Helsingin yliopisto


Helsingin yliopiston verkkojulkaisut

University of Helsinki, Helsinki 2006

But if you desire God and His Messenger

The concept of choice in Sahih al-Bukhari

Sylvia Akar

Doctoral dissertation, May 2006.
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Arts, Institute for Asian and African Studies.

The aim of this dissertation is to discuss the concept of choice in the most important collection of Islamic traditions, Sahih al-Bukhari. The author of the collection, Muhammad ibn Isma'il al-Bukhari, lived between 810-870.

My starting point is the collection of texts as it is now in its normative, established form. I read the hadiths as pieces of reality, not as statements about reality. The historicity of the texts has no role at all in my analysis.

Part I sketches out the hagiography of the life and work of the author and provides a short history of the development of hadith literature and the processes of collecting and classifying the texts are discussed briefly. Part one ends with the presentation of my way of using rhetorical analysis as a methodological tool.

Part II introduces my analysis of the concept of choice. It is divided into ten chapters, each concentrating on one hadith cluster. Part II ends with a discussion of the philosophy of free will and predestination in early Islam.

Hadith literature is often considered as a representative of predestinarian theology compared to the Qur'an which emphasises the reponsibility of people of their own acts. In my conclusions I suggest that accoding to the texts in Sahih al-Bukhari, people do deal with real choices in their lives. The collection includes both strictly predestinarian texts but it also compises texts which claim that people are demanded to make real choices, even choices concerning life and death.

The title page of the publication

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Last updated 05.05.2006

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