Character and policy of their régime. — Dynastic hadith, Alid Umayyad and Abbasid. — Shia Collections. — Establishment of the sunna. — Talabu-l-'Ilm and its object. — Enormous growth of tradition. — Contradictions, critics and harmonizers. — Doctrine of Ijma' applied to hadith.

A CONTEMPORARY would probably have noticed no difference between the lives of the Caliphs of Baghdad in their harems and banqueting-halls and the similar institutions of their deposed rivals in Damascus. Wein, Weib und Gesang might have been written over all alike. The great difference, which has profoundly influenced the subsequent course of Islam, was in their official attitude towards religious institutions. The 'Abbasid could drink the forbidden wine as long and deeply as the Umayyad. But whereas the latter tolerated wine booths in the mosques, the former took pains to enforce his subjects' obedience to the Prophet's prohibition of wine with all the power of an oriental despot. Within their palaces the early monarchs of this line lived the lives which in the pages of the Arabian Nights still fire the imagination and form the stock-in-trade of the modern rawi, and the legendary records of their carousals are probably better known in the Occident than any other Arabic work. But the 'Abbasids understood their subjects well enough to perceive that if they made the revival of the


sunna an integral part of their policy, and in their official capacity as Imams conformed to the national religion, no serious interference with their personal tastes would ensue. Theoretical discussions of religious questions were popular amongst the most worldly princes in the halcyon days of the 'Abbasid caliphate. Their bid for the support of the orthodox party was successful because of their avowed zeal for the sunna of the prophet. They wore his mantle (burda) on solemn state occasions to strengthen the idea that there was something sacrosanct in their authority; and honorifics which suggested that they were the true successors of the prophet and even his representatives were eagerly accepted by them, especially by the later caliphs.1 Indeed, it may be said in general that as their political power declined, so their preoccupation in purely religious matters and their claim to religious authority increased.

During the Umayyad régime foreign converts had claimed in vain the equality, which the prophet assigned to all Muslims. The Umayyad and the nobles of Syria openly treated all foreigners as subordinate to free-born Arabs. One of the consequences of this racial pride was that the more ambitious and unscrupulous foreigners pretended that they were of pure Arab descent, discarded their foreign names, and produced forged pedigrees tracing their descent to men famous in the sagas of Arabia. Especially among the more intellectual Persians, with their age-long traditions of culture and civilization, was there fierce resentment of the Arab domination, a fact which explains their

1 Such titles as Aminu-llah and Khairu-l-Quraish were given to their predecessors.


enthusiastic adoption of the Abbasid cause. With the accession of the new dynasty their chance had come. The tables were turned, and henceforth it was the comparatively ignorant Arab who was to be an object of ridicule to those he had formerly despised. Practically all the Abbasid viziers were Persians, or, at any rate, non-Arabs; and the caliphs, for the most part, made no secret of their preference for Persians. The results of this more liberal policy towards foreigners were manifold. It was responsible for the great impetus given to the study of philosophy and science through the medium of translations into classical and Syrian writers, and for the increased knowledge of the Old and New Testaments, especially in regard to their eschatological and historical matter.

Though, as we have seen, there was a systematic attempt during the Abbasid caliphate, when the canonical collections of traditions were compiled, to root out all hadith favourable to the Umayyads, the voice of the Arab has not been altogether stilled. We seem to hear the despairing cry of the orthodox Arab of Medina in the tradition which Bukhari records as spoken by the dying 'Umar to 'Abd Allah b. 'Abbas, the ancestor of the dynasty of that name, 'Praise be to God, who has not let me die by the hand of a Muslim. You and your father would gladly have seen Medina full of barbarians.' Now Al 'Abbas had more foreign slaves than any one else in the city.1 This tradition is the more pointed in its application in that the assassin of 'Umar was a Persian. There is, too, a story of how Al 'Abbas excited the prophet's contempt

1 Fadailu-l-Ashab.


by his cupidity and avarice, faults with which the true Arab had no sympathy. Its presence in Bukhari's collection is a tribute to the fearless spirit of the collector.1

The Abbasids were keenly alive to the importance of the principle of the divine right of kings, the more so as their claim to the caliphate by right of inheritance was a principle foreign to the tribal customs of Arabia and one which Islam had never admitted. The court poet who could write some telling verses on the claim of the prophet's uncle as against that of his cousin, or attack the principle condemned in the Salic Law, could thereafter enjoy a life of ease. In hadith inspired by the Abbasids the Hashimite line was represented as sharing, by virtue of the revelation in Sura 8. 42, in the distribution of booty to the next-of-kin.2 In Abu Daud's version of the story the significance of the hadith is underlined, for it is expressly stated that the Umayyads received nothing.

