This chapter combines ethnography and textual analysis to examine the traditional Islamic concept of sanad. A sanad is a chain of scholars through which knowledge is passed over time. The chapter discusses the importance of the sanad in the view of premodern scholars and contemporary Traditionalist scholars. It also discusses how the sanad is related to Islamic ethics, companionship, and distinctive premodern Muslim understandings of language and writing. The chapter’s account of the sanad draws on insights from hermeneutic theory and practice theory. Specifically included in the discussion are the topics of the sanad and companionship, the sanad and the limitations of learning through texts, and written texts as a medium for the transmission of knowledge.
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