PHIL1002 (Spring 2023) Hadith: The Prophetic Tradition
Minor Essay Assignment – 1000 word length (40%)
2.4 Assessment Details
2.4.1 1. Minor Essay
Weight: 40% Type of Collabora- tion: Individual Due: 11 September by midnight Submission: Turnitin Format: Research Essay Length: 1000 words Curriculum Mode: Essay
Objective: This task will test students’ ability to demonstrate basic level comprehension of the subject’s content and the research materials provided. Students will need to exhibit critical thinking and analytical skills through a short written paper (minor essay) that is driven by argumentation.
Description: Minor Essay: designed to test written argumentation, literacy skills, and demonstration of basic comprehension and critical analysis. Requirements:
The examiner will be looking for:
— Clear writing and well-structured paragraphs; — Clarity of ideas and expression; — Engagement with key ideas in subject content — Argumentation supported by rationale and clear logic, and where applicable, quotations from the source material — Evidence of relevant reading, analysis and critical reflection supported by well-integrated references made to subject content where relevant — Breadth of knowledge across the subject, particularly of the subject’s key themes and ideas — A solid command of the academic conventions of writing and presentation, including full referencing and bibliography.
The use of Al that suggests or completes assessment responses is NOT permitted in this assessment. If Al* is detected in a student’s assessment, you will be subject to sanctions under the Student Misconduct Rule. Use of generative Al tools may be detected.
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See Readings

Hadith refers to the recorded sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad that serve as a major source of religious law and moral guidance in Islam second only to the Quran. The hadith help to explain verses in the Quran and provide context for Islamic jurisprudence. This essay will explore the origins and development of the hadith tradition, examine some of the major hadith collections, and discuss the process of authenticating hadith.
Origins and Development
During the Prophet’s lifetime, his sayings and actions were memorized and transmitted orally by his companions. After his death in 632 CE, there was a growing need to document these traditions as Islam was spreading to new lands and oral transmission alone could not be relied upon for accuracy (Brown, 2014). The first major efforts to collect and record hadith began in the early 8th century by scholars such as Malik ibn Anas and Muhammad al-Bukhari. They traveled widely gathering hadith from transmitters in different regions and scrutinizing chains of transmission to evaluate authenticity. By the 9th century, the six major Sunni hadith collections were established which formed the basis of hadith literature thereafter (Ramadan, 2007).
Major Hadith Collections
The two most authoritative Sunni hadith collections are Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim. Al-Bukhari spent over 16 years verifying hadith, accepting only around 2,600 hadith out of over 600,000 that he evaluated as authentic (sahih) based on stringent acceptance criteria (Brown, 2014). Muslim also applied rigorous standards and included around 4,000 sahih hadith in his collection. Other significant collections include Sunan Abu Dawood, Jami al-Tirmidhi, Sunan al-Sughra and Sunan Ibn Majah. Together, these six books (known as Al-Kutub al-Sittah or the Six Major Hadith Collections) form the basis of hadith literature in Sunni Islam. The Shia tradition also has its own authoritative hadith collections such as Al-Kafi by Al-Kulayni.
Authenticating Hadith
In order to determine the authenticity and trustworthiness of a hadith, early hadith scholars developed the science of hadith criticism which examines the chain of transmission (isnad) and the text of the report (matn). Factors such as the reliability of narrators, consistency with the Quran and sunnah, and absence of irregularities in the chain of transmission were used to grade hadith as sahih, hasan, or da’if. Modern hadith critics such as G.H.A. Juynboll have further refined these methods using tools like historical criticism. While authenticating hadith is an ongoing process, the sahih collections of Bukhari and Muslim are almost universally accepted by Sunni scholars due to their stringent methodology (Ramadan, 2007).
Subtitle: Scholarly References
Brown, J. (2014). Hadith: Muhammad’s Legacy in the Medieval and Modern World. Oneworld Publications.
Ramadan, T. (2007). In the Footsteps of the Prophet: Lessons from the Life of Muhammad. Oxford University Press.
Juynboll, G.H.A. (1983). Muslim Tradition: Studies in Chronology, Provenance and Authorship of Early Hadith. Cambridge University Press.
Al-Kulayni, M. (2008). Al-Kafi: By Shaikh Abu Ja’far Muhammad Ibn Ya’qub Al-Kulayni. Islamic Seminary Inc.
In conclusion, hadith serve as a vital source of Islamic law and guidance second only to the Quran. This was made possible through the diligent efforts of early hadith scholars to collect, verify and document the sayings and traditions of the Prophet Muhammad. The development of hadith literature and science of hadith criticism has helped ensure close examination and grading of hadith authenticity. The major hadith collections such as Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim are considered among the most reliable due to their stringent methodology and acceptance criteria. Hadith continue to play an important role in Islamic thought, jurisprudence and practice to this day.

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