Muslim doctors never recognized the principle of a hereditary caliphate. Bukhari's chapter on inheritances with the tarjama, 'We leave no inheritance. What we leave is alms,3 asserts the principle that the prophet had no heir in no less than five entirely different hadith. The principle which gave his power to the caliph was the ijma'u-l-umma, the consent of the

1 Kitabu-l-Jizya, no. 4; Krehl, ii, p. 294; and cf. ib., i, p. 116 Kitabu-l-Salat, no. 42, for a variant of the same tradition.

2 Bukhari, Maniqib, no. 3.

3 For the extremely clever alteration in the Shi'a interest of the words la nurith ma tarakna sadaka into la yurath ma tarakna sadaqatan (What we leave as alms is not to be inherited) by the change of one letter and the cognizance taken, of this in later versions of the text see MS, ii, pp. 103—4.


community. As a matter of fact, logic demanded the denial of a hereditary overlordship; for that would involve the assumption that the three first caliphs — the khulafau-l-rashidan — were usurpers, and the admission either that right lay with the Alides or that the community had erred in accepting the Umayyads. A claim to the caliphate on the score of prophetic descent was a double-edged weapon, and one which the Alides were obviously more comfortable in handling.1 The latter never ceased to maintain their right. An enormous number of traditions were forged to further Abbasid interests, some of which are pseudo-prophetic, as for instance that quoted by Al Suyuti,2 'The prophet said to 'Abbas: "In you shall rest prophecy and sovereignty." There was an immense volume of this kind of tradition which need not be quoted. The author of the History of the Caliphs evidently did not prize such hadith highly, for he tells us that one to the effect that the prophet clothed 'Abbas and his son in his mantle, praying for a special blessing on them, together with the one just quoted is the best of those alleged to foretell the exaltation of the family of 'Abbas.

Every corner of Irak and Hijaz was ransacked for traditions in support of the right of the house of Abbas. The doctors of law were required to formulate the principles of orthodoxy in explicit terms: and gradually the grand superstructure of the Sunni church was raised on the narrow foundations of Abasside self-

1 Professor Margoliouth remarks that in the earliest appointments of Caliphs relationship to the Prophet seems to have been a determining factor. Mu'awiya was a brother-in-law.

2 Tarikhu-l-Khulafa, tr. Jarrett, p. 13.


interest,' says the Sayyid Amir 'Ali.1 Al Suyuti mentions a hadith in which the names of no less than six caliphs appear as guarantors of its contents.

However, despite the efforts of the Abbasids, the Muhammadan doctors never gave way on the general question. The caliphate was not an heirloom. They affirmed again and again that the dignity of the prophet was exclusively confined to Muhammad, and no one could possibly inherit it. But their peculiar consideration for the unique prophetic character of Muhammad did not result, as one might have expected, in the suppression of hadith favourable to the claims of the 'Alids. This was due partly to veneration for 'Ali and his family as martyrs, and partly to the fact that in the first centuries the Shi'as were not schismatics, nor a body of people held together by doctrine or political aims. At most they desired to see the triumph of the house of 'Ali, and gave their support to any movement which would tend to further this, project. Thus it is that the canonical collections abound in stories extolling the memory of 'Ali. Yet there is no yielding when the prophetic office is involved. 'Were there a prophet after me it would be 'Umar b. Al Khattab.'2 Many of them were collected and summarized by Al Suyuti, of which the following are examples3: 'O God, befriend the friend of 'Ali and oppose his enemy. 'Ali is part of me and I of 'Ali.'

1 The Spirit of Islam, Calcutta, 1902, p. 287.

2 lau kana ba'di nabiyyun lakana 'Umara b. Al Khattab. The compiler of the Mishkat adds rawahu Al-Tirmidhi waqala hadha hadithun gharib. 'This from the collection of T., who says this is a tradition resting on the authority of one Companion alone.'

