Fethullah Gülen’s Thought on Hadith

Fethullah Gülen

1. Introduction

Tsubject—an effort without a precedent according to my research—through examples taken from his works without presenting detailed discussions on a specific matter or attempting to cover everything under the title of hadith.

Studying a scholar as versatile as Fethullah Gülen requires exploring the diversity of his thinking; this is necessary in order to fully understand his position with respect to hadith. This study, therefore, looks into his attitude towards hadith in three subsections that will reveal (a) how he uses and interprets hadith in his works as a “commentator” (b) what contribution he makes as a “teacher,” and (c) what point of view he holds in the face of contemporary debates over hadith. But first of all, it would be helpful to provide some brief information on hadith.

2. Hadith: A summary of the classical view and contemporary approaches

Hadith, literally meaning “something new” or “talk,” is a term used for the tradition attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and includes what he said, did, or tacitly approved.[1] Reports regarding the physical and moral characteristics of the Prophet are also considered as hadith. The science whose subject is the hadith of the Prophet is also called hadith. Sunnah, on the other hand, refers to the Prophet’s customs, practices and religious rules drawn from his actions.

A hadith has two main parts: sanad (the chain of transmitters) and matn (the text narrated). The number of transmitters varies from only a few transmitter names to some very long chains. In the sanad section, some particular Arabic verbs and prepositions are used such as haddathanā (he narrated it to us), akhbaranā (he informed us), or ‘an (from, on account of). Matn also may differ in their length. Most of the matn only consist of the Prophet’s statements but there are many hadith in which the Companions talk about the Prophet’s actions and customs. Considerable amounts of this type begin with the Arabic verb kāna that is translated as “the Prophet used to (do …).”

Scholars have categorized hadith into several groups according to different conditions like the number of transmitters or their levels of authenticity. As a result, many types of hadith have been defined in reference to the “number of transmitters,” “the nature of sanad,” the “special feature of matn or sanad,” “acceptable traditions,” and “rejected traditions.”[2]

The preservation and compilation of hadith are two critical subjects in the history of hadith tradition. During the lifetime of the Prophet, preservation meant memorization. Besides memorization, debate exists over whether hadith were recorded in writing in this period and there are conflicting narratives in Islamic sources. Some narratives state that the Prophet forbade the Companions to write statements beyond the Qur’an, while others convey his permission to write. The sources even mention some scripts ( sahīfah) in which some Companions such as ‘Abd Allāh b. Amr collected some hadith of the Prophet. Scholars generally explain this contradiction as follows.

When the Companions did not have enough experience to distinguish between Qur’anic verses and hadith, the Prophet forbade them to write his hadith, fearing that some non-Qur’anic utterances might get mixed into the Qur’anic revelation. But as the years passed and he became confident that the two would be delineated, he permitted some wellversed Companions to write his words. But, while some Companions may have written hadith, we must acknowledge that hadith was for the most part transmitted orally until it was committed to paper.

According to recent research, there were around four hundred traditionists (muhaddith) who wrote hadith between the second half of the first century of Islam (700) and the first half the second century (800).[3] One factor that accelerated this activity might be the official order of Caliph ‘Umar b. ‘Abd al-‘Azīz (d. 101/720)[4] regarding compilation of hadith. Ibn Shihāb al-Zuhrī (d. 124/742), who was known as a great scholar and who collected everything available to him about the sunnah, was among those scholars who carried out the order. Thus, during the second and the third centuries (800–900) intense efforts were made to collect and record hadith.

Hadith works produced in this time were mostly structured on either the subjects of hadith ( musannaf) or the names of the first transmitters, namely the Companions ( musnad). However, during this process there were political and sectarian disputes that resulted in many fabricated hadith (mawdū‘) as these struggling groups sought to justify their political or theological position. These hadith came into circulation, so scholars developed a science of criticism for hadith (al-jarh wa al-ta‘dīl). This criticism was entirely about the sanad, that is the reliability of the transmitters (in terms of their piety, accurate memory, and lack of contradiction with wellknown reliable narrators). The uninterrupted connection between them verified the authenticity of the hadith under discussion.

Based on their fulfillment of these conditions, hadith were divided into four groups: sound (sahīh), good or lesser than sahīh ( hasan), weak ( da‘īf), and invalid ( saqīm).[5] Finally, critical scholars attempted to form collections that contained the most reliable hadith as were possible. Among them, two collections, Sahīh al-Bukhari and Sahīh al-Muslim, gained the reputation as the most reliable books of hadith. They contained only sound hadiths, consequently classical scholars generally did not question the authenticity of the traditions included by Bukhari (d. 256/870) and Muslim (d. 261/875). Besides these two, the Sunans of Abu Dāwūd (d. 275/888), al-Tirmidhī (d. 279/892), al-Nasāī (d. 214/303), and Ibn Mājah (d. 273/887) constitute the most reliable six books (al-kutub al-sitta).

Classical Sunni understanding is distinguished by the following two ideas regarding its approach to hadith: First, the hadith the classical scholars verified as being sound are absolutely reliable and authentic, so there is no need to criticize or reevaluate them. In addition, all the Companions are accepted as trustworthy. Second, it is obligatory to act upon sound hadith. Hadith, in this sense, has been considered the second authority in Islam after the Qur’an. Qur’anic verses enjoining Muslims to obey the Prophet have been taken as accounts that prove the religious authority of hadith. Classical Sunni scholars emphasize two important functions of a hadith (a) it interprets the Qur’an by explaining unclear points[6] or adding information[7] and (b) it sets forth law that is not present in the Qur’an.[8] As a matter of fact, many Muslim scholars consider both the Qur’an and hadith as divine revelations except that the wording of hadith belongs to the Prophet (al-wahy ghayr al-matluw: the unrecited revelation).

From the beginning of the nineteenth century, Western scholarship presented a different approach from Muslim scholars concerning hadith by regarding most hadith as fictitious. Two Western scholars, Ignaz Goldziher and Joseph Schacht, became the first flagbearers of a great skepticism about hadith. Goldziher concluded that the hadith is not a historically reliable source concerning the time of the Prophet and the Companions. He argued, rather, that hadith reflects the time of later generations which means that they were generated during the later period.[9] Schacht, who studied the origin of Islamic jurisprudence, argued that legal traditions appeared long after the Prophet and every one of them must be taken as inauthentic until the contrary is proved.[10] Montgomery Watt, on the other hand, offered an alternative view, that the sīrah genre (compilations about the life of the Prophet) has “a basic core of material which is sound.”[11] So, Islamic tradition can be taken as historically reliable, for Watt, at least in its essence. There is another group of scholars such as Josef van Ess, Gregor Schoeler and Harald Motzki who position themselves between those who reject Muslim tradition completely and those who accept it unquestionably.[12] Their strategy is to avoid “general statements about the historical reliability of the hadith” and to postpone “judgments about individual hadith” until they are examined.[13]

Some contemporary Muslim scholars also criticize hadith and raise doubts concerning their authenticity. Movements of sola scriptura in the Islamic world, which became popular during the latest centuries, are partly the result of scholarly distrust of hadith.

