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A report of the sayings or actions of Muhammad or his companions, together
with the tradition of its chain of transmission.

And also:

The Hadith is the record of the sayings of Prophet Muhammad(pbuh). The sayings and conduct
of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) constitute theSunnah.

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, rather it is a noun.

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. Classical hadith specialist Ibn
Hajar al-Asqalani says that the intended meaning of hadith in religious tradition is something
attributed to Muhammad, as opposed to the Qur'an. 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

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.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.[8] 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

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 ibn Affan (the third khalifa (caliph) of the Rashidun Empire, 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.[11]

By the 9th century the number of hadiths had sprung up like mushrooms. The wide acceptance
that many of these traditions were fabricated stimulated the development for assessing Hadith.
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.

Hadith Qudsi
A hadith Qudsi usually refers to a hadith in which the prophet says that Allah has said
something but it is said in Muhammad's words.The report of Hadith Qudsi can begin in one of
two ways:

1. The Prophet says reporting from Allah (SWT)...

2. Allah (SWT) has said as reported by His Messenger (P.B.U.H)

A hadith Qudsi is generally considered holy, second to the Qur'an.

Types Of Hadith

Different Types of Hadith exist due to the method of transmission, number of reporters in each
class, and the authenticity of the Hadith.

• Mutawatir / Tawatur: A Daleel transmitted by an indefinite number of

people. Due to the large number of people reporting the Daleel and
their diversity of residence, reliability, and conviction, it is
inconceivable that this Daleel could be fabricated.

The minimum number of transmitters which are required to classify a Daleel as Mutawatir is
generally five. However, some scholars may have a more stringent criteria. The character of the
reporters narrating Mutawatir Ahadith has to be noble.
• Ahad: Riwayah Ahad is a number less that the Mutawatir.

• Mashoor: A Hadith reported by at least three individuals in every class

(Sahabah, Tabi’een, etc.).

• Aziz: A Hadith reported by at least two individuals in every class.

• Gharib: A Hadith reported by only one individual in one or more

classes. it is applied sometimes to the text and sometimes to the
chain. thus it may refer to the only tradition known by a certain line of
transmission, although the same tradition may be known by other
lines; it may refer to a hadeeth whose text has only one transmitter. it
may also refer to a tradition

• Sahih: A Hadith narrated by an Adl (not known for misconduct) and

Dabeth (maintains accuracy of the report) person from another person
of similar qualities until the end of the report. The report should also
exclude any Shuthuth (disagreement with other credible reporters).

• Hasan: Has two definitions:

o A Hadith which meets the requirements of Sahih to a lesser
o A Hadith which is acceptable by the majority of the Fuqaha.

• Dai’f: A Hadith not meeting the requirement of either the Sahih or the
Hasan Hadith. It can be one of the following:
o Mualaq: A Hadith which is missing one or more reporters either
at the beginning of the Isnad, in the middle or in the end.
o Mu’addal: A Hadith which is missing two or more consecutive
o Munqati: A Hadith which has interruption in the class.
o Ash-Shaath: A Hadith in which one credible reporter reports
something that disagrees with other credible reporters.
o Muallal: A Hadith whose Sanad seems to be fine, but due to some
reasons discovered by scholars, it is discredited.
o Munkar: A Hadith in which uncredible reporters convey a
message which is in disagreement with what was reported by
credible reporters.
o Mawd’u: A fabricated Hadith.

The duty of the Messenger was not just to communicate the message, rather, he was entrusted
with the most important task of explaining and illustrating that message. That is the reason why
Allah Himself has commanded the following:

[Say: Obey Allah and obey the Messenger, but if you turn away, he (the Prophet) is only
responsible for the duty placed on him (i.e. to convey Allah's Message) and you for that
placed on you. If you obey him, you shall be on the right guidance. The Messenger's duty is
only to convey (the message) in a clear way.] (An-Nur 24:54)

This verse clearly tells us the overriding importance of Hadith to Muslims. They should be eager
to learn and follow the teachings of the Prophet as expressed in Hadith. If we are negligent in
this respect, it is we who have to answer before Allah.

Speaking of the importance of Hadith, we need to take into consideration two broad aspects of
the subject. We know that Allah Almighty revealed the Qur'an to His chosen Prophet
Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him). So it is through the Prophet we come to hear the
word of Allah; and it is the Prophet himself who can properly explain and demonstrate the
precepts in the Qur'an. Without the required explanations and illustrations given by the Prophet,
the Qur'an may be misunderstood and misinterpreted by people. So the Prophet took care to
explain and demonstrate to his companions how the Qur'anic verses must be read and
understood. That is to say, the importance of Hadith is linked to the importance of the Qur'an.
For example, the details of how to perform salah (ritual prayer), for instance, were given by the
Prophet through his words and action, and not by the Qur'an. This means that we wouldn't know
how to pray, fast, pay zakah, or perform Hajj without the examples given by the Prophet as
recorded in the Hadith. Indeed, all necessary details are given in the Hadith, not in the Qur'an.

The revelation of each of the verses of the Qur'an took place at some critical junctures in the life
of the Prophet. Of course, there are verses of universal application and significance, irrespective
of the context in which those verses were revealed. But there are other verses that can be
understood or interpreted only in the light of the actual context in the life of the Prophet, which
called for that revelation. There are many examples. For instance, the following verse in the
Surah Aali `Imran:

[If any one disputes in this matter with thee, now after (full) knowledge hath come to thee,
Say: Come! Let us gather together, our sons and your sons, our women and your women,
ourselves and yourselves: then let us earnestly pray. And invoke the curse of Allah on those
who lie.] (Aali `Imran 3:61)

This verse talks about mubahala (invoking the curse of Allah on those who take a dishonest
stand); and was revealed when the Prophet was conferring with the Christian delegation from
Najran in 631 CE This example clearly shows how we need to refer to the life and example of
the Prophet to understand the context, as well as the meaning of verses, such as the above
mentioned one in the Qur'an.

The foregoing shows how Hadith, in practical terms, explains, clarifies, and paraphrases the
Qur'an. If we reject the Hadith, we may misread the Qur'an; so Hadith is central to a proper
understanding of the Qur'an.

In the Qur'an, Allah Almighty commands us not only to obey the Messenger, but also to abide by
his decisions as follows:

[But no, by the Lord, they can have no (real) Faith, until they make you (the Prophet]
judge in all disputes between them, and find in their souls no resistance against your
decisions, but accept them with the fullest conviction."] (An-Nisaa' 4:65)

And surely we find such decisions only in the Hadith; the duty of Muslims is to accept the
Prophet's decisions whole-heartedly. The Qur'an also orders the faithful to emulate the role
model of the Messenger and reckons it to be the only way to gain the pleasure of Allah.

One can judge the importance of the Prophet from these verses. I am reminded of another
important verse of the Qur'an, which is actually a verdict against those who do not believe in
Hadith as an authentic source of law:

[And whoso opposeth the Messenger after the guidance (of Allah) hath been manifested
unto him, and followeth other than the believer's way, We shall leave him in the path he
has chosen, and shall cause him to endure hell—a hapless journey's end!] (An-Nisaa' 4:115)

Hadith is nothing but a reflection of the personality of the Prophet, who is to be obeyed at every

Any student of the Qur'an will see that the Holy Book generally deals with the broad principles
or essentials of religion, going into details in very rare cases. The details were generously
supplied by the Prophet himself, either by showing in his practice how an injunction shall be
carried out, or by giving an explanation in words. The Sunnah or Hadith of the Holy Prophet was
not, as is generally supposed, a thing of which the need may have been felt only after his death,
for it was very much needed in his lifetime. The two most important religious institutions of
Islam are prayer and zakat; yet when the injunction relating to prayer and zakat were delivered,
and they were repeatedly revealed in both Mecca and Madina, no details were supplied. Keep up
prayers (aqimoo as-salaah the Qur'anic injunction and it was the Prophet himself who by his own
actions gave details of the prayer and said: (Salloo kamaa ra'aytamoonee usaallee) "Pray as you
see me praying."
Payment of zakah is again an injunction frequently repeated in the Qur'an yet it was the Prophet
(peace be upon him) who gave the rules and regulations for its payment and collection. These are
but two example; but since Islam covers the entire sphere of human activities, hundreds of points
had to be explained by the Prophet (peace be upon him) by his example in action and in words.

Those people who think that the Quran is the only source of Islamic Law should read the
following verses from the Holy Quran and do a bit of introspection (a mighty bit, that is):

ً ‫ه ك َِثيييرا‬ ُ
َ ‫خيَر وَذ َك َيَر الل ّي‬
ِ ‫م اْل‬
َ ْ‫ه َوال ْي َيو‬
َ ‫جييو الل ّي‬ َ ّ‫ة ل‬
َ ‫ميين ك َييا‬
ُ ‫ن ي َْر‬ ٌ َ ‫سن‬
َ ‫ح‬ ْ ‫ل الل ّهِ أ‬
َ ٌ ‫سوَة‬ ِ ‫سو‬ ْ ُ ‫ن ل َك‬
ُ ‫م ِفي َر‬ َ َ‫ل‬
َ ْ ‫قد‬
َ ‫كا‬
Indeed in the Messenger of God (Muhammad) you have a beautiful example to follow for him
who hopes in (the Meeting with) God and the Last Day and remembers God much. (33:21)

ٍ ‫ظيييييييييييييييييييييييييييم‬ ٍ ‫خُليييييييييييييييييييييييييي‬
ِ َ‫ق ع‬ ُ ‫ك ل ََعلييييييييييييييييييييييييييى‬
َ ‫وَإ ِّنيييييييييييييييييييييييييي‬
And verily, you (O Muhammad) are on an exalted standard of character. (68:4)

How can one attempt to follow the "gold-standard" character of the Holy Prophet (peace
be upon him) without the Hadith literature?

Traditions regarding the life of Muhammad and the early history of Islam were passed down
both orally and written for more than a hundred years after the death of Muhammad in 632.
According to Muslims, the collection of hadith or sayings by or about the prophet Muhammad
was a meticulous and thorough process that began right at the time of Muhammad. Needless to
say hadith collection (even in the written form) began very early on – from the time of
Muhammad and continued through the centuries that followed. Thus, Muslims reject any
collections that are not robust in withstanding the tests of authenticity per the standards of hadith
studies. This article goes through the historical evolution of the hadith literature from its
beginning in the 7th century to present day.

Stage One: Time of the Prophet (s)

During the life of the Prophet (r) there was no pressing need to write down all of his various
statements or record his actions because he was present and could be consulted at any time. As a
matter of fact, the Prophet (r) himself made a general prohibition against writing down his
statements which were other than the Qur’aan itself.

This was to prevent the possibility of mixing up the Qur’aan with his own words during the era
of revelation. Consequently, the greatest stress regarding writing was placed on recording the
Qur’aanic verses. However, there are many authentic narrations collected by the Scholars of
Hadeeth that prove that Hadeeth were recorded in writing even during the lifetime of the Prophet

For example, ‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Amr said: “I used to write everything which I heard from the
Messenger of Allaah (r) with the intention of memorizing it. However, some Qurashees forbade
me from doing so saying, ‘Do you write everything that you hear from him, while the Messenger
of Allaah is a human being who speaks in anger and pleasure?’ So I stopped writing, and
mentioned it to the Messenger of Allah (r). He pointed with his finger to his mouth and said:
‘Write! By Him in whose hand is my soul, only truth comes out from it.’

Aboo Hurayrah said: When Makkah was conquered, the Prophet (r) stood up and gave a sermon
[Aboo Hurayrah then mentioned the sermon]. A man from Yemen, called Aboo Shaah got up
and said, “O Messenger of Allaah! Write it down for me.” The Messenger of Allaah (r) replied,
“Write it for Aboo Shaah.”

Al-Waleed asked Aboo ‘Amr, “What are they writing?” He replied, “The sermonwhich he heard

Aboo Qaabeel said: We were with ‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas and he was asked which city
will be conquered first Constantinople or Rome? So ‘Abdullaah called for a sealed trunk and he
said, “Take out the book from it.”

Then ‘Abdullaah said, “While we were with the Messenger of Allaah (r) writing, The Messenger
of Allaah (r) was asked, “Which city will be conquered first, Constantinople or Rome?” So
Allaah’s Messenger (r) said: “The city of Heracilius will be conquered first,” meaning

Main points were:

1. Companions recorded statements and actions of the Prophet (s) – some memorised while
others memorised as well as wrote it. An example of such companions is Abdullah ibn Amr ibn

2. Given the absence of literacy amongst most, they had developed their memory exceptionally
well as that is all they had to rely for most important affairs of their lives as well as for their
forms of “entertainment”, i.e. poetry. This was further developed due to importance of
memorising the Quran and reciting every day in the five time prayers.

3. Practically no Muslim could be a practising Muslim without memorising at least some hadith
(statements etc) of the Prophet – to know what to recite during the compulsory five times
prayers, to arbitrate in disputes between themselves at a family level or that of community. So
hadith were indispensable and therefore some memorised by every Muslim.

Stage Two: Companions (Sahabah) of the Prophet

Muhammad (s)
After the death of the Prophet (r) his saying and action took of a new importance because he was
no longer there to consult when problems arose. The practise of narration on a large scale started
during this period. For example, when the Prophet (r) died, the Sahaabah debated about where to
bury him. This debate ended when Aboo Bakr told them “I heard the messenger say, “No
prophet dies but he is buried where he died.”7 Thus a grave was dug immediately below the bed
on which he died in the house of ‘Aa’ishah. In this period a number of the leading Sahaabah
wrote down hadeeths of the Prophet (r).

The following are just a few of the leading narrators of the Prophet’s traditions who were known
to have recorded them in writing. Aboo Hurayrah to whom 5374 channels of hadeeth narrations
are attributed,
actually narrated 1236 hadeeth. Hasan in ‘Amr ad-Damaree saw many books in his possession.8
‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Abbaas to whom 1660 channels of narrations are attributed used to write
whatever he heard9.
‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Amr ibn al- ‘Aas to whom 700 channels are attributed was know to recorded
books of hadeeths during the Prophet’s lifetime with he titled as-Saheefah as-Saheehah.

Aboo Bakr was reported to have written down over 500 different sayings of the Prophet (r).

Ibn al-Jawzee, who provides a list of all the companions who related traditions, gives the names
of about 1,060 together with the number of hadeeths related by each. 500 related only 1 hadeeth
each; 132 related only 2 each; 80 related 3; 52 related 4; 32 related 5; 26 related 6; 27 related 7;
18 related 8; 11 related 9; 60 related between 10 and 20; 84 related between 20 and 100; 27
related between 100 and 500 and only 11 related more than 500 of which only 6 related more
than 1,000 hadeeth, and they are commonly referred to as the mukaththiroon (the reporters of
many traditions).

Today, a graduate of the college of hadeeth in the Islamic University of Madeenah is required to
memorize 250 hadeeth during each of the four years of his study (i.e., a total of 1,000 hadeeths).

From the above, it can readily be seen that fewer than 300 companions related the vast majority
of traditions.

So main points were:

1. Efforts of Sahabah in collection for own practise and fatwa for others e.g. Abu Hurairah (d.
59H), Abdullah Ibn Abbas (d. 68H), Jabir ibn Abdullah (d. 78H), Aisha bint Abu Bakr (d. 58H),
Anas ibn Malik (10BH-93AH), Abudllah ibn Amr ibn al-Aas (d. 63H), Abdullah ibn Umar (d.
74H) and Abdullah ibn Masud (d. 32H)

2. Efforts of Sahabah in ensuring authenticity e.g. Umar ibn Khattab and Aishah

3. They memorised it and some wrote it e.g. Abdullah ibn Amr ibn Aas or their students wrote it
them e.g. students of Ibn Abbas, Abu Hurairah, etc.

Stage Three: Tabieen (Students of the Prophet’s

Era of The Taabi’oon12 (1st Century Hijrah)
After Islaam had spread into the Middle East, India, North Africa and the narration of hadeeth
had become widespread, there arose people who began to invent hadeeths. To combat this
development, Caliph ‘Umar ibn Abdul-Azeez (reign 99 to 101 AH - 71 8 to 720 C.E.) ordered
the scholars to compile the traditions of the Prophet (r). The scholars had already begun
composing books containing biographical data on the various narrators of hadeeth in order to
expose the liars and fabricators. Aboo Bakr ibn Hazm (d.120/737) was among those directed by
the Caliph to compile the hadeeth. Caliph ‘Umar requested him to write down all the hadeeths of
the Prophet (r) and of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab and to pay particular attention to gathering the
hadeeths of ‘Amrah bint ‘Abdir

Rahmaan, who was at that time the most respected custodian of the narrations of ‘Aa’ishah. Sa‘d
ibn Ibraaheem and Ibn Shihaab az-Zuhree were also requested to compile books and az-Zuhree
became the first compiler of hadeeth to record the biographies of the narrators with particular
reference to their character and honesty. In this period the systematic compilation of hadeeths
was begun on a fairly wide scale.

However, among the students of the companions, many recorded hadeeths and collected them in
books. The following is a list of the top 12 narrators of hadeeths among the Prophet’s
companions and their students who had their narrations in written form.

Aboo Hurayrah (5374)13: Nine of his students were recorded to have written hadeeths from him.

Ibn ‘Umar (2630): Eight of his students wrote down hadeeths from him.

Anas ibn Maalik (2286): Sixteen of his students had hadeeths in written form
from him.

‘Aa’ishah bint Abee Bakr (2210): Three of her students had her hadeeths in
written form.

Ibn ‘Abbaas (1660): Nine of his students recorded his hadeeths in books.

Jaabir ibn ‘Abdillaah (1540): Fourteen of his students wrote down his hadeeths.

Aboo Sa‘eed al-Khudree (1170): None of his students wrote.

Ibn Mas‘ood (748): None of his students wrote.

‘Abdullaah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas (700): Seven of his students had his hadeeths in written form.

‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab (537): He recorded many hadeeths in official letters.

‘Alee ibn Abee Taalib (536): Eight of his students recorded his hadeeths in writing.

Aboo Moosaa al-Ash‘aree (360): Some of his hadeeths were in the possession of Ibn ‘Abbaas in
written from.

(13) The total number of hadeeths or more properly, channels of narration of hadeeth ascribed to

Al-Barraa ibn ‘Aazib (305): Was known to have dictated his narrations.
Of Aboo Hurayrah’s nine students known to have written hadeeths, Hammaam ibn Munabbih’s
book has survived in manuscript form and published in 1961 in Hyderabad, India.

Era of The Taabi‘ut-Taabi‘een15 (2nd Century)

In the period following that of the Taabi’oon, the hadeeths were systematically collected and
written in texts. One of the earliest works was al-Muwatta composed by Maalik ibn Anas. Other
books of hadeeth were also written by scholars of Maalik’s time by the likes of al-Awzaa‘ee who
lived in Syria, ‘Abdullaah ibn al-Mubaarak of Khurasaan, Hammaad ibn Salamah of Basrah and
Sufyaan ath-Thawree of Kufah. However, the only work which survived from that time is that of
Imaam Maalik. It could be said that in this period the majority of the hadeeths were collected in
the various centers of Islaam.

The reason why these three generations have been given special consideration is because the
Prophet (r) was reported to have said, “The best of generations is my generation, then the one
which follows them, then the one that follows them.”16 It was through these three generations
that hadeeth was first transmitted orally and in writing, until they were compiled into collections
on a wide and a systematic scale.

Era of The Saheehs (3rd Century Hijrah)

There arose in the third century scholars who undertook the job of critical research of the
hadeeths that were narrated and compiled in the first two centuries. They also grouped the
hadeeth which they considered to be accurate according to the branches of Islaamic Law. E.g.
From this period is the book
Saheeh al-Bukhaaree containing 7,275 hadeeth which al-Bukhaaree (died- 870 C.E.) chose from
600,000 and Saheeh Muslim which contains 9,200 hadeeths which Imaam Muslim selected from
300,000. Besides these two works of Hadeeth, there are four other works which became famous
during this period.

They are the four sunan of Aboo Dawud (died 889 C.E.), at-Tirmithee (died 893C.E.), an-
Nasaa’ee (died 916 C.E.) and Ibn Maajah (died 908 C.E.).
1. Efforts of Tabieen who devoted their lives at some stage to collection of
hadith, e.g. Urwah ibn Zubair (nephew of Aisha), Nafi Mawla of Abudllah ibn Umar,
Thabit ibn Aslam al-Bunani (spent forty years with Anas ibn Malik); also Amrah bint
Abdurahman Mawla of Aisha grew up with Aisha learning.

Written Collection: Many of Tabieen collected and compiled their hadith in books
which were incorporated in books by the next generation and most of those that
survive today are in that form as part of other larger books.

Stage Four: Efforts of Next generation after Tabieen

(Atbaa Tabieen)
1. Jarh wa Ta’deel: Assessed soundness of narrators of Tabieen’s generation and
their own e.g. Shubah (83H – 160H), Malik ibn Anas (93H – 179H), Zuhri (d. 124H),
Yahya ibn Saeed al-Qattan (a companion of Imam Malik ibn Anas)

2. Collection of hadith from previous generation by travelling extensively to them

or spending long time with them e.g. all of tabieen mentioned above plus many
others such as Ibn Sireen (d. 110H) and Hasan al-Basri (d. 110)

3. Compiling and authored books of hadith that are still in circulation today
e.g. Malik ibn Anas, Abdullah ibn Mubarak (d. 181 H), Ibn Ishaq (d. 151H). Many
others of this and the previous generation (Tabieen) were encouraged (during the
first century of Islam) by the Ruler (Caliph) of Muslims then Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz (d.
101H). Umar ibn AbdulAziz, the Caliph, was himself a leading scholar of Islam.

Conditions for hadith to be authentic are five:

1. Itisaal of Sanad i.e. chain is continuous and unbroken

2. Adaalah of Raawi i.e. trustworthiness of narrator’s truthfulness
3. Dabt of Raawi i.e. Precision of a narrator’s reports and lack of errors
4. Ellah i.e. hidden defects in the hadith
5. Shaadh i.e. above conditions seem to be met but contradicts other authentic upon close