This book was begun in 1930 and was almost completed in 1936. In composing it, have been utilized not only many of the important works of the modern European Orientalists, but also a large part of the original Arabic sources some of which (so far as I know) have not been fully utilized uptil now. The reader, therefore, may find in this work some important materials which may not be available in any of the European works on the subject.
Some parts of this book were published in The Proceedings of the All India Oriental Conference (1937), pp. 187-206, in the Proceedings of the Idara-i-Ma'arif-i-Isamiya, Lahore (1933), pp. 61-71; and an Arabic translation of Chapter VI ("The Special Features of Hadith Literature") was published as a part of al-Mababith al- `Ilmiyah, by the Da'irat of Hyderabad (India) in 1939. But the book could not be published uptil now on account of circumstances which need not be mentioned. It was in 1959 that the University Grants Commission of India and the Calcutta University provided the necessary funds for, its publication. I will be failing in my duty if I do not express my gratitude to them for this favour, and also to Dr. G.C. Raychaudhury, the present Registrar of Calcutta University, for his sympathy and keen interest in the publication of the book.
It is important, because it serves as a source of information for the history of pre-Islamic Arabia and of early Islam, and for the development of Arabic Literature as well as of Islamic thought in general and of Islamic law in particular. It also played an important part in establishing a common culture for the whole Islamic world.' It is still wielding a great influence on the minds of the Muslims,2 and is bound to influence them in the future also. It is interesting because it throws a flood of light on the psychology of the Traditionists-the pious as well as the Forgers-and on many of the political and cultural movements which originated and developed in the various parts of the Muslim world throughout the past history of Islam. It also contains many of the basic ideas concerning Democracy, the equality of all men and nations, condemnation of Aggression, development of the power to defend oneself and the establishment of peace in the world, and many other basic problems which are agitating the minds of modern peoples.
The Muslims (since the life-time of their Prophet)3 and the Western scholars and Orientalists (for about the last 200 years), therefore, took keen interest in Hadith, in Hadith Literature and in its criticism.
A large number of Alhadith were collected ad spread throughout the vast Islamic empire partly in writing, and partly orally, before the end of the first century of Hijra. During the following centuries, efforts were made to compile more or less exhaustive collections of Alhadith which were considered to be reliable and long, arduous journeys were undertaken for this purpose. Thus, partly in the second century of the Hijra, but largely in the third, important collections of such Alhadith as were considered to be reliable were compiled and published. As some Alhadith, were forged during the life-time of the Prophet, care was taken since that very period, to determine their reliability. For the sake of it, was introduced the system of Isnad which was applied to Hadith at an early period, and was treated as a necessary part of every individual tradition, not long after the beginning of the second century of Hijra and by and by, there were developed various branches of literature which served as foundations for the criticism of every individual Hadith. As the Isnad was not considered to be the sure guarantee of the genuineness of a Hadith, certain general principles were laid down in order to test the truth of its text. It has been, however, generally accepted by the traditionists that the truth of a tradition is determined by the faculty that is developed by the specialists in the subject, by means of long continuous study of traditions and by means of constant discussions about them with other specialists, and by acquiring a deep insight into them. All these matters have been discussed briefly in this book.
The Western scholars have been taking keen interest in Hadith collections as well as in other branches of literature connected with Hadith, for about 200 years. They made a critical study of Hadith, edited and published many of the original Arabic works on these subjects, translated some of them into their own languages, and wrote learned treatises and critical articles on some' of the intricate basic problems relating to Hadith Literature.
Book's Contents and Sample Pages
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