A Brief History Of Ḥadīth Collection And Criticism: A Lecture By Dr. Jonathan Brown

Islamic Awareness

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First Composed: 25th January 2008

Last Updated: 26th January 2008

Assalamu-‘alaykum wa rahamatullahi wa barakatuhu:

1. Introduction

Below is a lecture given by Dr. Jonathan Brown, a young, eloquent western ḥadīth scholar from University of Washington where he works as an Assistant Professor. In this lecture, he briefly discusses the history of ḥadīth collection, its criticism and the evolution of western ḥadīth scholarship from Goldziher, Schacht, Juynboll to Motzki.

Some excerpts from this lecture are:

“I have never been more impressed with anybody in history in my life than with Muslim ḥadīth scholars. I mean, when I first started studying ḥadīth I was very skeptical, I though it was all made-up and bogus but the more you study it the more you just appreciate the intense brain power of these people. I mean they memorized thousands and thousands of books and then they were able to recall all the different versions of ḥadīth from these books, and then they were able to analyze them and put them all together and figure-out where they all connect and make judgments about the authenticity of these ḥadīth. I mean even nowadays with electronic databases, and computers and word processing, I have hard time following even their discussions of the ḥadīth - let alone their original mastering that they were drawing on. It's almost unbelievable... It's almost unbelievable, and if you didn't have the books in front of you that they wrote, I wouldn't believe it personally....”

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

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