Sitting, Debating, Memorizing, and Discipleship

Considering Historical Patterns of Islamic Pedagogy for Contemporary Islamic Studies

Mujadad Zaman

Language is not merely the vehicle of meaning it is also its driver, the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein reminds us. Since entire worldviews have the potential to be made in the words of our choosing, language is the first frontier of any educator. The teacher is entrusted in making sound use of their potential (and privilege) to ensure that the worlds which words enhance learning. In this regard, “education” is itself a term which harnesses the possibilities and ideals of learning more generally. Derived from firstly, edticere, that which is drawn or “led out” in Latin, and educare to “nurture” from within (Rost, 1979, p. 53), this etymology relates to a complex process which involves the external (zahir) forms of learning and the inner (batin) actuality for the learner. In making use of this inner and outer trope, the present chapter attempts to draw out the possibility of meanings which emerge from historical pedagogic practices from Islamicate civilization. In other words, what are these outer forms of learning and how may they inform us about Islamic education. In order to do so, the forms of pedagogy are reexamined in relation to the meanings and relevance for pedagogues, jurists, and spiritual guides across Islamic history have given them in order to consider their possible efficacy in today’s institutional milieu of Islamic studies. These I identify as sitting (on the ground), dialectic, memorizing, and discipleship. While not exhaustive of pedagogic accounts in Islamic history, these patterns, pentimento-like, emerge as a means, as shall be considered here, for deliberation in accordance to their merits within the present secular circumstances of teaching Islam in schools.

Loosening the Gordian Knot for Pedagogues

If we begin with the observation that knowledge takes many forms and is a communication which either explicates, mirrors, or contends with competing visions of reality, the educationalist is tasked with the problem of how to make sense of and “heal” those differences for the student. Muslim thinkers have historically tackled this question of knowledge and learning by invoking its one, Divine, spring. In this regard, Al-Ghazali mentions a Prophetic tradition in his Iliya that says the Prophet was once asked:

“O Apostle of God! What works are best?” To which he replied, “Your knowledge of God.” He was then asked, “which knowledge do you mean?” He answered, “your knowledge of God.” Again, he was asked, “we enquire about works and you reply concerning knowledge.” Muhammad then said, “With your knowledge of God, a few works will suffice but without such knowledge, no works, however, numerous, avail.” (Faris, 1987, pp. 6-7)

The prophetic counsel to forge the bond between knowledge and deeds would make it educations leitmotif for Muslims. Similarly, a proverb attributed to the Caliph and cousin of the Prophet, 'Ali ibn AbT Tâlib, says, “manners are the manifestation of intelligence” (al-Quda'T, 2014, p. 229) namely, to a greater or less degree, we are ethically what we know. “Knowing” in this context is then coterminous with being, as Biron’s repose in Love Labour’s Lost suggests “learning is but an adjunct to ourself, and where we are our learning likewise is” (Shakespeare, 2012, p. 4.3.). For contemporary, often secularly inclined, approaches to education, this distinction between “learning as ethics” has little relevance since what you know is distinct from who you are as a person (Dupré, 1993). This spilt between knowledge and ethics marks, in one sense, the history of philosophy and a break with pre-modern accounts of the subject. Recounting these developments, Michel Foucault argues the construction of this distinction lays in the philosophy of 17th century thinker, René Descartes, through whom asceticism (self-discipline and ethical conduct) cesses to be a necessary prerequisite in the acquisition of knowledge and ultimately truth (McGushin, 2007, pp. 181-191). In other words, who you are as a person has little relevance to your mastery of knowledge. For the modern educationalist, and especially the teacher of Islamic studies, this historical development translates into a broader orthodoxy about education and ethics. The educationalist who wishes to create a rapprochement with the substance and content of Islamic education from an age in which such prejudices and distinctions were not set, will find modern education is indeed, in this case, insufficient in accommodating for the past. Moreover, such orthodoxies may view with suspicion profiteering the importance of premodern systems of transmission, learning, and ethics as well as education as a form of “embodying” knowledge within the human being. The exercise of drawing out from models of the past is beset by distinct disadvantages since not only is the weight of intellectual history stacked against them as are the proclivities of Educational studies, as a modern academic discipline. Learning from the past is not, it seems, as simple at first sight. However, not to engage with, draw out, and honestly consider what Islamicate civilization has to say about learning and education, is perhaps premature and is worthy of sincere consideration, as is the task of its potential application. Though strewn with difficulties, the present academic climate, especially with the rise of post-colonial critique, offers a propitious moment to emerge for Islamic education.

