The Hadith form the
Muslim oral tradition. It is not clear
precisely how the differ from
Sunnah except that whereas Sunnah are
supposedly the words of the prophet as written down by his companions, Hadith are sayings and laws of
Muhammad that may have been transmitted
Hadith (حديث) literally means that which is new from amongst things or a piece of information. The plural form is ahaadeeth (أحاديث)…
A hadith was originally an oral tradition about the actions and customs and opinions of the Muhammad.
Starting with the turmoil of the 7th century, those receiving the hadith started to question the sources of the saying.
This resulted in a list of transmitters, for example "A told me that B told him that Muhammad said". This list of the
chain of testimony by which a hadith was transmitted is called an Isnad. The text itself came to be known as Matn.
The hadith were eventually recorded in written form, had their Isnad evaluated and were gathered into large
collections mostly during the reign of Umar II (bin Abdul Aziz, grandson of Umar bin Khattab(RAA)2nd Caliph) during 8th
century, something that solidified in the 9th century. These works are still today referred to in matters of Islamic law
Traditions regarding the life of Prophet Muhammad and the early history of Islam were passed down orally for more
than a hundred years after his death in 632.
Muslim historians say that it was the caliph
Uthman (the third caliph, or successor of
Muhammad, who had formerly been Muhammad's secretary), who first urged Muslims both to write down the Qur'an in a fixed
form, and to write down the hadith. Uthman's labors were cut short by his assassination, at the hands of aggrieved
soldiers, in 656.
The Muslim community then fell into a prolonged civil war, termed the Fitna by Muslim historians. After the fourth
caliph, Ali ibn Abi Talib, was assassinated,
control of the Islamic empire was seized by the Umayyad dynasty in 661. Ummayad rule was interrupted by a second civil
war (the Second Fitna), re-established, then ended in 758, when the Abbasid dynasty seized the caliphate, to hold it, at
least in name, until 1258.
Muslim historians say that hadith collection and evaluation continued during the first Fitna and the Umayyad period.
However, much of this activity was presumably oral transmission from early Muslims to later collectors, or from teachers
to students. If any of these early scholars committed any of these collections to writing, they have not survived. The
histories and hadith collections of today were written down at the start of the Abbasid period, more than one hundred
years after the death of Muhammad.
The scholars of the Abbasid period were faced with a huge body of miscellaneous traditions, some of them flatly
contradicting each other. Many of these traditions supported differing views on a variety of controversial matters.
Scholars had to decide which hadith were to be trusted as authentic narrations and which had been invented for various
political or theological purposes. For this purpose, they used a number of techniques which Muslims now call the science
The overwhelming majority of Muslims consider hadith to be essential supplements to and clarifications of the Qur'an,
Islam's holy book. In Islamic jurisprudence, the Qur'an contains many rules for the behavior expected of Muslims.
However, there are many matters of concern, both religious and practical, on which there are no specific Qur'anic rules.
Muslims believe that they can look at the way of life, or sunnah, of Muhammad and his companions to discover what to
imitate and what to avoid. Muslim scholars also find it useful to know how Muhammad or his companions explained the
revelations, or upon what occasion Muhammad received them. Sometimes this will clarify a passage that otherwise seems
obscure. Hadith are a source for Islamic history and biography. For the vast majority of devout Muslims, authentic
hadith are also a source of religious inspiration.
However, some contemporary Muslims argue that the
Quran alone is sufficient. Examples of such
Muslims groups are Tolu-e-Islam (Resurgence of Islam), Free Minds, and United Submitters International. Muslims who take
the "Qur'an alone" viewpoint are regarded as deviant by mainstream Muslim scholars, and by the vast majority of Muslims.
The origins of some verses and statements in the Hadith cannot be verified.
