Disiplinlerarası Çalışmalar Dergisi Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies

The Authority of Individual Hadiths in Theological Matters and Kawthari’s Approach to the Problem

The authority of individual hadiths has long been debated in the Islamic literature. Majority of scholars argue that individual hadiths are not taken as evidence in theology because they yield only probable knowledge. Partisans of hadith, on the other hand, believe that individual hadiths can be evidence in both legal and theological matters. A third group of scholars maintain that individual hadiths supported by circumstantial evidence can provide certain knowledge and therefore become binding in matters of faith as well. Muhammad Zahid al-Kawthari, the deputy of the last Ottoman Shaykh al-Islam who settled in Egypt in the early 1900’s, penned books and articles in order to refute some Muslim intellectuals’ claim that individual hadiths have no capacity to be evidence in theology. For him, though the transmission of individual hadiths is only probable, they can still yield knowledge strong enough to establish a theological principle because believing is the action of the heart; therefore they can be taken into account in theology just as they are considered evidence in legal matters. Additionally, according to some scholars, reports that possess extra privileges such as being narrated by Bukhari or Muslim yield certainity. Thus, Kawthari has concluded that individual reports can be used to establish a theological principle by asserting that scholars of the past collected every type of theological traditions and contained them in their books on theology.


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