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Delivered by: Professor Jonathan A.C. Brown [University of Washington, USA] And Shaykh Dr M Akram Nadwi the [Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies]

Date: Saturday 29th September 2012 Time: 9am – 5pm

Venue: Birkbeck College, Malet St, London WC1E 7HX

In light of the Tom Holland’s recent documentary on “Islam: The Untold Story” on Channel 4 renewing the age old assertion that the entire corpus of the Islamic tradition, including the oral Prophetic traditions (ahadiths) are historically unreliable as sources for early Islam. Orginally put forward by Orientalists like Muir, theorised by Goldziher, Schacht, Juynboll and recently championed by Patricia Crone, Donner, Cook and Wansbrough, with avigorous rebuttals from Motzki, al-Azami and others. The question begs :

  • What are the Western debates over the historical reliability of Prophetic Hadiths and why?
  • What are the Muslim responses and what are the internal historical and current Muslim debates?
  • Is this important and why?

Inshallah, this course will try to address some of the matters questioned by uniquely bringing both two leading traditional and academic trained experts of Hadiths.

Given the technical nature of the subject, it is open to all, irrespective of faith, however, a prerequisite would be to have at least some basic understanding of the Islamic Sciences in particular, ʻilm al-ḥadīth (Science Of Hadith), Quranic Arabic and early Islamic History.

The course will cover the following:

  • Origins and assumption of Western Study of Hadith vs The Islamic Tradition
  • Western criticisms of early Islamic History
  • Historical Critical Methods and the Matn – Goldziher
  • Dating Hadith Forgery by Isnads – Schacht
  • Philo – Islamic Apology
  • Revistionist Approach
  • Western Revaluation
  • Debates over Hadith from Muslim perspective
  • A Traditional Muhaddiths approach & response
  • Summary and conclusion with extended Q & A with both

Professor Jonathan A.C. Brown [University of Washington, USA]

Professor Jonathan AC Brown was raised as an Anglican and converted to Islam in 1997. He received his BA in History from Georgetown University in 2000 and his doctorate in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from the University of Chicago in 2006. Dr. Brown has studied and conducted research in Egypt, Syria, Turkey, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Indonesia, India and Iran, and he is a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations. His book publications include The Canonization of al-Bukhari and Muslim: The Formation and Function of the Sunni Hadith Canon (Brill, 2007), Hadith: Muhammad’s Legacy in the Medieval and Modern World (Oneworld, 2009) and Muhammad: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2011). He has published articles in the fields of Hadith, Islamic law, Sufism, Arabic lexical theory and Pre-Islamic poetry and is the editor in chief of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Islamic Law.

Some of the articles he has written include: “How We Know early Hadith Critics Did Matn Criticism and Why It’s So Hard to Find,” Islamic Law and Society 15(2008): 143-84. “New Data on the Delateralization of Dad and its Merger with Za’ in Classical Arabic: Contributions from Old South Arabian and the Earliest Islamic Texts on D / Z Minimal Pairs,” Journal of Semitic Studies 52, no.2 (2007): 335-368. “The Last Days of al-Ghazzali and the Tripartite Division of Sufi World: Abu Hamid al-Ghazali’s Letter to the Seljuq Vizier and Commentary.” The Muslim World 96, no. 1 (2006): 89-113. “Criticism of the Proto-Hadith Canon: al-Daraqutni’s Adjustment of al-Bukhari and Muslim’s Sahihs.” Oxford Journal of Islamic Studies 15/1 (2004): 1-37. Social Context of Pre-Islamic Poetry: Poetic Imagery and Social Reality in the Mu’allaqat.” Arab Studies Quarterly 25/3 (2003): 29-50.

Dr. Brown’s current research interests include the history of forgery and historical criticism in Islamic civilization, comparison with the Western tradition; and modern conflicts between Late Sunni Traditionalism and Salafism in Islamic thought.

Shaykh Dr M Akram Nadwi

Shaykh Dr M Akram Nadwi is leading scholar steeped in traditional Islamic learning and in modern academia who studied and taught Shari’a at the Nadwatul ‘Ulama (India). A Muhaddith specialising in ‘Ilm al-Rijal (the study of the narrators of Hadith), Shaykh Akram has ijaza (licenses) from various mashayakh, including Abul Hasan Ali Al-Nadwi, Abdul-Fattah Abu Ghuddah, Sayyid Muhammad Alawi al-Maliki, Dr Muhammad Sa’id Ramadhan Al-Buti, al-Kattani, al-Ghumari, and Yusuf al-Qaradawi. He has authored and translated many titles on Fiqh, Qur’an and Hadith including his monumental 40 volume work on Al-Muhaddithaat – The Lives of Female Scholars of Hadith. A recipient of the “Allama Iqbal” prize for contribution to Islamic thought, and is currently, a research fellow at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, Oxford University.

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