This chapter aims to tackle the question of how the ḥadīth can been reinterpreted for egalitarian gender ethics, through an analysis of the methodological approach of ʿAbd al-Ḥalīm Muḥammad Abū Shuqqa (d. 1995) in his work Taḥrīr al-Marʾa fī ʿAṣr al-Risāla: Dirāsa ʿan al-Marʾa Jāmiʿa li-Nuṣūṣ al-Qurʾān wa-Ṣaḥīḥay al-Bukhārī wa-Muslim (“The Liberation of Women at the Time of the Message: A Study on Women Composed of Qurʾānic Texts, and the Ṣaḥīḥs of al-Bukhārī and Muslim,” 1990). I argue that his work can be regarded as a genre of “conflicting ḥadīths” (mukhtalif al-ḥadīth) in the sciences of ḥadīth (ʿulūm al-ḥadīth) since it prefers to circumvent the seemingly harsh element of literal meanings of some ḥadīth and attempts to present an ethical message to draw a conclusion in a women-friendly interpretation. Overall, the methodological approach of Abū Shuqqa revolves around five approaches: (1) an inclusive definition of the ḥadīth for female Companions’ experiences; (2) the pairing of the ḥadīth with the Qurʾān; (3) a reorganisation of themes of the ḥadīth (tarājim al-abwāb); (4) establishing a hermeneutics of equality (musāwāt); and (5) reinterpreting problematic ḥadīth (taʾwīl mushkil al-ḥadīth). Thus, Abū Shuqqa’s approach may answer ethical questions regarding egalitarian gender relations in contemporary reinterpretation of the ḥadīth, as his work suggests that to argue for a ḥadīth-based mutual and reciprocal relationship between women and men is possible.
In this chapter, I explore the authority of the heart (qalb) as a potential locus for individual moral knowledge and normativity in Islamic ethics. To do so, I discuss two ḥadīths that ostensibly suggest one’s “self” as a source of moral judgment. These ḥadīths raise renewed questions about the sources of moral judgment, the nature of moral judgment, and the ethical capacity of the “self” (conscience) – “consult your heart and consult your self …”; “righteousness is good conduct, and sin is that which rankles in your chest and which you would hate for other people to look upon.” There are rich debates in the Islamic tradition on the place and authority of the bāṭin (inward) in generating moral knowledge, which correspond to contemporary discourses in Western ethics on the conscience’s place in the moral formation of the individual. I argue that although the Islamic legal tradition as a discipline has focused on qualified external actions of individuals and the ijtihād (independent legal reasoning) of mujtahids (jurists), it did not ignore the authority of the bāṭin for moral assessment and the ijtihād of common individuals. I propose that the inward dimension has always occupied an important space within the interdisciplinary field of Islamic ethics, but has been overshadowed by the overarching theological disputes between the Muʿtazilīs and Ashʿarīs over sources of knowledge.
The chapter starts by exploring the relevant aḥādīth (reports) and their interpretation in ḥadīth commentaries, followed by an analysis of discussions in the fields of Islamic jurisprudence and Sufism.
A dominant method of transmission of knowledge in Islam is that of the isnād and matn (source and content). The founding ḥadīth scholars and their successors can be attributed as initiators of this rigorous method, although it was to be institutionalised by the ʿulamāʾ later on. With increasing cases of fabrications and unrelenting threats on the Islamic community, this was a strong mechanism to ensure authenticity. This chapter argues that while the isnād and matn method is most suitable for transmission of the Sunna, it nevertheless was not the only one. The oft-neglected quṣṣāṣ (storyteller/preachers) played a vital role in conveying the Sunna directly to the larger public. The research undertaken is based on a large literature of admonishments and, often, witty retorts that characterise the engagement between the ʿulamāʾ and the quṣṣāṣ. Without inclining to, or downplaying, esoteric channels, this chapter works through the idea of the Derridean trace to build on the medium of the ethical from absence to presence. The study suggests that the quṣṣāṣ not only provide us with alternative histories to how knowledge was transmitted, taught, and realised in the Islamic tradition, they also restore the fundamental idea of the ḥadīth as deeply intertwined with the ethical.
This chapter addresses ḥadīth al-taḥbīb which reads: “I was made to love (ḥubbiba) from your world; women and perfume, and I found the coolness of my eyes in prayer.” In this chapter, we argue for the intertwinement of ḥadīth and Sufism as a mechanism for ethical discourse where Sufi ethics claims a scriptural foundation, as evident in the scholarship of ʿAbd al-Qādir al-Jīlānī (d. 561/1166). Unlike other exegetes of ḥadīth, ʿAbd al-Qādir al-Jīlānī keeps his focus on the word “ḥubbiba,” which indicates that a person is made to love a specific subject among worldly comforts. This implies that a Sufi may enjoy certain worldly pleasures after struggling through various stages of asceticism (zuhd). Thereby, al-Jīlānī came with a unique interpretation that relates the concept of taḥbīb to the fundamental Sufi conceptions of fanāʾ (annihilation) and baqāʾ (subsistence).