3. Fethullah Gülen and hadith

Although his biography includes no hadith study in his early education,[14] it is not difficult to guess that young Fethullah, who was fond of listening to sermons and religious talks ( sohbet), became familiar with many traditions of the Prophet at a very early age. His thirst to know about the lives of prominent Muslim figures, especially the first generation, the Companions of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, seems to have been passed on to him from his father who studied the biographies of the Companions to such an extent that he frayed the pages of the books he was using.[15]

When he was able to read, Fethullah Gülen studied his father’s books, which were written in Ottoman script, again and again to the extent that he almost memorized them.[16] Having been impressed by what he learned about the Companions, he became an “admirer of the companions.” When he started preaching at fourteen, he would prepare sermons based on Arabic sources such as Durrat al-wā‘izīn, which included commentaries on many Qur’anic verses and Prophetic traditions.[17]

After completing his short informal religious education, Fethullah Gülen left his hometown, Erzurum, and went to Edirne. While he was working as an officially appointed imam in Edirne, he continued to educate himself by reading about various Islamic disciplines including the hadith.[18] During this period, for example, he read the entire Sahīh al-Bukhari for the first time. For a young person of eighteen or nineteen, this was so unexpected at that time that his teacher in Erzurum did not want to believe that Gülen had read the text of Bukhari.[19] In essence, his reading of this voluminous hadith collection was a challenging attempt by an eager young scholar who was not content with the “unsatisfying” lessons taught in classical educational institutions and who wanted to explore classical Islamic sources on his own. From this point on, he continued to study hadith. “I spent my whole life,” he says, “studying the sunnah.”[20]

Readers of Gülen’s works readily note that his interest in the science of hadith is more intense than his concern for any Islamic discipline. We should note that most of his published books, through which we can try to understand his ideas, are actually his sermons and lectures.[21] Before his activities in education and interfaith dialogue, Fethullah Gülen became a public figure in Turkey first through his influential sermons. He, as noted above, delivered his first sermon at fourteen. From 1959, when he was officially appointed as an imam, up to 1991, he spoke in public frequently in most Turkish cities and even abroad. His lectures and conferences, which took place not only in mosques but also coffee houses and community centers, were on various ethical and religious matters and also on moral standards and social issues. His sermons, which were filled with vast knowledge and emotion, made a great impact on the public, and from early days on they were recorded. Thousands of his speeches, in the form of audiocassettes, videocassettes, CDs and DVDs, are currently in circulation today. One of the innovative aspects of his preaching is that he was able to explain many subjects in lecture series, and some of these were published and became bestsellers in Turkey and were translated into many languages. Among them, Sonsuz Nur (vols I–III), dedicated to a narration of the life of the Prophet, can be considered the only book directly related to the science of hadith. However, Fethullah Gülen presents his ideas about hadith in his other works as well.[22]

Contemporary scholars of various Islamic disciplines such as Suat Yıldırım and İbrahim Canan and intellectuals such as Ali Bulaç and Ali Ünal acknowledge Gülen’s deep knowledge and expertise on the science of hadith. Ünal states that Gülen has competence (yad al-tūlā) in hadith, sīrah and especially the philosophy of sīrah.[23] According to Bulaç, Gülen is “one of the most distinguished representatives of the intellectual ‘ulama type” who have knowledge of both Islamic and modern sciences.[24] Bulaç points out that among the key features of his intellectual-‘ālim persona, apart from his profound understanding of Islamic sciences and Islamic methodology, is his deep knowledge of biography (‘ilm al-rijāl) in hadith. Yıldırım maintains that Sonsuz Nur, one of Gülen’s main works, is enough to show his thorough knowledge of the philosophy of sīrah (fiqh al-sīrah).[25] Canan, a professor of hadith from Turkey, attempts to explain all of Gülen’s positions in view of hadith in his work.[26]

3.1. Fethullah Gülen as a commentator on hadith

One who skims through Gülen’s books will clearly see that his discourse is heavily based on Qur’anic information and hadith. Since he is a preacher, it is not unusual that his main sources are the Qur’an and the sunnah. Therefore, when he speaks about a religious or non-religious subject, he juxtaposes many Qur’anic verses and hadith and occasionally provides a multidimensional interpretation of hadith through which he engages in linguistic analysis and discusses the authenticity of the traditions and the reliability of the transmitters and so forth. Sometimes, listeners ask him directly for his comments on particular hadith. In addition, Gülen reserves a very long section for the interpretation of some individual hadith in his work Sonsuz Nur.

We should first mention that one of the most notable characteristics of Gülen’s discourse is that he reinforces and enriches narration with many anecdotes from the history of Islam and biographies of Muslim figures concerning the subjects he discusses.[27] Fethullah Gülen picks examples mostly from the life of the Prophet and his Companions because he considers them the most relevant models for all Muslims.[28] This being the case, according to Gülen, al-‘asr al-sa’ādah (the Age of Happiness), that is the age of the first Muslim generation, provides a crucial source for solving all of the problems that Muslims will encounter to the end of the world.

When interpreting a hadith, Gülen always deals with it in the light of the Qur’an and its exegesis. According to him, those hadith transmitted by one or only a few persons ( āhād)[29] must be understood through knowledge derived from the relevant Qur’anic verses. He also benefits from other traditions in order to solve ambiguities in the hadith involved. The following comment is a helpful example to show how Gülen unravels the mystery around a hadith by engaging in discussion of verses of the Qur’an, other hadith and linguistic explanations. He is asked about his interpretation of the tradition stating that “God created Eve from a rib.”[30] First, he underscores two Qur’anic verses that mention Eve’s creation: “O humankind! In due reverence for your Lord, keep from disobedience to Him Who created you from a single human self, and from it created its mate, and from the pair of them scattered abroad a multitude of men and women”[31] (4:1) and “He has created you from a single human self, and then He has made from it its mate …” (39:6). The word nafs (translated as “human self”) in the verses, which is a feminine noun in Arabic, points out the essence or the nature of Adam, not his physical body. The verses never mention Adam’s name but clearly state that God created Eve from that “self” ( nafs) using the feminine enclitic pronoun () that refers to nafs. Thus, the verses do not express that God created Eve “from Adam himself” or “Adam’s body.” On the other hand, there are statements in the hadith under discussion that emphasize women’s fragile and emotional nature. What follows is that the Prophet implies this in the nature of women by employing the metaphor of the “rib.” Using this similitude, the Prophet provides a visual picture of women’s natures. So, Gülen prefers to give the hadith an allegorical meaning that highlights the physiological nature of women rather than the physical material that Eve was created from. He also conjures up another hadith to reinforce his interpretation.