3 Op. cit., pp. 172 ff.


This last is quoted by Tirmidhi, Nasal, and Ibn Maja: 'Thou art my brother in this world and in the next.'

One of the clearest examples of hadith promulgated in the Alid interest is the following, taken from Ibn Maja: 'While we were with the prophet of God some young men of the Banu Hashim approached. When the prophet saw them he shed tears and his countenance changed. I ('Abd Allah) said: "We see from your face that something troubles you," and he replied: "God has chosen for us, the ahlu-l-bait, the world to come rather than this world. After my time the people of my family will suffer misfortune: they will be dispersed and pursued until a people shall come from the East with black banners. They will ask for prosperity and will not obtain it. They will fight and will conquer and obtain what they asked. They will only receive it to render it to a man of my household. And he will fill the earth with justice just as they filled it with injustice." A more obvious invention it would be difficult to discover. This hadith is one of the version of tradition known to Muhammadan savants as the 'hadith-of-the-banners'. Of its author Ibn Hanbal remarks: 'His hadith are not hadith!' The first section, which apparently refers to the attempt made by Al Ma'mun to secure the caliphate for the Alid, 'Ali b. Musa Al Rida,1 has been added to the more widely received Mahdl tradition. In the Fadailu-l-Ashab it is recorded that the prophet gave the standard by which God was to give victory to his people into the hand of 'Ali, after curing him of a form of ophthalmia.

1 Al Fakhri, ed. Cairo, 1317, p. 198.


It would seem that the theologians either would not or could not suppress traditions which had established themselves in the minds of the community and were generally recognized. They found it more convenient to promulgate other traditions which could not but tend to invalidate the claims the Shi'as rested on hadith admittedly in favour of 'Ali, as, for example, saying that Muhammad's infant son would have survived if it had been God's intention to send another prophet after him.1 Again, the assertion of the Shi'as that the prophet had made a testamentary disposition in 'Ali's favour repeatedly finds mention in the canonical collections. Characteristically the ashabu-l-hadith leave those traditions obviously inspired by the 'Alids unaltered, and insert hadith which give them the lie direct. For example, 'Aisha is made to describe the last moments of her dying husband and exclaim: 'How could he have made any such disposition in these circumstances?'

Later, when the feeling between Shi'a and Sunni became exacerbated, the former repudiated all traditions but their own, which they rested on the authority of 'Ali and his friends. This was naturally the only course open to them: they could not appeal to Ijma', since they had never represented more than a fraction of the community, and the Sunni traditions as a whole were useless for their purpose. The first written Alid collection was known as Al-Kafi, and was composed by Muhammad b. Ya'qub Al Kulini, who died in 328. A great difference between the two great divisions of the Muhammadan world is in their Quranic exegesis.

1 Bukhari, Krehl, ii, p. 434.


The Alids accused Abu Bakr and 'Uthman of having altered and suppressed words and verses in the Quran which exalted 'Ali, and the Shi'a collections of traditions explain what those words and verses are.1 They abound in fanciful interpretations of obscure expressions, especially when 'Ali can be introduced in some eschatological role. The difference in Quranic exegesis was probably a fairly early stage in the controversy.

Unfortunately, in religious matters the Abbasids did not observe the broad-mindedness and tolerance their attitude to foreigners, including those who were obviously only nominal Muslims, would lead one to expect. With the admission of foreigners to the full privileges and brotherhood of Islam there came a greater insistence on uniformity within Islam. If, so far as concerns the Arab, racial consciousness was weakened, so far as concerned the Muhammadan religious consciousness was enormously strengthened. The proud and independent Arab, while his authority was undisputed, could afford to ignore for the most part the dhimmis who adhered to their religion; but the Abbasid, who had thrown open the higher places in his kingdom to the foreigner, could not, or at any rate did not, accord the same toleration that Muhammad and his countrymen had displayed to the protected cults. With the Abbasid rule, the latent fanaticism of Islam burst forth, humiliating and subduing Jews and Christians to the position they occupy in purely Muhammadan countries to-day.

