The relationship between maghāzī and ḥadīth in early Islamic scholarship

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The relationship between the traditional biographical material on
Muhammad (maghāzī- or sīra-material) and the narrations of his words
and deeds (hadīth-material) has long been debated in Islamic studies.
While some scholars have argued that the biographical material is fundamentally
hadīth material arranged chronologically, others have argued the
opposite: that hadīth material originally consists of narrative reports about
the life of Muhammad which were later deprived of their historical context
to produce normative texts. This article argues that both views are untenable
and that maghāzī and hadīth emerged as separate fields; each influenced
the other but they preserved their distinctive features. While
traditions that originated and were shaped in one field were sometimes
transferred to the other, the transfer of traditions from one field to the
other apparently did not as a rule involve any deliberate changes to the
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-185
Number of pages15
JournalBulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011


  • Biography of the Prophet Muhammad
  • Early Islamic fields of learning
  • Early Islamic literature
  • Historiography
  • maghāzī
  • hadīth
  • sīra


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