Speaking about a camel that had run away, the Prophet says, the “camel was created from Satan.” It is clear, in Gülen’s view that the Prophet points out satanic behavior rather than Satan himself. Likewise, Gülen states, people use this kind of metaphor in their daily conversations. For example, they call an insensitive person “wooden” (in Turkish) or when speaking about a wicked man, they say “he is Satan.” Finally, Gülen refers to the relevant biblical verse which states that Eve was created from Adam’s rib and ends by saying that God might have really created Eve from one of Adam’s parts, for this is not impossible for God. As a matter of fact, Adam’s creation without any ancestor was a miracle in itself.[32]

Fethullah Gülen asserts that like the Qur’an, the Prophet’s statements also have ambiguous or parabolic expressions (mutashabihat) whose meanings are not clear or not completely agreed upon and definitely need to be interpreted.[33] For the mutashabihat of the hadith, he tends to allegorical interpretation. For example, he interprets anthropomorphic expressions of the hadith that refer to God as His divine attributes, just like classical sunni kalam (systematic Islamic theology) scholars do.[34] Furthermore, he applies the same methodology for hadith that has been used by Sufis who support the idea of the Unity of Existence (wahdah al-wujūd) as proof for their ideas. Fethullah Gülen actually makes a great contribution to Sufism with his books, especially with the one entitled Kalbin Zümrüt Tepeleri (published in English as Emerald Hills of the Heart) in which he introduces and discusses Sufi terminology with sophistication, while ultimately not approving of the idea of the Unity of Existence. In this regard, it would be helpful to cite here his explanation of one of the most quoted hadith by the followers of the Unity of Existence.

The hadith asserts that when a person keeps coming nearer to God through obligatory worship and supererogatory deeds, he reaches a certain point so that God becomes his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he grasps, and his foot with which he walks.[35] The meaning that Gülen offers for this hadith is utterly figurative:

It means that God shows him what he looks at correctly … when he [the person] hears a good call inviting to the truth he felt eagerness in his spirit in the name of God and his spiritual progress starts … when he speaks, God makes him speak truthfully …[36]

One may ask what makes Gülen correct in his ruling out literal meanings for some hadith in his comments. In other words, what are the criteria in taking a statement of the Prophet as a metaphor? First of all, hadith, as with the Qur’an and the other sacred texts, are open to interpretation. That is why different legal and theological Islamic schools sometimes use the same Qur’anic verse or a tradition to argue opposite opinions.[37] So a preaccepted viewpoint determines the destination of the interpretation. It is apparent that the viewpoint Fethullah Gülen adopts is that of mainstream Islam because, as we will discuss later, he observes the principles of mainstream Islam while commenting on hadith and he defends the arguments made by classical sunni scholars. However, Fethullah Gülen’s Sunnism can also be characterized as (a) being intent on solving the problems that emerge in modern times by using the flexibility that already exists in the essence of religion and (b) being respectful of Sufism. In brief, if a hadith contradicts the sunni perspective in its literal meaning, Fethullah Gülen prefers the allegorical interpretation.

For example, in a long hadith narrative, we read that Prophet Abraham had to commit “ kadhib” three times in his life. Gülen takes the word “kadhib,” which literally means “lie,” as “allusion” (ta‘rīd) complying with the sunni principle that all the Prophets are impeccable (ma‘sūm). Hence, he explains that the Prophet used kadhib rather humorously in this context, and he gives further examples on the Prophet’s other witty sayings and this specific hadith fits into that category.[38] Another example is his comment on the hadith that announces that “Allah created Adam in His complete shape and form.”[39] There is another version of this tradition which Gülen employs in his comment: “God created man in the form of the All-Merciful (al-Rahmān).”[40] He makes a great effort to interpret both these hadith in an allegorical way in order to avoid anthropomorphic implications that would contradict the principles of mainstream Islam.[41]

Fethullah Gülen’s loyalty to sunni doctrine does not prevent him from addressing contemporary problems and producing modern interpretations that may not be found in classical works. In the following passage, he explains the object of modern interpretations:

Among things that we most need is to present new interpretations, as time changes, of the Book [the Qur’an] and the sunnah without distorting their essence in terms of exploring their dimensions that remained undiscovered up to the present day ... What is important is to process this material (the Qur’an and the sunnah) and to discover their jewels that may vary in different ages and periods considering variation … Indeed, alongside loyalty to the essence and the basic fundamentals (of the Qur’an and the sunnah), comprehension of present time is also very important. For me, this is the meaning of the revival (of Islam), tajdīd.[42]

In this regard, Fethullah Gülen is able to derive original answers to the questions raised in modern times using hadith material. Before discussing the examples, we should note his opinion that those who try to understand and interpret hadith should not take modern sciences as the only criterion. Since human reason and the sciences are limited and dependent on the capacities of humans, some information given in the Qur’an and hadith may be beyond human perception. Fethullah Gülen, for example, criticizes some modernist commentators who reject, possibly under the influence of positivism, some traditions of reliable hadith compilations that narrate that the Prophet was exposed to a spell.[43] So, human reason and scientific facts are welcome as long as they assist but do not determine the process of interpretation.

An example is now provided to show how the commentator uses an irrelevant hadith to solve a problem that can be encountered only in the modern age. In answer to a question about how a Muslim should perform his or her daily prayers in the polar zone where days and nights last six months, Gülen recalls an eschatological hadith in which the Prophet talks about the time of the Antichrist (Dajjāl). When the Prophet says, “The Antichrist will stay on this earth for forty days. The length of the first day will equal one year, the second day will be like a month, the third day will be like a week, and the remaining days will be normal,” the Companions ask the Prophet the following, “Do the prayers for one day suffice for that day that will equal to one year?” The Prophet replies, “No, you estimate and calculate!”[44] In his answer, Gülen concludes that those who have to pray in the polar zone should calculate the times of the daily prayers by considering the timetable of the nearest “normal” territory.[45] In another comment, he says that the Black Stone (al-hajar al-aswad) may be a meteor. He bases his viewpoint on some traditions that acknowledge its heavenly origin.[46] Furthermore, he approves the religious permissibility of fiction-writing, which has been debated by Muslims in modern times. He calls attention to the style of the Qur’an and Prophetic discourse that provides messages through many narratives.[47]

