chapter  2
22 Pages

Exegesis and Hadith

Prophetic tradition (hadith) impinges on Qur’anic exegesis and the two have become inseparable entities in Islamic studies. In fact, the study of Qur’anic exegesis cannot be undertaken without reference to hadith. Through the study of schools of exegesis one can feel how hadith plays a more central role in the school of traditional exegesis (al-tafsir bil-ma’thur) than in any other school. However, in any school of Qur’anic exegesis, hadith has been taken as a demisting exegetical tool in the elucidation of a given Qur’anic passage. Yet the authenticity of hadith has been shrouded with scepticism due to the widespread proliferation of fabricated hadiths. As a result, it has become difficult to ascertain the correct signification of some Qur’anic materials whose linguistic or nonlinguistic account is hinged upon hadith literature. The present chapter investigates the interrelation between hadith and exegesis, how hadith literature has been documented, the major factors behind the forgery of hadith, the textual corruption of some hadiths, concerns over the accuracy of both the matn (text, content) and isnad (chain of authorities) of hadith, the efforts by traditionists (al-muhaddithun) to sift through the spurious hadiths and how they acted as both validators of sound hadiths and at times as exegetes themselves. As a prophetic tradition depends on a chain of authorities, major defects may be attributed to the chain of authorities in which case the hadith authenticity may be dented. The present account will also highlight the classification of hadith and its main genres.