1 See Geschichte des Qorans, Nöldeke-Schwally, Leipzig, 1919,


It is not germane to our subject to inquire how far the caliphs themselves or their governors and generals obeyed in their private lives the injunctions of the prophet. The fact remains that the Abbasids officially supported the efforts of the doctors to restore the sunna of Muhammad throughout their vast dominions. Most of the Abbasids had a theological education from their tutors; and some one learned in religious matters was attached officially to the court. The religion of Islam became 'established'. Provincial governors were ordered to measure their actions by the standard of the Quran, and to uphold the authority of religious law. Now the pious could emerge from their obscurity and take their place in regulating the life of the individual and the community according to the laws which had been evolved and deduced during the century and more since the prophet's death. With the definitely religious bent of the administration their importance in the community was enormously enhanced. Now that the sunna was to be the norm of life it was discovered that the Muhammadan world did not know what the sunna was. It may easily be conjectured what was the depth of the ignorance in the distant provinces from Bukhari's account of the conduct of public prayer in the mosque of Basra.1 Before the task of 'reviving the sunna' could be begun it had first to be determined what was the practice of the prophet. Malik in the middle of the second century could produce only six hundred sayings of the prophet of a legal character. Thus it is clear that the vast mass of material in the sunna was unknown to him.

1 v.s., p. 43.


The demand having arisen for a clear unequivocal ecclesiastical tradition, efforts were made by the religious and professional doctors to supply it. First there were those who applied the words of Muhammad, 'Seek knowledge even unto China,1 to the problem, believing that if they traversed the whole Muhammadan world and interrogated all who had been in converse with the Companions and Followers of the prophet, 'knowledge', the resultant body of traditional matter, would suffice to guide all Muslims in the right path.

Secondly there were those who frankly recognized that there was not a sufficient amount of tradition extant, nor in the nature of things could there ever have been, to provide guidance for the whole community in every department of private and public life in the changed circumstances of the time. These people claimed the right to frame laws by the exercise of reason and induction. Their school was known as the Ashabu-l-Rai.

Thirdly there was the ignoble party, who shared neither the simple faith of the first nor the intellectual honesty of the second school. They claimed to be traditionists pure and simple and to base their findings on the traditions and customs of the prophet; but inasmuch as tradition was sometimes self-contradictory and sometimes non-existent they had to resort to a forced exegesis: the inductive method of the opponents they affected to despise; or to sheer invention.

The 'searchers after knowledge' (Talibun al-'Ilm) displayed a marvellous activity, some unquestioningly

1 Kanzu-l-'Ummai, v. p. 202.


undertaking the long and hazardous journey from the Guadalquiver to the Oxus in order to hear a hadith from the lips of one who claimed to have it in succession from Muhammad. In the second century a certain punctiliousness had to be observed. It was necessary to take over the hadith in its entirety, adding one's own name as the last link in the chain. It would be difficult to over-estimate the importance of this within Islam. Without the journeys and researches of these men the canonical collections would have been impossible. They kept alive in the memories of men scattered throughout the Muhammadan world a record of what the prophet was reported to have said and done. Nor was this all. They secured the general application of hadith which possessed only a local or provincial authority. In the nature of things, before the sunna was adopted by the government as an authoritative principle in the life of the state, no practice or doctrine — even if it were a genuine tradition of a Companion — could be guaranteed a hearing outside the circle of its original audience. But now that scholars travelled everywhere to supplement the traditions current in their own provinces and returned with their store to instruct an eager circle of pupils, the whole of the Muhammadan world had to listen to what was reported in its several districts. The summary report of Bukhari's handling of the vast number of traditions current in his day (see p. 28 f.) is an indication of the general character of hadith in the third century. Some were deemed worthy of inclusion in the canonical corpus; the great majority had been coined to support doctrines current in particular areas.