Fethullah Gülen frequently explores the formal characteristics of hadith, elaborating the discussion with technical details. In this sense, he sometimes specifies the level of authenticity of the narration. If the hadith is weak, he generally informs the readers about its weakness.[48] He considers the use of weak hadith on moral subjects, apart from legal issues, acceptable.[49] It seems that he follows the principle adopted by Said Nursi that “weakness in authenticity of a narrative does not necessarily entail falsity of its meaning.”[50] However, two points need to be made clear here: first, Fethullah Gülen is careful to distinguish the hadith that are categorized as “encouraging-discouraging” (targhīb-tarhīb) from the legal ones.[51] Second, if a weak hadith conflicts with the sunni point of view on a certain issue, he rejects it.[52]

Fethullah Gülen sometimes refers to linguistic and rhetorical analysis of hadith. In his view, it is necessary to be aware of the language of traditions in order to avoid false interpretation. An interpretation, according to him, should not go beyond the limits of the language of hadith[53] by conflicting with the rules of Arabic. Likewise, a commentator should know when he or she would prefer to assign an allegorical meaning to the text rather than a literal meaning. The following passage is an interesting example because it shows the difference between literal and allegorical meanings:

Some people have interpreted Qur’anic verses and hadith in a hurry without considering the consequences. Most of you must have heard that they suggested the following comment about the hadith in which the Prophet said, “Run away from leprosy as if it is a lion!” They said, “Do you know why the Prophet employed the simile of the lion? Because the germ of leprosy looks exactly like a lion!” They commented on the hadith thus in order to be seen as scientific and to show how the Prophet miraculously foretold the future. This was so thoughtlessly commented on that its promulgator did not worry about the possible damage to religion that would occur when people would see the germ under the microscope and would understand that it had nothing to do with a lion.[54]

Another reason for Fethullah Gülen’s attention to linguistic and rhetorical discussions while explaining traditions is his dedication to proving the greatness of Prophetic eloquence to the extent that he counts it as one of the Prophet’s miracles. Fethullah Gülen, who approaches the traditions with a great confidence and wholeheartedness, repeatedly calls the Prophet “the Sultan of speech”[55] and frequently asserts his having jawāmi‘ al-kalim (i.e. the ability to narrate many meanings through the most concise expressions), a term proclaimed by the Prophet himself: “I have been sent with jawāmi‘ al-kalim.”[56] As a result, in a section of his book Sonsuz Nur, Fethullah Gülen illustrates how the Prophet was able to convey many truths through very short expressions. Fethullah Gülen also often provides extra information about the events and persons that take place in a given hadith.[57] In addition, he mentions the occasions these traditions were laid down so that the readers can know the reasons behind the statements of the Prophet. With all of these, he seems to draw a general picture of the context in which the sunnah took its shape. Indeed, to know the historical background and the cultural context is crucial to fully grasping the meaning of any historical text. The following passage is uttered about the Qur’an, but it may be considered totally valid for our discussion as knowing the context of the sunnah can provide us with better understanding:

To study the historical background of the stories [told in the Qur’an] taking the philosophy of history into consideration, to be acquainted with the nations (mentioned in the Qur’an) and their characteristics… and to analyze the narratives of the Qur’an through examining all the periods up to the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, will open up new horizons for people. On the contrary, any attempt to understand the Qur’an without considering these (abovementioned factors) would be peculiar, like trying to analyze Shakespeare’s eloquence in his works without having any idea about the Elizabethan era and its lifestyle. Other than that, [the person] who tells the stories of the Qur’an is Allah, who sees the past and the future as one point at the same time and turns them over and over in His hand of disposal. Needless to say, His narration is beyond every comparison and is extraordinary and magnificent.[58]

To summarize, this section has shown that Gülen comments on hadith in the light of information deduced from the Qur’an and other hadith. The position of mainstream Islam determines his priorities in interpretation especially in theological subjects such as the incorporeality of God. He occasionally talks about the technical details of a hadith but not as an academic exercise. He also attaches great importance to the eloquence of Prophetic statements.

3.2. Fethullah Gülen as a teacher of hadith

What was said in the previous section reflects Fethullah Gülen’s ideas which were presented in public and therefore intended for people who are not expert in the science of hadith. However, he has also been providing scholarly instruction for divinity school graduates. He started his lessons and lectures specifically in the field of hadith in a mosque in the 1970s.[59] The first attendees were students from religious high schools ( İmam-Hatip Lisesi) and Islamic seminaries (Yüksek İslam Enstitüsü). The lessons that were interrupted by the military coup in 1980 started again in 1985[60] and have continued up to the present day with graduate students whose numbers have varied over time. According to the testimonies of students who attended these lessons, they studied books written on various major Islamic disciplines such as tafsīr, fiqh, tasawwuf, and hadith under the tutelage of Gülen.[61] Among these books, the ones related to hadith consist of the major hadith compilations, their voluminous commentaries, and some other works on the methodology of hadith.[62] The method of the lessons is as follows: students prepare for the text in advance. When they read the text in the presence of Gülen, they ask questions about the format or the content of the text and Gülen answers and explains. In addition to reading the text, they peruse the transmitters of the hadith (rijāl)[63] under discussion through the computer program projected on the board. They use several software programs made for Islamic disciplines including hadith and get information from them instantly in the lesson. Study of the rijāl, in fact, began with information cards prepared by Gülen himself many years ago and it evolved through the overhead projector first and the modern video projector subsequently.

The science of the transmitters (rijāl) is of great importance for Fethullah Gülen. He believes that the healthiest evaluation of hadith is possible only through knowing its rijāl. Therefore, he teaches students theological and jurisprudential opinions of the rijāl, their position in the eyes of critics in terms of reliability, the structures of connections between them (such as “who receives a hadith from whom” or “who is teacher of whom” etc.), and other biographical information. Thus students are able to see activities of transmission that occurred in a certain time and place as a whole. In addition, Gülen does not neglect to relate hagiographical stories about the rijāl that may stimulate the students to be like them. In this sense, he acts not only as a scholar who teaches the biographies of Muslim figures, but also as a spiritual guide who attaches importance to practicing their moral qualities. What is more, we can say that the practical side of knowledge, as in our example, is Gülen’s main concern because he believes that the purpose of learning must be appropriating for oneself what is learned.

Recent research on the chain of transmitters (isnād) has shown the importance of this field. Some contemporary scholars utilize the isnād analysis as a method through which they can evaluate the historical reliability of the hadith. They believe that they are able to make sound judgments about the authenticity of hadith using the isnād tradition.[64] Sharing the same point of view, Gülen thinks that our evaluation of a hadith can be sounder than in the past because of the comprehensive approach to variant versions of hadith and its transmitters:

Hence, one should benefit from every opportunity provided by high technology; if the subject is hadith, for example, he or she should reexamine books of the rijāl and check the text according to the textual criteria… If it is done in this way, this will never harm the great reputation of either Bukhari or Muslim. However, judgments of today made with the aid of computers would be, I believe, sounder than the judgments of the past.

