Book Review:Understanding Islam through Hadis (Religious Faith or Fanaticism?)
Understanding Islam through Hadis (Religious Faith or Fanaticism?)
Shri Ram Swarup
Exposition Press, Smithtown, New York. Pp 257 Hard Cover.
About the author:
Ram Swarup graduated with honors from the University of Delhi in
1941 and has been an original writer and thinker ever since. He
participated in India's struggle for independence, courting imprisonment.
In the fifties he led a movement warning against the growing danger
international communism presented to the newly won freedom of the country.
Around 1957, Mr. Swarup took to a life of meditation and spiritual
reflection and since then he has made a deep study of thescriptures of
different religious traditions.
Mr. Swarup lives in Delhi. He is a noted writer in many fields.
His previous books and brochures include "Communism and Peasantry:
Implications of Collective Agriculture for Asian Countries", "Foundations
of Maoism" and "Buddhism vis a vis Hinduism". His "Gandhism and Communism"
shows how to defend freedom without jeopardizing peace; it stresses the
need to raise the struggle against communism from a military to a moral
and ideological level. The brochure caught the attention of many
congressmen, and some of its ideas were adopted by the Eisenhower
administration in its agenda for the Geneva Conference in 1955.)
In the language of Moslem theologians, Islam is a 'complete' and
'completed' religion, dealing not merely with theological matters but with
all aspects of the believer's life, and superseding all previously
revealed religions, such as Judaism and Christianity. Islam has two
primary sources: the Koran, comprising the revelations vouchsafed to the
Prophet Mohammed by Allah and the "Hadis", an extensive body of authentic
traditions focusing on Mohammed's personal life and practice and
transmitted by people who actually knew him.
Both the Koran and the Hadis are regarded as works of revelation
or divine inspiration; only the mode of expression differs. The Hadisis
the Koran in action, revelation made concrete in the life of the Prophet.
In the early centuries of Islam, many thousands of hadis or traditions,
were collected and sifted, and those considered reliable were written
down, forming six collections (sahis) considered orthodox by Moslems even
today. Ram Swarup quotes extensively from them, particularly from Sahih
Muslim, one of the top "two authentics", now available in English
translation. He also quotes from other traditional sources, including the
Koran and the orthodox biographies of the Prophet (siras), in order to
provide a unique glimpse of Islam's teachings and practices.
The new fundamentalism that is sweeping the Moslem world is little
understood by the rest of the world. Prophetic Islam is based on an
intolerant idea, and it has its own version of the "white man's burden" of
rooting out polytheism and unbelief. The 'infidel' world will do well to
understand this mind. This, Mr. Swarup says, can best be done through
studying the Hadis and by learning what kind of man Mohammed really was,
for the Hadis literature "gives a living picture of Islam at its source
and of Islam in the making, providing an intimate view of the elements
that constitute orthodox Islam in their pristine purity...the very
elements of Islam the Moslems find most fascinating," repeatedly,
motivated by a compulsive atavism, appealing to them and reverting to
Thoroughly researched and documented, "Understanding islam through
Hadis" is a valuable reference book and source of scholarly insight for
theologian and layperson alike.
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