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Notes from “On Schacht’s Origins of Muhammadan Jurisprudence by M. M. A’zami”

In any evaluation of the isnad system one must keep firmly in mind its
centra! position in Islam. The belief that the ahadith handed down by the
Prophet have the force of law is largely based on Qur’anic injunctions.
These ahadith came to us from the Prophet through chains of transmit-
ters. They are, thus, the cornerstone of the Islamic faith and the code of
ethics associated with it. Sufyan al-Thauri (d. 161 AH.) says: “The isnad is
the believer’s weapon; thus, when he has no weapon, with what will he
fight? 1 Another scholar, Ibn Mubarak (d 181 AH), says: “Isnad is a part
of religion (din), and if there were no isnad everyone would be free to
report what he wants.” 2


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