Disagreement over the authenticity of hadith (prophetic tradition) is a common event in hadith discourse. A hadith that authenticated as sound by a critic sometimes is judged as weak by other. This reality sparked question on best method in dealing with such cases. The topic is understudied until ‘Abd al-Ḥay Laknawī (1848-1886) proposed four rules of reconciliation in his two books namely
Keywords: Reformhadith criticsmutasāhilmutashaddidmu’tadilmoderation
The main objective of hadith criticism is to ascertain the authenticity of hadith, and to separate the sound hadiths from the weak ones (al-Suyūṭī, 2004). Hadith criticism involves thorough examination which is focused to various aspects relating to transmitter’s reliability, the contiguity of
Despite of its significance in hadith discourse, the topic on how to interact with disagreement on hadith authenticity, and how to choose the right opinion in such cases, is hardly found in classical hadith literature. The topic is understudied until the middle of 19th century. The earliest discussion on the matter to propose practical solutions is that in the works of modern scholar ‘Abd al-Ḥay Laknawī of Farangi Mahal India (d.1886). His lengthy elaboration about the reality of disagreement amongst hadith critics and how to reconcile it can be found in
This research will answer the following questions: To what extent do these rules can be seen as applicable in the eyes of hadith scholars at current time? How did Laknawi come up with these rules of reconciliation?
Purpose of the Study
The main objective of this study is to examine Laknawi’s rules of reconciliation in term of its acceptability in light of hadith criticism framework. It will also study the forces behind the existence of those rules.
This study is a qualitative in nature. The library research methodology is utilised in data collection which includes Laknawi’s works as well as books and articles related to the topic. Using content analysis method, the study carefully analyzes the nature of Laknawi’s intellectual and religious activities as reflected in his biography. It proceeds to investigate the correlation between his main ideas and India’s socio-cultural condition in late 13th/19th century. Realising that Indian scholars at his time had divided into two groups, namely reformists and traditionalist, this study tries to identify Laknawi’s position in the conflict. It then continues to examine Laknawī's rules of reconciliation by comparing it with the opinions of past and current scholars.
‘Abd Al-Hay Laknawī: A Moderate Reformist
Muhammad ‘Abd al-Ḥay bin ‘Abd al-Ḥalīm al-Laknawī, Abū al-Ḥasanāt, was born in October 24, 1848. His father was a prominent Islamic scholar in Farangi Mahall, India. According to Robinson (2001), Farangi Mahall’s ulemas played an important role in education, social and religious affairs in the 18th to 20th centuries. ‘Abd al-Ḥay Laknawī is considered as the last most influential figure of this state. With his death, the family has lost its scientific position and international rank of Islamic madrasahs (al-Nadwī, 1995).
Upon completing his Quranic memorization, Laknawī started learning fundamental Islamic subjects. Under his father’s direct supervision, he learned Arabic,
It is then prevalent that Laknawī is a traditionalist strived for reform without joining reformists current. The very basis of his reform is the concept of moderation (
Laknawi’s Rules of Reconciliation
Disagreement in hadith criticism, according to al-Laknawī (1416 H), is a common event yet quite difficult to handle. In such cases, one can identify the right opinion only after applying any of these four rules of reconciliation. First, one should examine carefully the arguments of each parties involved, then he can “take the opinion that evidently true and leave the others as false.” Citing al-Suyūṭī, Laknawī gave a few examples for the application of this rule. One of them was hadith on
Scrutinizing the basis of arguments is undeniably an effective way to reconcile disagreements amongst critics. Other than Laknawī, It is also suggested by several contemporary scholars such as Muqbil Al-Wādi‘ī (2004), Abū al-Ḥasan al-Sulaymānī (2000) and Abū Isḥāq al-Ḥuwaynī (1408). However, the application of this rule required set of skills and expertise which are not within the capacity of all scholars or students of hadith. According to Mamdūḥ (1438), even al-Laknawī himself is unable to translate the rule into action in most of his discussions about hadith criticism. Most of the time he merely cites from the previous scholars, then subjectively rejects one criticism by another without examining their respective arguments.
Mamdūḥ’s remark is closely related to the second, third and fourth of Laknawī's rules of reconciliation. These rules basically suggest to observe the scholarship background of those critics who involved in disagreement. Laknawī came up with the categorization of hadith critics into three types namely
The categorization of critics undeniably offers practical solutions for those who has minimum expertise in hadith criticism. They will be able to choose one of the conflicting opinions by simply knowing to which category that certain critic belongs to. By offering these rules, it seems that Laknawī had opened the opportunity for wider audience to participate in hadith criticism which in the classical period was limited to elite of scholars. As Karagozoglu observed (2018), it has become one of the growing trends in the hadith discourse in the post-classical period. The scholars have shifted from one-by-one
In a broader context, Laknawī’s rules of reconciliation reflect the basis of his reformist thought which place the concept of moderation at its very heart. Facing the fact that Islamic scholars in India has been divided into Ahl-i Hadith and Hanafites; he tried to offer solutions that can narrow the gap between the two groups. In line with their reform agenda, Ahl-i Hadith criticised tradition and practices in Indian community that in their view violated the Sunnah of the Prophet. In doing so, they referred to certain scholars who could be categorised as
However, Laknawi’s categorization of critics actually contains several weaknesses, therefore should not be perceived as an absolute generalization. The categorization in most of the time is lack of sufficient evidence. One critic often considered as
However, recent findings in hadith studies find this notion lack of supportive evidence. In fact, they find that classical critics enjoyed several advantages which the later can only see in books such as personal relationship with hadith transmitters and strong memory. Therefore, recent scholars urged to give superiority to the early hadith critics and accept their criticism without question. Dividing hadith critics into
Disagreement among critics over the authenticity of certain hadiths is a common event but understudied until the 14/20 century. As the first scholar who addresses the issue intensely, ‘Abd al-Ḥay Laknawī formulated four rules of reconciliation to assist his contemporaries in selecting the most reliable opinion. One of these rules undeniably is an effective way to reconcile disagreement amongst critics. However, the other three remain disputable due to of its trivial nature. Nevertheless, these rules reflect Laknawī’s stance in dealing with his socio-intellectual condition in which Indian Islamic scholars have divided into two distinctive groups. Firstly, the Hanafites who want to preserve the centuries-old tradition, and secondly the Ahl-i Hadith who strive for change. With his concept of moderation, Laknawī promotes a middle position which is evidently found attractive for some of later scholars.
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23 September 2019
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Sociolinguistics, linguistics, literary theory, political science, political theory
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Noor*, U. M. (2019). Disagreement Amongst Hadith Critics: A Critical Review On Laknawī’s Rules Of Reconciliation. In N. S. Mat Akhir, J. Sulong, M. A. Wan Harun, S. Muhammad, A. L. Wei Lin, N. F. Low Abdullah, & M. Pourya Asl (Eds.), Role(s) and Relevance of Humanities for Sustainable Development, vol 68. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 458-464). Future Academy. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2019.09.51