In short, for Fethullah Gülen, it is imperative to pay attention to three interdependent studies when studying hadith: text analysis, isnād analysis and perusal of variant commentaries.

4. Gülen and the defense of the classical viewpoint

As we discussed earlier, questions have been raised about the traditional Muslim understanding of hadith for the last two centuries. Criticism focuses on how we can realize the authenticity of hadith. Skepticism around their authenticity results in a rejection of hadith as a source for both theological and jurisprudential matters. Gülen also gave his attention to this subject reserving a series of lectures to the defense of the classical view which later became the third volume of Sonsuz Nur, his work dedicated to the life of the Prophet.[65] In this volume, he discusses the description of the sunnah, its categories and functions. He also explains how hadith were preserved and the factors that played a role in their preservation. Lastly, he talks about the two most important generations of the chain of transmitters, namely the Companions of the Prophet (ashāb) and their followers ( tābi‘ūn). In this section, we will summarize Gülen’s ideas related to the subject.

In the Sonsuz Nur (vol. 3), Gülen usually prefers to use the term sunnah because it seems to be broader in scope than hadith. However, what appears from the descriptions he provides is that these two terms are interchangeable:

Sunnah literally means “a conduct and a good or evil path to be followed.” This is the meaning used in the following hadith: “Those who establish a good path in Islam receive the reward of those who follow it, without any decrease in their reward. Those who establish an evil path in Islam are burdened with the sins of those who follow it, without any decrease in their burden.”[66]

This term also has different terminological connotations according to each group of traditionalists, methodologists, and jurists. Traditionalists view it as including everything connected to the religious commandments reported from the Messenger and categorized, according to the Hanafī legal school (followers of Abu Hanifa), as obligations, necessities and practices particular to or encouraged by the Prophet himself as recommended and desirable. Methodologists consider it to be every word, deed, and approval of the Messenger as related by his Companions. Jurists, who approach it as the opposite of innovation in religion ( bid‘ah), consider it a synonym for hadith. They use it for the Prophet’s words, deeds, and approvals, all of which provide a basis for legislation and categorizing people’s actions.

Derived from the word haddatha (to inform), hadith literally means tidings or information. Over time, it has assumed the meaning of every word, deed, and approval ascribed to the Messenger.[67]

According to Gülen, the sunnah (in terms of the Prophet’s customs that are related to religiosity rather than his personal customs such as his style of clothing) has two major functions. First, as the second source of Islamic legislation after the Qur’an, it determines some religiously unlawful/prohibited (harām) and lawful/allowed ( halāl) acts that are not mentioned in the Qur’an. For example, the unlawfulness of eating the meat of domestic donkeys and wild animals and that of marrying the female cousins of one’s wife are laid down by the sunnah at the same time.[68] Second, it interprets the Qur’an.[69] Such interpretation comes true through the following methods:

  1. The sunnah clarifies some ambiguities in the Qur’an. For example, when the verse “Those who believed and did not mix their belief with wrongdoing: for them is security and they are those who are truly guided” (6:82) was revealed, the Companions, well aware what wrongdoing meant, asked the Messenger fearfully: “Is there one among us who has never done wrong?” The Messenger explained: “It’s not as you think. It’s as Luqman said to his son: ‘Don’t associate any partners with God; surely, associating partners with God is a grave wrongdoing’” (31:13).[70]
  2. The sunnah expands upon what is mentioned only briefly in the Qur’an. For example, there is no detail about daily prayers in the Qur’an. These details, such as their times, sorts, forms, etc. are given by the sunnah.[71]
  3. The sunnah specifies what is generally stated. For example, while the Qur’an lays down general principles of inheritance, the sunnah asserts that the Prophets do not leave anything to be inherited and what they leave is for charity. In addition, a killer of her/his testator cannot take any share of the inheritance. These exceptions are known only by means of the sunnah.[72] Thus, the sunnah specifies the general rules of inheritance established by the Qur’an.
  4. The sunnah limits what is left unconditional by the Qur’an. For example, the Qur’an decrees: “O you who believe! Consume not your goods among yourselves in vanity (through theft, usury, bribery, hoarding, and so on), except it be trade by mutual agreement” (4:29). Islam encourages trade as a livelihood, as long as it is carried out according to Islamic law. One condition, as stated in the verse, is mutual agreement. However, the Messenger decreed: “Do not sell fruits until their amount is definite in the tree (so that the amount to be given as alms can be determined)” and: “Do not go to meet peasants outside the market to buy their goods (Let them earn the market prices of their goods).”[73]

“As with the Qur’an,” Fethullah Gülen states, the “majority of the sunnah was preserved through memorization and writing so that it could be passed down to us.”[74] In this sense, he includes the sunnah in the meaning of the following Qur’anic verse: “Truly, it is We who have revealed the dhikr [literally means remembrance. In this verse, it is understood as the Qur’an] and We will be its guardian” (15:9). In fact, the Qur’an and the sunnah, in Fethullah Gülen’s opinion, are coming from the same source, namely divine revelation. He agrees with those who refer to the hadith as the “unrecited revelation” (al-wahy ghayr al-matluw),[75] meaning that the traditions of the Prophet, like the Qur’an, “the recited revelation” (al-wahy al-matluw), are also revelation. The only difference is that the wording of the hadith belongs to the Prophet; so its recitation is not considered worship.

Fethullah Gülen lists several motives playing a role in the historical preservation of the sunnah.[76] First, the Qur’an urges Muslims to follow the Prophet and embrace all that he teaches. He cites the following two verses of the Qur’an on this subject: “… whatever the Messenger gives you, accept it willingly, and whatever he forbids you, refrain from it” (59:7). “Assuredly you have in God’s Messenger an excellent example to follow, for whoever looks forward to God and the Last Day, and remembers and mentions God much” (33:21). Second, the Prophet himself exhorts Muslims to practice his sunnah. Again, Gülen presents many examples from the sīrah tradition. Third, the Companions were desirous of learning and teaching the sunnah. Fourth, the Companions witnessed many unforgettable scenes in the life of the Prophet, so they easily kept them in their memories and conveyed them to the others. Fifth, the Companions were extremely serious and careful in transmitting what they knew about the hadith. Sixth, the messages of the Qur’an and the Prophet created such a fertile environment that the first interlocutors were transformed from being a primitive community to the founders of a new civilization in a short period of time. Gülen often emphasizes the brilliant intelligence and marvelous powers of memory of the first bearers of the Qur’anic and Prophetic messages. The existence of these abil-ities, which were planted and sprouted in their nature in a propitious atmo-sphere, was due to the Prophethood of Muhammad, peace be upon him.