Muslim scholars classify hadith relating to Muhammad as follows:
* What Muhammad said (قول) (qawl)
* What Muhammad did (فعل) (fi'l)
* What Muhammad approved (تقرير) (taqrir) in others' actions
There are also hadith relating to the words and deeds of the companions, but they may not have the same weight as
those about Muhammad. Many actually believe that the Hadith was written hundreds of years after Muhammed died.
Non-Muslim scholars note that there is a great overlap between the records of early Islamic traditions. Accounts of
early Islam are also to be found in:
* sira (stories, especially biographies of Muhammad)
* tafsir (commentary on the Qur'an)
* fiqh (jurisprudence)
SSome of these accounts are also found as hadith; some aren't. For a Non-Muslim historian, these are all simply
historical sources; for the Muslim scholar, hadith have a special status. They cite sura [Qur'an 7:157] (Yusuf Ali
“ Those who follow the messenger, the unlettered Prophet, whom they find mentioned in their own (scriptures),- in the
Law and the Gospel;- for he commands them what is just and forbids them what is evil; he allows them as lawful what is
good (and pure) and prohibits them from what is bad (and impure); He releases them from their heavy burdens and from the
yokes that are upon them. So it is those who believe in him, honour him, help him, and follow the light which is sent
down with him,- it is they who will prosper. ”
They take this and other Qur'anic verses to require Muslims to follow authentic hadith. However, a growing number of
"Quran-only" Muslims disagree with this view and interpret these verses differently; they argue that the hadith are of
human creation and have no authority.
Their argument is strengthened by verses of the Quran which criticize the following of "hadith other than quran", the
Arabic word "hadith" means "sayings".
Veracity of Hadith is examined by the science of Hadith in various ways. The most common technique consists of a
careful examination of the isnad, or chain of transmission. Each hadith is accompanied by an isnad: A heard it from B
who heard it from C who heard it from a companion of Muhammad. Isnads are carefully scrutinized to see if the chain is
possible (for example, making sure that all transmitters and transmittees were known to be alive and living in the same
area at the time of transmission to make sure they met ) and if the transmitters are reliable.
Examples of Hadith include decrees of law, wise aphorims, racist sayings and contradictory injunctions. For example:
* "The blood of a Muslim may not be legally spilt other than in one of three [instances] : the married person who
commits adultery; a life for a life; and one who forsakes his religion and abandons the community."
* " Those guilty of homosexuality must be killed."
* "The ink of the scholar is more precious than the blood of the martyr."
* "The last hour won't come before the Muslims would fight the Jews and the Muslims will kill them so Jews would hide
behind rocks and trees. Then the rocks and tree would call: oh Muslim, oh servant of God! There is a Jew behind me, come
and kill him."
* "Had it not been for Jews, food would not become stale.”
* "One learned man is harder on the devil than a thousand worshippers."
* "Riches are not from an abundance of worldly goods, but from a contented mind."
* "He who wishes to enter the paradise at the best door must please his mother and father."
* "No man is a true believer unless he desires for his brother that he desires for himself."
* "When the bier of anyone passes by you, whether Jew, Christian, or Muslim, rise to your feet."
* "Do not urinate in holes - Jinns live there."
* "The thing which is lawful but is disliked by God is divorce."
* "Women are twin-halves of men."
* "Actions will be judged according to intentions.”
* "That which is lawful is clear and that which is unlawful likewise, but there are certain doubtful things between
the two from which it is well to abstain."
* "The proof of a Muslim's sincerity is that he pays no attention to that which is not his business."
* "That person is nearest to God, who pardons…him who would have injured him."
* "…yield obedience to my successor, although he may be an Abyssinian slave."
* "Admonish your wives with kindness."
* "One hour's meditation on the work of the Creator is better than seventy years of prayer."
* "God says: '...whoso seeketh to approach Me one span, I seek to approach one cubit; and whoso seeketh to approach Me
one cubit, I seek to approach two fathoms; and whoso walketh towards Me, I run towards him!'"
Adapted from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hadith
Synonyms and alternate spellings: