What is a hadith?

MV: I thank uga.education/islam/ for this article. I thought since it is hadith week you should learn what a hadith is. Also on the link there is another link for a hadith database. Be sure to see it and I hope you find this article interesting  and helpful.

A hadith is a saying of Muhammad or a report about something he did. Over time, during the first few centuries of Islam, it became obvious that man so-called hadith were in fact spurious sayings that had been fabricated for various motives, at best to encourage believers to act righteously and at worse to corrupt believers’ understanding of Islam and to lead them astray. Since Islamic legal scholars were utilizing hadith as an adjunct to the Qur’an in their development of the Islamic legal system, it became critically important to have reliable collections of hadith. While the early collections of hadith often contained hadith that were of questionable origin, gradually collections of authenticated hadith called sahih (lit. true, correct) were compiled. Such collections were made possible by the development of the science of hadith criticism, a science at the basis of which was a critical analysis of the chain of (oral) transmission (isnad) of the hadith going all the way back to Muhammad. The two most highly respected collections of hadith are the authenticated collections the Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim. (Sahih literally means “correct, true, valid, or sound.”) In addition to these, four other collections came to be well-respected, although not to the degree of Bukhari and Muslim’s sahih collections. These four other collections are the Sunan of Tirmidhi, Nasa’i, Ibn Majah, and Abu Da’ud. Together these four and the two sahih collections are called the “six books” (al-kutub al-sitta). Two other important collections, in particular, are the Muwatta of Ibn Malik, the founder of the Maliki school of law, and the Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal, the founder of the Hanbali school of law.

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