Journeys in quest of knowledge were elevated into acts of consummate piety, so that, for example, he who died from perils by the way, or succumbed to privation, was likened to him who lost his life in fighting for the faith. The following, recorded by Al Tirmidhi, Ibn Maja, Ibn Hanbal, and Al Darimi, illustrates the activity of the Talibu-l-'Ilm, and the esteem in which 'knowledge' was held by the pious Muslim: 'Kathir b. Qais said: "I was sitting with Abu Darda in the mosque of Damascus when a man came to him and said, 'I have come to you from Medina for a tradition which I have heard that you narrate from ('an) the apostle of God: for no other purpose have I come." 'Abu Darda said: "I heard the apostle of God say, 'Whoso travels a road in search of knowledge will God lead in a road to Paradise. Verily the angels joyfully spread their wings over the Talibu-l-'Ilm. All creatures in heaven and earth and even the fishes in the depth of the waters pray for the learned man (al 'alim). His superiority over the ordinary man is as that of the full moon over all the stars.'"' It would be difficult to find more fulsome praise of any human activity.

Both the strong religious motive and also the desire to pose before their countrymen as men who possessed traditions of prophetic origin which were not contained in written collections accounted for the longevity of the 'Quest for knowledge'.1 Centuries after the canonical collections had become recognized as authoritative and binding on the conscience of the pious, Muslims still

1 Al Suyuti (sub Must'asim) records that a number of traditionists granted this caliph a licence to repeat traditions in their name. This evidence from the seventh century of the Hijra is a striking example of the longevity of oral tradition.


undertook these journeys. The demand created the supply. There were not wanting charlatans who were willing to narrate any number of hadith for a sum of money. And as the talibun of later times were generally the most credulous of men, the wild stories which they brought back from their travels and related as sober traditions emanating from the founder of their religion ultimately brought the whole practice into contempt.

The very name of the second party — those who desired to frame the jurisprudence of the Islamic community by the aid of the vast amount of knowledge which had been acquired by its more enlightened members — is probably a reflection on their non-Arabian tenets. They were called the Ashabu-l-Rai.1 The early fiqh literature contains many axioms which are taken straight from Roman law-books. The foreign character of much of the fiqh was apparent to early Arabian writers, who do not hesitate to display their scorn for the methods of those who relied on members of a conquered race for the principles of their juris-prudential system rather than on the customs of the Arabs.

The third party to take a share in the work of providing the community with foundations for a rule of life and conduct were the Ashabu-l-hadith. They were not, as we have seen, the first party in the field; probably they did not feel called upon to bestir themselves until they had amassed more traditional matter than was at their disposal when the Ashabu-l-Rai first took the field. But the painstaking researches of the

1 Rai = opinion.


Talibun-al-'ilm produced an ever-growing mass of hadith which could be drawn upon to support almost any doctrine or practice, so that they were able by supplementing this source from their own inventions to deny the necessity for the exercise of opinion, and to demand that the laws and customs of the community should be based on the sunna as it was embodied in the traditions of the prophet. It was this controversial necessity for the production of hadith which helped to swell the vast number of traditions ascribed to the prophet. But since custom and law had by this time become established in some respects both practically and theoretically, the controversy; like so many of the disputations of the Rabbis in the Talmud, was to a large extent robbed of practical value. It was a controversy to determine not so much what the law of the community should be, but rather on what principle it should rest—free and independent drawing from the legal systems of the civilized world, or the sunna of the prophet as reported by tradition.1

Despite the invention of hadith to support a principle required at the time, the existence of contradictory hadith, and the lack of any critical examination of the statements of the traditionists, the controversy ended in the complete victory of the traditional party, so that their doctrines have become an integral part of the faith of a Muhammadan.

1 The comparison drawn between the corruption in law and custom introduced into Islam by the Shu'ubiyya and the error into which Israel fell through the contamination of muwallidun (MS, ii. 76, foot-note) is undoubtedly suggested by Jewish Haggada. Israel's apostasy and idolatry are constantly attributed to the presence of the 'mixed multitude' of Exodus xii. 38.


It must not be supposed that the representatives of these two opposing schools of thought were always divided into two sharply-divided camps.1 Distinct as their methods were in principle, there were many of the most influential men in the world of Muslim jurisprudence who sought to confirm the findings of rai be the traditions of the orthodox, as did Al-Shaibani. Moreover, on the other hand, Al-Muwatta, the law-book emanating from the 'home of the sunna', where hadith fails, appeals to rai.2

The attacks of the Ashabu-i-Rai on the traditionists had a salutary effect; they were compelled to endeavour to put their house in order, and the beginnings of some sort of criticism of authorities may be traced. The flat contradiction existing between many of the hadith was obviously the favourite object of attack, and where such an accusation can be sustained there are only two replies. It must either be maintained that the contradiction is apparent rather than real,3 or the inconvenient hadith must be thrown overboard.

