The Hadith
Hadith Sciences

On the Hadith Studies in Turkey

The period between 1920 and 1950, which could be labeled "a political vacuum of religious education", was no different for hadith (sayings of the Prophet) studies. However, the Turkish Directorate of Religious Affairs gave Ahmed Naim the duty of translating and interpreting the summary of Sahih al-Bukhari by al-Zabidi into Turkish and the new alphabet so that the Turkish nation could learn about its religion. The work that Ahmed Naim started, and of which he completed only three volumes, was finished by Kamil Miras and published in twelve volumes by the Directorate of Religious Affairs between 1928 and 1949. The book became one of the classics in Republican history through the success of the authors and the originality of the preface written on hadith methodology by Ahmed Naim. Although they took place slowly, the activities of the Directorate of Religious Affairs in having classics translated continued with Riyadh al-Saliheen (1949-1965).

It can be seen that in addition to these translation activities headed by the Directorate of Religious Affairs, the translation and interpretation of the traditional collections of forty hadiths, with sometimes the number of hadiths being increased to 101 or 1001, was continued, i.e. Kırk Hadis (Forty Hadiths) by Ahmed Naim (1925) and Binbir Hadis Tercumesi ve Tefsiri (The Translation and Interpretation of A Thousand and One Hadiths). In addition to these studies, separate original studies that were conducted on problems related to hadiths before 1950 were Peygamberimizin Vecizeleri (Aphorisms of Our Prophet) (1945) by Ahmet Hamdi Akseki, (there is a long argument in the prologue by the author directed at those who reject hadiths), and the article "Dini ve Gayri Dini Rivayetler" (Religious and Unreligious Narrations) by Zakir Kadiri Ugan.

After the 1950s, the hadith studies recovered and started to mature as scholars were now perceived as being responsible for meeting the needs of the people, who could not attain or read and understand the books written in Arabic or Ottoman Turkish. At the same time, the establishment and expansion of religious education organizations accelerated this development.

Until 1960, the studies were mostly concerned with translating and interpreting a certain number of hadiths. In fact, this kind of studies has never ceased in any period during Islamic history. However, the period before 1960 is often referred to as an era when the cultural groundwork was deficient or non-existent. As a matter of fact, even when the deficiency in cultural groundwork was eliminated, there was a remarkable inclination towards the classics, for example, Bulugu'l-Meram Terceme ve Serhi (The Translation and Interpretation of Bulugh al-Maram) (1966-1967) by Ahmed Davudoglu and Sahih-i Muslim ve Tercumesi (Sahih of al-Muslim and Its Translation) (1967-1970) by Mehmet Sofuoglu. This activity of translating hadiths continued with translations of Muwatta by Imam Malik and Sunan by al-Darimi.  Thus, the translation of classics instead of selected books was carried on after 1967. The golden age of the translation of classics was after 1980, and almost all of the classics were then translated into Turkish. Afterwards, the field of translation activity was expanded and several significant works on history, methodology, etc. were translated into Turkish.

The translation of works in different branches of hadith contributed to the construction of a substructure in this science in Turkey. Afterwards, excellent studies of this kind were carried out.

Before the foundation of vocational religious high schools, Islamic educational institutes and theology faculties, books, booklets and articles were used to meet and solve the needs of the people. Some of these books and booklets were published either officially by the Directorate of Religious Affairs or unofficially by private establishments.

With the foundation of the above-mentioned schools, the need for textbooks  motivated the creation of new works. Bazı Hadis Meseleleri Uzerine Tetkikler (Studies on Some Problems of Hadith) (1959), Hadis Ders Notlari (Hadith Lecture Notes) (1965) by Tayyib Okic, Hadis Usulu (The Methodology of Hadith) (1965) by Hayrettin Karaman and Hadis Ricali (Notables of Hadith) (1967) by Ali Ozek are the examples from this period. Other separate works followed these in every branch: i.e Hadis Tarihi (The History of Hadith) (1981) by Talat Kocyigit and Hadis Edebiyatı (Hadith Literature) (1985) by I. Lutfi Cakan.

As a requirement of the education system and a consequence of the opening of the vocational religious schools, those who taught there had to carry out studies, such as dissertations, theses for PhDs, and studies associated with academic posts.

It is clear that the hadith studies in Republican Turkey gained momentum and quality through these works in different branches and themes.

In summary, the hadith studies in Republican Turkey came into existence in three different categories: books, articles and theses. Books and articles were based on translations, copyrighted works, and studied publications, and these were published mostly in centers like Istanbul and Ankara. Until 1982, academic studies were conducted at three centers: Ankara, Istanbul and Erzurum. After 1982, the number of centers for academic studies dramatically increased with the participation of other cities that had faculties of theology, and needless to say, this increase was also reflected in the number of studies.

For the entire text, please see Yavuz Ünal, “Cumhuriyet Türkiye´si Hadis Çalışmaları Üzerine” (On Hadith Studies in Republican Turkey), İslami Araştırmalar (Islamic Research), X, (Hadis-Sünnet Özel Sayısı) (Special Issue of Hadith-Sunnah).


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