What Are The Hadith?

The Arabic word Hadith means “speech.” In Islam, hadiths relate to stories or narrations about Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him).

Sometimes the hadith may be a quotation of Prophet Muhammad. Or the hadith might be a story about something that happened during his lifetime.

The hadeeths are used as legislative statements and are second only to the Quran in importance in Islam.

The hadiths are very important in Islam because they fill in the details on Islamic life. Where the Quran gives Muslims a broad framework for how we should live, the Hadeeths give us specific information. Here are some examples of how the hadiths give us specifics on general commandments from the Quran.

  • The Quran commands Muslims to pray. – However, Prophet Muhammad has informed us how and when to perform Islamic prayers in several hadiths.
  • The Quran commands Muslims to make Hajj. – However, narrations describing the Hajj and Umrah of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) tell us how to make Hajj.
  • The Quran commands Muslims to give Zakah. – However, it is hadith quoting narrations from Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) that tell us who must pay Zakah, and how much to give.

To put it simple, the hadith explain the Sunnah (practice or tradition) of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.

Who Wrote The Hadeeth?

The Hadeeths weren’t actually written. The hadiths were reported by several of Prophet Muhammad’s companions. Some of the companions, or Sahaba, recorded the hadiths, but none of them exist today. The stories, or hadeeths, relating to Prophet Muhammad were passed down orally for the first hundred years of Islamic history.

By the time the first collection of hadeeths was put into written form, the Islamic world had grown very large and had been through several upheavals. Muslims realized the importance of the Sunnah, or tradition, of Prophet Muhammad.

With the encouragement of Muslim rulers, several scholars began to collect the hadeeths.

In order to weed out the several hundred fabricated and inaccurate hadeeths prevalent amongst at that time, the scholars of Hadeeth formulated a science of hadith collection. Using a rigid method of inspection, they were able to weed out the weak and fabricated hadeeths from the strong and authentic ones.

The Six Major Collections of Hadeeth

This determination to collect the most authentic hadeeths possible led to six major collections. These hadeeth collections have varying levels of authenticity and acceptance.

The first two collections, written by Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim, are considered the most authentic by most Sunni Muslims. The other four are generally accepted as well, but are not as highly regarded.

Imam Bukhari’s and Imam Muslim’s collections are called “Saheeh” (authentic) but in reality all six collections contain mostly authentic hadeeths.

The Six Major Hadeeth collections are:

  • Saheeh Bukhari – Compiled by Imam Muhammad Ibn Ismail Al-Bukhari. It is said Imam Bukhari collected over 300000 hadiths but only considered 2600 authentic enough to go into this collection.
  • Saheeh Muslim – Compiled by Imam Muslim Ibn Al-Hajjaj. Imam Muslim was the student Imam Bukhari. Imam Muslim’s collection contains about 4000 hadeeths.
  • Sunan Nasa’I – Compiled by Ahmad Ibn Shuaib Al-Nasa’i. This collection contains over 5000 hadeeths.
  • Sunan Abu Dawud – Compiled by Abu Dawud Sulayman Al-Sijistani.
  • Sunan Tirmidhi – Compiled by Abu Isa Muhammad At-Tirmidhi.
  • Sunan Ibn Majah – Compiled by Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Majah Al-Rabi Al-Qazwini.

Examples of Hadith

The prophets of Allah are our guides and examples. In order to live a righteous life of monotheistic worship, we have to follow their example. The only prophet for whom we have detailed knowledge of their daily life is Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him).

We can follow Prophet Muhammad’s tradition, or his sunnah, by learning, studying, and implementing the authentic hadeeths. The purpose of this website is to impart knowledge about the basics of Islam. However, even following the basics of Islam is impossible without using the hadeeths.

There are some misguided people who state we only need to follow the Quran. No doubt, the Quran is the most important piece of literature to Muslims as it comes straight from Allah.

However, Prophet Muhammad was sent by Allah to give us guidance and it is imperative that we follow his teachings as well as what is in the Quran.

Here are several hadeeths that prove just how important the Sunnah, or tradition of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is to our daily lives as Muslims:

Islam is built upon five [pillars]: the testimony that there is no god but Allaah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah; establishing regular prayer (salaah); paying the zakaah; Hajj (pilgrimage) and fasting Ramadaan.


(The difference) between the believer and the disbeliever is the Salah.

Imam Muslim.

Verily I saw Lailatul Qadr, and I was caused to forget it, and indeed it is during the last ten (nights). It is during an odd night and I saw myself as if I were prostrating in mud and water.
Imam Muslim.

Narrated Aisha (the Prophet’s wife): Asma, daughter of Abu Bakr, entered upon the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) wearing thin clothes. The Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him) turned his attention from her. He said: ‘O Asma, when a woman reaches the age of menstruation, it does not suit her that she displays her parts of body except this and this, and he pointed to her face and hands.

Abu Dawud, Book 32, Number 4092

The Islamic Articles of Faith are described in a long and famous hadeeth known as “The Hadeeth of Jibreel.” This hadeeth gives detailed information about faith in Islam and signs of the last day. It was collected by Imam Muslim.

From these hadeeths we can see how important the statements and stories of Prophet Muhammad are to Islam. Anyone who denies this fact is seriously misguided and not really practicing Islam at all.

