Hadith Studies and Orientalism

Even though hadīth education at the university level might be taken back to Ulūm-i Âliyye-i Diniyye Branch at Dārulfunūn, it can be said that the most important development in this respect was the opening of the Faculty of Divinity in 1924. As for the hadīth professors at this faculty, it seems that Ahmet Hamdi Akseki and Izmirli Ismail Hakki were aware of the Islamic Studies in the West through their fluency in Western languages. However, close examination of their works shows that they did not refer to pioneer works of orientalists such as Alois Sprenger and Ignaz Goldziher, and accordingly their knowledge in this field were limited. After the closing of the Faculty of Divinity in 1933, the most noteworthy development in terms of hadīth studies and orientalism was the invitation of German scholars to Turkish universities. Although in 1915 twenty one German professors was appointed to Dārulfunūn as faculty members, it can be said that due to their short stay in Istanbul their influence was also limited. The scholars who came to Turkey in 1933 stayed for longer periods and took part in shaping of the Turkish higher education. Helmut Ritter was among these scholars, and Fuad Sezgin, one of the most important hadīth scholars of Turkey, carried his doctoral studies under his supervision. With the opening of Ankara Faculty of Theology in 1949 the first generation hadīth scholars through the encouragement and impact of Tayyip Okiç started to study hadīth scholarship in the West. This line of study was not carried on at other faculties until a revival in this field has occurred in 2000s.


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