Fethullah Gülen disapproves of those who assert that most of the traditions known as sound were fabricated during later periods. He states that the Companions and the generation that followed them (tābi‘ūn) preserved hadith with great deliberation, thanks to the Prophet’s occasional warnings about erroneous citing from his words.[77] He also recalls many examples from these two generations about their cautiousness and efforts to narrate hadith. At the same time, he accepts the fact that many fabricated hadith were incorporated into the corpus because of sectarian, political, or economic purposes despite all the efforts of traditionalists. But these fake traditions were identified by experts and compiled in books so that people should distinguish them from reliable hadith.[78] These books in which unreliable tra-ditions were recorded would be a genre in Islamic literature with the name mawdū‘āt. As a result, according to Fethullah Gülen, after knowing of all these painstaking studies, raising doubts about the authenticity of those hadith identified as sound is misguided.[79] To this end, he explains with great care some hadith later labeled fictitious, although they occur in the sound hadith collections such as those of Bukhari and Muslim, because they seem to be unreasonable at first glance. In this way, he attempts to show that a superficial approach to these hadith under question could be misleading.[80]

Another important point Fethullah Gülen touches on is the debate over whether traditions were written down during the lifetime of the Prophet. He records both groups of narratives that ostensibly contradict each other, and mentions both the Prophet’s prohibition and permission for the Companions to write down his statements.[81] After considering all the narratives involved, subsequently he draws the conclusion that many traditions were written by some Companions such as Jābir b. ‘Abd Allah and Ibn ‘Abbās. In addition, the content of some scripts ( sahīfah) such as that of Hammām b. Munabbih, who recorded many hadith from Abu Hurayrah, survived in hadith collections up to the present day.[82] Gülen agrees with Ahmad Muhammad Shākir, a contemporary hadith scholar, who maintains that Prophetic proclamations forbidding the Companions to write down hadith were either abrogated afterwards or were made because of the fear that hadith might get incorporated into Qur’anic verses.[83]

Since he is aware of criticism raised by Western scholars against some Companions called mukthirūn (who narrated more than one thousand hadith) such as Abu Hurayrah, ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Abbās, ‘Āisha, and ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Umar, Fethullah Gülen devotes a long chapter to the Companions in general, and to the mukthirūn in particular.[84] The Companions occupy a special place in Fethullah Gülen’s understanding to the extent that he almost equates them with religion itself because Islam was passed on by them to the next generations.[85] Therefore, to stand up for them denotes a defense of religion. They are not only the most important medium to safely convey religion to future generations of Muslims but also provide an example of a model community for Muslims for all times. An undistinguished person among the Companions is considered more virtuous than any other Muslim who is not a Companion, even the most notable ones such as ‘Umar b. ‘Abd al-‘Azīz.[86] In this sense, the lifestyle of the Companions is the criterion for Fethullah Gülen, who embraces as his life’s purpose resemblance to them. He admires the Companions so much that he believes that the more closely a person models oneself on them, in terms of their lifestyle, the more closely it shows one’s level of piety.[87] Furthermore, he states that the Companions were one of the miracles given to the Prophet.[88] This means that God reinforced the Prophet’s messages with these “chosen” people just as He did with miracles. As a result, Gülen takes pains to explain everything through examples taken from the lives of the Companions. As for their position in the hadith, Fethullah Gülen agrees with the opinion of the classical ‘ulamā (scholars) that all the Companions are reliable transmitters (‘udūl [sin.] ‘ādil) which means that critics do not submit them to criticism.

5. Further remarks regarding contemporary issues

Besides the abovementioned points made in defense of the classical sunni point of view, Fethullah Gülen presents some other noteworthy thoughts by which he aims to emphasize the effectiveness of the sunnah for today and to invalidate criticism about its acceptability and practicability. In short, he underscores the historicity of some parts of the sunnah, considers some of its practices in light of principles deduced from the totality of the corpus, and evaluates the practices according to their role and importance in religious life. We will be brief in order not to extend the limits of this study but I believe that the distinction between Gülen’s thoughts and the classical standpoint needs to be further studied.

Fethullah Gülen classifies the sunnah into two parts: (a) personal customs of the Prophet such as his style of clothing, and (b) his customs relating to religiosity. The latter is universal and concerns every Muslim while the former is contextual. Nevertheless, he clearly declares that a Muslim who practices the personal customs of the Prophet will be rewarded in the hereafter.[89] Therefore, when accentuating the historicity of some practices of the sunnah, Fethullah Gülen does not seek to hurt the feelings of Muslims who sincerely imitate the Prophet’s personal habits. For example, in his analysis of a wellknown custom of the Prophet, the use of miswāk (a stick of wood used as a toothbrush), he makes two points: first, the purpose of this sunnah is to provide advice on cleaning your teeth and a modern toothbrush and toothpaste can substitute for the miswāk. Second, the miswāk should not be ruled out in cleaning your teeth because it may have some beneficial features.[90] From this example one can see that Gülen avoids two extremes concerning the practices of the Prophet. He presents the same moderate approach about beard shaving, stating that having a beard is indisputably a sunnah, but shaving it is not prohibited by religion (haram). So, those who shave their beards for special reasons should never be condemned.[91]

Fethullah Gülen accepts the fact that everything may not be found in the Qur’an and the sunnah. In such cases, he focuses on the general principles of the sunnah. For example, in response to a question about multinational corporations that are a reality in today’s world, he states that Muslims should apply mercantile methods compatible with the “spirit” of the Qur’an and the sunnah even though they cannot find every detail for managing modern businesses in these sources.[92] In this sense, for him, all innovations in religion (bid‘ah) are not erroneous. For example, he considers recitation of poems celebrating the birth of the Prophet (mawlid) as a “good innovation” (bid‘ah hasana) that should not be rejected because it is in praise of God and the Prophet, and is celebrated by the Qur’an and the sunnah.[93]

Fethullah Gülen complains about those who reduce the sunnah to fruitless discussions that occur between different Islamic schools. For example, he relates in sorrow, that he has been offended by being caught up in unfortunate discussions such as whether to perform a supererogatory prayer after an obligatory prayer is more meritorious than a litany of praise to God. Muslims who hurt each other for such unessential details, violate the more important principles established by the sunnah. According to him, other subjects of the sunnah such as kindness, mercy, true religion etc. deserve more attention.[94] At this point, why Gülen momentously calls attention to an interpretation of Islam that is influenced by and in harmony with Sufism, brings into question the necessity of putting everything in order according to their importance. Accordingly, Gülen favors presenting Islam well by embracing tradition, saying, “Make things for people easy and do not make them difficult! Give people good tidings and do not frighten them!”[95] As a result, introducing Islam with an emphasis on its core teaching, which is ease and gentleness, is Fethullah Gülen’s priority. For example, one who prefers the clothing style of his community and does not imitate the Prophet in this matter in order to give Islamic messages to others more effectively so as not to be alienated from the society they live in, deserves nothing but admiration.[96]

