Shariah: A troubling question



Saleem Ahmed, Ph.D.[1]

I understand the Shariahis based upon the actions and sayings of prophet Muhammad (hadith). I further understand that the Shariah representsthe writings of the following five Muslim jurists: Jafar ibn Muhammad, 702-765; AbuHanifah, 699-767; Malik ibn Anas, 711-796; al-Shafi, 767-820; and Ahmad ibnHanbal, 780-855.

My dilemma: Althoughsupposedly based on hadith, doesn’t the Shariah then pre-date most hadithcollections? In fact, the two most prolific hadith compilers — Bukhari (816-878) and Muslim (826-883) — were bornafter three of these jurists had died. And the other compilers (IbnMajah, 824-897; Abu Dawood, 824-897; Tirmidhi, 831-901; and Al-Nasai, 836-925)were either toddlers or youth when the remaining Shariah jurists died. Thus, the only information Shariah jurists would have had would be the relatively small hadith collection of Malik ibn Anas. Called al-Muwatta, it has about 1,700 hadith, out of atotal hadith collection of 12,000+.

If this is true, aren’t the Shariah laws being implementedover the past 1,000+ years possibly based upon a fraction of the totalhadith database?

Saleem Ahmed

[1] Author:Islam: A Religion of Peace? (2008); President, Pacific Institute ofIslamic Studies and All Believers Network (Honolulu).

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