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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hadith (Arabic: الحديث al-ḥadīth, pronounced: /ħadiːθ/; pl. aḥadīth; lit. "narrative") are narrations originating from the words and deeds of the Islamic prophet Mohammad. Hadith are regarded by traditional schools of jurisprudence as important tools for understanding the Qur'an and in matters of jurisprudence.[1] Hadith were evaluated and gathered into large collections mostly during the reign of Umar bin Abdul Aziz during the 8th and 9th centuries. These works are referred to in matters of Islamic law and history to this day. The two main denominations of Islam, Shi`ism and Sunnism, have different sets of Hadith collections.



In Arabic the word hadith means that which is new from amongst things or a piece of information conveyed either in a small quantity or large. The Arabic plural is aḥādīth. Hadith also refers to the speech of a person. As tahdith is the infinitive, or verbal noun, of the original verb form; hadith is, therefore, not the infinitive,[2] rather it is a noun.[3]

In Islamic terminology, the term hadith refers to reports of statements or actions of Muhammad, or of his tacit approval of something said or done in his presence.[4] Classical hadith specialist Ibn Hajar says that the intended meaning of hadith in religious tradition is something attributed to Muhammad, as opposed to the Qur'an.[5] Other associated words possess similar meanings including: khabar (news, information) often refers to reports about Muhammad, but sometimes refers to traditions about his companions and their successors from the following generation; conversely, athar (trace, vestige) usually refers to traditions about the companions and successors, though sometimes connotes traditions about Muhammad. The word sunnah (custom) is also used in reference to a normative custom of Muhammad or the early Muslim community.[4]

Sacred hadith

Hadith Qudsi' (or Sacred Hadith) are a sub-category of hadith, which are sayings of Muhammad. Muslims regard the Hadith Qudsi as the words of God (Arabic:Allah), repeated by Muhammad and recorded on the condition of an isnad. According to as-Sayyid ash-Sharif al-Jurjani, the Hadith Qudsi differ from the Qur'an in that the former were revealed in a dream or through revelation and are "expressed in Muhammad's words", whereas the latter are the "direct words of God".

An example of a Hadith Qudsi is the hadith of Abu Hurayrah who said that the Messenger of God said:

"When God decreed the Creation He pledged Himself by writing in His book which is laid down with Him: My mercy prevails over My wrath."[6]

Components of a hadith

The two major aspects of a hadith are the text of the report (the matn), which contains the actual narrative, and the chain of narrators (the isnad), which documents the route by which the report has been transmitted.[4] The sanad, literally 'support', is so named due to the reliance of the hadith specialists upon it in determining the authenticity or weakness of a hadith.[7] The isnad consists of a chronological list of the narrators, each mentioning the one from whom they heard the hadith, until mentioning the originator of the matn along with the matn itself.

The first people to hear hadith were the companions who preserved it and then conveyed it to those after them. Then the generation following them received it, thus conveying it to those after them and so on. So a companion would say, “I heard the Prophet say such and such.” The Follower would then say, “I heard a companion say, ‘I heard the Prophet.’” The one after him would then say, “I heard someone say, ‘I heard a Companion say, ‘I heard the Prophet …’’” and so on.[8]


The overwhelming majority of Muslims consider hadith to be essential supplements to and clarifications of the Qur'an, Islam's holy book, as well as in clarifying issues pertaining to Islamic jurisprudence. Ibn al-Salah, a hadith specialist, described the relationship between hadith and other aspect of the religion by saying: "It is the science most pervasive in respect to the other sciences in their various branches, in particular to jurisprudence being the most important of them.”[9]“The intended meaning of ‘other sciences’ here are those pertaining to religion,” explains Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, “Quranic exegesis, hadith, and jurisprudence. The science of hadith became the most pervasive due to the need displayed by each of these three sciences. The need hadith has of its science is apparent. As for Quranic exegesis, then the preferred manner of explaining the speech of Allah is by means of what has been accepted as a statement of His Prophet. The one looking to this is in need of distinguishing the acceptable from the unacceptable. Regarding jurisprudence, then the jurist is in need of citing as an evidence the acceptable to the exception of the later, something only possible utilizing the science of hadith.”[1]


