The Evolution of a Hadith: Transmission, Growth, and the Science of Rijal in a Hadith of Sa’d b. Abi Waqqas by Shaykh Dr. Iftikhar Zaman

Shaykh Iftikhar Zaman, one of today’s most researched scholars in the science of Hadith and yet almost entirely unknown in our community for his expertise in the field, has yet to publish his brilliant PhD thesis on the evolution of a hadith of Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas that he authored while at the University of Chicago back in the 80’s.

The work is essentially the analysis of one hadith with all its corroboratory paths of transmission. Through this analysis, Dr. Zaman effectively demonstrates that the method of hadith criticism that has been implemented by the muhaddithin for the past thousand years, rooted in the science of rijal,  is far more scientific and exact than modern orientalist approaches.

I rarely speak on the topic of the authority of hadith and the evolution of the science without referring to this work and I am frequently asked to provide a link to it, so I think it is appropriate that I post it here on the at-Tahawi site.

The Evolution of a Hadith: Transmission, Growth, and the Science of Rijal in a Hadith of Sa’d b. Abi Waqqas

26 thoughts on “The Evolution of a Hadith: Transmission, Growth, and the Science of Rijal in a Hadith of Sa’d b. Abi Waqqas by Shaykh Dr. Iftikhar Zaman

  1. As-salam alaykum

    I can see where the Shaykh currently teaches, and the contents of his PhD from Chicago, but does anyone have slightly more exhaustive biographical details? Such as his preliminary studies, teachers, and then his undergraduate and Masters studies.

    Judging by the contents of his PhD, one would have to be quite amazing to write the thesis in the first place and then to defend it in one’s final viva. Masha’Allah.

    fi amanillah


  2. Another excellent PhD thesis on the defense of the Sunni Hadith system is written by Professor Scott C. Lucas titled:

    Constructive critics, Ḥadīth literature, and the articulation of Sunnī Islam : the legacy of the generation of Ibn Saʻd, Ibn Maʻīn, and Ibn Ḥanbal

  3. Salam

    I’ve read the PhD form that Lucas’ published book is based upon.

    It is a very good book, with a wealth of valuable material on the development of hadith criticism and transmission. He also has some colourful responses to Schacht and Juynboll, as well as some valuable discussions regarding Eerik Dickinson. Indeed, it is, overall, an excellent adjunct to Jonathan Brown’s PhD.

    Nevertheless, one feature stands out as being uncharacteristic of the general method of the work, and that is when he deals with the Companions. For some reason he heavily relies on Wilfred Madelung’s Succession to Muhammad [may the peace and blessings of God be upon him], which has been criticised as a Shi’i narrative, for some of the most painful accusations against the Companions esteemed by Sunnis. [Lucas stresses in the beginning of the work how he feels the word ‘orthodoxy’ is inappropriate to describe Sunni Islam. He also strenuously defends Madelung against Crone and Yasin Dutton.] This seems odd because Lucas doesn’t illustrate how the transmitter criticism of people he so favours in the work – like Dhahabi, Yahya Ibn Ma’in and Ahmad bin Hanbal – would fare if directly applied against the narrative of historical ‘truths’ presented by Madelung. For such a thorough applied examination might show that many of these narrations would be rejected due to weak or rejected narrators in the chains, as well one might imagine in light of the rejection of such a narrative in Sunnism. This methodological unevenness weakens the presentation of the argument in that section. I don’t know if the published version differs in this respect.

    fi amanillah


  4. Assalamu Alaykum,

    Booso said “…I don’t know if the published version differs in this respect.”

    I have read the book based on the phd and have a digital version of the phd too.

    I can confirm the point raised up by Andrew Booso about Brother Scott Lucas’ research and usage of Madelung’s work is part of the Brill book version which is based on his initial phd. I too found this aspect of his research very hard fathom and concerning!!!

    However, he much of research is very interesting, mashaAllah and alot of his work refutes many aspects of the western oriental critique of the Hadith literature:

    # “Justifying Gender Inequality in the Shafi‘i Law School: Two Case Studies of Muslim Legal Reasoning,”
    Journal of the American Oriental Society, 2009

    # “Principles of Traditionist Jurisprudence Reconsidered,”
    The Muslim World, (2010)

    # “Where are the Legal Hadiths? A Study of the Musannaf of Ibn Abi Shayba,” Islamic Law and Society, 15.3 (2008)

    # “Divorce, Hadith-scholar Style: From al-Darimi to al-Tirmidhi,” Journal of Islamic Studies, 19.3 (2008)

    # “Abu Bakr Ibn al-Mundhir, Amputation, and the Art of Ijtihad,” International Journal of Middle East Studies, 39.3 (2007)

    # “The Legal Principles of Muhammad b. Isma‘il al-Bukhari and their relationship to Classical Salafi Islam,”
    Islamic Law and Society, (2006)



  5. As-salamu `alaikum,

    Anyone know where I can find a pdf of the phd thesis of Brother Scott? He is the Assistant Professor Department of Near Eastern Studies at The University of Arizona. He has been a breath of fresh air for us, here in the Tucson Community.

  6. Assalaamu’alaikum to all,

    Brother Iqbal,

    Please share Prof. Scott’s thesis to my email address:

    Thank you so much in advance,

    Jazakumullaah khairan katsiira to all!

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