Traditions (hadith literature)

These articles are freely available until 31 January 2015 on the Brill Website.

Islamic Law in the Modern World
Author: Aharon Layish
Islamic Law and Society, (Volume 21, No. 3, pp. 276-307)

An Epistemic Shift in Islamic Law
Author: Aria Nakissa
Islamic Law and Society, (Volume 21, No. 3, pp. 209-251)

Reconstructing Archival Practices in Abbasid Baghdad
Author: Maaike van Berkel
Journal of Abbasid Studies, (Volume 1, No. 1, pp. 7-22)

The Early Ḥanafiyya and Kufa
Author: Christopher Melchert
Journal of Abbasid Studies, (Volume 1, No. 1, pp. 23-45)


Throughout history in almost every culture there has been the sordid practice of beheading. John the Baptist lost his head to King Herod. Louis XVI lost his under a French guillotine. But few would argue that beheading is just today, no matter what the rationale. The recent choreographed beheadings of ISIS have brought the issue once again to a head. Unfortunately, such video propaganda only feeds Islamophobia, even though there is no legitimate justification for such a practice in Islamic law or the sunna of the Prophet. Not one of the companions of the prophet is recorded as having decapitated an enemy; certainly the Prophet himself never committed such an act. Indeed, the blood-soaked ISIS spectacles are pornographic.

I recently came across a lengthy fatwa on the Islamic Sham Organization in response to the question if beheading is sanctioned in Islam. I attached it below as it is well worth reading.

ما حكم ذبح أسرى الأعداء بالسكين؟ وهل هو فعلاً سنة نبوية يمكن اتباعها؟

الحمد لله، والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله، وبعد:
فقد أرسل الله سبحانه وتعالى رسولَه بالهدى والعدل والرحمة، فكان مما شرعه الإحسان في استيفاء العقوبات والحدود والقصاص، بأن تكون بأيسر طريقة وأسرعها، ومنعَ من كل ما فيه تعذيب وتمثيل، كتقطيع الأعضاء والذبح بالسكين، فإنها من الطرق الشنيعة والمنكرة في القتل، وبيان ذلك فيما يلي:

Top of page from 1347 CE copy of Miftah al-‘ulum of al-Sakaki in the al-Aqsa Mosque Library

The British Museum is sponsoring a project to digitalize Arabic manuscripts in the al-Aqsa Mosque library of Jerusalem. Details below and at their website:

EAP521: Digitisation of manuscripts at the Al-aqsa Mosque Library, East Jerusalem

The main goal of this project is to preserve the historical manuscript collection housed at the Al-aqsa Mosque Library in Jerusalem. The Al-aqsa Library located at the heart of the Old City of Jerusalem serves as a primary research center for Islamic studies and as a reference library for scholars and students from Jerusalem and other Palestinian cities. The library’s rare and most valuable collection consists of approximately 2000 manuscripts. The manuscripts were acquired by the Al-aqsa Library from prominent scholars, private collections, and from libraries in Palestine that have ceased to exist. The materials selected for this project represent 119 manuscript titles in the most immediate need of preservation.

EAP521/1: Al-Aqsa Mosque Library Collection of Historical Manuscripts [12th century-19th century]

“This manuscript collection contains 119 Arabic language titles that span over several Islamic periods from the 9th century CE to the end of the Ottoman rule in Palestine at the beginning of the 20th century. Most of the manuscripts relate to aspects of the Islamic religion, but also cover Arabic literature, the Arabic language, logic, math and Sufism and provide a unique insight into centuries of Arabic culture in Palestine. The numbers of pages of original material represent double pages, often librarians of islamic manuscripts use one number for every two pages. ”

Digitisation is planned primarily as a means of preservation in order to create high-quality archival digital copies of the original source materials that are at risk of deterioration. Environmental factors, wear and tear of manuscripts due to poor storage conditions, the lack of security at the library, and the unstable political situation in Jerusalem contribute to the sense of urgency and make digitisation of these unique manuscript materials a top priority. (more…)

Eclipse of the Greater Jihad
by Syed Manzar Abbas Zaidi, Journal of Religion, Conflict, and Peace, Volume 3. Issue 1, Fall 2009

[The following is a brief excerpt from an interesting article on the debate over the “greater jihad” in light of Quranic and hadith references. I recommend reading the entire article, which can be done by clicking here.]

The word jihad derives from the Arabic root jhd, signifying intense struggle or effort. It has the connotations of a moral struggle within one’s own self, besides denoting an armed struggle. It thus carries the hermeneutical meaning of a moral endeavour directed toward one’s own improvement or self-elevation on a moral plane, which Muslim jurists of eminence have been quoted as calling jihad-e-akbar, or greater jihad. On the other hand, preparations and participation for defense against an armed conflict that is the consequence of foreign aggression has been known as qitaal, or jihad-e-asghar, lesser jihad… (more…)

19th century Cairo mosque illustration from Henry Van-Lennep’s Bible Customs.