Islamic Pedagogy

Firstly, the idea of “Islamic pedagogy” opens an important question, not unlike the conceptual divide between Muslim and Islamic education (or even Muslim and Islamic philosophy). To designate something “Islamic” here means to highlight the importance of the latter’s reliance on ideals found in the scriptural, prophetic, and other religious sources in animating the vast venture of learning in Islamicate civilization more generally.1 For Islamic Education apposite “sources” are to be found in the practices of formal and informal modes of learning in history. Here, for example, the historical view of the Quran as a “teacher” in medieval Islamic thought is notable and holds significant educational relevance. This pedagogic imperative in the scripture is partly referenced by the language of revelation.2 Paired to this is the role of the Prophet as a communicator of those divine meanings. For the educationalist, Qur’anic injunctions to “follow the prophet” (itib’ah an nabi) infer the primacy of his role in this manner; a pedagogy discerned from his life. Consider, “Say: If you love Allah, then follow me, Allah will love you and forgive you your faults, and Allah is Forgiving, Merciful” (Q 3:31) or “O you who believe! Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger, and those charged with authority among you” (Q 4:59). Furthermore,

It is He who has sent among the unlettered a Messenger from themselves reciting to them His verses and purifying them and teaching them the Book and wisdom - although they were before in clear error. (Q 62:2)

In this chapter the pedagogic features to be discussed as “Islamic” appear in myriad contexts outside of an Islamic one, and thus have no specific distinctiveness to Islam. However, we are here interested in the differences of degree, the specific meanings associated with them within an Islamic mien, which illicit ideas for educational consideration in Islamic studies. Similarly, to speak then of “prophetic pedagogy” is to suggest that the life of the Prophet offers distinct educational moments which can and have arguably been incorporated into the historical vernacular of learning (in myriad forms) within Islamic history. This refers specifically to cases inspired by the Prophet, based on incidents from his life (hadith) as well as stimulative accounts about his person (sunnah) more generally. While a thorough academic consideration of the Prophet’s legacy to pedagogy has yet to be undertaken in the literature, pedagogy as ethics and the emulation of the Prophetic manner, stand as defining features of its approach. This is foregrounded by hadith in which the prophet is quoted as saying, “my lord educated me and He perfected my education” (addabanT rabbi wa ahsana ta’dTbT) (Seesemann, 2017, p. 22). Similarly, another hadith mentions “He sent me as a teacher and as one who makes things easy [for others]” (Ghuddah, 2015, p. 14). It is then in reference to the stature of the Prophet that many of the following patterns of pedagogy are to be explored; these being sitting, dialectic, memorizing, and fellowship through discipleship.

Patterns of Pedagogy

The idea of a “pattern” is employed here from the work of the architect and theorist Christopher Alexander whose influential A Pattern Language documents the varying ways in which societies across history converge on similar ways of conceiving architecture. In so doing, concurrent forms of building, proportions, and sensibilities to building emerge and it is these patterns which form his ideas of architecture. In our present context, what is meant by the presence of such patterned pedagogies infers a remarkable comity which can be said to run through Islamic history more generally. Why this may be the case, i.e. emerging patterns of learning and pedagogy, is a contested issue and one which William A. Graham posits about Islamic civilization in the following way:

