Debates on the Authority of Hadith in Early Islamic Intellectual History: Identifying al-Shafi'i's Opponents in Jima' al-'Ilm

Hansu H.

JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN ORIENTAL SOCIETY, vol.136, no.3, pp.515-533, 2016 (AHCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 136 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2016
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.515-533
  • Istanbul University Affiliated: Yes


Al-Shafi'i's works contain reports of numerous debates on the epistemological value of hadith reports, but unfortunately rarely name specific opponents or interlocutors or the groups to which they belong. In Jima' al-'ilm al-Shafi'i summarizes the views of scholars whom he considered opponents of hadith under two broad rubrics: those who reject hadith categorically and those who reject only part of the hadith. There have been speculations regarding their identity but only in 2013 was a concrete advance made, when Ahmed El Shamsy identified one of al-Shafi'i's opponents in debate as Ibn 'Ulayya. This study attempts to identify a group of al-Shafi'i's opponents in Jima' al-'ilm, drawing on Abu 1-Qasim al-Balkhi's Kitab al-Maqalat and other classical works of Islamic theology.