World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010

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RELIGIOUS HERMENEUTICS OF THE KORAN AND RELATED TEXTS- 1/3 (085) - Panel
 

· Date: TUE 20, 9-11 am

· Language: English

· Description:
Paper discussant: Shadaab Rahemtulla (Ph.D. Candidate, Oxford University, UK)

Paper presenter: Sylvia Akar (Lecturer, University of Helsinki), “The Eternal and Trans-historical vs. the Changing and Dynamic in Prophetic Hadiths”
Recently some scholars, the most famous of which is Tariq Ramadan, have argued that Islamic revelation can be divided into immutable matters and variables. According to them, several Islamic principles and practices are eternal absolutes and must be implemented regardless of historical context. These include the six principals of faith, and the five pillars of Islam as well as fundamental moral issues. But what are the issues that can be considered subject to change remains somewhat unclear. Some Muslims claim that there is no such differentiation at all, that Islam as a comprehensive system is immutable in its totality. God completed the religion and established the rulings during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad and they cannot later be altered or changed in any way. These 'literalist' Muslims usually refer to Qur'an 5:3 'This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My Favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion' For many Muslims scholars nothing can be argued without referring to a Qur'anic verse or a Prophetic hadith. My earlier work has dealt with hadith research and that's why I am especially interested in looking at how present day scholars react to hadiths that can be considered contrary to present day moral manners, values, and even human rights? Could the division into eternal and changing ethics be of use here? In my paper I will present some preliminary findings about thabit vs. mutaghayyir in Islamic practice as introduced in Prophetic hadiths. My research is based on interviews with chosen Islamic scholars in Helsinki, Cairo and Damascus. The goal of my structured interviews is to outline the ways these scholars see the Islamic hadiths in the changing present day societies; do they perceive a need of change and what would be the religiously accepted ways to justify and implement the changes needed.

Paper presenter: Mohd Zamrus Mohd Ali (Senior Officer, Ministry of Higher Education, Malaysia), “The Discipline of Al-Qur’an and its Relation with the Intellectual Tradition of Andalusia”
Islam is a religion that focuses on knowledge via discipline of al-Qur'an. The first verse of al-Qur'an revealed to Prophet Muhammad: stresses and emphasized on the importance of knowledge and research. This verse triggers the renaissance of human civilization commencing from the Muslim nations particularly in Andalusia. Andalusian Muslims illustrated one of the best chapters in the intellectual history of medieval Europe for eight centuries. They have implemented al-Qur'an as a discipline which has guided them to become the main torch-bearer of the culture and civilization throughout the world which formed methodologies, formulas, experiments, observation, measurement which has taken used in all aspects until present. Andalusia became the centre of civilization and intellectual activities. The intellectual activities in Andalusia at that time have also produced many pioneers and brilliant scientists which directly contributed a great impact throughout the world in knowledge, idea and innovation. Therefore, this research focuses on the important of al-Qur'an as a discipline that forms stimulation of intellectualism and intellectual culture in building up a skeleton of excellence thinking and development of human civilization. This thesis discusses on the relation of the discipline of al-Qur'an that comprises tauhid, syari'at and morality with the intellectual civilization in Andalusia. Apart from that, this research also studies whether the said approach had been applied during Islamic occupancies beginning from the year 711 until 1492. The relation of the discipline of al-Qur'an and intellectual establish a new phase of human evolution. This research is a qualitative study with the data collection usage via library methodology. The data collection is also done by using documentation and history method and data research by analyzing document inductively, deductively and comparatively. This research also finds that the main factor of the fall of the intellectual civilization in Andalusia at that point of time was due to their disobedience of the discipline of al-Qur'an. Therefore, this thesis suggests that the discipline of al-Qur'an should be implemented and sustained as a strong foundation in building intellectual society today.