No tradition, not even the Buddhist or Christian, has manifested itself in such widely varied geographical, historical, and cultural milieux with such diversity of particular manifestations and simultaneous continuity of generic social, religious, cultural, and political traits. It is a truism to say that there is no single entity called “Islam,” only the various “Islams” of local contexts: To speak of Islamic society or civilization is to speak of myriad local or regional traditions of sharply differing forms and often rapidly changing historical circumstances. On the other hand, to speak of any particular Islamic society is also to speak of a shared tradition that is astonishingly recognizable across all of its regional divisions and historical eras. Consequently, while those engaged in Islamic studies dare not lose sight of the many variations and changes Islam has known as a global religious and cultural tradition, they must still press forward to generalization about the wider Islamic tradition its historical manifestations, if justice is to be done to the impressive continuities it has and does exhibit. (Graham, 1993, pp. 495-496)

Discerning chords of educational congruity throughout Islamic history is contentious not least for methodological reasons. The method of creating patterns of pedagogy here is the result of logging the frequency in which the following forms of learning occur and reoccur throughout Muslim sources. What is presented here is however, not exhaustive of the historical material available and only serves as a propaedeutic account for further research. Moreover, we must be careful not to be heavy-handed with the intentionality of such patterns (i.e. why they appear in Islamic history) even when they have precursors in the putative traditions of the Prophet. Perhaps all we can do say that they are intimations of a broad and vibrant Islamic tradition with the Quran and Prophetic example at their center.


The first pattern considers the physical space of learning and how arrangements are made between body and place through being be seated on the ground. Here the seemingly innocuous example of the Prophet as speaking, teaching, or sermonizing to his congregation while seated on the bare earth (at other times on a slightly raised platform) remains an ostensible remnant of his pedagogic legacy.3 Numerous examples are given in the hadith literature and exegetical commentaries regarding the nature and virtues of such sitting. Again, these relate to the ethics, in Islamic belief, of the Prophet and his emulation (imatatio Muhammadt) as a perfected example of comport and Godly submission for humankind.4 In one tradition it is related, for example, that “his sitting place could not be distinguished from the sitting places of his Companions because he would sit wherever space remained in the gathering,” or “most occasions the Messenger of Allah sat facing the direction of the prayer (qibld)” (al-Nabahani, 2015, p. 203). Moreover, the practice of sitting on the floor in a class and in front of a teacher (shaykh) is commonly witnessed in historical and contemporary accounts of teaching. For example, Ibnjama'ah, the 14th-century jurist, writes in his Rules for the Conduct of Teachers that the majlis (teaching gathering) of hadith in the early community after the Prophet, led by Imam Malik ibn Anas, would honor this example. In preparing for his classes, Imam Malik we are told would “purify his body, apply perfume, change attire, and place a cloak over his head. He would then sit on a raised platform and burn aloes wood until he had finished reciting hadith”. He would add “I wish to honor the hadith of the Messenger of God, may God bless him and grant him peace” (Cook & Malkawi, 2010, p. 165). One may similarly point to the importance of sitting as it is related to other dyadic arrangements such that “when the messenger of Allah would sit with his companions, they would sit around him in circles” (al-Nabahani, 2015, p. 202). This formation, often referred to as a halaqah, is

[a] circle-time instituted by Prophet Muhammad in his tarbiyah (education) of early Muslims; it is conducted purely orally with students and teacher sitting in a circle on the floor. An integral part of traditional Islamic education, the halaqah continues to be core in practice in Muslim cultures, credited with transformation of personalities, empowerment of individuals and communities through a social-justice agenda, and the development of Islamic intellectual heritage, including sciences, arts and mysticism. (Ahmed, 2012, p. 725)

These sunnah of the Prophet, observed and preserved by the community of believers (ummah) through the ages, and passed into the pedagogic repertoire of varying modes receives however, little to no attention in the academic accounts of Islamic education. Why this may be the case, one may argue, is due to its uninteresting nature. Furthermore, it may be informed by an ambivalence toward non-European, oriental-Islamic cultures, whose ubiquitous predilection to floor-sitting perhaps overlook the fact that it may have intentions attributed to them other than mere convenience, cost, etc. In other words, sitting on the floor may have more meaning attributed to it than we may at first assume. We here may illustrate this with a number of cases in which the teaching space, as a sacred domain for the transmission of knowledge, is “prepared” by the careful attention of the pedagogue toward that space. Examples of this kind of attention to detail can be traced from a number of early sources right through the Islamic middle ages (and indeed to the present day). As educator Karen Keifer-Boyd explores, the orchestration of the elemental features of the body, of which sitting is vital, can be, and are, used to empower and disempower the student in equal measure (Keifer-Boyd, 1992). This contemplation upon the daily experiences of Islamic education is then essential when considering the place and value of such seemingly “innocuous acts” in a larger account of pedagogy.


