The Constitution of the Koran as a Codified Work: Paradigm for Codifying Hadîth and the Islamic Sciences?
By Gregor Schoeler
It was on practical grounds that the initial inscription of both Koran and hadîth (as well as most of the other genuine Islamic sciences) was undertaken: in both cases the use of script served to bolster the memory. There were no ideological reasons opposing this undertaking. There were also very practical grounds for the deliberate collections of Koran and hadîth: individual persons, above all rulers and court figures, wanted to have copies of the Koran and collections of hadîth at their disposal for private use. While there were no reasons to oppose a (non-official) codification of copies of the Koran for private use, strong ideological reservations arose against the codification of the hadîth. It was precisely the existence of the now-codified Koran that for a long time hindered the development of a second prospectively codified body of religious texts. In the case of the Koran it was the professional interests of the Koran readers who appeared to lose their monopoly as the sole custodians of the Holy Book; in the case of the hadîth there were continued misgivings about placing similar text corpora alongside the Koran. While the codification of the Koran can be regarded as paradigmatic for the codification of hadîth only with considerable restrictions, the hadîth codification, on the other hand, was paradigmatic for the codification process of a great number of other Arabic-Islamic sciences.