Hadith, Hadeeth?The words and deeds of the Prophet Muhammad; the word
comes from the Arabic
for ‘saying’ or ‘narrative’. The word usually refers to the written versions of
the words and deeds, and these are used in conjunction with the Qur’an to arrive at
judgements in all matters. In other words, whereas the Qur’an can be seen as
the original revealed source of the word of God, the Hadith, by reflecting
Muhammad’s actions and utterances after he had had these revelations, can be
treated as guides to life, or how to put the fundamental revelations into
real-life situations. The Hadith were collected originally from observations of
the Prophet himself, and then from those who witnessed his actions, and finally
from 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 centuries
to formally document them after at least a century of oral transmission, they
went to great lengths to trace the stories back through the generations, and
this detective work is represented by the isnad, the evidential account of the
transmission of the hadiths. In the early days of compilation there were open
disputes about the veracity of many claims, and several different hadiths had
become commonly used. Clearly, as there were contradictions between them, they
cannot all have been authentic, so scholars set out to conclusively create a
set that all Muslims could agree on, both by following undisputed claims and
finding out which version of disputed events was genuine, if any. There is
general agreement within Sunni
Islam and Shi’a
Islam that their respective current hadiths are trustworthy, but
both versions do differ from each other. The trustworthiness of individual
hadiths are ranked by the success of the research on their genuineness, from saheeh (sound), through da’if (weak) to mawdu (fabricated, and rejected). 

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