Another pattern, to which we may observe, alongside memorization, is within the domain of assessing student proficiency through their respective expositing and defending of truth claims through debate (dialectic). Again, its origins are to be found in numerous scriptural and Prophetic traditions5 and their influence necessarily differs from region to region in the medieval Islamic world. The madrasa, for example, which was often the site for such intellectual theater, forms relative agreed purposes of dialectic and argumentative disputation. The so-called ¿¡dab al-bahth wa-al-munclzara becomes a science inspired by the ostensible claim of “attaining truth.”6 These traditions do not speak of merely mimicking the inherited Aristotelian tradition of debate (Widigdo, 2018) yet also develop new terrain for the exposition of ideas and thought (Young, 2016, pp. 192-213). A number of important points emerge here epso facto as a recurring feature for the refinement of argument and precision of thought through such methods, none more important than tadeeb (the refinement of the student) and the culmination of learning through such pedagogy (Chamberlain, 2002, pp. 152-175; Huff, 1993).

An early exponent of the study, the 10th-century jurist al- Shashi opens this discussion in terms of that which is praiseworthy and opprobrious with this form of discourse. al-Baji, the 11th-century scholar, in whose Minhaj, speaks of the importance of the ethical and pietist conditions of the disputant when engaging such that “for verily the aim of intellectual investigation (iiazar) is getting to the truth (isbat al haqq); and when the dialectician (tnunazir) takes upon himself what we have described and comports himself properly according to what we have mentioned, he will derive benefit from his jadal, and be blessed for his nazar if God wills” (The Dialectical Forge, p. 188).' Again, there is an acknowledgement that sieving through theologically ambivalent or legally difficult arguments is within the special domain of the students’ development. While this may indicate a certain openness to the receptivity of the contents of knowledge, it must also confer to the modern reader, the polyvalent manifestations of “truth” which such pedagogies catered for.


The idea and use of memorization remains a highly contentious issue in formal education today with its criticism focusing on the passivity and potentially indoctrinatory impulses it may create for students. This can be traced in the réévaluation of post-scholastic learning in Europe, especially with the popular Ramist reforms in the 16th century of the standard Aristotelian curriculum. In particular, the role of memory, as being subordinated to an account of psychology, is availed from the traditional role within the study of Rhetoric, serving to aptly signify this change (Reid, 2013, pp. 8-13). Moreover, the rise of the French Enlightenment signals another change in this regard. Such sentiments are apparent in novella of the time and Rousseau’s Emile offers a marked statement of this when the protagonist is told assuredly that “Emile will not learn anything by heart.” For the further decline of memorization in schools in the 19th century see (Birch, 2008, pp. 1-30). This mistrust of memorization can be viewed in other academic contexts, where it is viewed as a contrivance to other, perhaps higher, pursuits of learning. For example, this attitude can be viewed in Marshall Hodgson who, for example, argues that education in medieval Islam consisted in “teaching of fixed and memorisable statements and formulas which could be learned without any process of thinking as such” (Hodgson, 1974, p. 438). However, a contemporary interest in memorization is alternatively establishing its worth within the greater architecture of pre-modern learning. As Mary Carruther’s work on medieval memory suggests, far from being a restrictive or passive determination, memory was rather seen as an “activity” of mind since “it was memory that made knowledge into useful experience, and memory that combined the pieces of information-become-experience into what we call ‘ideas,’ what they [pre-modern thinkers] were more likely to call ‘judgements’” (Carruthers, 2015, p. 2).

