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Hadith in the Sunni School of Thought

About half a century following the demise of Ibn Mobārak, another Sunni scholar called “Eshāq bin Rāhuyeh” (238 AH/852 AD) who was a great hadith narrator from Marv, founded a new school that led to profound developments in the hadith circles of the eastern Islamic territories. Ibn Rāhuyeh had been considerably influenced by the teachings of the Shāfe’i school as regards the limited meaning of prophetic tradition and, thus, founded a new hadith-oriented school in Khorāsān that - on the one hand - like Ahmad Hanbal, relied on the greatness of the number of ahādith while, on the other hand and unlike Hanbal, had adopted an organized pattern of studying the available ahādith. This approach adopted by Ibn Rāhuyeh later on prepared the grounds for the compilation of the famous “Sehāh-e Setteh” (lit. “The Six Sehāh”).

The Period of the Compilation of the Six Sehāh

The fifty years spent on the compilation of these books can, as a matter of fact, be considered as a turning point in the history of the compilation of hadith in Iran. The motive behind these efforts was not confined to producing comprehensive and highly accurate ahādith that were free from errors but rather it is quite obvious that theses efforts were tilted with sectarian interests. Eshāq bin Rāhuyeh, who had begun an anti-Hanafi movement in the first half of the 3rd century AH initially proposed this style of hadith-writing and then encouraged his student Mohammad bin Esmā’il Bokhāri to undertake his incomplete efforts as a result of which Bokhāri worked for nearly sixteen years and produced his famous and comprehensive book, the “Sahih-e Bokhāri”.

Bokhāri’s student, Abu al-Hasan Moslem bin Hajjāj Qosheiri Neishāburi (d. 261 AH/875 AD), pursued his teacher’s movement and compiled the book, the “Sahih-e Moslem”. Towards the last quarter of the 3rd Century there emerged four scholars from the eastern Islamic territories who followed the trend of Sahih-writing with a fresh style. These four scholars were Abu Dāvud Sajestāni (d. 275 AH/888 AD), Abu Isā Termezi (d. 279 AH), Abu Abd al-Rahmān Nesā’ (d. 303 AH/915 AD), and Ibn Mājeh azvini (d. 273 AH) who simultaneously undertook compiling hadith on the same patterns as the earlier two Sahihs. Besides the ahādith taken from the earlier Sahihs these books also consisted of other ahādith and gained popularity among the hadith circles under the general title of “Sonan”.


The Latest Steps in Sahih-Writing

In the hadith works that were compiled in the following times one can clearly observe imitation of the earlier styles of Sahih and Mosnad-writing alongside the new emerging styles. Throughout the 4th Century AH/10th Century AD the practice of Sahih-writing continued that resulted in the compilation of works that were either compiled independently or as complementary to the earlier Sehāh in order to compensate for the ahādith that were left out by them. The first scholar to come up with a Sahih other than the renowned six Sehāh was Ibn Khazimeh Neishāburi (d.311 AH/924 AD). The first printed version of this book was published in Beirut in the year 1971. After Ibn Khazimeh his student, Ibn Habān Basti (d. 354 AH/965 AD), compiled a new Sahih which became the most popular one after the six Sehāh. The next person to follow suit was Hākem Neishāburi (d. 404 Ah/1013 AD) who compiled a book called the,“Al-Mostadrak”, in the preface of which the he claims that his book has observed all the conditions for the selection of ahādith by Bokhāri and Moslem and includes those ahādith that were not included in their works.

Besides the styles employed for the compilation of independent Sahihs or the Al-Mostadraks, there emerged yet another style of Sahih-writing called the “Al-Mostakhraj”, which was based on new evidences that were different from those used in the compilation of the Sahihs of Bokhāri and Moslem. Two of the most outstanding of these works were written in Gorgān by Abu Bakr Esmā’ili and Abu Ahmad Ghatrifi. Mention should also be made of Abu Awāneh Esfarāyeni (d. 316 AH/928 AD) who compiled a Mostakhraj on the Sahih of Moslem that became famous as the “Mosnad of Abu Awāneh”.

Owing to the difficulties involved in Mostakhraj-writing, another form of Sahih-writing emerged that relied on personal talent rather than evidences. For this purpose the compiler would compare the ahādith of the two Sahihs of Bokhāri and Moslem, arranging the ahādith of repeated sources together and in this way rendering the contents of the two books easily available to the reader in the form of one single book. The first scholar to have initiated this trend was Abu Bakr Jozaqi Neishāburi (d. 388 AH/998 AD). Jozaqi’s move was subsequently pursued by Ibn Forāt Sarakhsi Heravi (d. 414 AH/ 1023 AD) and Abu Bakr Ahmad bin Mohammad Borqāni (d. 425 AH/1034 AD). Some scholars ventured further and worked in the same style on all the six Sehāh, from which efforts, mention should be made of Khatib Tabrizi’s (d. 737 AH/1337 AD) “Meshkāt al-Masābih” and Majd al-Din Firuzābādi’s “Al-Tashil”, which is complementary to the work of of Ibn Athir.


Commentary-Writing and Etymology

The first and foremost scholar to have started the practice of writing commentaries on these hadith works in the Islamic world was Abu Soleimān Khatābi (d. 388 AH/998 AD), who wrote two separate commentaries on the Sahih of Bokhāri and the Sonan of Abu Dāvud entitled, the “Ma’ālem al-Sonan”, which was first published in Halab (Syria) in the year 1920. It was about a century and a half later that Abd al-Ghāfer Fārsi took the next step in commentary-writing and wrote a commentary on the Sahih of Moslem. The most important commentary works that were written during the course of the following centuries included the “Al-Kawākeb al-Darāri” of Mohammad bin Yusof Kermāni (d. 786 AH/1384 AD), which was a commentary on the Sahih of Bokhāri and was first published in twenty-five volumes in Cairo in 1935; the “Majma’ al-Bahrain” of Yahyā bin Mohammad Kermāni (d. 833 AH/1430 AD); and the “Fazl al-Mon’em” of Shams al-Din Rāzi (d. 767 AH/1366 AD) on the Sahih of Moslem.