1 A protest against speculation and the enmity subsisting between the schools is preserved by Bukhari (Krehl, p. 282, Babu Ta'limi-l-Faraid: 'Beware of conjecture (zann), for conjecture is the most lying hadith. Do not scrutinize everything exhaustively nor dwell in hatred and mutual dislike, but be servants of God as brethren.' These, says Abu Huraira, were the prophet's words.

2 See, further, D. B. Macdonald, Muslim Theology, London, 1903, pp. 100 ff.

3 Any collection of hadith which is provided with a commentary will show the straits to which harmonists are reduced. Cf. e.g. Mishkat, p. 351, sub intaqasa, note 5. Almost every page is occupied with a discussion of this kind. 'There are few chapters of Muhammadan jurisprudence in which the underlying traditions are free from contradictions': Goldziher.


Already Al-Shafi'i (d. 204) lays down principles by which contradictory hadith can be made to explain and complement each other, while Ibn Qutaiba displays great ingenuity in this field, as the following examples from the Mukhtalifu-l-hadith1 will show:

'The ahlu-l-kalam assert that the two following hadith are contradictory and mutually exclusive, namely:

(a) There will be no prophet after me, and no religion after my religion. The lawful and the unlawful will be what God has permitted and for-bidden according to my words until the last day.

(b) The Messiah will descend and slay swine, break the cross, and add to the lawful. And from 'Aisha: Say of the Apostle of God, "The seal of the prophets": do not say, "There will be no prophet after him."

Now we maintain that there is no contradiction whatever in these statements; for the Messiah was an earlier prophet whom God took up (to Himself) and will send him down again at the end of the age as a sign ('alaman) of the Hour. As God has said: 'Verily he shall be a sign ('ilmun) of the hour. Doubt not then of it'2 and some Readers read 'as a sign' ('alamun). And when the Messiah descends he will not abrogate anything that Muhammad the apostle of God commanded, nor will the Imam from his religion3 be first, but he will set him (Muhammad) first and pray behind him. As to the words 'and add to the lawful', a man said to Abu Huraira, 'He will only add women to the lawful,' to which he answered with

1 Cairo, 1326 A. H., pp. 235—6.

2 Sur. 43, v. 61, lit. 'He is for knowledge of the Hour'.

3 Or, 'people'.


a laugh, 'Precisely.' The words 'and add to the lawful' do not mean that he will allow men to marry five or six wives: they merely mean that whereas when the Messiah was first on earth he did not marry, when God sends him down again he will marry a woman and will add to what God has made lawful to him, i.e. the addition is from God, Then will there be no Christians but will know that he is the servant of God and be certain that he is mortal.

As to 'Aisha's words, they refer to the descent of Jesus and consequently do not contradict the prophet's saying: 'There will be no prophet after me.' He meant there will be no prophet after me to abrogate my commands as is customarily the prophet's mission. Her meaning was, 'Do not say that the Messiah will not come down after him.'

The contradictory import of traditions authorizing or prohibiting the writing of traditions has been referred to above (p. 16). Our author1 deals with them thus:

(a) Do not write anything from me except the Quran. Whoso writes anything from me, destroy him.

(b) From 'Abd Allah b. 'Amr. I said to the apostle of God shall I record knowledge ('ilm). Yes, said he. From Shu'aib: May I write down all that I hear from thee of the things that please (God) or displease Him? Yes, said the apostle, for I speak nothing but the truth.

Here, say the philosophers, is a blatant inconsistency. Now we say that there are two meanings to these hadith. One, that a sunna is abrogated by a sunna, for he at first forbade that his words should be written down; then afterwards when he knew that sunnas would be multiplied and escape the memory he

1 p. 365.


agreed to their being recorded in writing. Two, the permission was peculiar to 'Abd Allah b. 'Amr because he read the books of the earlier monotheists and used to write in Syriac and Arabic, while the rest of the Companions were illiterate (ummiyin), only one or two of them being able to write, and they not correctly. Therefore, because the prophet feared that they would write inaccurately he forbade them to write anything, and because he could trust 'Abd Allah b. 'Amr's ability he allowed him to record his saying (pp. 365—6). Again the question, May a Muslim drink standing?

