The Role of Reason in Hadith Criticism in the Islamic Tradition

by Rashad Ali

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This publication is part of a series of booklets that aim to cast light on discussions within Muslim tradition that may be of particular relevance to the contemporary life and experience of Muslims, particularly those living in the West. Our intention is to make complex debates and ideas accessible to a general readership.

Rashad Ali, is Resident Senior Fellow at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue. He has undertaken classical Islamic studies, including courses at al-Azhar University and has several Ijazāt in hadīth texts and their sciences.

“In this essay, Rashad Ali has created a unique genre of Muslim exegesis, gathering together a mass of material from major scholars throughout the Islamic intellectual tradition over the past 1400 years, translating this material himself, to provide the utterly convincing argument that rational argument is at the core of Islam. Thorough and readable, Ali has made the exegetical tradition available to a general reader without sacrificing the detail and nuance of a fine and sophisticated intellectual tradition.”

Dr Lydia Wilson, University of Cambridge

“This paper by Rashad Ali, shows not merely his understanding of the various disciplines of hadīth, usul (principles of jurisprudence) and aqliyat (rational disciplines), but also the breadth of literature across theological and sectarian lines. It places reason and critical intellectual enquiry as central to understanding hadīth texts and situates this in the heart of the various schools within the tradition. It challenges certain prevailing attitudes of fideistic absolutism with careful critical analysis. A must read for informed and interested readers.”

Dr Salah Ansari al-Azhari, Muslim College, London