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A hadith (Arabic: حَدِيْث, pronounced: "ha-deeth") is the narration of an event from the life of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam. In English, the word hadith is also used as the plural word for a group of these narrations although the plural in Arabic is a-HAA-deeth. The hadith is used along with the Quran to interpret Sharia. Sunnis follow the Kutub al-Sittah while Shias follow the Kutub al-Arba'a.
Abu Hurairah narrated the most Sunni hadiths.
The word hadith means something new or a piece of information. The religious meaning of hadith is a statement, action or approval attributed to the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad. Therefore, hadith can be divided into three categories based upon their content:
- A statement of the Prophet
- An action of the Prophet
- The Prophet’s approval of an action done by other than him
After Muhammad died, Muslim scholars wrote down stories about what he had said and done. They also wrote down facts about who told each story. Some of the stories were retold many times before they were written down, and some stories did not agree in every detail resulting in the detailed study of hadith by scholars to compare between those hadith.
Muslim scholars collected all of these Hadith in books and compared them to each other. They decided which Hadith were most likely to be true records of the Sunnah, that is, the words and actions of Muhammad. Muslims see the Sunnah as an important source of guidance, along with the Qur'an. Islam is the complete religion so nothing could be changed about it. It gives a complete code of life.
- Lisan al-`Arab, Ibn Manthour, 2:350; Cairo, Dar al-Hadith.
- Qawa`id al-Tahdith, Jamal al-Din al-Qasimi, pg. 61; Beirut, Dar al-Nafais.