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People of hadith

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People of hadith

The People of hadith (Arabic: Ahl al-ḥadīth; أهل الحديث) or (Aşḥāb al-ḥadīth; أصحاب الحديث) is an Islamic reformist movement[1] and school of thought. The term Ahl al-Hadith refers to the adherent's belief that they are not bound by taqlid (as are Ahl al-Rai, literally "the people of rhetorical theology"), but consider themselves free to seek guidance in matters of religious faith and practices from the authentic hadith which, together with the Quran, are in their view the principal worthy guide for Muslims. The term Ahl al-Hadith is often used interchangeably with the term Salafi,[2] and proponents prefer to call themselves Salafis, although they are often called Wahhabis by their adversaries[1].


Early proponents ascribe the authority of Ahl al-Hadith to specific hadith of Mohammed. Ibn Hajar mentioned the people of hadith in his commentary of the hadith, "And this nation will continue, established upon Allah’s command, unharmed by those who oppose them until the arrival of Allah’s order." He stated that Muhammad ibn Ismael al-Bukhari was adamant that those referred to in this hadith were the people with knowledge of the narrations, Ahl al-Athar, i.e. the people of hadith. And then quoted Ahmad ibn Hanbal as saying, "If they are not Ahl al-Hadith, then I do not know who they are." Al-Qadi ‘Iyyad explained that Ahmad was referring to Ahl al-Sunnah and those who share the beliefs of the people of hadith.[3][4]

The followers of the Ahl al-Hadith movement claim their beliefs and practices to be the same as those of early Muslims and, in particular, the rightly guided caliphs. The movement rose to prominence in the 9th century AD during the Abbasid era to counter the beliefs of Mutazilites.[5] They again drew attention in the post-Mongol era, when Ibn Taymiyyah (1263–1328) started a reformist movement to purge the Islamic community of deviant beliefs.[6]

Noting the academic prowess of the people of hadith, Al-Dhahabi asked the question, "Where is the knowledge of hadith, and where are its people?" Answering his own question, he said, "I am on the verge of not seeing them except engrossed in a book or under the soil."

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Roy, Olivier, The Failure of Political Islam, by Olivier Roy, translated by Carol Volk, Harvard University Press, 1994, p.118-9
  2. Rabasa, Angel M. The Muslim World After 9/11 By Angel M. Rabasa, p. 275
  3. Al-`Asqalani, Ahmad ibn `Ali (2005). Abu Qutaybah al-Firyabi. ed (in Arabic). Fath al-Bari. 1 (first ed.). Riyadh: Dar al-Taibah. pp. 290. 
  4. al-Dhahabi, Muhammad ibn Ahmad. al-Mu`allimi. ed (in Arabic). Tadhkirah al-Huffadh. 1. India. pp. 4. 
  5. A Brief History of Islam by Karen Armstrong, Phoenix, London
  6. The Right Way- By Imam Ibn Taymiyyah, Darrussalam publishers KSA

Template:Sunni hadith literature

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