Inner-Islamic Knowledge Transfer in the Context of Arabic-Ottoman Translations of Works of the Science of Hadith (1400–1750)

Principal Investigator: Philip Bockholt
Doctoral Researcher: Muhammed Sofu

This research project investigates translations of works related to the religious science of hadith, i.e., relating the Prophet’s deeds, sayings, and approvals, in addition to providing information on his biography, physical features, and personality characteristics. The project explores the role hadith translations had as a means of disseminating religious knowledge and what contribution they made to the emergence of religious belief and confessional thought in the Ottoman Empire. As hadith was, and still is, generally considered the second source for Islamic jurisprudence after the Qur’an, hadith translations are of particular importance in this context.

The study examines translations from the subgenre of the so-called arbaʿīnāt/arbaʿūna ḥadīthan (thematic collections each containing forty aḥādīth; Pers. čihil ḥadīs̱, Turk. kırk ḥadīs̱), which was a prevalent form of literature in the Ottoman Empire in the early modern period. Furthermore, as these Forty hadith works were circulated in a poetic and didactically prepared form, they are a particularly suitable foundation for a systematic evaluation of the history of adaptation and reception of how types of text differ in both formal and functional dimensions. Among other things, this study will examine the extent to which translations have retained the content, meaning and stylistic nuances of the original text and identify any modifications that have been made to the original text. By taking into account the paratextual and visual aspects of the manuscripts as well, this study will render visible the socio-cultural context of Ottoman-Turkish hadith translations from the early modern Ottoman Empire.