(a) Anas says the prophet forbade it.

(b) Ibn 'Umar says the prophet used to drink standing.

There is no contradiction, says Ibn Qutaiba, because the prophet forbade drinking while one is walking. He wanted people to eat and drink in comfort, and not to drink while hurrying on a journey or business. Neglect of this precaution causes choking and indigestion; moreover, the word qum implies walking, not mere standing. (Here follows a quotation from Al 'Asha where yaqumu 'ala means 'proceed against'.) In the second hadith 'drinking while standing', qaimun, not walking nor active is meant. There is nothing objectionable in that because he was at his ease, which is after all as though he were seated (bi-manzilati-l-qa'id).

To a modern reader these explanations will seem more ingenious than convincing.1

Despite the power which a well-disposed government

1 An interesting discussion of the contradictory traditions as to the age of the prophet at his death will be found in Al Mas'udi, Les Prairies d'Or, Paris, 1914, Tome iv, pp. 148 if.


gave to the traditionists they could not dominate the everyday 1ife of the Muhammadan entirely by their theories. And often custom and practice were not in agreement with the sunna and hadith. When these differences were merely local something could perhaps be done by an ecclesiastically-minded governor who was not unwilling to apply the civil power to bring about conformity. But when the differences were in customs which had become almost universal the traditionist had to yield. Two lines of retreat were open to him. Either he must declare that the hadith was invalid and had been abrogated by another (a device familiar to the Quran exegetes),1 or he must admit that universal practice was invested with a higher power than hadith. This would seem to be a jeopardous step, but the traditionists were fully equal to the occasion. They elevated the agreed practice of the community to the position of an authoritative principle — al Ijma' — and asserted that when ijma' was in contradiction with the sunna it was a clear indication that an abrogating hadith had been lost! Ibn Qutaiba, however, does not feel himself called upon to go to such lengths to justify the hadith. He asserts roundly that ijma' is a more trustworthy guide than hadith; for the latter is subject to change through the carelessness of the narrators, to obscurity, abrogation, and forgery, while ijma' is not liable to such mishaps: hence the cause of the conflict between tradition and practice.

But the doctrine which satisfactorily set aside all disquieting reflections on the possibility of untrust-

1 Ibn 'Umar in Al Daraqutni (Mishkat, p. 24), explicitly: inna ahadithana yunsakhu ba-duha ba'dan kanaskhi-l-qurani.


worthy traditions was enshrined in the words, 'My people will never agree upon an error.' This tradition is not to be found in the Sahihan, though it is recorded by Abu Daud and Al-Tirmidhi as hasan. The pronunciation of this doctrine was truly masterly. We cannot but admire the resource and ingenuity of those who, threatened with the destruction — or at all events the discrediting — of their elaborate structure of tradition, incorporated the destructive force in their system and invested it with the authority of the prophet himself.1

1 It is obvious that this doctrine of the infallibility of the community as a whole provides an open road for the free development of the Muhammadan peoples. Any intelligent student of contemporary literature can see that the leaders of Muhammadan thought, when popular feeling is behind them, have no difficulty in obtaining the support of a large section of the Islamic world in favour of men and causes that would be condemned by orthodox tradition—the caliphate question is an interesting example. The words of a great scholar and man of affairs, written forty years ago (Annals of the Early Caliphate, by Sir W. Muir, London, 1883, p. 456, as quoted by Cheragh Ali), are hardly true of the Muhammadan world to-day: 'Islam is stationary; swathed in the rigid bands of the Coran; it is powerless, like the Christian dispensation, to adapt itself to the varying circumstances of time and place, and to keep pace with, if not to lead and direct, the progress of society and the elevation of the race. In the body politic the spiritual and the secular are hopelessly confounded, and we fail of perceiving any approach to free institutions or any germ whatever of popular government.' The Muhammadanism of the present day differs from the letter of its ancient documents in many important particulars, and given the impetus from within there is great scope for reform and development.

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