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What is Hadith? What is Sunnah?

The Holy Quran is the primary Source of Islam and the literal Spoken Word of God. The Quran is the only Book in the world which contains the exact and pure word of God Himself. Hadith, meanwhile, is the second source of Islam. Unlike the Quran, the work known as Hadith was created and preserved by humans and not directly by God.

Islamic Online References 

While Prophet Muhammad was practicing and preaching the teachings of Islam and the Quran to his companions, his companions would report and record the words, actions, and beliefs of the Prophet. They were gathered by the companions of Prophet Muhammad, and later by scholars who specialized in Hadith. These reports then were gathered and known to be called Hadith. In the Arabic language, Hadith, or Ahadith in its plural form, has a number of meanings. Hadith translates to mean speech, narration, report, or news. In the context of Islam, Hadith refers to a narration or report that Prophet Muhammad said, did, or approved. Hadith also refers to the Prophets’ reaction to or silence in response to something said or done by others. Hadith is a body of reports that constitutes speeches, discourses, statements, actions, sermons, teachings, sayings, actions, and approvals of the Prophet. Hadith also contains accounts of Prophet Muhammad’s personal behavior, physical features, and character traits. Hadith also contains theology, doctrine, law, ethics, morals, manners, and more. Hadith also consists of commentary of the Holy Quran, which would help any reader to better understand the Quran. Ahadith help to answer any questions regarding details and specifics of the religion.

The acts and practices of the Prophet are called Sunnah. Prophet Muhammad stands as the sacred model for mankind to emulate and follow, as he was sent by God as an example of how one should live life to the best of his or her ability.

"There has certainly been for you in the Messenger of Allah an excellent pattern for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day and [who] remembers Allah often" (Quran 33:21)

The term Sunnah comes from a root word which means to pave the way in Arabic; making a path easier and more accessible as in it becomes commonly followed by many in its wake. The term ‘Sunnah’ is usually interpreted as ‘the act of’ or ‘example of the Prophet’. Muslims study and ponder over the Hadith text to benefit from the prophetic knowledge transmitted to humanity in the form of these narrations.

Hadith is preserved through the acts of memory, practice, and writing. Hadith was taught from a teacher who learned it from his teacher, and ultimately can be traced back to the companion who took it from Prophet Muhammad; together, these people form the chain of narrators. The words and actions of the Prophet are found in different books of Ahadith. While Hadith is criticized, and fabricated Hadith stems from people with hidden agendas, no criticism is leveled at the Quran as it constitutes the exact word of God and is separate from Hadith.  Hadith was passed down and preserved with human intervention, as opposed to the Quran; which God guarantees to protect from all manner of human modification.

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Hadith is composed of two parts: the isnad and the matn. The isnad refers to the chain of people who narrated a particular Hadith. The isnad must be comprised of upright and sincere individuals, whose integrity is unquestionable. Scholars of Hadith impose strict qualifications on these narrators, to ensure that every member of the chain of narrators is qualified to tell the story of the hadith. If one lacks credibility, then the Hadith would be rejected. The second part of Hadith is the matn, which is the actual text of the narration.

Like Hadith, the Bible contains reports from individuals; however, the authors of the reports contained in the Bible are totally unknown. The reporters of the Hadith are all known people, and its chains of narration have been established by credible, honest individuals.

Muslims do not follow the way of the Prophet, as though he was some kind of demigod. Prophet Muhammad was a mere human being whom God chose to be His last and final Prophet.

Say, "I am only a man like you, to whom has been revealed that your god is one God…” (Quran 18:110)

 God commands people to follow His Prophet. Hence, following the way of the Prophet is akin to acting in obedience and submission to Allah.

"O you who have believed, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you. And if you disagree over anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger, if you should believe in Allah and the Last Day. That is the best [way] and best in result" (Quran 4:59)

Prophet never bespoke his own desire. He spoke only those words sent down to him from his Master when conveying the Message.

"He does not speak out of his own desires" (Quran 53:3)

Worthy Reads:

Overview of Hadith

History of Hadith

Article & Video By: TheSincereSeeker.com


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