Paper presenter: Rahile Yilmaz (PhD Candidate, Marmara University) “Mursal Transmissions in Ibn Abou Hatim al-Razi’s 'Ilal al-Hadith”
The Prophetic sayings and the literature developed around them is one of the significant characters of Muslim societies that give the shape to several sciences in the course of time. Among them the discipline of ‘Ilal al-hadith deals with hidden defects in hadiths that are not obvious at first glance, but affect the validity of hadiths. The books written in this field are the best examples that demonstrate the meticulousness of hadith scholars regarding the knowledge narrated from the Prophet. Ibn Abu Hatim al-Razi is one of the distinguished scholars in the field and his work ‘Ilal al-hadith is considered as magnum opus of its genre. Because of its importance, specific reference will be given to his ‘Ilal al-hadith in the paper. In the first part of the paper I will study Ibn Abu Hatim al-Razi’s life, his intellectual background, and his works. In addition to these, an analysis of the two most important concepts of the paper, mawwal and mursal types of transmission are given in relation to how they were used in the book. The second part of the paper is about the subject of the narrations, their distribution in authentic hadith sources. I am focusing on how they took part in the sources and the common features of narrators. Finally, I examine some mursal transmissions which exist in similar chain of the transmission in the main hadith collections and are regarded as defective in ‘Ilal al-hadith literature.

Paper presenter: Teruaki Moriyama (Part-Time Lecturer, Department of Asian Cultures, Faculty of Foreign Studies, Sophia University) “The Traditionalists from the East: The Intellectual Activities of Khurasanian Hadith Scholars and the Spread of Their Scholastic Mantle into Iraq and Syria between the 10th and 13th Centuries”
This paper analyses the intellectual activities and influences of hadith scholars who lived in Khurasan between the 10th and 13th centuries and were called ‘Ashab/Ahl al-Hadith’ or the partisans of the traditions. Some groups of the traditionalist ulama have called themselves and been called by this name. Among those groups, the followers of Ibn Hanbal (d. 855) are particularly famous: They resisted Abbasid Mihna or inquisition in the 9th century Iraq. Based on their splendid activity, it became general understanding that Ashab al-Hadith was the 9th century Iraqi jurists who argued strict observance of hadith and developed into later Hanbali law school. However, ulama and groups of ulama called Ashab al-Hadith continued to be found almost all over the Islamic World by the 13th century. Especially, the 10-13th centuries Khurasanian hadith scholars called Ashab al-Hadith played vital role for the formation of the authentic Sunnni hadith theories and Shafi’i law school. The previous literatures examined closely the 9th century Iraqi Ashab al-Hadith. On the other hand, little attention has been given to the 10-13th centuries Khurasanian Ashab al-Hadith in spite of their importance in the histories of the Sunni ‘ulama’, thoughts, cultures and societies. Given such a gap in the research, the goal of this paper is to clarify the historical nature of the Khurasanian Ashab al-Hadith and their influences on the development of the Sunni scholarship. To achieve this goal, this paper progresses through the 3 steps. The first step is to analyse works of the Khurasanian hadith scholars, such as the Knowledge of Hadith Sciences by ‘imam of Ashab al-Hadith’, al-Hakim al-Naysaburi (d. 1014). This step describes how their intellectual activities evolved from the 10th to the 13th centuries. The second step is to trace the master-disciple relations connecting hadith scholars of different regions. We see the channel that transported the academic achievements of the Khurasanian Ashab al-Hadith to Iraq and Syria, where the classical Sunni hadith theories were finally established. On the third step, we analyze the works of the 11-13th centuries Iraqi and Syrian hadith scholars, who were connected with the Khurasanian Ashab al-Hadith through the master-disciple relations, such as the Honour of Ashab al-Hadith by al-Khatib al-Baghdadi (d. 1071). By this analyse, it becomes obvious how the achievements of the Khurasanian Ashab al-Hadith were accepted and influenced on the development of the Sunnni cultures and societies.

