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  • Print publication year: 1983
  • Online publication date: May 2012

13 - Narrative elements in the Ḥadīth literature

In Ḥadīth the isnād, or chain of transmitters, was required to begin with a contemporary transmitter and to go back at least to one of prophet's Companions, or to a member of his family, but this did not deter the storyteller one whit. The Sunnah, which concerned itself with acts, allowed less liberty of treatment than did the Ḥadīth, which concerned itself with sayings and was easier to commit to memory, but in fact everyone find Sunnah and Ḥadīth complementing one another. The narrative elements in Ḥadīth do not give a picture of Muhammad in action so much as create an atmosphere of the presence of a beloved hero. Indeed, all the Ḥadīth about prayers create some sense of intimacy and friendly presence, as when he prays with a child near him or avoids waking a sleeping cat after praying. These Ḥadīth also reflect the general principle that "Islam is simplicity, not complexity".
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Arabic Literature to the End of the Umayyad Period
  • Online ISBN: 9780511659409
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