Anda di halaman 1dari 4

THE VIEWS OF ORIENTALISTS ON THE HADITH LITERATURE

Fatma KizilA CHRONOLOGICAL ANALYSIS (1848-1950)The question of the


value of the hadith literature (sayings of the Prophet) as a legitimate source is abroad
one in which orientalists, not only those working on hadiths, but also those
in other areas,including Islamic law, Islamic history and the Quran, are interested. For
this reason, the discussionhere needs to be limited according to some parameters.
Focusing on the period between 1848 and1950 is appropriate, for it allows one to
make a chronological analysis and is a period in whichleading orientalists produced
their major works that shaped the view of the entire orientalisttradition on hadiths.In
the West, hadith studies began to become an independent discipline rather than being
a part ofstudies on Islamic history or the life of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in
1890 when the Hungarianscholar Ignaz Goldziher (1850-1921) published the second
volume of his famous book,Muhammedanische Studien, in which he focuses on the
hadiths. Therefore, any exploration of theorientalist view of the authenticity and
sources of hadith literature must focus on the period thatstarts with Goldziher,
although one also should pay attention to earlier studies as well.Prior to Goldziher, an
important figure in the literature was Gustav Weil (1808-1889), who argued inhis
Geschichte der Chaliphen that all the hadiths in al-Bukhari must be rejected. He was
alsoskeptical of the authenticity of those verses in the Quran that speak of the Prophet
as a mortal beingand those about the event of the Isra (the night journey - a
miraculous event). Shortly after him,Aloys Sprenger (1813-1893) argued in his threevolume book Das Leben und die Lehre desMohammad, published between 1861 and
1865, that the hadith literature contains more authenticmaterial than fabricated events.
Another orientalist who worked on the authenticity of the hadithliterature is William
Muir (1819-1905). In the introduction to The Life of Mahomet, he proposed anumber
of criteria to establish the authenticity of hadiths, thereby giving the first examples of
theorientalist effort to establish a chronology for them. According to Muir, although
narrators oftenmade distortions in hadith texts, the hadith literature largely contains
historical facts. Finally, the lastname in the pre-Goldziher era that should be
mentioned is that of Reinhart Dozy (1820-1883) withhis Het Islamisme (1863).
Influenced by both Sprenger and Muir, Dozy argued that about half of thehadiths in
al-Bukhari were authentic. For him, the fact that the writing of the hadiths occurred in
thesecond century after the Hijrah was the reason why many fictitious hadiths to be
included in theliterature. His work, which also involves the claim that the
revelations were epileptic crises,"generated negative reactions from all circles of
society for insulting religious values" (Hatiboglu,"Osmanli Aydinlarinca Dozy'nin
Tarih-i Islamiyyet' ine Yoneltilen Tenkitler [Criticism Directed toDozy's History of
Islam by the Ottoman Intellectuals], p. 202).Ignaz Goldziher, a prominent figure who
is referred to by every orientalist working on the hadiths,was also skeptical about the
hadith literature, but disagreed with Dozy on his view that at least halfof the hadiths in
al-Bukhari should be considered as authentic. Revealing his overall distrust of
thehadith literature, he claimed that the great majority of the hadiths were products of
the religious,historical and social conditions prevalent in the first two centuries of
Islam. For him, this literaturecontains all kinds of competing political views.
Although he sometimes implies that the hadith during the narration process. His work
on the hadith literature entitled The Traditions of Islammakes it necessary to mention
his name in this context.It can be observed that all of the orientalists mentioned so far
share a common skeptical attitudetowards the hadith literature. At this point, we may
refer to a different view in the orientalistliterature, namely that of Johann Fueck
(1894-1974), who criticizes the skeptical approach of hispredecessors, arguing that

the Prophet had set an ideal example for Muslims from the beginning. Hestresses the
uniting, as opposed to dividing, aspects of the hadith literature, focusing
onindependent and neutral hadith scholars rather than an idea of competing groups
fabricatingprophetic traditions. According to Fueck, those who see the hadith
literature as simply a collection ofviews of later generations ignore the deep influence
of the Prophet on believers. They thus fail tosee the originality of the hadith literature,
regarding it instead as a mosaic' composed of manyforeign elements. Consequently,
they accept the hadiths as fabricated until proven otherwise. ForFueck, however,
despite the fact that hadith scholars were not completely successful in
eliminatingfabricated hadiths, the hadith literature contains many authentic traditions.
For when the activitiesof collecting hadith started fifty years after the death of the
Prophet, only the younger Companionswere still alive and the ulema of hadith
narrated only from them. In this context, the fact that thereare very few traditions
narrated from such companions as Abu Bakr and Omar, who were closer tothe
Prophet, increases the credibility of the hadith scholars. (For, according to Fueck, if
thesescholars had been fabricating the hadiths as was claimed, they would have
attributed them to oldercompanions who were closer to the Prophet, rather than the
younger ones, for this would supportthe soundness of their [fabricated] hadiths;
but the fact that they did not do so proves theirtrustworthiness.) On the other hand,
Fueck argues that the narrative chains of hadiths can ultimatelybe traced back only to
the second century (AH), while there is no sound evidence for the precedingperiod.
Although he admits the idea that the roots of the sunnah can be found in the
first century,he claims that some modifications and revisions in the hadiths were made
by later generations.Nevertheless, he still differs from earlier orientalists in arguing
that in many cases the authenticessence beneath these modifications can be
established on the basis of certain criteria.It is clear that all the orientalists mentioned
so far, with the notable exception of Johann Fueck,basically agree with, and expand
upon, the views put forward by Goldziher. Nevertheless, JosephSchacht (1902-1969),
who made an impact on his successors similar to that of Goldziher,
complainedthat the findings of the latter had been ignored and consequently the
standards lowered'. Bylowered standards' he meant, of course, the abandonment of
Goldziher's skepticism towardshadiths. He saw his own studies as an extension
of Goldziher's work, and started from the basicpremise that the hadiths were not
traditions that conveyed the Prophet's sayings and practices, butwere rather simply a
reflection of developments and dominant views in second-century Islamicsociety.
According to Schacht, it was al-Shafi's (150/767-204/820) efforts that allowed the
hadiths tobecome a legitimate source of Islamic law, gaining an ultimately
authoritative position vis--visopinion; within 50 years there was a great wave of
marfu (hadiths that belonged to the Prophet)narrations. Accordingly, Schacht alleges
that the marfu hadiths first emerged in the middle of thesecond century (AH), and the
legitimate hadiths belonging to the Companions (mawkuf traditions)emerged in the
early second century. As is apparent from this periodization, he claims that
theadoption of the hadiths of the Prophet as a source of law in Islam took place at a
later date than thatof the traditions of the Companions - that is, the latter were adopted
at a time closer to the Prophethimself. Nevertheless, as mentioned above, the date he
provides for the traditions of the
Companions does not reach further back than 100 (AH), which also
invites another of his assertions.According to Schacht, it is not possible to find any
authentic tradition among those attributed to theCompanions either. He argues that

