Hadith, Hadeeth?The words and deeds of the Prophet Muhammad; the wordcomes from the Arabicfor ‘saying’ or ‘narrative’. The word usually refers to the written versions ofthe words and deeds, and these are used in conjunction with the Qur’an to arrive atjudgements in all matters. In other words, whereas the Qur’an can be seen asthe original revealed source of the word of God, the Hadith, by reflectingMuhammad’s actions and utterances after he had had these revelations, can betreated as guides to life, or how to put the fundamental revelations intoreal-life situations. The Hadith were collected originally from observations ofthe Prophet himself, and then from those who witnessed his actions, and finallyfrom the reports of these actions being passed down through the generations.Because such human reports could be disputable, especially since it took the compliers of the Hadith several centuriesto formally document them after at least a century of oral transmission, theywent to great lengths to trace the stories back through the generations, andthis detective work is represented by the isnad, the evidential account of thetransmission of the hadiths. In the early days of compilation there were opendisputes about the veracity of many claims, and several different hadiths hadbecome commonly used. Clearly, as there were contradictions between them, theycannot all have been authentic, so scholars set out to conclusively create aset that all Muslims could agree on, both by following undisputed claims andfinding out which version of disputed events was genuine, if any. There isgeneral agreement within SunniIslam and Shi’aIslam that their respective current hadiths are trustworthy, butboth versions do differ from each other.
The trustworthiness of individualhadiths are ranked by the success of the research on their genuineness, from saheeh (sound), through da’if (weak) to mawdu (fabricated, and rejected).