Introduction to Islamic Texts

This video is a ‘trailer of sorts’ outlining what the course at Cambridge Islamic Network Worldwide covers delivered by Dr Mohammad Akram Nadwi.

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My paraphrase of his introductory words with embedded thoughts of my own:

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People cannot challenge anything if they are not trained to argue, to debate, to think and so to understand. Muslims (who are all supposed to be practitioners of Islam) – and only if they possess the ability – must understand their own heritage that is available ‘out there’ – to grasp the depth and nuances already contained within that heritage in order to assertively, intelligently, eloquently, morally (not defensively) address the modern challenges of today.

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We need to know what Muslim scholars have already done. People mention Bukhari – but what has he done? We must understand how sophisticated these thinkers were/are. So let us refrain from ascribing to our superficial understanding/notions. We must at least help each other to understand what we already have prior to our attempts to produce something of this calibre, which is a certain necessity.

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Students will analyse the following texts:

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Hadith

  1. Muwatta of Malick (How did scholars use their reasoning to get to rulings?)

  2. Academic Methodology of Bukhari and Muslim (including the Fiqh of Bukhari).

  3. Abu Dawud (Book of the Sunnah): What is sunnah? – Sunnah is not ‘customary law’ as orientalists suggest – that Muslims merely ‘Islamised’ Arab culture as sunnah! Sunnah revolves around the Prophet’s Way.

  4. Tirmidhi: Al Jamiah – How did the muhaditheen discuss issues surrounding hadith? Classification of hadiths etc…

  5. Nasa’i : Book of the Sunnah.

  6. Ibn Majah: Muqaddimah: Strength is his argument against bid’ah.

Fiqh

  1. Risalah of Shafi’i (Usool al-fiqh – the first to compile the science properly) – Incorporates Greek philosophy and logic.

  2. Some contextual discussion of Schools of Legal Thought (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i, Hanbali).

  3. Zahiri School by Ibn Hazm: Al Muhallah – No need for qiyas/analogy. Qur’an and Sunnah only is sufficient, brilliantly argued.

  4. Shatibi’s Al Muafaqat – Wisdom of the Shariah (We must not reduce the Shari’ah to the Maqasid (goals) – i.e. the modern notion that the Shari’ah can be reduced to five laws. This is a secularised [functional] delimited notion).

Philosophical Approaches

  1. Tahafat Al Falasifa by Al Ghazali: Arguments against the philosophers.

  2. Ibn Rushd’s Tahafut At-Tahafut – Arguments against Al Ghazali.

  3. Ibn Tayymiah: Refutation of the People of Greek Logic – is shockingly current.

  4. Ibn Khaldun: Muqaddimah – Historian/historiography and father of social sciences. (Critique – he fails to use his own principles on his own history. But his Intro (Muqaddimah) is more important than his history).

  5. Wisdom of the Shariah: by Waliullah Dehlevi (A profound mind).

Qur’an

  1. How to understand the Qur’an: Hamid Uddin Farahi (d. 1930s) – Theory of coherence in the Qur’an.

  2. Ibn Tayymiah: Muqaddimah fi usool al tafsir – Excellent on context. Sunnah vis-a-vis the Qur’an.

Check out Dr Mohammad Akram Nadwi’s Facebook page (managed by his students).

Shaykh

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