authentic legal traditions can only be found among thoseattributed to the subsequent
generation, the generation of Successors (tabiun). Thus, theimplications of his
allegations are serious. Furthermore, although he admits that the hadiths
abouttheological issues could be dated to an earlier time than the legal traditions,
Schaht neverthelessasserts that not all of these hadiths can be dated to the first
century. He also maintains that hisconclusions about legitimate hadiths can be applied
to historical narratives as well. Considering allthis, his assertions might be said to
have far-reaching implications. Thus, Schacht became a majorfigure in
orientalist literature, greatly influencing the later scholars - so much so that the
subsequentgenerations of orientalists have been divided into either those who accept
his claims or those whodo not, making him a central figure in the literature.The
orientalists briefly discussed so far are those who represent the mainstream tradition
of Islamicstudies in the West. The designation of Schacht as a turning point is
not only due to his greatinfluence on his successors, but also because he shaped the
direction of the discipline by generatinga strong reaction against his assertions. The
common allegation of his own work and this period ingeneral can be summarized
thus: contrary to what Muslims think, there was no intense activity ofhadith narration
or any systematic scientific effort on the part of Muslim scholars in this area duringor
after the lifetime of the Prophet. For this reason, the orientalists of this period do
not believe inthe authenticity of the hadith literature, nor do they ever directly relate it
to the Prophet in any way.However, this attitude makes it impossible to say anything
about the first century and preventsfurther research, turning it into a closed period.
Those Western scholars who have realized this andtried to make use of the hadiths on
the basis of certain criteria they have established, on the otherhand, are accused (by
Schacht) of "lowering the standards".ReferencesBerg, Herbert, The Development of
Exegesis in Early Islam, Great Britain 2000.Fueck, Johann W., "The Role
of Traditionalism in Islam", Hadith (ed. Harald Motzki), Great Britain2004, pp. 324.Goldziher, Ignaz, Muslim Studies (trans. C.R. Barber, S. M. Stern), II, London
1971. _______ "Disputes over the Status of Hadith in Islam"
(trans. Gwendolyn Goldbloom), Hadith (ed.Harald Motzki), Great Britain 2004, pp.
55-66.Guillaume, Alfred, The Traditions of Islam- An Introduction of the Study of the
Hadith Literature,(nd).Hatiboglu, Ibrahim, "Osmanl Aydnlarnca Dozy'nin Trhi slmiyyet'ine Yneltilen Tenkitler",slm Aratrmalar Dergisi, n. 3, 1999, pp.
197-213.
Horovitz, Josef, "The Antiquity and Origin of the Isnad" (tr. Gwendolyn Goldbloom),
Hadith (ed.Harald Motzki), Great Britain 2004, pp. 151-158. _______ "Further
on the Origin of the Isnad" (tr. Gwendolyn Goldbloom), Hadith
(ed. Harald Motzki),Great Britain 2004, pp. 159-161.Horovitz, "The Growth of the
Mohammed Legend", The Life of Muhammad (ed. Uri Rubin), GreatBritain 1998, pp.
269-278.Hurgronje, C. Snouck, Mohammedanism; Lectures on Its Origin, Its
Religious and Political Growth,and Its Present State, New York 1937.
[http://answering-islam.org/Books/Hurgronje/hurgronje1.htm(accessed 10. 11.
2006)]Lammens, Henry, Islam Beliefs and Institutions (tr. Denison Ross), India
1979.Margoliouth, D. S. "On Moslem Traditon", The Moslem World, II/2, 1912, pp.
113-121.Schacht, Joseph, "A Reevaluation of Islamic Traditions", Journal of the
Royal Asiatic Society, 1949,pp. 14354. _______, The Origins of Muhammmadan Jurisprudence, Oxford 1975.Hallaq,
Wael b., "The Authenticity of Prophetic Hadith: a Pseudo-problem", Studia Islamica,
1999,pp.75-90.Wensinck, A. J., "The Importance of the Tradition for the Study of

Islam", The Muslim World, 11/3,1921.Kad, Ismail, Hakki, "Hollanda


Sarkiyat Arastirmalari" [http://www.let.leidenuniv.nl/ tcimo/tulp/Research/ihk.pdf