Academic journal article The Journal of the American Oriental Society

Bukhari and Early Hadith Criticism

Academic journal article The Journal of the American Oriental Society

Bukhari and Early Hadith Criticism

Article excerpt

Norman Calder has questioned the attribution of al-Ta'rikh al-kabir to al-Bukhari (d. 256/870). Quotations from Ibn Abi Hatim al-Razi and al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, together with comparisons among the rijal works of Bukhari, suggest that al Ta'rikh al-kabir was one of Bukhari's last works, subject to some correction and rearrangement after his death. It cannot have been retrospectively derived from Bukhari's Sahih, as Calder thought, yet neither can it have been the basis of the Sahih for it omits to mention fourteen percent of the men in the Sahih and mentions personal evaluations of only six percent of all its subjects. Its principal function seems to have been to identify traditionists by name. Inasmuch as it bespeaks sole reliance on isnad analysis to sort strong and weak reports, al-[Ta.sup.contains]rtkh al-kabir may represent a particular Khurasani tendency in hadith criticism. More certainly, it represents the professionalization of hadith science as against the amateurism evident behind Ahmad ibn Hanbal, al Ilal wa-ma'rifal al-rijal.

A FEW YEARS AGO, Norman Calder questioned the attribution of al Ta'rikh al-kabir to Muhammad ibn Isma'il al-Bukhari (d. 256/87), the great Transoxanian traditionist.

Apparently the product of the devoted and orderly activity of a single person, works like the Sahihs of Bukhari and Muslim should probably be recognized as emerging into final form at least one generation later than the dates recorded for the deaths of the putative authors....

A fortiori the rijal works associated with these collections. Bukhari's AI-Ta'rikh al-kabir is probably a post facto description of the Sahih not a set of criteria governing the collection of its materials. [1]

The first goal of this study is to determine whether al-Ta'rikh al-kabir is a post facto description of the Sahih (usually referred to in the sources as al-Jami' al-sahih, al-Jami', or Sahih al-Bukhari; however, its full title is reportedly al-Jami' al-musnad al-sahih al-mukhtasar min umur rasul Allah .. wa-sunanihi wa-ayyamih). [2]

Calder redated various early juridical texts--the Mudawwanah of Sahnun, the [Muwatta.sup.[contains]] of Malik (recension of Yahya ibn Yahya al-Laythi), and others--according to how much they adduced Prophetic hadith or low much the evidently older sources of Companion hadith and especially the opinions of eighth-century jurisorudents. It was Calder's essential argument that it makes better sense to suppose a gradually increasing deference to Prophetic hadith than to suppose early recognition of its priority (in the [Muwatta.sup.[contains]] of Malik, some Hanafi works, and virtually all the works of [al-Shafi.sup.[subset]]i), succeeded by deference instead to reason and the opinions of early jurisprudents (the Mudawwanah), succeeded by a rediscovery of the priority of Prophetic hadith. Accordingly, he assigned the Mudawwanah of Sahnun and the work's of al-Shaybani that constitute Kitab al-Asl to about 250/864-65; the Mukhtasar of al-Muzani to around 270/883-84; and the Umm and Risalah of [Shafi.sup.[subset]]i to around 800/912-13.

The attribution of [al-Ta.sup.[contains]]rikh al-kabir, as of the collections of sound hadith that go by the names of Bukhari, Muslim (d. 261/875), Abu Dawud (275/889), al-Tirmidhi (279/892), and Ibn Majah (273/887), calls into question Calder's redating of various eighth- and ninth-century legal texts inasmuch as such collections presuppose an exclusive interest in Prophetic hadith as opposed to Companion hadith and the opinions of later jurisprudents. Prophetic hadith reports make up only about twenty-two percent of all items in the Musannaf of [Abd.sup.[subset]] al-Razzaq (d. 211/827), as one might expect in so early a collection (although they make up almost half the material of the last volume alone, where we presumably meet the latest additions). [3] Prophetic hadith reports constitute twenty-five percent of the material in the Musannaf of Abu Bakr Ibn Abi Shaybah (d. …

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