Likewise, in these days, when Islam has been subjected to condemnation because of polygamy for example, Muslims must be selfcritical. Fethullah Gülen explains the Prophet’s marriages in a historical and cultural context.[97] As for today, to deliver Islam from these attacks that overshadow its many beauties is more important than practicing a sunnah connected with a certain “context” which does not relate to the universal values of the sunnah.[98]

Our last example has much more serious implications than the previous ones. Fethullah Gülen brings a totally new approach to the Islamic principle epitomized by the formula “enjoining good and forbidding evil.” This principle is based on several Qur’anic verses and the following hadith: “Whoever witnesses evil should change it with his hand (physical action); if he cannot, then with his tongue (verbal objection); if he cannot, then with his heart, and the last is the weakest level of faith.”[99] Gülen maintains that the first task the hadith enjoins, namely physical intervention, concerns governmental authority, rather than something that individuals should carry out.[100] He asserts that “the authority for intervention by hand is the state.”[101] This detail is critical for rejecting potential anarchy in society – to prevent chaos in society, and having only the state as the rightful authority that can punish violators of rules. Likewise, the declaration of war for a purpose, utilizing this approach, is the business of the state. Therefore, individuals or groups cannot initiate jihad nor punish people based on their own decisions.

6. Conclusion

In this study, I have attempted to summarize Fethullah Gülen’s thoughts on hadith and the sunnah and highlight some aspects of his discourse. As readily seen, not only does Gülen narrate hadith in his preaching and lectures delivered to the public but he also comments on them and teaches subjects related to them.

As with the Qur’an, the attitudes of contemporary Muslim thinkers and scholars toward the sunnah differ. In the variety of approaches available, it is possible to see both those who try to minimize or completely ignore the theological and jurisprudential effectiveness of the sunnah, and those who assess it as a purely blind imitation of the Prophet. As a result, the authenticity and religious authority of the sunnah has become one of the most debated subjects in the Muslim world. When the authenticity of hadith known as reliable, and effectiveness of them as a religious source, are being debated, we see Fethullah Gülen very tightly attached to the classical viewpoint. In his view, as in classical Sunni understanding, the hadith is treated as the secondary authority after the Qur’an. Likewise, when commenting on hadith, he takes pains not to contradict the classical standpoint in theological issues such as the incorporeality of God and the impeccability of the Prophets.

For the rest, especially in legal matters, he develops a modern interpretative methodology. Two important points stand out in his methodology: First, he recognizes the historical and cultural background of the Prophet’s actions and statements and distinguishes between personal and universal characteristics of the sunnah. Second, he emphasizes the “spirit” of the sunnah which has priority, in his understanding, to be observed. It seems that the major reason leading him to follow this methodology is his zeal to (i) find solutions for the problems that Muslims encounter in the modern age, and (ii) eliminate causes of accusations against Islam, such as the extreme interpretation of jihad that seeks to justify unjust violence. Indeed, through this methodology, he is able to introduce the sunnah as a more practical lifestyle and a more productive source. He can also offer a coherent interpretation employing general Islamic principles.

In brief, Fethullah Gülen, who stands between the classical and the modern, adopts a moderate approach. He recognizes the authority of the sunnah on the one hand, and interprets this source to meet the needs of contemporary Muslims on the other. I believe that Gülen’s methodology of interpretation, with its religious and social consequences, deserves further study. Here, we should not forget that his influential personality as a spiritual leader makes his scholarly ideas popular.

