The Relative Status of Hadith and sunna as Sources of Legal Authority vis-a-vis the Quran in Muslim Modernist Thought
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The discussions and the debates on the nature of the concept of sunna and its conceptual, epistemological, and hermeneutical relationship with the concept of a sound ḥadīth and the Qur’ān continue to take place in modern Islamic studies. Indeed, what is striking, as will hopefully become evident in the course of reading of this chapter, is the level of continuity that these discussions in the modern context have with those of the classical period of Islam discussed in the previous chapters. In this chapter, I examine the views of several prominent modernist Muslim scholars who have developed some innovative conceptual, methodological, and hermeneutical arguments and ideas regarding the question of the relative status of the sunna and hadïth as sources of legal authority vis-à-vis the Qur’ān and their normative role in Qur’ānic interpretation. They include Javed Ghāmidī, Fazlur Rahman, Muḥammad Shahrūr, and Ghulām Parwez. I also include a brief discussion of my own understanding of the concept of sunna as based on previously published work. Given that this is the only chapter that focuses on the modern period, the discussion is aimed more at breadth rather than depth.
The Sunna and its Status in Islamic Law: The Search for a Sound Hadith
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