Activities Detail

Hadith Conceptions and Their Transformation in the Historical Process

The speaker of the conference, which was held by KURAMER on 29 October 2015, was Professor Yavuz Unal, from 19 Mayis University Divinity Faculty. The title of the conference was “Hadith Conceptions and Their Transformation in the Historical Process”.

Yavuz Unal aimed for a brain storming in this context and his objective was to discuss the issue in depth. Thus, Professor Unal offered to read the historical process by turning back to the period of epistles.

According Professor Unal, who accepts the versatility of hadith conceptions in the historical process in advance, we need to classify the historical process into two as the period in which Prophet (a.s.) lived and the post-Prophet period, to analyse the notion in the historical flow. In this regard, it has to be noted that the perception of Prophet and hadith are directly related, and that whereas the perception of Prophet shapes the possibility of hadith, narratives frame the perception.

When the first phase is taken as the basis, the following questions need to be raised: “what do the companions of Prophet Mohammed ask each other about his remarks when he was alive? Which of his remarks, life-style, dressing style, and practices were considered noteworthy and conveyed by them?” What they inquired and conveyed are those they found valuable for some reason. This implies a consciousness. Thus, one needs to find some information noteworthy and then worth conveying so that he/she can narrate this to someone else. What have been found noteworthy and worth conveying are the things which have been considered to be related to the mission of Prophet or unusual. We need to analyse the conveyed narrative from this point of the view.

When the sketch of the post-Prophetic notion of hadith is considered, the following elements have been influential: the longing for the Prophet, the wonderings of the new generation who believe in him but have not seen him, and the nostalgic conversations of those who have acquainted with him. When he was alive, the question “what did he say?” was the major source of wonder, while it is “how was he?” that was the primary question. For, the things he said in this period evolved into the realm of de-facto situation, which were to be transformed into tradition.

Whereas the issues about Prophet’s mission or the things found different were discussed during the previous period, so that they were found to be worth transmitting, after his death the curiosity and yearning of the new generations were influential on the evolution of the process. Also, contrary to the formal framing of religious requirements, the development of fatwa formatting, which emerged as a response to the questions related to the new situations in the sense that of being “licit or illicit”, was influential. The questions were replied either in the form of a fatwa formatting or by citing narratives in the form of as they were told. In the former form, the historical context of narratives was missing, and personal authority was brought to the fore. In the latter form, a process was initiated, in which the texts were going to be involved actively in the new situations. Both forms should be followed peculiarly.

After this part, Ünal resumed his speech with the following statement: “due to the lack of a proper distinction in the later period between narratives as significant and substantial, the interest was diverted from prophet’s mission to other aspects. Although in his lifetime narratives were shaped in the framework of his mission, after his death his life, character and the events of his lifetime were addressed in the narratives. This led to an expansion of the hadith field. This is a situation, which disturbed Khalifa Omar, whom had been claimed to oppose many narratives. It is not the huge number of transmitted narratives that worried him but giving priority to the information that should not be addressed in the framework of the notion of hadith and putting them on the agenda, which thereby caused a mental evolution. This worry led him to take some measures in this respect.

In addition to the narratives attributed to the Prophet, statements and practices of some companions, those who were perceived to be prominent, of the Prophet had also gained significance, actually to use a better term, a status. The same perception made room for the prominent ones from the Tabiin generation. Thus, to express this in a terminological way, next to marfu information, new types of information were added: mawquf and maqtu. This entails the fact that new interesting areas such as seerah, appearance etc. were added to the particular area of the mission of the Prophet. Thus, the very first work in the area of cultural history of Islam was emerged in the area of Seerah. Here, it is not mentioned that there was a lack of necessity or interest. On the contrary, it is expressed that knowledge hierarchy, which is essential in conceiving the phenomenon, was disrupted.

When the de facto situation of hadiths was addressed theoretically, it was realized that a categorical distinction has to be made between hadiths. In terms of its transmission type, hadiths were classified into two as mutavater and ahad and in terms of their possibility to belong to the Prophet they were classified into three: as being authentic, weak and fabricated.

During the last part of his speech, Professor Unal gave some examples and mentioned some new attitudes. According to him, in this framework, an aggressive attitude, in which a structurally extended notion of hadith were used and in this respect particular subject matters were used as leverage, and an exclusivist and judgmental position were taken against anyone with a different view, were developed. Thus, hadiths became the sole responsible factor of the de facto situation and also became a problematic element that need to be tackled. After these findings, Professor Unal addressed examples from some of the modern period authors and opened a discussion on this issue.

This was followed by a Q&A session, in which attendees were actively contributed to the discussion.

Prof. Dr. Yavuz Ünal

1963 yılında Ordu/Fatsa/Ilıca’da doğdu. İlk ve Orta okulu Ilıca kasabasında, liseyi ise Fatsa İmam-Hatip Lisesinde okudu. 1983 yılında kaydolduğu, O.M.Ü. İlahiyat Fakültesi’nden 1988 yılında mezun oldu. Aynı yıl Mardin İmam-Hatip Lisesinde meslek dersleri öğretmeni olarak göreve başladı ve 2 yıl bu görevi sürdürdü. 1990 yılında O.M.Ü. İlahiyat Fakültesi’ne Hadis Araştırma Görevlisi olarak atandı. 1993 yılında “Cumhuriyet Türkiyesi Hadis Çalışmaları” adlı teziyle Yüksek Lisansını, aynı yıl katıldığı Doktora programını Şubat 1997’de “Rivayetlerin Hz. Peygamber’e Aidiyetini Tespit ve Değerlendirmede Aklın Rolü” adlı teziyle bitirdi. 1998 yılında O.M.Ü. İlahiyat Fakültesi Hadis Anabilim dalına Yrd. Doç. olarak atandı; 2002 yılında Doçent, 2008 yılında da Profesör oldu. 2006 yılından itibaren Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı tarafından desteklenen “Konulu Hadis Projesi”nin koordinatörlüğünü yapmaktadır. 1998 yılında DİB Din İşleri Yüksek Kurulu üyeliğine seçildi. IV. Din Şurasının Genel Sekreterliğini yaptı. O.M.Ü. İlahiyat Fakültesinde öğretim üyesi ve dekan olarak görevini sürdürmektedir.

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Hadith Conceptions and Their Transformation in the Historical Process