- Paperback: 273 pages
- Publisher: Prometheus Books; 1 edition (1 September 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1591020174
- ISBN-13: 978-1591020172
- Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 1.4 x 21.3 cm
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,38,657 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Understanding the Hadith: The Sacred Traditions of Islam Paperback – 1 Sep 2002
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"...a good place for Westerners to begin to understand the hadith's role in forming the mindset of Islamic fundamentalists." -- The American Enterprise, December 2003
"...a useful resource if read critically...Recommended." -- Choice, May 2003
"...just the sort of introduction the average non-Muslim needs--it's clear, accessible, and designed for a lay audience." -- About.com
"An intriguing distillation of the many pieces that make up the Hadith...recommended for dedicated students of Islamic studies." -- The Bookwatch, March 2003
About the Author
Ram Swarup was one of India's leading intellectuals and a distinguished representative of renascent Hinduism. He wrote on many topics, not only comparative religion but on Gandhian economics, Maoism, and communism.
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Learning and having knowledge
First, most in the West would be surprised to learn just how much of Islam and Islamic culture lies outside of the Koran. (Just as so much of Mormonism is not in the Book of Mormon.) In the Protestant West especially, religion is in the book, the Bible, but so much of Islam is contained in the hadith, sayings either by Muhammad or concerning Muhammad by his early followers. These hadith, of which there are thousands, have been passed down the generations, and must be linked properly to an early follower of Muhammad.
This collection is edited by a Hindu thinker with an ax to grind against the Abrahamic religions, Ram Swarup, and taken from a translation of a hadith collection called "Sahih Muslim," a Sunni compilation. Instead of presenting the hadith or quoting from them at length, he paraphrases them, explains them, and comments on them.
Generally, the point of this collection is, despite the title, meant as a screed against Islam. And it does that job ably. The Muhammad of this collection is no Jesus, he is a self-serving plunderer and raider, who has others kill Jews and poets he hates, who weds pubescent girls and beds Coptic concubines, who kills on whims and pillages to bring people to his faith, who... hates dogs. Really. Hates dogs.
The problem with the book is its editor/author - you know he is trying to throw scorn on Muhammad and Islam, you know he cherry picks the "worst" hadith, and even, towards the end, he begins referencing other works of history, not the Sahih Muslim, and even praising Hinduism. So, in the end, it isn't a very useful introduction to the hadith from a Muslim perspective.
If one tries, one can paint ANY world religion as barbaric. Mission accomplished.