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Toward a Methodology of Understanding the Nature and Scope of the Concept of Sunnah

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This article outlines several features of a new methodology of the nature and scope of the concept of Sunnah. The proposed methodology would permit us to better understand the nature and scope of the Sunnah and its inter-relationship with the body of Quranic and Hadīth texts. It will do so by outlining some salient features of a new methodology that will allow for the conceptual differentiation between Sunnah and Hadīth beyond those proposed so far. The article will argue that the way the nature and scope of the concept of Sunnah is understood or defined is inextricably linked with the way the nature, objectives, and character of Quranic Revelation is conceptualized. Additionally, the paper will argue on the basis of several examples that apart from its amal or practice based component, the Sunnah comprises of akhlāq, fiqh, aqīdah, and ibādah elements which are epistemologically and methodologically independent of Hadīth but organically linked to a particular type of Quranic hermeneutic. The article concludes with a brief discussion on the status of Hadīth literature in relation to the Quranic and Sunnah bodies of knowledge.

Affiliations: 1: University of Western Australia

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