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43 Responses to Hadith

  1. Dear Sir

    I read on a map the name “Wady Abu-Hadith. Which I believe would mean = “The valley of the father of the Hadith.” But could this have some other meaning?

    G. M.

    • Thank you for mentioning this interesting fact. Yes, it would appear that the translation would be “The Valley of the Father of hadith.” But Hadith can also mean “story” so it might also mean “Valley of the father of stories.” I would have to see the Arabic and perhaps the country it is located in to understand it better. If you have a link to the source I’d be happy to investigate further.

      • Asalam Aleikum Arahmatu allahi Abarakatu,

        Asalam brother Abu Ibrahim,

        Thank you for your website, may Allah bless your hard work. You have established A very informative site.
        I need to ask you a question. I just heard someone tell me that they read in some hadith that when we are a fetus, that an Angel comes and gives us a choose on life or death and the outcome of both. If we chose life we are born and if we chose death we go strait to heaven. What is the truth about this. I have a problem believing this….
        Thank you

          • As-Salaamu alaikum Hanny,

            If you have the full text of this hadith you’ve heard, please post a link of the content. I’d be very interested in investigating it.

            But it seems to contradict the hadith I posted on this thread.

            And Allah knows best.

        • Wa Alaikum Salaam Sr. Hafsa,

          Forgive me for not responding for so long. I intended to but then forgot; most likely that was the Shaytan.

          I for one have never heard such a hadith. The closest I’ve heard is the following:

          Messenger of Allah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wa sallam), the truthful and the receiver of the truth informed us, saying, “The creation of you (humans) is gathered in the form of semen in the womb of your mother for forty days, then it becomes a clinging thing in similar (period), then it becomes a lump of flesh like that, then Allah sends an angel who breathes the life into it; and (the angel) is commanded to record four things about it: Its provision, its term of life (in this world), its conduct; and whether it will be happy or miserable. By the One besides Whom there is no true god! Verily, one of you would perform the actions of the dwellers of Jannah until there is only one cubit between him and it (Jannah), when what is foreordained would come to pass and he would perform the actions of the inmates of Hell until he enter it. And one of you would perform the actions of the inmates of Hell, until there is only one cubit between him and Hell. Then he would perform the acts of the dwellers of Jannah until he would enter it.”

          If you can find the full text for the hadith you mentioned I would like to see it. But it seems to contradict this hadith I’ve posted (which is mentioned in Imam Nawawi’s 40 Hadith and is authentic).

          And Allah knows best.

    • O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you as it was prescribed for those before you, that you may attain Taqwa [God-consciousness]. “– The Qur’an, Al-Baqarah: 183

  2. The Arabic word Ḥadīth (حديث) means “speech,” not “story” (as in “the speech of the Prophet (pbuh)”). It comes from the words haddatha and tahaddatha, meaning to tell or to speak.

    great website, by the way!

  3. I’ve been looking around your site and it seems very benificial, however there is one thing I believe you should change. The photograph of the youngman in the black turban making dua. He looks miserable, doesnt have a beard and the black cloak and turban makes him look like a shia. Many people will be put off by that photo I’d find a nice one Muslims making dua in one of the Prophets mosques.
    Keep up the good work inshaAllah.

  4. Muhammad[pbuh] was the walking Quran..the Quran states clearly that the penalty for aduktery is 100 lashes for both guilty parties as long as there are 4 witnesses….saudi arabia iran ..and some other moslem countries enforce stoning [the penalty of the torah] why?,,,some say Muhammad ]pbuh]prescribed this penalty …if he did it was only until the verse prescribing 100 lashes came down…saudis iranians and other govts disrespect the Quran and God by not following the penalty in the Quran…thanx

    • I understand your point Sam. I’m really not in a position to argue for or against it. The most common practice is to stone the adulterer but I have heard some scholars who say this should not be so.

      However, it should also be noted that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) did stone adulterers during his time.

      In the end, since it’s really not relevant for me (I live in the U.S., no one’s getting stoned here), I’m going to leave this one for the Islamic jurists to duke out.

  5. Actually, The Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) burnt the hadiths written during his lifetime as he did not want the hadiths to be viewed as highly as the Quran. He later retracted and said that they could do no harm. In actual fact they have, to women’s detriment.
    The Quran gives a full detailed dress code for women.
    Abu Dawood quoted Aaisha- with rules for the prophet’s wives and not ordinary women. Any yet over a thousand years later this quotation is being used to make ordinary women feel that they should be covered up.
    Ask yourself which dress code should you adhere to Allah’s or Abu Dawoods?

    • I don’t like hearing this, and smilar, hadeeth used in “reply” to an unpopular comment. You can start with such a hadeeth but you need to present some ideas of your own, some product of thought, some proof you have pondered the unpopular comment before you simply try to shut it down by saying @not a Muslim@
      Personally I believe Quran is supreme and hadeeth are secondary, also it is true that many many @hadith@ are fabricated or considered weak or unacceptable because of a problem of provenance or one narrator being unreliable.
      In the matter of women’s dress, although I am a man I would say that it is counterintuitive for a woman born in the West who reverts to Islam to start wearing a burka and gloves. while it may be another matter for women in whose culture this is expected or normal (even there it should not be enforced and women should not be punished or ostracised for not wearing such clothes), I think for a Western revert it should be acceptable for her to dress modestly without reverting to the burkah. Just my opnion, and it is not addressed by anyone saying “who is not following my sunnah is not of me”

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