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Canon and synecdoche: The Ṣaḥīḥayn in narrative and ritual

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines what functions al-Bukhari and Muslim fulfilled in their capacity as Canon 2: a fixed collection and delimited set of texts. In its roles as a measure of authenticity, authoritative reference for non-specialists and exemplum, the Ṣaḥῑḥayn canon functioned as Canon 1: a criterion between truth and falsehood. Al-Bukhari's and Muslim's collections came to synecdochically represent the Prophet's legacy itself within the wider Sunni community. Whether the canonical unit of the Five Books or just the Ṣaḥῑḥayn, this circumscription drew the boundaries of the greater Sunni community. Loyalty to the canon meant loyalty to the umma. More importantly, by the seventh/thirteenth century al-Bukhari's and Muslim's collections had taken on prominent roles in political, calendrical and supplicatory rituals. Again, the two works symbolized the Prophet's legacy. Like relics or Muammad's descendents, the hadith collections personified the Prophet's role as the intercessor between humanity and the divine.

Keywords: Ṣaḥῑḥayn canon; Al-Bukhari; hadith collections; Muslim; Prophet's legacy; Sunni community



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