History of hadith
Science of hadith
Hadith terminology
Biographical evaluation
People of hadith

Traditions of the life of Muhammad and the early history of Islam were passed down mostly orally for more than a hundred years after Muhammad's death in AD 632. Muslim historians say that Caliph Uthman (the third khalifa (caliph), or successor of Muhammad, who had formerly been Muhammad's secretary), was the first to urge Muslims to write the Qur'an in a fixed form, and to record the hadith. Uthman's labours were cut short by his assassination, at the hands of aggrieved soldiers, in 656. No sources survive directly from this period so we are dependent on what later writers tell us about this period.[10]

By the 9th Century the number of Hadiths had mushroomed. the wide acceptance that many of these traditions were fabricated stimulated the development for assessing Hadith.[11] Scholars of the Abbasid period were faced with a huge corpus 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 and which had been invented for political or theological purposes. To do this, they used a number of techniques which Muslims now call the science of hadith.

The Sunni canon of hadith took its final form more than 230 years after the death of Muhammad (632 AD). Later scholars may have debated the authenticity of particular hadith but the authority of the canon as a whole was not questioned. This canon, called the Six major Hadith collections, includes: Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, Sunan Abu Dawud, Sunan al-Sughra, Sunan al-Tirmidhi and Sunan Ibn Majah. Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim are considered the most reliable of these collections.[12]

Shi'a Muslims do not use the Six major Hadith collections followed by the Sunni, instead, their primary hadith collections are written by three authors who are known as the `Three Muhammads`.[13] They are: Usul al-Kafi by Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni al-Razi(329 AH), Man la yahduruhu al-Faqih by Muhammad ibn Babuya and Al-Tahdhib and Al-Istibsar both by Shaykh Muhammad Tusi. Unlike Akhbari Twelver Shi'a, Usuli Twelver Shi'a scholars do not believe that everything in the four major books is authentic.[citation needed]

Science of hadith

The science of hadith, (Arabic: `Ulum al-hadith), is a method of evaluation developed by early Muslim scholars in determining the veracity of reports attributed to Muhammad. This is achieved by analyzing the text of the report, the scale of the report's transmission, the routes through which the report was transmitted, and the individual narrators involved in its transmission. On the basis of these criteria, various classifications were devised for hadith. The earliest comprehensive work on the science of hadith was Abu Muhammad al-Ramahurmuzi's al-Muhaddith al-Fasil, while another significant work was al-Hakim al-Naysaburi's Ma‘rifat ‘ulum al-hadith. Ibn al-Salah's `Ulum al-hadith is considered the standard classical reference on the science of hadith.[4]

Hadith terminology

By means of Hadith terminology, hadith are categorized as sahīh (sound, authentic), da‘īf (weak), or mawdū‘ (fabricated). Other classifications used also include: hasan (good), which refers to an otherwise sahīh report suffering from minor deficiency, or a weak report strengthened due to numerous other corroborating reports; and munkar (ignored) which is a report that is rejected due to the presence of an unreliable transmitter contradicting another more reliable narrator.[14] Both sahīh and hasan reports are considered acceptable for usage in Islamic legal discourse. Classifications of hadith may also be based upon the scale of transmission. Reports that pass through many reliable transmitters at each point in the isnad up until their collection and transcription are known as mutawātir. These reports are considered the most authoritative as they pass through so many different routes that collusion between all of the transmitters becomes an impossibility. Reports not meeting this standard are known as ahad, and are of several different types.[4]