[1] In some cases, sayings of the Prophet’s Companions are also called hadith
[2] For further information, see Robson 2008.
[3] Kandemir 1988, XV.32.
[4] Dates are After Hijrah (Islamic calendar) / Common Era.
[5] Robson 2008.
[6] Hadith collections have sections as regards the interpretation of the Qur’an (tafsīr).
[7] For example, hadith provides much more elaborate information about the end of the world, the hereafter, hell and paradise etc., than the Qur’an.
[8] For instance, the unlawfulness for someone to marry his wife’s aunts is established by hadith in Islamic jurisprudence.
[9] Stern 1967–71, II.19.
[10] Schacht 1967, p.149. Some scholars, coming after Schacht, rejected his ideas while others followed him. See: Motzki 2004, p. xxiv. Kandemir summarizes and refutes the arguments of some Western scholars who shared Goldziher and Schacht’s skepticism towards hadith such as Leone Caetani, Henri Lammens, David Samuel Margoliouth, Reynold Alleyne Nicholson, Alfred Guillaume and Philip Khuri Hitti. See Kandemir 1988.
[11] Watt 1988, p. 1
[12] Motzki 2004, pp. xxviii–xxix.
[13] Ibid, pp. xxviii.
[14] He started his education by memorizing the Qur’an and then took lessons on the grammar of the Arabic language, as was the tradition in classical madrasah education. See Erdoğan 2006, pp. 28, 36.
[15] Ibid, p. 27.
[16] Ibid, p. 36.
[17] See http://tr.fgulen.com/content/view/3502/128/. Durrat al-wa‘izin, also known as Durrat al-nasihīn, was a very popular book for preachers. It was written by Hopalı Osman Efendi (d. 1825), an Ottoman scholar. See Uludağ 1988, X. p. 32.
[18] Erdoğan 2006, pp. 85–86.
[19] Ibid, p. 45.
[20] Ünal 2003, p. 307.
[21] Gülen’s books can be divided into three categories: the ones composed of his public lectures, the ones compiled from private conversations delivered to visitors and students, and the ones made up of articles published in various periodicals. In addition, several interviews with him have been published.
[22] Although these are scholarly books, readers should not always expect an academic style in Gülen’s writings as they were transcribed from his speeches.
[23] Ünal 2003, p. 307.
[24] Bulaç 2006, pp. 100–101.
[25] Yıldırım 2003, pp. 17–18.
[26] Canan 2007.
[27] Gülen 2007a, p. 84.
[28] Gülen 2002, p. 21–26; Ergene 2005, p. 120; Gülen 2004b, p. 97.
[29] Ahād is the technical term used for narrations that do not fulfill the conditions of a mutawātir, i.e., the narration is transmitted by such a large number of people that it is impossible to think that they all lied.
[30] The full version of the tradition is as follows: Abu Hurayrah narrates “The Messenger of Allah said, ‘Treat women nicely, for a woman is created from a rib, and the most curved portion of the rib is its upper portion, so, if you should try to straighten it, it will break, but if you leave it as it is, it will remain crooked. So treat women nicely’” (Bukhari, Sahīh al-Bukhari, Anbiyā, 1 and Nikāh, 80; Muslim, Sahīh al-Muslim, Radā, 61).
[31] The translations of the Qur’anic verses are from Ünal’s The Qur’an with Annotated Interpretation in Modern English, NJ: The Light Inc., 2006.
[32] Gülen 1998c, pp.154–62.
[33] Ibid, p. 123.
[34] For example, Gülen discusses the following hadith: “Allah put His hand on my chest … I felt the coolness of His hand on my chest.” He explains this hadith by the Prophet’s attain-ment of God’s mercy and his comprehension of spiritual realities and secrets of the heavens, etc. (See ibid, p. 124).
[35] Bukhari, Riqāq, p. 38.
[36] Ibid, p. 200.
[37] For examples of the linguistic discussions that have resulted in different legal and theological opinions between Islamic sects see ‘Abd al-Wahhāb ‘Abd al-Salām Tawīlah. 1993. Athar al-lughah fī ikhtilāf al-mujtahidīn, Cairo: Dār al-Salām.
[38] Gülen 2008b, pp.504–511.
[39] Bukhari, Isti’dhān, 1; Muslim, al-birru wa al-sila wa al-ādāb, p. 115.
[40] al-Dāraqutnī 1981, p. 37; al-Shaybānī 1979, p.229.
[41] Gülen 2007b, pp. 158–66. Interestingly, biblical commentators have understood the follow-ing biblical verse metaphorically. It is parallel to the hadith under discussion: “So God cre-ated man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he cre-ated them,” (Gen 1: 27). See Çalış 2007, pp. 16–20.
[42] Gülen 2006b, pp. 71–73.
[43] Gülen 2006c, p. 53.
[44] Muslim, fitan, p. 110.
[45] Gülen 1998b, pp. 129–30.
[46] Gülen 2001, p. 121.
[47] Gülen 1995b, pp. 330–32.
[48] For example, see Gülen 1998b, pp. 29, 162; 1998d, p. 127; 2004a, p. 58.
[49] Canan 2007, pp. 117–33.
[50] Nursi 2001, p. 360; Ünal, İsmail, 2001, pp. 86–87.
[51] For example, see Gülen 2006c, pp. 231–32. Here, Gülen explains the hadith stating that “who spreads salutation, feeds people, and who visits relatives will enter paradise.” Thinking that the main purpose of this statement was to encourage people to do these good things, Gülen concludes that this hadith is about “some” qualities that help people enter paradise. So, one cannot say that those who fulfill these three will surely enter paradise or those who do not do these will definitely go to hell.
[52] For example, see Gülen 1995b, p. 43. Gülen rejects the narrations that assume that the Prophet was about to commit suicide when the revelation was interrupted at the beginning of his Prophethood. In addition, see Gülen 1995a, p. 181. Gülen rejects reports that ascribe a stutter to the Prophet Moses because he believes that all the Prophets are perfect both physically and spiritually. Only in this way can they be perfect models for their followers. Any deficiency in them may cause hesitation in people and may cause misperception of God’s message.
[53] Gülen 1998c, p. 56.
[54] Ibid, p. 55.
[55] See Gülen 2008b, p. 288.
[56] Bukhari, ta‘bīr, 11; Muslim, masājid, 5.
[57] For example, see Gülen 1998b, pp. 63–64; 1998d, p. 16–22, 168–77; 2008b, p. 59, 119.
[58] Gülen 1995a, p. 195.
[59] Erdoğan 2006, p. 134.
[60] Kurucan 1995, p. xxiii.
[61] Canan 2007, pp. 78–83.
[62] Canan provides a list of books perused by Gülen with his students. See Canan 2007, pp. 80–83.
[63] The word rijāl literally means “men” though there are many women transmitters and experts on hadith.
[64] For example, see Motzki 2001, pp. 1–34. This article, in which Motzki deals with debates on the collections of the Qur’an, is a beautiful example that shows how a scholar achieves sound judgment on a historical event using data that the ‘ ilm al-rijāl provides. In brief, through source criticism, textual analysis, and more importantly isnād analysis, Motzki is able to develop a more satisfying explanation than those who reject using hadith.
[65] The subtitle of this volume is “Establishing the Sunna and Its Role in Legislation” (Sünnetin Tesbiti ve Teşri’deki Yeri).
[66] Muslim, zakāh, 69; Ibn Mājah, muqaddima, 203.
[67] Gülen 2000d, p.13; English translation is from: http://www.infinitelight.org/content/ view/742/4/.
[68] Ibid, p. 3.
[69] Ibid, p. 25.
[70] Ibid, p. 26–27
[71] Ibid, pp. 28–29.
[72] Ibid, p.30–31.
[73] Ibid, p. 31–32
[74] Ibid, p. 35.
[75] Ibid, p. 36; Gülen 1998c, p. 135.
[76] Gülen 2000d, pp. 36–50.
[77] Ibid, pp. 62–63.
[78] Ibid, pp. 79–85; Gülen 2007a, p. 242.
[79] Gülen 2000d, pp. 79–85; Gülen 2007a, p. 242.
[80] Gülen 2000d, pp. 90–106.
[81] Ibid, pp. 124–31.
[82] Ibid, p.131.
[83] Ibid, p. 132.
[84] Ibid, pp. 139–81.
[85] Ibid, pp. 158.
[86] Ibid, p. 142; Gülen 1998c, p. 248.
[87] Gülen 2007a, p. 84.
[88] İsmail Ünal 2001, p. 211.
[89] Gülen 2000d, p. 1.
[90] Gülen 2008b, pp. 185–87.
[91] Gülen 1995b, pp. 298–99.
[92] Gülen 2007c, p. 61.
[93] Gülen 2008c, p. 158.
[94] Can 1996, pp. 35–36.
[95] Ibid, p. 36.
[96] Gülen 1995b, pp. 251–52.
[97] Gülen 1998b, pp. 84–97; Sevindi 1997, p. 90.
[98] In reality, Gülen does not consider that marrying more than one woman as sunnah in terms of religious obligation. Rather, he thinks, this is a permission given in a particular period (Sevindi 1997, p. 90.). Personally, I understand this statement as his endeavor to rank every-thing according to its significance and to give priorities in religion their due. If a thing of first priority is in danger, things of lesser importance should not distract people. Gülen’s following remarks clarify this point very well: “Time puts some things forward, and pushes back others. Because of some (religious) rules that increase in importance, other rules may be abandoned. (For example) there is no fasting in a time of war; prayers are shortened during travel. If ever polygamy puts a blemish on Islam or drives (people) away from Islam, no Muslim has the right to cause this” (Ibid, pp. 91–92)
[99] Muslim, imān, p. 20
[100] Gülen 2010a, pp. 156–159
[101] Gülen 2004b, p. 187

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