Difference of the Jurists Due to Varying Degrees of Knowledge of the Sunnah

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Translator’s Preface

The following is an excerpt from our abridged translation of the masterpiece, Athar al-Hadīth al-Sharīf fī Ikhtilāf al-A’immah al-Fuqahā’, byimages 3 the Syrian Hadīth scholar, the teacher of our teachers, Shaykh Muhammad ‘Awwāmah. There were numerous requests for an abridged translation of the work for the benefit of non-Arabic readers, as the original work is relatively lengthy. We will post sections of it in installments and finally publish the complete abridgement in a separate post. We have previously posted the following sections of the book:

  1. Introduction/When is a Hadīth suitable for practice?
  2. The correct meaning of the statement, “When a Hadīth is authentic it is my opinion.”
  3. Is the authenticity of a Hadīth sufficient to practice upon it?
  4. Difference of the jurists in their understanding of a Hadith
  5. Difference of approach in dealing with apparently conflicting aspects of the Sunnah

The excerpt before you is an explanation of the fourth and final reason of differences among the jurist Imāms: varying degrees of knowledge of the Sunnah. In this chapter, the author commences by explaining that the idea of one scholar gathering the entire Sunnah independently is erroneous. He further explains that one cannot gauge at the knowledge of hadith a scholar possessed based on the amount of hadiths that he narrated. This is because a scholar does not necessarily impart every hadith he learnt. After discussing the vast amount of hadīths these Imāms were aware of, he acknowledges that there were times when they were also unaware of certain hadiths, albeit very few, for which he provides several examples. He concludes, by explaining the reason for delaying this cause as the last cause, although generally it is the first cause of difference that comes to mind when discussing the differences of the Imams. Further, he explains that often a scholar has proofs to substantiate his view, but others are unaware of them.

Towards the beginning of this chapter, the author discusses the knowledge of Imām Abū Hanīfah in the science of Hadīth. Since this discussion is quite important and well presented, we will publish it separately in a subsequent post.

It is important to remember that this is only an abridged translation. Therefore, many sections were omitted and some were summarized.  To make the article more reader-friendly, an idiomatic translation was adopted in several places. Those who are interested in more detail are advised to read the original work.

Muntasir Zaman

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