By Tarif Khalidi

In a piece that surveys a complete culture of historic idea and writing throughout a span of eight-hundred years, Tarif Khalidi examines how Arabic-Islamic tradition of the premodern interval considered the prior, the way it recorded it, and the way it sought to reply to the numerous complicated questions linked to the self-discipline of background.

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Fischer, 'Neue Auszuge aus ad-Dhahabi und Ibn an-Naggar', ZDMG 44 (1890), 418, on NakhaTs opinion of Sha'bi and Sha'bi's opinion of 'Ikrima. 22 History and Hadith Al-A'mash [d. 147/764] said: Ibrahim al-Nakha'i [d. 96/715] was a money-changer (sayrafi) in Hadith. I would hear hadiths from some men and then make my way to him and submit what I had heard. 11 It was during this same period also, that is, the second half of the first century, that these state- or faction-sponsored lawyers began to introduce new rules into the manner of transmission and then into isnad itself.

Abbott, Studies in Arabic Literary Papyri, Vol. 2 (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1967) and F. Sezgin, Geschichte des Arabischen Schrifttums, Vol. 1 (Leiden: Brill, 1967) regarding the historicity of early Hadith are fortified by M. M. Azmi, Studies in Early Hadith Literature (Indianapolis: American Trust Publications, 1978). All three address themselves to the scepticism of Schacht in his The Origins ofMuhammadan Jurisprudence (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1953) and An Introduction to Islamic Law (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1964).

Recorded in both memory and writing from the earliest decades after the death of the Prophet, the Hadith rapidly asserted its authority as a repository of the community's early religious and historical experiences. The periods it traversed in its first hundred and fifty years of existence may roughly be described as moving from an initial stage of collectanea, simple jottings recorded as heard or remembered, to a second stage when these were put together in a book, to a final stage when the various items were classified according to subject.

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