Islamic Beliefs and Practices (The Islamic World) by Matt Stefon

By Matt Stefon

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There were, broadly, two factors operating to this end. One was the unique status of Muhammad in the genesis of Islam. The other was the rapid geographical expansion of the new faith in the first two centuries of its history into various areas of cultural confrontation. Hadith cannot be rightly assessed unless the measure of these two elements and their interaction is properly taken. The experience of Muslims in the conquered territories of west and middle Asia and of North Africa was related to their earlier tradition.

Despite this direct relationship, humans are portrayed as forgetful beings and are therefore commanded to obey God’s laws. ” Men and women are expected to be virtuous, to pray, and to perform their duties to family, to society, and indeed to creation as a whole. The Qur’an contains specific laws and legal principles for governing Islamic society, such as laws of inheritance. Islamic law in its systematized form is known as Shari‘ah. Rights are treated as secondary to the individual’s obligations to God and to creation.

In the 8th and 9th centuries, however, scholars began to collect the sayings of the Prophet after devising rigorous criteria for examining the authenticity of the chain of transmission (isnad). The result of this herculean task was the Sunni compilation of six collections of sayings known as the Sihah (plural of Sahih; “correct”), the most famous of which was compiled by al-Bukhari. In the 10th century the Shi‘ites brought together their own collection in four volumes known as The Four Books (Al-Kutub al-arba‘ah), of which the most famous was by al-Kulayni, but some Shi‘ite authorities believe that Shi‘ism also has six canonical collections of Hadith.

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