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.
Studies in Islamic Ethics is a double-blind peer-reviewed book series that covers all aspects of ethics in the Islamic world, both historical and contemporary. The series welcomes volumes in English, French, and Arabic.