Memorization in this context refers to the use of inculcating textual information for the purpose of educational and personally edifying ends. Its primary place and significance within medieval (and modern) Islamic education draws back to the very sources of the revelation. Scriptural and prophetic accounts, as in all the classical sciences (transmitted or rational) relied on rigorous methods for the preservation and exposition of knowledge with memory playing a key role. However, the act of memorizing texts serves only one part, though a significant one, in the process for their respective transmission. Early Islamic culture, primarily oral in nature, reified memory as an “act” of personhood concomitant with the intellectual virtues of eloquence and refinement (tadeeb).s The stature of memorizing in this period can be encapsulated in the popular pedagogic proverb the “first part of knowledge is keeping silent; the second, listening; the third, memorizing; the fourth, reasoning; and the fifth, spreading it” (Rosenthal, 2006, p. 258). This complexity is examined in Gregor Schoeler’s exhaustive account of memory in early Islamic history as a practice rivaling that of writing (Schoeler, 2006, pp. 28-44). Here, an orientation toward the individual as a “means for truth” (in distinction to the Cartesian dyad mentioned above) sets up freedom from the book and paves a mosaic for the embodiment of knowledge. The Prophet himself is described as a “walking Qur’an.” In this regard, Rudolph T. Ware comments on the West African tradition of Qur’anic schools which foster a philosophy whereby they entrain knowledge into body such that

Human “bodies of knowledge” are made, not born. Islamic learning is brought into the world through concrete practices of corporeal [bodily] discipline, corporeal knowledge transmission, and the deeds of embodied agents. Knowledge in Islam does not abide in texts; it lives in people. From this viewpoint, some of the non-sense of the Qur’an school may make sense after all. If the goal was not so much to impart discursive knowledge as to transform a vile lump of flesh into God’s loving Word, then remolding the body was essential. (Rudolph T. Ware III, 2014, p. 8)


Of the three proceeding patterns, the concept of discipleship is one most comprehensive and potentially far-reaching. It crosses over the bounds of formal discursive learning within madrasas to instruction in craft, the organization of guilds (futuunea), and discourses for spiritual aspirants (tasau'wuf), among other things. In all such cases, the master-student dyad stands as an embodiment of learning and ethical discernment in which successful transmission is key to the realization of the student. “The shaykh [teacher] is like the prophet to his people” (Geoffroy, p. 143) says a popular hadith and the example of the Prophet himself is one which is often cited as a supreme embodying of Godly knowledge. As the perfected human being (insan al kamil) and example for humankind, the Prophetic manner stands in Islamic belief as distinctly capable of enunciating Divine truths through his conduct. In other words, his actions reflect the high regard that God holds for him, when it is stated “In God’s messenger you have indeed an excellent example for everyone who looks forward with hope to God and the Last Day” (Q 33:21). The fellowship with his family (ahi), companions (ashab), and adversaries all stand as an important reference point for the community of believers through whom the transmission of knowledge occurs.9 It is for this reason that the role, place, and stature of the teacher, as inheritor to the Prophet, is taken with great care and studied reserve. This is partly the reason why the renowned 14th-century jurist, al-Shatabi, honors the role of the teacher in the following way that “indeed knowledge was first in the hearts of men and then it was transferred to books; now the keys to knowledge are in the hands of the scholars” (Moosa, 2015, p. 125). Here ethics is tied to the contents of learning since the student stands for the possibilities of being an “inheritor” of the Prophet and thus be part of a new generation of students to gain felicity (barakah) in the preservation of knowledge. In order to achieve this, the role of the teacher as murabbi, shaykh, pir, usthadh, etc. exists as a model of discipleship and one reflected in various forms of education, extending beyond formal learning.

