Tilman Nagels Kritik an der Isnad-cum-matn-Analyse. Eine Replik

Translated title of the contribution: Tilman Nagel's criticism of the isnad-cum-matn analysis. A response.

Andreas Goerke, Harald Motzki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In a recent issue of Arabica , Tilman Nagel published a fundamental
critique of the isnād-cum-matn analysis.1 He claims that the method is a formalistic procedure that is incapable of producing any relevant results with regard to the life of Muḥammad and that is to be regarded as a step backwards in the study of the historical Muḥammad. He also criticises the proponents of this method – most notably Gregor Schoeler and Harald Motzki – and accuses them of methodological flaws and scholarly naïveté. In particular, he argues that the proponents of this method wrongly claim that it allows the identification of ‘authentic’ traditions about the life of Muḥammad.
The following article offers a critical review of Nagel’s arguments. It shows
that Nagel’s criticism is fraught with misunderstandings and misrepresentations
of the works he discusses and that his accusations are thus unwarranted and
untenable. The article also explains what the isnād-cum-matn analysis actually
is and how it can be used for dating traditions, which is – in contrast to Nagel’s
claims – the method’s primary objective.
Translated title of the contributionTilman Nagel's criticism of the isnad-cum-matn analysis. A response.
Original languageGerman
Pages (from-to)497-518
Number of pages22
JournalAsiatische Studien
Issue number2
Early online date5 Jul 2014
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014


  • Isnad-cum-matn analysis
  • Hadith
  • Sira
  • Tilman Nagel
  • Authenticity
  • Historical Muhammad


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