Challenging Islamic Traditions

Searching Questions about the Hadith from a Christian Perspective
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Description

The Hadith are Islam’s most influential texts after the Qur’an. They outline in detail what the Qur’an often leaves unsaid. The Hadith are a foundation for Islamic law and theology and a key to understanding the worldview of Islam and why many Muslims do the things they do. This book subjects the Hadith to a critical analysis from a biblical perspective. In a scholarly and respectful way, it exposes significant inconsistencies within these ancient documents and highlights potential problems with the Muslim-Christian interface.

  • ISBN: 9780878084890
  • Pages: 296
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Published: 2016
  • Publisher: William Carey Library

Endorsements

This study is certainly original and has implications for Christian
theology and mission which are profound, as well as urgent. It will assist theologians, missiologists and missionaries in their work.
—BISHOP Michael Nazir-Ali

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I am impressed by the detailed classification of Bukhari’s Hadith;
I am not aware of any parallel analysis, so we do have a significant contribution to the academic study of the traditions. The breadth of the study is commendable.

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Bernie Power’s stated goal in Challenging Islamic Traditions is to contrast al-Bukhari’s collection of the Hadith—a body of text that details the traditions of Muhammad and the early Islamic community—with the teaching of the Bible as well as norms from other societies.
Power asserts that to understand the Qur’an, “the key text of Islam,” it is necessary to understand the Hadith. This sheds light on why Islam has failed to fulfill its claims that it is the ‘answer’ and will “prevail over all other religions.” It also helps the reader grasp the reasons that underlie “Islamic violence, its lack of progress, and the so-called ‘clash of civilizations’ with the West and other countries.”
In Section One, Power sifts through challenges to the “whole concept of the Hadith,” including the way in the which the Hadith were assembled, as well as the confusing nature of the connection between the Hadith and the Qur’an. The reader will be able to grasp concerns, including the problem-laden process—spanning a period of approximately two hundred years after Muhammad’s death—of the compilation of the Hadith; and the challenges that the isnad (‘lists of transmitters’) system poses to the “historical reliability of the Hadith.”
In Section Two, Power’s objective is to show that while there appear to be commonalities between the Bible and the Hadith, a careful scrutiny reveals that there are differences both in factual material as well as lessons taught. Power elucidates differences ranging from views of God, the life of Jesus and Muhammad, violence and vengeance, views of women, and historical facts.
In Section Three, Powers argues that the Hadith are found ‘wanting’ on numerous points. His discussion on political policies and human rights concerns provides fodder for discussion about whether Islam is viable as a universal religion.
Given the obvious differences between Christianity and Islam, in the fourth section Power presents simple, yet effective suggestions for engaging Muslims. Power’s book is easy to read and replete with ‘technical’ information drawn from the Hadith.

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Table of Contents

Contents
Transliteration Table
llustrations
Sidebars
Tables
Introduction

I
Critical Issues
1. The Challenges of Identifying the Hadith
2. Attitudes of Scholars toward the Hadith
3. The Relationships between Qur’an and Hadith
4. Muhammad’s Variant Behavior
5. Results of Contradictory Hadiths
6. The Next Generations
7. Compilation of the Hadith
8. Isnād and Transmitter Problems

II
Contrasts with Biblical Teaching
9. Differing Views of God
10. The Character and Actions of Muhammad
Compared with Jesus11. Muhammad and Jesus, Vengeance and Violence

12. Women in the Hadith
13. History, Heaven, and Hell

III
Challenges from Other Perspecti ves
14. Scientific Problems in the Hadith
15. Political, Social, Financial, and Legal Policies
16. Human Rights Concerns

IV
Practical Implications
17. To Challenge or Not to Challenge?
18. Conclusion
Appendix: Qur’anic Verses Referred to in al-Bukhāri’s Hadith
Bibliography

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