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Unformatted text preview: 'Hadith' began to be used exclusively for the acts and sayings of the Prophet only after the distinction between the Sunnah and Hadith was set aside. Hasan, Early Development, p. 48; Shabir, Authority of Hadith, pp. 2-3.] There are two other terms, namely khabar and athar' which have often been used as alternatives to 'Hadith'. Literally, khabar means 'news or report', and athar, 'impression, vestige or impact'. The word 'khabar' in the phrase 'khabar al-wahid' for example, means a solitary Hadith. The majority of ulema have used Hadith, khabar and athar synonymously, whereas others have distinguished khabar from athar. While the former used synonymously with Hadith athar (and sometimes 'amal) is used to imply the precedent of the Companions. [14. Cf. Azami, Studies, p. 3.] The majority of ulema have upheld the precedent of the Companions as one of the transmitted (naqli) proofs. The jurists of the early schools of law are known to have based opinions on athar. Imam Malik Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence ~ Kamali 49 [11. Isnawi, [13. Cf. Ahmad even went so far as to set aside the Prophetic Hadith in its favor on the strength of the argument that athar represented the genuine Sunnah, as the Companions were in a better position to ascertain the authentic Sunnah of the Prophet. There were indeed, among the Companions, many distinguished figures whose legal acumen and intimate knowledge of the sources equipped them with a special authority to issue fatwas. Sometimes they met in groups to discuss the problems they encountered, and their agreement or collective judgment is also known as athar. For al-Shafi'i (d. 204/819) however, athar does not necessarily represent the Sunnah of the Prophet. In the absence of a Hadith from the Prophet, al-Shafi'i followed the precedent of Companions, and in cases where a difference of opinion existed among the Companions, al-Shafi'i preferred the opinion of the first four caliphs over others, or one which was in greater harmony with the Qur'an. [15. Shafi'i, Risalah, pp.128-130.] According to al-Shafi'i, the Sunnah coming direct from the Prophet in the form of Hadith through a reliable chain of narrators is a source of law irrespective of whether it was accepted by the community or not. He emphasized the authority of the Hadith from the Prophet in preference to the opinion or practice of the companions. AlShafi'i' contended that Hadith from the Prophet, even a solitary Hadith must take priority over the practice and opinion of the community, the Companions and the Successors. Origins, p. 29; Ahmad Hasan, Early Development, pp. 49-51.] [16. Shafi'i, Risalah, p.177; Guraya, Al-Shafi'i directed his efforts mainly against the then prevailing practice among jurists which gave preference to the practice of the community and the decisions of the Companions, over the Hadith. Al-Shafi'i attempted to overrule the argument, advanced by Imam malik, for example, that the Madinese practice was more authoritative than Hadith. In his Muwatta, for example, Malik (d. 179/795) generally opens every legal chapter with a Hadith from the Prophet, but in determining the detailed...
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