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This course provides a rigorous study of one of the most important manuals on the Principles of Hadith and its nomenclature written by one of the most influential Hadith scholars of all time - Nukhbat al-Fikar by Imam Ibn Hajar. The text is usually studied after the completion of al-Bayquniyyah, and it is considered to be the gateway for studying the upper-intermediate and advanced textbooks of Hadith sciences. It is also considered to be the key to understanding the methodology of the scholars of Hadith from the 8th and 9th centuries onward because most of the scholars of Hadith after Ibn Hajar followed his systematic approach.

By carefully examining the definitions of Hadith principles and nomenclature included in the Nukhba, students will be able to conceptualize the criteria and application of Hadith authentication. The course will also provide a thorough introduction that covers the epistemological underpinnings of Hadith as a reliable source of knowledge, the intellectual history of Hadith sciences, and the tradition of teaching Nukhbat al-Fikar.

Also, while maintaining focused attention on conveying the objectives of the Nukhba as intended by its author, the course will briefly touch upon the key variations between the early and the late schools of Hadith as well as the significant differences between the methodologies of Ahl al-Hadith and the Hanafis.

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Short Intro: This course is based on a fundamental primer in the science of Hadith. It explores the process of Hadith authentication, the methodology of verifying Hadith narrators, the dynamics of Hadith transmission, and the evaluation of chains of narration.
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Weightage: 12
Skill Level: Beginner
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About the text:

Nukhbat al-Fikar is a fundamental primer in the Science of Hadith authored by the foremost late authority in Hadith, the renowned scholar Ibn Hajr al-`Asqalani. Since it was written, it was considered a breakthrough in the authorship of Hadith sciences. It was the first canonization of Hadith principles. So, its uniqueness does not stem only from its summarization of the previous works and its conciseness but from the fact that it was the first logically systemized text on principles of the Hadith sciences and Hadith nomenclature. And for this very reason, al-Nukhba is considered to be the first “matn” - in the very technical sense of the term - on Hadith principles.

As soon as Ibn Hajar completed al-Nukhba, it gained wide acceptance from his teachers and his students alike. The very first commentary on it was written by one of the teachers of Ibn Hajar before he, himself, wrote his own commentary titled: Nuzhat al-Nadhar. Both the primer Nukhbat al-Fikar and its commentary Nuzhat al-Nadhar, were taught by Ibn Hajar. This class, alongside the wide acceptance of the text, initiated a tradition of commentaries on al-Nukhba and super-commentaries on al-Nuzha.

Since it was written, Nukhbat al-Fikar has become an integral component in the Islamic studies curricula of virtually every madrasa and institute in the Muslim world.

About the Author:

Imam Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani was one of the most influential scholars of the 8th and 9th century and a prolific scholar of Hadith. He was born in Cairo, Egypt, in the year of 773 AH. He lost both of his parents by the time he was four years old and was raised by the notable merchant Zaky al-Din al-Kharoubi. By the age of nine, five years after the passing away of his father, Ibn Hajar completed the memorization of the Qur’an. He also memorized a number of primers in the various branches of the Sacred Sciences. He had the opportunity of studying under giants of the Shafi`i madhhab and giants in Hadith sciences, like: al-Bulqini, al-`Iraqi, Ibn al-Mullaqin, and others. He also traveled to study with scholars of Yemen, Hijaz and al-Sham.

Ibn Hajar authored over 150 books, mostly in Hadith sciences. Many of his works either became key references or main textbooks in their respective fields. His magnum opus, Fath al-Bari, became the most referenced commentaries on Sahih Bukhari. Nukhbat al-Fikar became one of the most widely taught texts on the Principles of Hadith and its nomenclature. His work, al-Isaba fi Tamyiz al-Sahaba, is one of the most authentic encyclopedias of biographies of the Companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings are upon him).

Besides his main career as a teacher of Hadith and the Sacred Sciences, Imam Ibn Hajar also held a judiciary position on and off over a period of two decades. He would often recuse himself from the position and then become re-assigned again.

Imam Ibn Hajar had students from both the Shafi`i and Hanafi madhhab, and all of them were prominent in their fields. Ibn Qutlubugha, al-Sakhawi, al-Baqa`i, al-Kamal Ibn Abi Sharif, Ibn al-Humam, al-Suyuti, Zakariyya al-Ansari and Ibn al-Shihna, are a few examples.

A few months after turning 79 years old, precisely in Dhul-Hijja of the year 852 AH, Imam Ibn Hajar passed away leaving behind him a great legacy of scholarship and service of the Sunna of the Prophet (peace and blessings are upon him).

Who is this course for:

Learning outcomes:
  • Understand the epistemological foundations of the Sunna and its reliability as a source of knowledge.
  • Identify the nuances of Hadith terminology and recognize their contextual subtleties.
  • Understand the process of Hadith authentication and its requirements.
  • Understand the methodology of verifying Hadith narrators.
  • Conceptualize the various sciences of Hadith and their role in Hadith authentication.
  • Grasp the various degrees of Hadith acceptance and rejection.
  • Understand the dynamics of Hadith transmission and evaluation of chains of narration.
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