Moreover, the spiritual discipline of tasawwuf, for example, the importance of attaching oneself to a master who guides and travels with one through the process of self-actualization is essential. This being, al-Ghazali argues, since spiritual maturity for most of humankind will occur through either tnushahada (the witnessing of adab in others) or musahaba (discipleship with a master). This connection to a master is evidenced even within the study of crafts, the importance of attaching oneself to a master who is upright and a sincere truth seeker (muhaqqiq) serves as a primary condition for their election. In the medieval education of the novice calligrapher, for example, the role of the teacher is given great prominence since it is he who is endowed with the duties of preserving and manifesting the word of God. In this regard, we see medieval guilds (futuivwa) were often headed by a master Craftsman who also was a spiritual leader for the community of guildsmen. Such examples a consilience of spirit remains in their conception of education which, as Ibn STna, explains

should be undertaken for the spiritual development of man, and with the aim of deepening his understanding of the world around him ... and to use this understanding as a gateway to spiritual love and apprehension of God. (Shah, 2016, p. 24)

Apropos to Islamic Studies

The aim of this chapter has been to open a conversation for teachers concerning the value and applicability of certain historical pedagogic features in Islamic education for today’s teaching environments. These “patterns,” as I refer to them, have emerged over time and place and the frequency of their appearance speaks to a special feat in the pedagogic environments found in the Islamic world. Yet despite their historical vibrancy, whether they can be “employed” into our present context requires a sensitivity toward a number of factors. First among these is realizing the context of teaching Islamic studies in the early 21st century and how history, society, culture, etc. affect the ways in which religion is considered and taught in schools. Moreover, the modern “education speak” of terms such as implementation, delivery, and impact seem unlikely to warmly receive such pre-modern ideas of learning. Therefore, thinking about an “Islamic model” of learning which could be implemented and delivered only caters to and restricts the historical richness of such education and empowers our contemporary instinct for models and systems of learning which may be imported and franchised. The examples presented here show that education is a subtle art to which sensibilities toward the individual are necessary and carry ideals through which the essential qualities of life find expression. In one sense, the patterns explicated above cannot be implemented since they inhabit a world entirely different to our own; the mien of Islamic studies in a secular high school or university speaks a language virtually incomprehensible to a world preoccupied with the accentuation of adab. Perhaps then we should not think of this endeavor as one of grafting old world ideas to our own but an attempt to see how we may retain sympathies with the past through honoring its achievements. It is in the degrees of differences that we find a world so different to ours and from which we may learn and potentially germinate ways of seeing and being in the world. For example, of the four patterns mentioned, each serve, rather surprisingly, to indicate potential, and relative, efficacy for educational discourses.

The first pattern of sitting on the ground, ought to be compared with contemporary ergonomic studies of student work environments where the positive effects of students sitting on the floor, with their shoes off, shows a positive effect on concentration and stress levels in classrooms (Saner, 2016). Moreover, in the study and value of memorization of facts in class, while unpopular today, show nonetheless the potential benefits for students’ self-esteem and motivation for independent learning (Berglund & Gent, 2018). As for dialectic, this remains the most popular of the four patterns in schools and is evidenced through the international rise of debating clubs and tournaments. Finally, for discipleship, its applicability for modern schooling seems less apparent yet the continued importance and role of the teacher as among the primary factors in the wellbeing of students and their success at school serves to demonstrate this point, albeit in new ways (Hattie, 2008). Again, the developments which may arise from such findings cannot entirely be reconciled with our presentation of the patterns since superordinate concerns of the 21st-century context and its influence upon how we think and organize knowledge are ever present. The “limpidity of an argument does not correspondent <1 priori to its veracity” says a principle in informal logic. In other words, the simplicity of an argument does not make it correct, and therefore the mentioning of pedagogic techniques in one context does not infer their relevance for others. For those within the academy, to offer Islamic studies teacher’s novel ways of thinking about their discipline, helping them connect to a rich, vibrant, and living tradition, advocating autonomy for their cause and the encouragement of exploring new (old) ideas is certainly a positive prospect for the future. Standing at the forefront upon those lines in which culture, history, and thought are sublimated, the teacher in her classroom is ever bounded to the social good and in fellowship of those whom the Prophet proclaimed are “the best of people” since they are defined by “those who bring benefit to the most people.”10


