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Tuesday 24th of May 2022
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EFFECTIVE METHODS OF ORINETAISTS IN HADITH STUDIES

“Orientalists apply modern and effective methods in their studies of Hadith fields which we can use them in our Hadith-related researches”, said Hojat Al-Islam Ali Rad, head of Orientalism and Hadith Office. 

Hojat Al-Islam Rad pointed to the orientalists and the subjects they choose for their researches and said finding about these subjects as well as realizing the areas requiring more research can help Muslim students of Hadith Science have a better understanding in their academic works. “Getting to know about orientalists and their viewpoints about Hadith is necessary for the students.” He said.  

Regarding necessity of analyzing the orientalist researches he said, “In oriental studies we face with the two concepts of “geographical orient” and “Mental-Cultural orient”. Geographical orientalism can be any kind of oriental research; however, if we take oriental studies as “Mental-Cultural” studies, then it would be somehow different from the first meaning taken from orientalism.

Rad continued to say that historically speaking, there is no clear border for orient and consequently it is impossible to define clear lines for geographical orient. Some famous researchers such as the German orientalist, Rudy Beret, have indicated that oriental studies means studying east based on mental-cultural aspects, one of which would be oriental religions.

Indicating importance of studying western researches in Hadith field, Rad said, “studying orient is a modern, dynamic and scientific event in Hadith-related researches and Muslim researchers must get to know the ideas and opinions of orientalists about Hadith and it is a scientific requirement for Muslim researchers. It means that if we want to present a compressive academic work we should know about the orientalists’ ideas”. 

Rad said that some of the oriental studies are not scientific, following political purposes and contain outstanding mistakes. Knowing these defects and critiquing them can help when filtering Ahadith. Filtering of Ahadith is not possible unless there is enough understanding of orientalists’ works and ideas.

Today in many of academic centers in western societies Islam is introduced by the same oriental researchers and articles. This fact has affected many of the learned westerns’ understanding of Islam, particularly when it comes to Ahadith, being one of the important sources in Islamic studies. Thus, we need to deal with oriental studies in order to find the extent of their knowledge about Islam.

Rad divided the critiques against oriental studies into two classes and said, “Basically, it is impossible to have a perfect academic work. A scientific oriental study is no exception. The first critique class is about the orientalists’ motivations and mentality when researching on Ahadith. In critiquing oriental works, some Muslim authors indicate that those works are politically motivated  and they don’t academically discuss the issue. Although these ideas can be taken as critiques, they are not academically accepted when it comes to Hadith-researches, meaning that just because there probably contain political motivation does not mean they are non-academic works.

The second critique class is about the orientalists who are inexperienced about Ahadith. They are either not acquainted with language of Hadith, or Shiite viewpoints upon Ahadith, or methods of critiquing, or have prejudgments in Hadith studies. In order to critique oriental studies in Hadith field, we can use their ideas and thoughts.

The two major centers of Hadith researches in the world are Germany and Netherlands. These centers hold academic and modern approach in their Hadith-related researches. 

The main areas that the orientalists have ,so far, worked on are: reviving and correcting manuscripts and publishing them, preparing lists of Ahadith in summery and details, preparing list of Ahadith thematically, researching on the personality of the Holy Prophet (S.A), analytical-critical researches, and documentation studies.

From the 18th century the academic-specialized approach of orientalists toward Hadith was formed. From then on the other subjects were formed, namely critical research on behavior of the Holy Prophet (S.A), documentation against Islamic Ahadith as if they are forged, questioning originality of the science of Rijal, Jurisprudence of Hadith and critiquing Hadith. The followings are the best examples of such researches: Goldzihr, Shakht, Khutir, Younbol and Muteski.

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