On the Significance of the Aqwal Qatada for Early Islamic Legal Thought

By Abdulrahman Al-Salimi
Submitted to Session P4725 (Broadening the Narrative: Ibadi Islam in Focus, 2017 Annual Meeting
Islamic Thought;
LCD Projector without Audio;
The Aqw?l Qat?da (the Sayings/teachings of Qat?da) is a collection of writings on fiqh (jurisprudence) and ?ad?th (traditions) narrated by Qat?da b. Di'ama al-Sadusi (c.60-117/680-735) that has frequently attracted the interest of present-day scholars. In addition to these writings, the discovery of a number of previously unknown texts on Ib??? jurisprudence and early legal opinions in the Maghrib region by a non-Ib??? scholar from Ba?ra now raises important questions about early Ib??? history and the proper methods of recording information during Islam’s formative period during the first half of the 2nd /8th century. Although these texts have not yet been published, they are the subject of intense debate amongst modern scholars.

Although the Aqw?l Qat?da was never incorporated into the legal literature of the Ib??iyyah in Oman, manuscripts of the Aqw?l Qat?da have repeatedly attracted particular interest among modern scholars as it raises questions concerning the early development of the Ib??? Ba?ran community. It is a unique document because it attests to the existence of a scholarly link between Sunn?s and Ib???s during the early development of Islamic law. The fact that the legal responses and traditions of Qat?da are part of an Ib??? collection, in which the traditions of J?bir bin Zayd (one of the founders of Ibadism) have been transmitted through ‘Amr b. Harim and ‘Amr b. D?n?r, proves that Ib??? lawyers of the first generations considered Qat?da to be a faithful upholder of J?bir's doctrine.

This present study on the text is based on two recently discovered manuscripts. One of these is in the D?r al-Kutub al-Mi?riyyah in Cairo, while the other is in the al-B?r?niyyah Library (al-Khiz?nah al-B?r?niyyha) on the Tunisian island of Djerba. We shall look at both of them in detail. The texts display three important features, which will be the subject of analysis: 1) fiqh opinions commonly held during the early Islamic period in Ba?ra; 2) early approaches to the collection of Islamic religious traditions including ?ad?th of the Prophet and legal opinions of the early community 3) the development of Islamic jurisprudence during the first two centuries of the Islamic era.