  • 1 For a further distinction between “Islamic” and “Muslim” education see Nuraan Davids and Yusef Waghid, 2016, Ethical Dimensions of Muslim Education, Palgrave, pp. 42-46; Nadeem Memon and Mujadad Zaman, 2016, Philosophies of Islamic Education: Historical Perspectives and Emerging Discourses, Routledge, pp. 5-10.
  • 2 This pedagogic imperative in the scripture is partly referenced by the language of revelation. Ibn Manzur mentions in his authoritative Lisan al- ‘Arab (The Tongue of the Arabs), that the word ayah, used to define a verse of the Quran as a “sign” is also related to the verb ‘allama “to teach.” See Vincent J. Cornell, Teaching and Learning in the Qur’an, The Journal of Scriptural Reasoning (online), accessed May 4, 2020.
  • 3 The Shama’il literature, which focuses on the physical character and manner of the Prophet, includes a number of traditions relating to his sitting and reclining. Positions such as that of qufusa’ are mentioned, which is to sit with ones thighs raised to the stomach and one’s arms enfolding the legs.This is also related to times when the Prophet would, in the same position, tie a cloth around his mid-range to free the arms (ihtiba), See, at-Tirmidhi, Shama’il, pp. 121-125. There are also traditions of his customary entreating God for forgiveness upon rising from a gathering and leaning upon one hand as he did so (al-Tabarani, al-Mu’jam al-kabir).
  • 4 The foundational “hadith Jibril” includes an important note on the seating orchestration between the Prophet and the Archangel Jibril in this meeting when “Jibril] then leaned his knees against his (the Prophets) knees and placed his hands on his thighs.”
  • 5 In legal as well as exegetical traditions the case for reason and discussion finds an antecedent within Quranic and hadith literature. Take, for example, the hadith of Mu’adh ibn Jabal being questioned by the Prophet concerning delivering of religious decisions (fatwa) with Mu’adh informing the Prophet he shall strive with alacrity in the endeavor and use his reason (ajtahid bi ra’yî). Nizâm Ad-Dïn Ash-Shâshï, 2017, Usui ash-Shashi, Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence, translated by Mansur Ali, Turath Publishing, p. 19.
  • 6 The development of this method and its uses within scholarly exchange is evidenced in myriad incidents. For example, for the lively discussion of methodological differences between qiyas (reasoning) and jadal (dialectics) between 11th-century Shafi jurists al-Shïrâzï and al-Juwaynl see Sohaira Siddiqui, 2019, “Jadal and Qiyâs in the Fifth/Eleventh Century: Two Debates between al-Juwaynï and al-Shïrâzï,"Journal of the American Oriental Society, vol. 139, no.4, pp. 923-944.
  • 7 See also the popular poem Risâlat Adab al-bahth by the 14th-century Shams al-DTn al-SamarqandT as a peaking in the establishment of the dyadic rules of this scholarly tradition.
  • 8 The importance of this facet of learning is exemplified in a number of medieval texts. The 9th-century scholar, Ibn Qutayba s popular, Adah al-Katib, serves to highlight this early proclivity and its subsequent influence. See Josef W. Meri, 2006, Medieval Islamic Civilization, Vol. 1:An Encyclopedia, Routledge, p. 364.
  • 9 The hadith literature also discusses the relevance of discipleship from a number of traditions. For example, Jabir reports that “the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, ‘Verily, every prophet has a disciple and my disciple is Al-Zubayr ibn al-‘Awwam’. Sahih al-Bukhari 3514. See Renaud Soler, 2017, Transmission and Practice in Sufi adab of the Hâfiziyya Khalwatiyya, a Sufi brotherhood of Middle-Egypt (19th—20th Century) in Francesco Chiabotti, Eve Feuillebois-Pierunek, Catherine Mayeur-Jaouen and Luca Patrizi (eds.), Ethics and Spirituality in Islam Sufi Adab, Brill, pp. 649-668.
  • 10 Sahïh, al-Bukhârï, Book 19, Hadith 1839.


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