Biographical evaluation

Another area of focus in the study of hadith is biographical analysis (‘ilm al-rijāl, lit. "science of people"), in which details about the transmitter are scrutinized. This includes analyzing their date and place of birth; familial connections; teachers and students; religiosity; moral behaviour; literary output; their travels; as well as their date of death. Based upon these criteria, the reliability (thiqāt) of the transmitter is assessed. Also determined is whether the individual was actually able to transmit the report, which is deduced from their contemporaneity and geographical proximity with the other transmitters in the chain.[15] Examples of biographical dictionaries include: Abd al-Ghani al-Maqdisi's Al-Kamal fi Asma' al-Rijal, Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani's Tahdhīb al-Tahdhīb and al-Dhahabi's Tadhkirat al-huffaz.[16]

Orientalist scholarship

Early Western exploration of Islam consisted primarily of translation of the Qur'an and a few histories, often supplemented with disparaging commentary. In the nineteenth century, scholars made greater attempts at impartiality, and translated and commented upon a greater variety of texts. By the beginning of the twentieth century, Western scholars of Islam started to critically engage with the Islamic texts, subjecting them to the same agnostic, searching scrutiny that had previously been applied to Christian texts (see higher criticism). Ignaz Goldziher is the best known of these turn-of-the-century critics, who also included D. S. Margoliuth, Henri Lammens, and Leone Caetani. Goldziher writes, in his Muslim Studies: "... it is not surprising that, among the hotly debated controversial issues of Islam, whether political or doctrinal, there is not one in which the champions of the various views are unable to cite a number of traditions, all equipped with imposing isnads.

Contemporary Western scholars of hadith include: Herbert Berg, Fred M. Donner and Wilferd Madelung. Madelung has immersed himself in the hadith literature and has made his own selection and evaluation of tradition. Having done this, he is much more willing to trust hadith than many of his contemporaries. Madelung said of hadith: "Work with the narrative sources, both those that have been available to historians for a long time and others which have been published recently, made it plain that their wholesale rejection as late fiction is unjustified and that with [not without] a judicious use of them, a much more reliable and accurate portrait of the period can be drawn than has been realized so far."[17]

Harald Motzki said: "The mere fact that ahadith and asanid were forged must not lead us to conclude that all of them are fictitious or that the genuine and the spurious cannot be distinguished with some degree of certainty."[17]

Some Muslim scholars have undergone Western academic training and attempted to mediate between the traditional Muslim and the secular Western view.[citation needed] Notable among these was Fazlur Rahman Malik (1919–1988) who argued that while the chain of transmission of the hadith may often be spurious, the matn can still be used to understand how Islam can be lived in the modern world.[citation needed] Liberal movements within Islam tend to agree with Rahman's views to varying degrees.[citation needed]

Orientalist literature

Contemporary Western literature dealing with hadith include:


  1. ^ a b Ibn Hajar, Ahmad. al-Nukat ala Kitab ibn al-Salah, vol. 1, pg. 90. Maktabah al-Furqan.
  2. ^ Lisan al-Arab, by Ibn Manthour, vol. 2, pg. 350; Dar al-Hadith edition.
  3. ^ al-Kuliyat by Abu al-Baqa’ al-Kafawi, pg. 370; Mu'assasah l-Risalah. This last phrase is quoted by al-Qasimi in Qawaid al-Tahdith, pg. 61; Dar al-Nafais.
  4. ^ a b c d e "Hadith," Encyclopedia of Islam.
  5. ^ Fath al-Bari, vol. 1, pg. 193; Dar Taibah. Al-Suyuti quotes this in his Tadrib al-Rawi, vol. 1, pg. 42; Dar al-Asimah edition.
  6. ^ Related byal-Bukhari, Muslim, an-Nasa'i and Ibn Majah.
  7. ^ Tadrib al-Rawi, vol. 1, pgs. 39–41 with abridgement.
  8. ^ Ilm al-Rijal wa Ahimiyatih, by Mualami, pg. 16, Dar al-Rayah. I substituted the word ‘sunnah’ with the word ‘hadith’ as they are synonymous in this context.
  9. ^ Ulum al-Hadith by Ibn al-Salah, pg. 5, Dar al-Fikr, with the verification of Nur al-Din al-‘Itr.
  10. ^ Roman, provincial and Islamic law, Patricia Crone, p2
  11. ^ Islam – the Straight Path, John Eposito, p81
  12. ^ Muqaddimah Ibn al-Salah, pg. 160 Dar al-Ma’aarif edition
  13. ^ Momen, Moojan, Introduction to Shi'i Islam, Yale University Press, 1985, p.174.
  14. ^ See:
    • "Hadith," Encyclopedia of Islam Online;
    • "Hadith," Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim world.
  15. ^ Berg (2000) p. 8
  16. ^ See:
    • Robinson (2003) pp. 69–70;
    • Lucas (2004) p. 15
  17. ^ a b The Succession to Muhammad, page xi.


