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Stern, G. H. (1937) The Life and Social Conditions of Women in the Primitive Islamic Community As Depicted in the 8th Volume of the "Tabaqat al-Kubra" of Ibn Sa'd and the 6th Volume of the "Musnad" of Ibn Hanbal. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis is intended as a contribution to the study of the social conditions in the early Islamic community at Makkah and al-Madinah during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad. Its immediate object is limited to presenting an exhaustive analysis of the traditions relating to women which are contained in the volumes specially devoted to women in two of the most comprehensive early collections of Islamic Traditions (hadith). The value of these collections for this purpose lies in the fact that they were the compilations of men whose interes in the traditions was not confined to those which could serve as a basis for law and theology, Ibn Sa'd's work being largely biographical, while Ibn Hanbal was concerned especially with tracing the traditions to their sources. The two books selected as the basis of the investigation, therefore, form together the most representative collection of traditional material relating to the women of the Islamic community. The materials so obtained are arranged under the following headings, Introduction, Childhood, Preliminaries of Marriage, Marriage, Status of the Widow, Inheritance, Religion, Slavery, Occupations of Women, Funeral Rites. In each chapter all relevant traditions are critically examined and, where possible, evaluated - the isnads, or chains of guarantors, according to the standard Arabic works, and the matns or texts from the point of view of their logical coherence with the rest of the materials. No such detailed study of the sociological contents of any section of Hadith-material has hitherto been made, and the thesis represents a first attempt to work out and apply a new technique of investigation. In some cases, positive results have been difficult to obtain owing to the insufficiency of the data; but a great deal of light has been thrown on several obscure problems, and incidentally upon the value of the traditional Islamic criticism of hadith-narrators and guarantors.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:25

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