may be possible to reveal the authorial voice and opinions.

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