The Science of Rijal as a Method in the Study of Hadith (pt.2(

Iftikar Zaman

As it was said in the previous issue, this paper consists of the variant versions of a single hadith: a hadith regarding the Prophet visiting Sa'd ibn AbiWaqqas while the latter was ill. The purpose of the exercise, however, is not to look at the hadith, but to look beyond it and behind it. The author of this paper argues for the possibility of a science of rijal: a science of evaluatig the qualities of narrators of hadiths in their transmission of hadiths. In this part, he provides three types of differential analyses of the wordings of the various versions and begins with an analysis of the first sentence of the hadith of Sa'd in the versions narrated through his son 'Amir b. Sa'd (versions 1-62). After the analysis of the first sentence, he discusses four specific issues on which the versions do differ: (1) Did the event occur during the Farewell Pilgrimage or in the year of the Conquest of Makka? (2) Was Sa'd's question regarding bequest (wasiya) or was it regarding giving his wealth away as charity (sadaqa)? (3) Why did Sa'd wish to give his wealth away? (4) In the conversation on the bequest, did the negotiation (which finally settled on a third) actually proceed? At the end of this paper he concludes that there is an integral link between texts and the names mentioed in the chains of narration through which texts are related.  This link describes a regular correlation which is sufficiently uniform for us to be able to trace it across different hadiths this is indeed what classical Islamic scholars do when they study hadith. He continues and says: “This method of basing judgements on the qualities of narrators by gathering variant versions of hadiths narrated by them is implicit in all the work of the rijal scholars starting from the middle of the second century. I do not demand that their judgement be accepted, or that one even follow their methods. It is not even fair to ask that modern Western scholarship achieve the same level of explanatory rigour which the theories of classical Islamic scholars present their command of hadith texts and their single-minded dedication to this discipline are not compatible with the many demands on the time of a scholar in the modern academic environment. I only ask that the correlation between texts and name mentioed in the chains of narrations of texts be seen as data which should be accounted for.”

Click Here to read the Original Paper