Academic Programs 

The Current State of Hadith Studies   (SC-539)
Fall 2007

Hadith are “reports” about the Prophet Muhammad and are the primary means of knowing his Sunna. The normative nature of the Sunna is well-established in the Qur’an and was supported by the conservative culture of seventh-century Arabian society. At the same time, the authority of the Sunna was not uncontested in early Muslim society. More seriously, the misattribution of statements to the Prophet Muhammad was recognized to be a problem as early as the first century of Islam. As a result, a major effort to collect, scrutinize, evaluate and organize hadith was undertaken by generations of hadith scholars. In parallel to this effort, legal scholars developed and refined their various approaches to the sources of the law, and arrived at different assessments of the legal value of various hadith. In the early Modern period, hadith scholarship came under new scrutiny, in light of historical-critical methods developed primarily by European scholars, often working in a climate hostile to Islam and Muslim bases of knowledge. Simple apologetic responses to the Orientalists have been replaced in recent decades with new efforts on the part of Muslim and non-Muslim scholars to use new technologies and the information in recently discovered manuscripts to re-evaluate the historicity of the collected hadith. For their part, legal modernists have struggled to establish a consistent approach to the use of hadith in their deliberations.


Meeting Day, Time and Dates: 
Wednesdays from 4:30 to 6:50 p.m., beginning September 12

Ingrid Mattson
Professor of Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations

Contact Information:

(860) 509-9531


Course Syllabus

Course Requirements:

For ten specified weeks (listed on the reading list) the student must submit a response to that week’s readings to the instructor at the beginning of class. This response should be approximately 500 words. It can include a summary of the reading, questions raised in response to the readings, comments on the readings. This constitutes half of the student’s grade. No late responses will be accepted. If a student is absent from class for a valid reason, he or she can submit the response by email before class or up to one day after class. No student can do this more than twice in the semester.

The research paper must be on a topic approved by the instructor. In addition to any monographs the student may find on the paper topic, he or she must also consult the Index Islamicus, the Religion Index or another source to search for relevant scholarly articles. Research papers without reference to at least five articles published in academic journals will be rejected. The student is encouraged to have their paper reviewed by the writing tutor before submission if he or she is not confident of his or her ability to write a good research paper. Students must follow Hartford Seminary guidelines for writing research papers. A copy of these guidelines are available from the course instructor or the Dean’s office.

Graded papers will be available in the Macdonald Center for the first month of the next semester. They will then be discarded. Students who want their corrected paper mailed must submit a self-addressed envelope with their paper.

Books Required:

1. Mohammad Hashim Kamali, A Textbook of Hadith Studies: authenticity, compilation, classification and criticism of Hadith (UK: The Islamic Foundation, 2005).

2. Daniel Brown, Rethinking Tradition in Modern Islamic Thought (Cambridge University Press, 1996).

Additional Readings:

You will have a number of additional articles and chapters to read that will be available on “Reserve” in the Library.


Weekly reading responses: 10 x 5 = 50%
Research paper 50%


Final paper/project due: January 5, 2008.


Hartford Seminary  77 Sherman Street  Hartford, CT  06105   860-509-9500