By Nilay Kar Onum
ISTANBUL (AA) – A symposium held Wednesday in Istanbul’s historic district discussed how hadith -- the sayings and deeds of Prophet Muhammad -- were recorded and passed down through generations.
Academics, scholars and intellectuals took part in the event, titled “Hadith and Scholars: Its Formation and Challenges” at Ibni Haldun University in Suleymaniye district.
The speakers included Teruaki Moriyama, an associate professor at the School of Theology at Kyoto-based Doshisha University.
At the opening of the symposium, Recep Senturk, the rector of Ibni Haldun University, underlined the importance of the chain of hadith transmission that continued for centuries.
“I believe that hadith embody the social memory of Muslims and Islamic civilization,” Senturk said.
“This social memory has been transmitted from generation to generation continuously through the hadith transmission network.”
Senturk termed the hadith transmission network "the longest recorded social network".
“There are no other networks like this recorded in the world," he said.
Senturk also said Muslims were very careful in recording these transmissions.
“Why? Because there is a religious reason for it. There is also a legal and political reason for it.”
He also talked about two main disciplines -- Usul al-Hadith and Usul al-Fiqh -- used in the evaluation of hadith.
“Usul al-Hadith and Usul al-Fiqh: one is about reliable transmission and the other is appropriate understanding and practicing the hadith.”
In his speech, Senturk called hadith scholars “the most critical-minded" people in Islamic intellectual history.
“Because they critically analyzed the chain of transmission and critically interpreted the meaning of the hadith before putting it into practice.”
- Medieval hadith scholars
Moriyama spoke on how medieval hadith scholars, who called themselves ‘Ashab al-Hadith,’ compiled and used biographical local histories.
Hadith scholars were linked to a scholarly line from 10th century Khorasan, the historical region lying in the northeast of Greater Persia, including part of Central Asia and Afghanistan, he said.
“These scholars played an important role in both the development of hadith studies and the spread of Sunnah and medieval Muslim societies,” he said.
However, he said discussions on the authenticity of hadith are still going on, noting it is one of the “most critical” subjects in this regard.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Moriyama said: “Some hadith are innovated, fabricated. At the same time, some hadith are thoroughly attributed to Prophet Mohammed.
“They [scholars] tried to distinguish authentic hadith and fake hadith. It is the main purpose of the hadith scholars and academic practices.”
Such discussions on the authenticity of hadith have always continued, he said.
- No hadith contradicts the Quran
Moriyama said authentic hadith do not contradict the Quran.
“There are some little contradictions between hadith and Quran. However, authentic hadith do not contradict the Quran. Hadith scholars dismissed such hadith contracting the Quran.”
Moriyama is in Istanbul as part of an academic exchange program with the Alliance of Civilizations Institute (MEDIT) of Ibni Haldun University as a visiting researcher.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency on the sidelines of the panel, Senturk also said there are no hadith that contradict the Quran, referring to some discussions claiming that some hadith contradict the holy book.
“When a hadith is deeply analyzed, it will be clearly revealed that it does not contradict the Quran.
“Some disputes stem from ignorance, not knowing the methodology, distortion by some people," Senturk said.
"No one can say a hadith is weak or fabricated based on nothing. There are many books that will remove the confusion,” he added.