International Webinar on Isnad after Canons: Analysing Origin, Nature and Significance of an Evolving Tradition in Post Canonical world

Organizer: Hosted by Hadith Department, Jamia Madeenathunnoor

About the Webinar

  • When: 2023 December 01-14


The word ‘riwaya’ is the verbal noun of rawa, which originally means “to bear”, and hence signifies “to transmit, relate”. In hadith literature, the noun riwaya applies to the technical meaning of transmission of narratives and hadith, and also refers to the transmission of books. Riwaya constitutes one among the two integral themes within the hadith studies, with diraya. While riwaya is related to the chain of narrators (sanad), diraya applies to the discussions surrounding the core text (matn). Different fields in hadith science which are enumerated as hundred or more are considered under either one of these two themes. Hadith criticism which emerged as a process to preserve the authentic legacy of prophet was also focused on matn and sanad. In addition to riwaya and diraya, matn and sanad criticisms are also equally important concepts in hadith studies.

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In Islamic Intellectual tradition, a notable trend emerged among Sunni traditionists, experts in religious sciences, who dedicated themselves to creating and transmitting works that elevated the status of Prophet Muhammad. The transmission of Hadith after the process of Canonization exemplifies how these traditionists not only incorporated their writings but also their lives into the popular movement of devotion to the Prophet. This devotion is evident in the networks used for transmission, always within the framework of teaching and prophetic traditions in the Islamic Sunni world. Even though the themes among various subgenres overlap, bearing connections to one another and occasionally recurring, authors and transmitters of these works rarely focus solely on one subgenre; they engage with several simultaneously and tend to be prolific transmitters of Hadith in general. This is because over time, scholars came to believe that transmitting the sunna was itself a profound form of respect for the Prophet. One way they integrated their intellectual movement of prophetic veneration was by emphasizing that prophetic traditions were, in themselves, a significant form of devotion to Muhammad

For more than a century, discussions about the origins and authenticity of hadiths have been central in Hadith studies. It has focused primarily on the initial three centuries of Islam. After this period, the historical credibility of the hadith collection was firmly established, rendering these inquiries irrelevant. However, it’s crucial to recognize that hadith transmission did not cease in the fourth/tenth century with the establishment of the written canon. Instead, it not only persisted as a traditional practice but thrived, remaining a vital aspect of Sunni scholarly culture worldwide for more than a millennium. Even today, scholars continue to recite their personal chains of transmission, tracing back generations to the Prophet. Post-canonical hadith transmission, spanning over a millennium, was a remarkably innovative and prolific domain of scholarly output, as well as a prominent devotional practice. This led to the emergence of numerous new genres and sub-genres, resulting in a body of hadith literature that surpasses the canon many times over and remains vibrant and active even in modern times. The Riwaya webinar 3.0, focusing on the theme “Isnad after Canons; Origin, Nature, and Significance of an Evolving Tradition in a Post-Canonical World,” offers a comprehensive examination of this subject from the perspective of Islamic Traditionalism, an area that has been relatively unexplored

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