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Sunna brought into play more reasonable and efficient canons of criticism than the Biographers; but that they made use of their technical and unreasonable canons in a more servile manner. The less stringent rule of the Biographers, while admitting; no doubt, many fictions and legends, has presented us with much which was excluded from the Sunna, and which, if not absolutely true, affords nevertheless very significant indications in the direction of truth. As to the existence of the legendary and marvellous element in all tradition that concerns the Prophet, there is really little choice between the Sunna and the biographical works. Our conclusion then is, that Sprenger in the judgment quoted above has unduly lauded the Collectors of the Sunna, and depreciated the value of the Biographers 

The works of Wâckidi's Secretary, Ibn S'ad, are the latest which contain any fresh historical matter worthy to be so called. The names of several other Biographers of the same age have been handed down, but they are never quoted by later writers, and their labours are hopelessly lost to us. Tabari (d. 310) may, indeed, be held in some small degree an exception, since he has preserved here and there materials (such as the letters of Orwa) not to be found elsewhere. After him there is absolutely no work which contains any independent historical substance. The so-called historians of later times, so far as they deal in history at all, blindly follow Ibn Ishâc, supplementing his statements occasionally by a reference to Wâckidi. To call any of these, original sources, is a mere abuse of the term.

We next come to the COMMENTARIES on the Coran. Besides the desire, natural in a pious Moslem, to expound his Sacred book, explain its difficulties, and illustrate its excellencies, there were two causes which led to the growth of Commentaries; the Coran contradicts the previous Scripture, and sometimes contradicts itself. When such inconsistencies are irreconcilable, then the latest passage is held to cancel the earlier. Thus in the Coran itself a divine command is not unfrequently repealed by the substitution of another. And, on the same principle, the whole body of previous Revelation is superseded by the Coran, 


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