  • Berg, H. (2000). The development of exegesis in early Islam: the authenticity of Muslim literature from the formative period. Routledge. ISBN 0700712240. 
  • Lucas, S. (2004). Constructive Critics, Hadith Literature, and the Articulation of Sunni Islam. Brill Academic Publishers. ISBN 9004133194. 
  • Robinson, C. F. (2003). Islamic Historiography. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521629365. 
  • Robson, J.. "Hadith". in P.J. Bearman, Th. Bianquis, C.E. Bosworth, E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Encyclopaedia of Islam Online. Brill Academic Publishers. ISSN 1573-3912. 

Further reading

  • Brown, J. (2007). The Canonization of al-Bukhari and Muslim: The Formation and Function of the Sunni Hadith Canon. Leiden: Brill, 2007.
  • Juynboll, G. H. A. (2007). Encyclopedia of Canonical Hadith. Leiden: Brill, 2007.
  • Lucas, S. (2002). The Arts of Hadith Compilation and Criticism. University of Chicago. OCLC 62284281. 
  • Musa, A. Y. Hadith as Scripture: Discussions on The Authority Of Prophetic Traditions in Islam, New York: Palgrave, 2008. ISBN 0230605354

External links

  • Hadith Search by keyword and find hadith by narrator.



Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Hadith is the collection of the records of the examples (Sunna) set by Muhammad.

Inasmuch as it is a collection recorded by different scribes, there is no one book of hadith for all Muslims; there are several hadith books. Hadith is second in authority only to the Quran.


The Hadith (الحديث)

  • The Prophet said, "On the night of my Ascent to the Heaven, I saw Moses who was a tall brown curly-haired man as if he was one of the men of Shan'awa tribe, and I saw Jesus, a man of medium height and moderate complexion inclined to the red and white colors and of lank hair. I also saw Malik, the gate-keeper of the (Hell) Fire and Ad-Dajjal [the Antichrist] amongst the signs which Allah showed me."
  • The Prophet said, "On the Day of Resurrection the Believers will assemble and say, 'Let us ask somebody to intercede for us with our Lord.' … 'Go to Jesus, Allah's Slave, His Apostle and Allah's Word and a Spirit coming from Him.' Jesus will say, 'I am not fit for this undertaking, go to Muhammad the Slave of Allah whose past and future sins were forgiven by Allah.' So they will come to me and I will proceed till I will ask my Lord's Permission and I will be given permission.



  • In the Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad, he said, "Judgment day will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews, and the Muslims will kill the Jews, and then the Jews will hide behind stones or trees, and the stone or the tree will say: Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him - except for the Gharqad, which is a tree of the Jews."

While Muslims in the Western world purport to not follow or trust the validity of this hadith, in the Middle East it is often repeated in sermons, political speeches and television broadcasts. MEMRI TV has many examples, one of which follows:


External links

Wikipedia has an article about:
Look up hadith in Wiktionary, the free dictionary
  • IHSAN, Encyclopedia of hadith

Video clips

Study guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiversity

The Hadith the the secondary text of Islam. It is a series of collections of sayings (Hadiths). Each saying pertains to the behavior and actions of either the Prophet or his close companions and are meant to be used as guides in everyday life.

