By Tarif Khalidi
In a piece that surveys a complete culture of ancient concept and writing throughout a span of eight-hundred years, Tarif Khalidi examines how Arabic-Islamic tradition of the premodern interval seen the earlier, the way it recorded it, and the way it sought to reply to the various complicated questions linked to the self-discipline of background.
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Additional resources for Arabic Historical Thought in the Classical Period
128/746)] was the mufti (jurisconsult) of the people of Egypt of his days. He was a moderate and wise man, the first to establish the primacy of religious knowledge in Egypt and to expound on the licit and the illicit. It is reported that before this [my italics] the people of Egypt used to relate hadith 1 2 3 On 7/m, the standard classical treatise is Ibn 'Abd al-Barr (d. 463/1070), Jam? Bayan al-'Ilm wa Fadlihi. F. Rosenthal, Knowledge Triumphant (Leiden: Brill, 1970) is a recent and exhaustive treatment.
Gerhardsson, Memory and Manuscript: Oral Tradition and Written Transmission in Rabbinic Judaism and Early Christianity (Copenhagen: Munksgaard, 1964), especially pp. , 196 ff. See also J. Pedersen, The Arabic Book (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984), chapter 3. The classical literature on the isnad is vast. A modern Muslim view is forcefully set forth in Azmi, Studies, chapter 6, who among other things re-examines the theories of Schacht and Robson. The works of Abbott, Sezgin and Juynboll cited above should also be consulted.
A. al-Khatib, Al-Sunna qabl al-Tadwin, 2nd edn (Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, 1971) as well as in the works of al-'Ishsh and Azmi, cited above. R. S. Humphreys, Islamic History: A Framework for Inquiry (Minneapolis: Bibliotheca Islamica, 1986), pp. 68 ff. reviews the literature on the subject of the early historical tradition but his own views are, in many places, questionable. See also the interesting article by Gregor Schoeler, 'Die Frage der schriftlichen oder miindlichen iiberlieferung der Wissenschaften im friihen Islam', Der Islam, dill, (1985), 201-30, who argues that the controversy over written versus oral transmission hinges upon an exact definition of the terms 'written' and 'oral'.