SOAS University of London

Department of the Languages and Cultures of the Near and Middle East

The Hadith:Language,Style and Translation in English

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2020/2021
FHEQ Level:
Year of study:
Taught in:
Full Year

In surveying the prophetic Hadith through its language and style, this course aims to deepen students’ understanding of the diversity of the linguistic and rhetorical characteristics of the collected reports of the speech and actions of the Prophet Muhammad.


This is essentially a text-based course, so students should be able to read and comprehend classical Arabic material.


This module is taught over 20 weeks with 2 hours classroom contact per week, consisting of a 1 hour lecture and 1 hour seminar.

Scope and syllabus

The course acquaints students with the characteristics of the language and style of the hadith and the general principles of translation, trains them in evaluating some of the best-known existing translations of hadith into English, and offers some training in practical translation.

Language and Style of the Hadith 

Issues such as the following will be discussed: 

  • Common formulae, 
  • terminology, 
  • conciseness and jawamic al-kalim, 
  • figures of speech, 
  • levels of formality, 
  • modes, 
  • tenses and verbal forms, 
  • mood and voice, 
  • structure of the material within the hadith, 
  • context,
  • comparison with the language and style of the Qur'an, with particular reference to translation

Existing Translations of Hadith Passages from the following will be discussed: 

  • Ibrahim, Ezzedin and Johnson, Davies, D., An-Nawawi's 40 Hadiths, Damascus 1976 
  • Ibrahim, Ezzedin and Johnson, Davies, D., 40 Hadith Qudsi, Damascus 1980 
  • M.M. Khan, Sahih al-Bukhari, Pakistan 1971 
  • Robson, J., Mishkat al-Masabih, Lahore, 1973. 
  • Siddiqi, A.H., Sahih Muslim, Beirut, 1971 

There will be a brief study of the history, types, standards and values of these works.

Method of assessment

One 2,500-3,000 word essay on chosen topic due Monday of week 1, term 2 (42%); a 10 minute presentation of a seminar between weeks 6-10 of term 1 on a selected topic agreed with the course convenor (8%); one 3 hour written examination (50%).

Suggested reading

  • Al-'Asqalani, A.b.A: Fat-h al-bari bi sharh Sahih al-Bukhari, Cairo, many editions. 
    • The Six Sihah Books of Hadith, Cairo, many editions. 
  • Baker, Mona, In Other Words, London 1993 
  • Hatim, B., and Mason, I., Discourse and the Translator, New York 1990 
  • Al-Nawawi: Sharh al-Nawawi 'ala Sahih Muslim, Cairo, many editions. 
  • Newmark, P., Approaches to Translation, Oxford 1982
  • Nida, E.A. and Taber, C.R., The Theory and Practice of Translation, Leiden 1969 
  • Rafi'i, M.M., Icjaz al-Qur'an wa'l Balagha al-Nabawiyya, Cairo 1928.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules