Hadith Methodology: History and Transmission of the Prophetic Sunna (SC-539)

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Compilations of hadith, or words attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, are the second most important form of scripture, or religious text, in the Islamic scholastic tradition. Hadith are an essential source of deriving Islamic law and determining what is deemed as Sunna or a model of proper Islamic practice based on prophetic precedent. In addition, hadith are critical to understanding the Qur’an and many of its general injunctions which would be otherwise ambiguous without their correlating explanations found in hadith sources. This course will analyze the basic foundations of hadith studies (ʿulūm al-adīth) which are essential to a well-grounded understanding of this important field of Islamic Studies. A progression of the various elements related to hadith studies such as hadith terminology, the legislative authority of the Sunna, methods of collecting and preserving hadiths, important transmitters, canonical hadith sources, hadith classification, weak hadiths, and forged hadiths, will be presented over the course of the semester to build a solid understanding of the role of hadith in shaping the Islamic scholarly tradition. Furthermore, this study of the scholastic aspects of hadith studies will culminate with an exploration of relevant contemporary issues such as debates regarding the authenticity of hadiths in Western scholarship.

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