Paper presenter: Alena Kulinich (PhD candidate, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London), “Schools of Exegesis and Their authority as Represented in Early Encyclopaedic Tafsir”
The appearance of comprehensive tafsir works, alternatively entitled encyclopaedic tafsir or al-jami: type of tafsir, marks the beginning of the Classical period in the development of Islamic exegetical tradition. A commentary of al-Tabari (d. 310/923) is regarded as a landmark for this type of tafsir, which in contrast to exegetical works of the Formative period deals with the whole text of the Qur’an, incorporating materials from various disciplines, and including references to a range of authorities. It was not limited, however, to Sunni exegetical tradition, represented by al-Tabari; adherents of other schools of thought (e.g. an Imami Shi’ite al-Tusi (d.460/1067), a Mu’tazilite al-Rummani (d.384/994)), made their contribution to the development of encyclopaedic tafsir, which in the period of struggle for authority between different schools seems also to have served as a symbol of identity of the school, indicating its intellectual maturity, and its claim to have authority in the field of exegesis. This paper will focus on two early encyclopaedic commentaries on the Qur’an: Jami’ al-bayan an ta’wil ay al-Qur’an of al-Tabari and al-Jami’ fi tafsir al-Qur’an of al-Rummani. It will discuss how Sunni and Mu’tazilite schools of thought and their claims to have authority in interpreting the Qur’an are represented by two exegetes by exploring such aspects of their works as references to the authorities of the school, reconciliation between contradictory interpretations given by the school authorities, polemical notes, refutations of interpretations of the opponents of the school, emphasis on methodologies adopted by the school, selection of interpretative materials, and preference for specific interpretation where variant interpretations are available.

Paper presenter: A. H. Mathias Zahniser (Greenville College, Greenville, IL, USA), “Points of Contact in the Qur'an for the Earliest Christian Theory of the Atonement”
Todd Lawson (The Crucifixion and the Qur'an: A Study in the History of Muslim Thought [Oxford: Oneworld, 2009], along with others, has shown that significant Muslim interpreters, including very possibly al-Ghazl (d. /1111 CE), held that the Islamic Jesus was crucified. Such a conclusion enables a more literal interpretation of Q 3:55, where God says to Jesus, “I will cause you to die (mutawaff’-ka) and raise you to myself” (A. H. Mathias Zahniser, The Mission and Death of Jesus in Islam and Christianity [Maryknoll, NY: Orbis], 23-31). The Jesus of the Gospel predicted his ignominious death and declared it meaningful. Can the Muslim Jesus have died meaningfully and been raised? Certainly not within the framework of the reigning Christian interpretation of atonement (Zahniser, 234-39). An early theory of the atonement, however, may offer a way forward. Irenaeus (c. 140-60 c. 202 CE) offered a theory of the atonement he called ‘recapitulation’ (Against Heresies 5.14): Jesus lived his life ‘recapitulating’ the life of Adam, but without disobedience of any kind, not even when it meant facing death. He thus lived a representative life in solidarity with humankind, a life others can participate in by surrender, faith, and acting well, by God’s grace and strengthened by the Holy Spirit. Contemporary theologian Clark H. Pinnock’s theology of the Holy Spirit (Flame of Love: A Theology of the Holy Spirit [Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1996] builds on Irenaeus’ theory, focusing on what might be called Jesus representative journey in the Spirit from birth through resurrection (95, 102 and passim). In addition to avoiding the more rationalistic and judicial penal substitution theory of the Atonement the theory of atonement initiated by Anselm, odious to Muslims, and very popular in America, the Irenaeus / Pinnock recapitulation theory touches base with the Qur’an at two points: Jesus’ beginning without a father parallels that of Adam (Q 3:59-60) and Jesus’ living his life strengthened by a spirit from God (Q 58:22). Furthermore, by raising Jesus from the grave, God triumphed over sin and death, a victory believers can participate in through solidarity with Jesus’ journey in the Spirit.