Another major step towards the study of ahādith was the writing of the “Gharib al-Hadith” of which the earliest ones were written by Abu Obeid Qāsem bin Salām (d. 424 AH/838 AD), first published in twenty-five volumes in Hyderabad (Deccan region) of India in 1484 AH and the works of Shemr bin Hamduyeh Heravi (d. 255 AH/869 AD), Ibn Qotaybeh Dinvari (d. 276 AH/889 AD), and Ebrāhim Harbi Marvzi (d. 25 AH/898 AD). The most important complementary work in this trend was the “Gharib al-Hadith” of Abu Soleimān Khatābi, which is considered to be the most outstanding work in the history of Gharib al-Hadith writing. 

From among the other outstanding works produced by the Iranian scholars mention must be made of the “Majma’ al-Gharāyeb” of Abd al-Ghāfer Farsi (d. 529 AH/ 1135 AD) and the “Nahāyah” of Safi al-Din Ormavi (d. 723 AH/ 1323 AD).


The Study of Hadith and its Critical Evaluation

The trend of writing books on the study of the authenticity of ahādith, their classification, and rules concerning the acceptance or rejection of a hadith began with the “Al- Mohaddeth al-Fāsel” of Ibn Khalād Rāmhormozi (d. 358 AH/969 AD), which has been recognized as the first book in this area of Islamic sciences in the entire Islamic world. In the centuries that followed, the efforts of the Iranian scholars resulted in the writing of some of the most outstanding and popular books in the area of studying hadith like the “Ma’refah al-Hadith” of Hākem Neishāburi (first printed in Cairo in 1937) and the “Moqaddamah fi Olum al-Hadith” of Ibn Salāh Shahrzuri (d. 643 AH/1245 AD). Similarly, Sāleh bin Ahmad Hamadāni (d. 384 AH) was the first scholar in the Islamic world to have written a book on the conditions of narrating hadith, which he called the “Sonan al-Tahdith”. This trend was later pursued by other scholars like Abu Sa’d Sam’āni Marvzi, the author of the book, “Adab al-Emlā’ wa al-Estem’lā’” (first published in Beirut in 1406 AH).

The oldest book to have been written on the critical evaluation of ahādith, generally referred to as the “Elal al-Hadith”, was the “Al-Elal al-Hadith” of Abu Isā Termezi. This move was subsequently pursued by scholars like Abu ‘Ali Neishāburi and Ibn Abi Hātam Rāzi (d. 327 AH) whose famous “Elal al-Hadith” (first printed in Cairo in 1926) elevated this discipline to its zenith.

The other efforts towards the critical evaluation of the sources and contents of ahādith culminated in such works as the “Ta’wil Mokhtalef al-Hadith” of Ibn Qotaybah Dinvari – who tried to eliminate the apparent contradictions among a number of the ahādith of the Holy Prophet of Islam (s) and did away with the criticisms of the theologians; the “Tashifāt al-Mohaddethin” (first published in Cairo in 1311 AH) of Adib Abu Ahmad Askari (d. 382 AH/993 AD), in which he has tried to point out some of the alterations and distortions committed on the part of some narrators of hadith; the “Eslāh Ghalat al-Mohaddethin” of Abu Soleimān Khatābi (first published in Cairo in 1936 AD); and the 

The Impact of the Mongol Invasion on Hadith Circles

While the credibility of the hadith schools of Khorāsān and Mesopotamia was still at its peak in the 6th Century AH/12th Century AD to the extent that some hadith narrators were even sent to the various parts of the Islamic world including Andalusia, the hadith schools of the other regions of Iran like Gorgān and Rey had almost totally collapsed since the middle of the 4th Century AH/10th Century AD. In the early 7th Century AH/13th Century AD, the teaching of hadith was still given so much importance that Abu al-Mozaffar Sam’āni (d. 615 AH/1218 AD) had compiled a hadith collection called the “Mo’jam al-Shoyukh” in eighteen volumes.

The domination of the Mongols on Iran in the year 617 AH had impacted the cultural environment of Iran to such an extent that it rapidly plunged the whole country into an atmosphere of cultural collapse for several centuries. It is for this very reason that some of the scholars of that era have referred to the Mongol invasion as the “death of Islam and the Muslims”. Although after a rather short period of time relative peace and stability came to be restored in Central Asia and various religious and non-religious sciences came to flourish to some extent, the science of hadith – perhaps because of its reliance on the heritage of the yesteryears – never regained its earlier glory. The works produced during this period in Iran were very limited in number and were not even comparable in terms of their contents to the works of the other Islamic lands or for that matter even to the works produced in the earlier periods. Rare scholarly works like the “Farā’ed al-Samtain” (first published in Beirut in 1398 AH/1978 AD) of Ebrāhim Hamu’i (d. 730 AH/1330 AD) that were written during this era were greatly influenced by the works of the scholars of the western Islamic territories. The other works on hadith that were written during this period either focused on the principles of the science of hadith or were of a more exegetic nature that was already available extensively.

* source: Pakatchi , Ahmad  " Iran Entry " The Great Islamic Encyclopedia . Ed. Kazem Musavi Bojnourdi.Tehran: The Center of Great Islamic Encyclopaedia , 1989-, V.10 , pp. 657 - 659

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