Each Hadith is composed of two parts

  • The Isnad: A chain of authors, relating who told it to who over its lifetime. (Think of it as a record of a game of telephone) Each Isnad is inspected to determine the validity of the Hadith it is connected two. A rating system exists to classify Hadiths as Accurate, False, Uknown, Likely, Etc. These determinations are based upon the moral character and litteracy of the authors named in the Isnad as well as the historical consistancy of the chain (People must have lived at the same time to pass on the Hadith). All of these Hadiths are recorded and maintaned for legal purposes, despite their often erroneous nature.
  • The core Hadith saying: Usually a parable in the form of a story about a prophet (often times Jesus) and his actions upon earth. Effective quotes and morals are also found often.

There is no official collection of Hadiths however 4 general collections are regarded by the Sunni as accurate while the Shia' regard a diffiring two as legitimate.

Source material

Up to date as of January 22, 2010

From Wikisource

There are a number of Hadith in the Islamic tradition, collections of sayings attributed to the prophet Muhammad, but which were not included in the Quran.

Sunni collections

  • Sahih Bukhari, collected by Muhammad al-Bukhari,
  • Sahih Muslim, collected by Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj, partial translation
  • al-Sunan al-Sughra, collected by Al-Nasa'i
  • Sunan Abi Da'ud, collected by Abu Da'ud partial translation
  • Sunan al-Tirmidhi, collected by Al-Tirmidhi
  • Sunan Ibn Maja, collected by Ibn Majah
  • Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal
  • Sahih Ibn Khuzaymah
  • Sahih Ibn Hibbaan
  • Al-Mustadrak alaa al-Sahihain
  • Mawdu'at al-Kubra
  • Riyadh as-Saaliheen
  • Mishkat al-Masabih
  • Talkhis al-Mustadrak
  • Majma al-Zawa'id
  • Bulugh al-Maram
  • Kanz al-Ummal
  • Zujajat al-Masabih
  • Minhaj us Sawi
  • Al-Muwatta, collected by Malik ibn Anas
  • Al-Haakim
  • Darqutnee
  • Daarimi
  • Abu Na'eem

Ibadi collections

  • al-Jami' as-Sahih

Shi'a Twelver collections

  • Nahj al-Balagha
  • Kitab al-Kafi of Kulainy
  • Man la yahduruhu al-Faqih of Shaikh Saduq
  • Tahdhib al-Ahkam by Shaikh Tusi
  • al-Istibsar by Shaykh Tusi
  • The book of Sulaym ibn Qays
  • Sahifa al-Sajjadiyya
  • Wasael ush-Shia
  • Bihar al-Anwar
  • Haqq al-Yaqeen
  • Ain Al-Hayat
  • Sharh Usul al-Kafi

Simple English

A hadith (Arabic: حَدِيْث, pronounced: "ha-DEETH") is the narration of an event from the life of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam. In English, the word hadith is also used as the plural word for a group of these narrations although the plural in Arabic is a-HAA-deeth.

Simple English Wiktionary has the word meaning for:


The word hadith means something new or a piece of information.[1] The religious meaning of hadith is a statement, action or approval attributed to the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad.[2] Therefore, hadith can be divided into three categories based upon their content:

  1. A statement of the Prophet
  2. An action of the Prophet
  3. The Prophet’s approval of an action done by other him


After Muhammad died, Muslim scholars wrote down stories about what he had said and done. They also wrote down facts about who told each story. Some of the stories were retold many times before they were written down, and some stories did not agree in every detail resulting in the detailed study of hadith by scholars to compare between those hadith.

Muslim scholars collected all of these Hadith in books and compared them to each other. They decided which Hadith were most likely to be true records of the Sunnah, that is, the words and actions of Muhammad. Muslims see the Sunnah as an important source of guidance, along with the Qur'an.


  1. Lisan al-`Arab, Ibn Manthour, 2:350; Cairo, Dar al-Hadith.
  2. Qawa`id al-Tahdith, Jamal al-Din al-Qasimi, pg. 61; Beirut, Dar al-Nafais.

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