ʿAmal V. ḥadīth in Islamic Law: The Case of Sadl Al-Yadayn (Holding One's Hands by One's Sides) when Doing the Prayer

In: Islamic Law and Society


Most Muslims today understand the term sunna to refer to the sunna, or normative practice, of the Prophet as contained in the standard collections of Prophetic ḥadīth. Because of the relatively late appearance of these collections, and the frequent anomalies between their contents and those of early fiqh sources, many Western scholars have concluded that the concept of the “sunna of the Prophet” is a secondary development that is not reflected in the earliest stages of Islamic law. The issue of Sadl Al-Yadayn, where a substantial body of Sunnī—and all non-Sunnī—opinion holds to a judgment based on ʿamal (“practice”) in overt rejection of numerous Prophetic ḥadīths, suggests that we have to reinstate the traditional picture of an early concept of the sunna of the Prophet, but as defined by ʿamal rather than ḥadīth.

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