Continuing with my manuscript on Islam for Latter-day Saints:
Al-Bukhari’s Sahih, which holds undisputed pride of place among Sunnis, is worth describing here in a bit of detail. It is composed of ninety-seven books divided into a total of 3,450 chapters. Each book is devoted to a general subject, such as prayer, fasting, alms, testimony, buying and selling, marriage, and the like. About 2,762 separate hadith reports occur in Bukhari’s volumes, but they are often repeated under different headings, for a total of approximately 7,300. As the name of his vast work indicates, it is composed only of hadith reports that were judged by Bukhari and his associates to be sahih, or “sound.” These were the best he could find. Muslim tradition says that these “sound” reports were culled from the best 200,000 hadith Bukhari had encountered in the course of a lifetime spent crisscrossing the Arab empire in quest of anecdotal material about the Prophet and his companions. The obviously spurious or biased reports he had not even taken into account. These facts give some idea of the magnitude of the problem of forgery faced by Muslim scholars and jurists in those early centuries.
Western scholars, in their turn, have been quick to criticize the classical Islamic method of testing hadith by their chains of transmitters, or isnads. They have pointed out, no doubt correctly, that anybody clever enough to forge the substance of a plausible hadith report could also, if he knew it would come under scrutiny, forge a perfectly plausible chain of transmitters for his report. In fact, as biographical dictionaries began to appear, he would have at his disposal a highly useful set of reference works to help him do precisely that. Such criticism is well aimed, it seems, but there can be little doubt that Muslim isnad-criticism did manage to exclude the most blatantly propagandistic forgeries of the first and second centuries after the Prophet. And we must also be grateful for the impetus given by these investigations of hadith and hadith-transmitters to the study of history, which grew up as a side—or sub—discipline to them.
 Pronounced (roughly) “sha-REE-ah.”
 Pronounced (approximately) “kee-YAASS.”
I’ve been urged by several Latter-day Saints — including my Cuban-born daughter-in-law — to get on board with this project, and I’m happy to do so. (How can I resist my daughter-in-law, when my granddaughter is so astoundingly cute?). So here it is:
My wife and I are going to make a small donation to the Kickstarter campaign. I hope that others will, as well.
Some out there may, perhaps, be able to endure this: