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Hadith

HADITH

Reports (also known as khabar, pl. akhbar) transmitting the sayings and actions of the prophet Muhammad.

Hadith (sing. and pl.) consists of a body (the report) and the isnad (chain of reporters). It can be qawli (re-porting the sayings of the Prophet), fiʿli (reporting his deeds), or qudsi (reporting divinely inspired sayings). Because the Qurʾan explicitly mandates Muslim obedience to the Prophet in legal and ritual matters, the hadith became in Islamic law (shariʿa) a source of legislation second only to the Qurʾan.

The classification and authentication of the hadith is then of crucial importance to the shariʿa. As most reports were collected about 150 years after the death of the Prophet, a number of disciplines collectively known as the sciences of the hadith were developed, specializing in external criticism (investigation of the isnad, biographical studies of the reporters and of their characters, historical context of each report and each subsequent transmission) and internal criticism (consistency with the Qurʾan, consistency with other hadith, historical consistency). Depending on the findings of these various studies, a hadith would be classified as sahih (authentic), hasan (good), daʿif (weak), and mawdu or batil (forged). Six main collections of the hadith gained wide acceptance, and of these the Sahih of Muhammad ibn Ismaʿil al-Bukhari (d. 869) and the Sahih of Abu alHusayn Muslim (d. 875) are the most authoritative.

If the hadith is authentic or good, it is admissible as legal proof in the shariʿa. It will constitute a definite legal basis if it is mutawatir (one following after another). However, if ahad (solitary hadith, with only one transmission chain), it will not constitute, according to most jurists, legal proof without further qualification from other legal indicators. Most controversial issues and conflicts with the Qurʾanic text arise from hadith ahad.

Though much effort went into the collection of the hadith, the sheer volume of circulating reports (al-Bukhari is said to have accepted 7,275 out of more than 600,000 reports) and the fact that the Shiʿite and the Sufi schools have their own distinct collections indicate that the field could greatly benefit from the use of newly refined methods in textual and historical criticism as used for instance in biblical studies. But while the shariʿa admits of analytical methods to evaluate the hadith, the traditionally accepted collections are seen in popular religion and by some jurists and theologians almost as "sacred" sources that may not suffer any scrutiny. This defensive position is in part due to the controversial rejection by some Muslim reformers and modernists, such as Sayyid Ahmad Khan (d. 1898), of hadith as a source of law and has so far precluded new studies and evaluations of the historicity of the hadith.

See also shariʿa.


Bibliography

Kamali, Mohammad Hashim. Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence, revised edition. Cambridge, U.K.: Islamic Texts Society, 1991.

wael b. hallaq
updated by maysam j. al faruqi

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ḥadīth

Ḥadīth (Arab., ‘narrative’). Muslim tradition—accounts of the ‘words, deeds or silent approval' of Muḥammad during the period of his preaching, but especially after the beginning of the Qurʾān revelations. Although the plural is ahādith, Hadith is used in English as a collective for ‘traditions’, as well as the word for a single tradition.

A ḥadīth—a single item of tradition—consists of two parts: matn (‘text’) and isnād or sanad (‘chain of authorities’). An elaborate science of ḥadīth criticism grew up, mainly to ensure the authenticity of any given ḥadīth. Of the major collections of Ḥadith, the best known and most quoted is the Ṣaḥīḥ (Sound Collection) of al-Bukhārī (d. 870). A second important collection is the Ṣaḥīḥ of Muslim b. al-Hajjāj (d. 875), and those two are known as the ‘two Ṣaḥīḥ’. Next in importance are those of al-Tirmidhī (d. 892), al-Nasāʾī (d. 915), Ibn Māja (d. 886), and Abū Dāwūd (d. 888). Together these form the ‘six books’ of reference.

The Shīʿa have their own collections of ḥadīth, which they accuse the Sunnis of having deliberately ignored or concealed, which extol the virtues of ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib and the Twelve Imāms. The earliest authoritative collection is Al-kāfīfī ʿIlm al-Dīn, of Abu Jaʿfar.

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hadith

hadith (hädēth´), a tradition or the collection of the traditions of Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, including his sayings and deeds, and his tacit approval of what was said or done in his presence. The term, which literally refers to an individual tradition, is also used as a synonym of sunna, the normative custom of the Prophet and his companions, and as the name of a scholarly discipline. Hadith, as a discipline, consists of two branches, the first concerned with the validation of the individual traditions through the process of biographic examination of its chain of transmitters back to the Prophet (isnad), and the second concentrating on the actual content of the validated traditions (matn) as a source of religious authority. Since the formalization of Islam, this source of authority has been viewed as second only to the Qur'an. Hadith currently exists in two main sets of collections, corresponding to the Sunni and Shiite division within Islam. Sunni Islam recognizes as authoritative the collections of Bukhari and Muslim followed in importance by those of Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, an-Nasai, and Ibn Maja. Shiite Islam accepts only traditions traced through Ali's family. The major Shiite collections are those of al-Kulini, al-Babuya al-Qummi, and al-Tusi.

See W. A. Graham, Divine Word and Prophetic Word in Early Islam (1977); G. H. A. Juynboll, Muslim Tradition (1981).

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Hadith

Hadith a collection of traditions containing sayings of the prophet Muhammad which, with accounts of his daily practice (the Sunna), constitute the major source of guidance for Muslims apart from the Koran. The name comes from Arabic ḥadīṯ ‘tradition’.

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Hadith

Hadithbeneath, buck teeth, Hadith, heath, Keith, neath, Reith, sheath, teeth, underneath, Westmeath, wreath •eye teeth • dog-teeth

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