Those of us who spend hours using Arabic lexicons would be at a loss without the massive Tâj al-‘Arûs min jawâhir al-qâmûs of Muhammad Murtadâ al-Zabîdî. Completed by this consummate Muslim scholar in 1188/1774 after fourteen years of diligent research, the recent Kuwait edition comprises 40 volumes. Ironically, what took al-Zabîdî fourteen years to write and dictate seems a rapid turn-around, given that the Kuwait edition began in 1960 and was not completed until 2002 [There is a copy available for only £2,463 from Abe Books…, but I suggest you go to Lebanon, where the 40 volume set is only $325 from Fadak Books I am not aware of any online version of Tâj, although Lisân al-‘Arab is available online in searchable format.] Those of us who could never afford to house the 40 volume edition have managed to get by with reprints of the 19th century Cairo edition, funky font presence that it sheds. I remember buying my copy of the thick black-cover volumes in 1981, filling a suitcase with the hefty weight, paying the porter a handsome bakshish for his back-breaking effort at Cairo airport, and then having the suitcase implode from the weight as I crossed the threshhold of my home back in New York. I like to think that my own account would have made its way into al-Zabîdî’s inquisitive notes. (more…)

[Webshaykh’s Note: Revisionism is found in all religions. I recently came across a blog posting that seeks to restore the marital status of Muhammad to one wife at a time, although it appears to be more an attack on at-Tabari, Ibn Ishaq and Ibn Hisham. I post the commentary not because I agree with it, but as an example of the variety of views held by Muslims in representing the Prophet Muhammad.]

THE PROPHET (S) HAD ONLY ONE WIFE AT A TIME by Dr. Shabbir Ahmed, The Quran as it Explains Itself, August 30th, 2009


Contrary to the Imamist propaganda, the exalted Prophet had no more than one wife at a time. And Hazrat Ayesha was a sister, not daughter of Hazrat Abu Bakr. The Prophet (S) did not marry for three years after Hazrat Khadijah’s demise in Makkah three years before Hijrah. Hazrat Ayesha was the widow of a martyr, Saleh bin Saleh Al-’Ataib. She was 48 years old at the time of marriage to the exalted Prophet. Sahaba Kiraam including Hazrat Abu Bakr strongly recommended that the Prophet (S) and she got into the solemn union of marriage. The blessed wedding took place in 622 CE when Muhammad (S) was 52 years old. Kitab-e-Dalail-e-Nabawwut Syedna Muhammad (S), by Abdul Jabbar Fatimi, written 150 years before Tabari, the first ever ‘canonized’ historian. Azwaaj-in-Nabi wal-Ashaab, by Sheikh Hammad bin Hakam. The rest is nothing but slanderous imagination of the Zoroastrian “Imam” Tabari and the Jewish biographer Ibn Ishaq and his Parsi follower Ibn Hisham. (more…)

[Note: The following excerpt by a Muslim intellectual is perhaps the best antidote for the ongoing violence of mosque bombings, Taliban and Basij brutality towards Muslim women and vitriolic sermons.]

Islamic Perspectives of Inter-Community Relations

by Maulvi Yahya Nomani (Translated from Urdu by Yoginder Sikand)

The issue of what Islam has to say about inter-community relations is one about which much misunderstanding exists. Anti-Muslim propagandists claim that Islam preaches hatred for non-Muslims, and that the Quran is a menace to world peace. They go so far as to argue that world peace is simply impossible as long as the Quran exists. In order to back their propaganda, they have deliberately twisted and misinterpreted certain verses of the Quran. Many people with little knowledge have fallen prey to this poisonous propaganda, which has been aggressively spread on an enormous scale through the media. (more…)

By Asghar Ali Engineer, April, 2009

A few days ago I was invited to speak in a Prophet Day’s function. There were other speakers as well. As usual the speakers before me indulged in rhetoric ‘Islam is the solution’ and also said the world economy has failed and slowed down as it is based on gambling and interest. Another person said Islam declared human rights 14 hundred years ago whereas UNO declared it only sixty years ago. Yet another speaker said Islam has given equal rights to women and made it obligatory for them to seek education. Also it was emphasized that Islam is religion of peace.

All this provoked me to say all this is true and I can add much more to it but have we ever seriously reflected why Islamic world is in such turmoil today. Why Muslims have totally failed to adopt these teachings in practice. I said if one caste a critical glance at Islamic world today one finds exactly opposite of what Qur’an teaches. If Qur’an lays great emphasis on knowledge, Islamic world from Indonesia to Algeria has more illiterates than any other community. (more…)

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