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Title: In the Shade of the Sahih: Politics, Culture and Innovation in an Islamic Commentary Tradition
Authors: Blecher, Joel
Advisors: Zaman, Muhammad Q
Contributors: Religion Department
Keywords: Commentary
Ibn Hajar
Sahih al-Bukhari
Subjects: Islamic culture
Near Eastern studies
Issue Date: 2013
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation shines a light on the changing politics, culture and techniques of Islamic commentaries on a collection of sayings and practices attributed to Muhammad called Sahih al-Bukhari in late and post-Umayyad Andalusia, Mamluk Cairo, and modern South Asia. At the height of the commentary tradition in the Mamluk period, the Sahih was the text most revered by the Sunni community after the Qur'an, and explications were delivered annually in the setting of the citadel where political patrons, rivals and students were present. Participants developed an ethics of commentary in an attempt to manage oratorical and written challenges from fellow competitors over prestigious judgeships and maintain the intellectual integrity of the tradition. Since the live sessions displayed commentators' diverse regional identities through marked differences in dress and elocution, the criteria for judging live interpretation could subtly reflect ethnic differences. In modern South Asia, live lessons remained the predominant way commentaries were composed, but the milieu of the colonial and post-colonial madrasa in India oriented commentators differently towards political power and ethnicity. Moreover, new media such as print, television and online video changed when and where audiences could encounter commentary on the Sahih. Commentators were also motivated, in part, by exegetical goods, constitutive of but not reducible to instrumental power, wealth and prestige. Case studies that track commentary on Bukhari's compilatory goals and on discretionary punishment (ta'zir) across time show how commentators debated the authenticity of the content and provenance of the Sahih, the acceptable methods of deriving law and new meanings from the Sahih, and the role of traditional institutions in Islamic law. The selective transmission of prior opinions and the introduction of new opinions were conditioned in part by the commentators' historical context and legal training and in part by the exegetical goods that were constitutive of and constituted by the commentary tradition. In this way, this dissertation not only illuminates how commentators constructed their authority to interpret the Sahih in their own social and political environment but also how commentators exercised their authority within the tradition to extend the normative meaning of the Sahih within and across time.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Religion

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