This chapter treats the interaction between ḥadīth and the concept of adab, historically a term with wide semantic meaning. Adab here is dealt with primarily as knowledge that is an ethical call to action, and especially as a required form of training for those aspiring to good manners, proper etiquette and cleansing of the soul. Certain ḥadīth initiated an epistemological shift in the nature of adab: namely that it had been informed solely by customary law and human knowledge, but then came to be seen as dictated by divine commands and allied with religious sensitivity. Thus, two shifts will be highlighted. The first is related to the scope and the nature of knowledge that leads to adab. The second is linked to the social function of adab, which became more religiously oriented in search of inner goodness, based on satisfying a divine standard.
There was already a strong link between divine ʿilm (knowledge) and ḥadīth as an edifying source of that knowledge. The role of narrative in constructing moral paradigms in Islamic traditions through normative reports on the Prophet and his Companions is also relevant for this study. The Prophet was and continues to be seen as an uswa/qudwa (role model) by Muslims. His decisions and those of his Companions demonstrate a profound interest in providing moral knowledge and living examples of how one should behave in different situations.
This chapter lays out the foundations for ḥadīth-based ethics as a sub-discipline of Islamic ethics, and provides the theoretical ground for the following chapters that tackle some of the issues in this emerging field. It does so through four distinct sections. The first presents a critical review of the relationship between ḥadīth and ethics in the contemporary scholarship on Islamic ethics since the beginning of the twentieth century. The second discusses the value of ḥadīth as a corpus on ethics, while the third attempts to conceptualise ḥadīth-based ethics and classify relevant works and, finally, the fourth section concludes with the suggested key themes and issues in this emerging discipline to be studied in the future.
This chapter contextualises “the ḥadīth of intention” to demonstrate the salience of ḥadīth as an important source for the study of Islamic ethics. To that end, it situates this ḥadīth in three conceptual frameworks. The first concerns the dialectic of inside (bāṭin) and outside (ẓāhir), that is, how Sufis and jurists theorise the psychosocial subject. This ḥadīth is particularly relevant since it posits a dynamic relationship between the subject’s interiority and the Other, human and divine. The second concept at play here is community, particularly how inner attachment to social and political ideals has often been the sine qua non of communal formation. This ḥadīth underscores this point through an ethnographic illustration of migration, which signals the public – not merely private – character of intentions (in fact, numerous other ḥadīths relate intention to warfare). Finally, Muslim jurists have interpreted this ḥadīth in light of the distinction between the transcendental and empirical aspects of the normative order. The chapter argues that attention to the reception history of this ḥadīth in jurisprudential and Sufi discourses allows us to deepen the study of Islamic ethics, since commentaries on this ḥadīth yield a complex view of intention as a psychosomatic orientation that conjoins the self to the other, the individual to the community, and the moral to the legal.
A witness to the perpetual success of al-Ghazālī’s (d. 505/1111) Iḥyāʾ ʿUlūm al-Dīn (“Revival of the Religious Sciences”) is its exceptionally rich reception history, with dozens of epitomes and commentaries produced over the centuries, from a variety of schools and perspectives. It has also received a lot of criticism through the centuries, among others on its use of unreliable ḥadīth material. This chapter focuses on the reception of the Iḥyāʾ in the Ḥanbalī tradition of Baghdad and Damascus, with the epitomes of Ibn al-Jawzī (d. 597/1201) and Ibn Qudāma (d. 689/1290) at its centre. I argue that their criticism on his use of unreliable aḥādīth on virtuous acts (faḍāʾil al-aʿmāl) was among their main motivations for composing their epitomes. Although their epitomes were not very influential in the premodern tradition, and their criticism of unreliable ḥadīth on virtue ethics were still an exception, this changed with the publication in print of Ibn Qudāma’s epitome in 1928 in Damascus, meant for a larger audience. The relatively larger interest in ḥadīth criticism in the twentieth century and the popularisation of Islamic knowledge also influenced the adoption of stricter ḥadīth criteria in other twentieth-century epitomes from Syria, aimed at a lay audience in more Sufi-oriented circles.
This chapter analyses ʿAbd al-Ghanī al-Nābulusī’s (d. 1143/1731) seclusion (ʿuzla) in light of some of the moral and social dilemmas of associating with others. Primarily al-Nābulusī’s concern for seclusion is justified by the ḥadīth (pl. aḥadīth) traditions, as documented in his Takmīl al-Nuʿūt fī Luzūm al-Buyūt (“Perfecting Praiseworthy Qualities by Imposing Home-Seclusion”), and it is his moral outrage against decadent social trends which compels him to write the tract as an ethical defence of his reaction. The underlying motivations are explored in more detail to gauge their ethical nature and, to thus, better understand his isolation. What influenced his thinking to avoid social adjacency in morally circumspect situations and how did he utilise aḥadīth to perpetuate his moral arguments to convince readers that his actions were right in the circumstances? I assess the extent to which his undertaking appears to genuinely reflect the ethical demands that the aḥadīth emphasise – considering the crucial fact that he does eventually re-join the society which he erstwhile so bitterly spurns.