The assumption of most muslim scholarhas been that the hadith material, at least that contained in the classic canonical collection, is authentic. Canonical status is conferred upon al-Jami’ al-sahih of Abu Allah Muhammad ibn Ismail al-Bukhari (d. 256/870) and al-Jami al-sahih of Abu al-Husayn Mulim ibn al-Hajjaj (d. 261/875), and, to a lesser degree, upon the kitab al-sunan of Sulayman ibn al-Ash’ath Abu Da’ud al-Sijistani (d. 275/889), al-Jami al-sahih of Abu Isa Muhammad al-Tirmidhi (d. 279/892-3), the kitab al-sunan of Ahmad ibn Shu’ayb al-Nasai(d. 303/915), and the Kitab al-sunan o Abu ‘abd Allah Muhammmad ibn Yazid sl-Raba’i al-Qazwini ibn Majah (d. 273/887),. To these six collectin are occasionally added other work, most notably the musnad of Ahmd ibn hanbal (d. 241/855), but these other have not quite achieved the same degree of authority. And, fairly complete record of the word and deeds of Muhammad. Although, many Western scholar have not been as generous in their assessment of the material in them, most Muslim continue to feel that the rigorous analysis to wich the transmitters of it were subjected by these collectors assures is authenticity.
TRADITIONAL SUNNI MUSLIM ACCOUNT
For Muslim, transmitting the word and deeds of Muhammad is as old as Islam itself. The Quran order Muslim t follow the example of the messenger and so form the very beginng the companions (sahaba) concerned themselves with following the sunna (conduct or coustom) of the prophet. Wich was emboidied in hadits (report or anecdotes) narrating his word and deeds. Muhammad is though to have taken some pains to ensure the use and dissemination of hs sunna.
EARLY WESTERN SCEPTICISM
1. I. Goldziher and the Advocacy of Scpticism
While others had expressed some doubt about the authenticity of hadith befor Goldziher, it was he who in the second volume of his Muhammedanische Studien first clearly articulated this skepticism. Familiarity with the vast number of hadith in the canonical collection induced skeptical caution rather than optimistic trust. Goldziher concluded that these hadith could “not serve as a document for the history of the infancy of Islam, but [reserved] rather as a reflection of the tendencies which appeared I the community during the mature stages of its development.
Goldziher never went much beyond this simple scepticm about the aunthenticity of the bulk of the hadith material to the advance a more practical theory for determining the chronology and provenance of any specific hadith. He limted his dating of hadith ti the general comments like “mature stages of its development” or “first few centuries of Islam”. Altought he hesitated to date th who continued his worke traditions, the scholars