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Divine scribblings

Hadith (الحديث) are texts, originally orally transmitted,[1] relating to the words, sayings, and deeds of Muhammad. Muslims usually regard hadith authority as second to that of the Qur'an. Islamic scholars generally consider Bukhari's[2] collection the most reliable.[3]

Each hadith comprises two parts:

  1. The isnad[4] or authority on which the hadith stands (e.g.: "It is related by Irbad bin Sariyah that the Apostle said/did …")
  2. The matn[5] or relation of the tradition itself

Twenty-first-century Islamic jurists commonly use the hadith (in addition to the Qur'an) to determine the implementation of sharia. The set of texts that comprise the hadith vary in each branch of Islam. Sunnis consult the hadith and decide sharia through a process of analogy and consensus, whereas Shi'a depend on the "divinely inspired" judgment of the imams. Ibadis have a separate form of hadith.


Hadith started as oral traditions.[6] No hadith documents contemporary with the foundation years of Islam (7th century CE) have survived. The earliest extant manuscripts date from after 922 CE.[7]


Not all Muslims accept the authority of all hadith, and the very small Qur'an-only sect rejects them wholly. Not all hadith are equal as well, many are considered weak by Islamic scholars but this also depends on the denomination.[8]

The weakest are called Maudu. These hadith have a tendency to be based on things external to Islam like superiority of a political ideology, race, town, or any sort of supremacist tripe. Many of these are outright lies used for personal gain that ignore basic history both within and outside of Islam. Unsurprisingly, many of the hadith that terrorists cite are Maudu.[9]


Hadith are commonly quote-mined by various sorts of bigots, both inside (Islamic extremists and authoritarians) and outside (Islamophobes) Islam. Islamic extremists and authoritarians tend to use quote-mined hadith to justify their violent and hateful actions, whereas Islamophobes quote-mine hadith and use them as examples of how "evil" Islam is. Bonus points if they conflate the hadith with the Qur'an, even if there appears to be a contradiction between the Qur'an and the hadith.

See also[edit]


  1. See the Wikipedia article on Oral transmission.
  2. See the Wikipedia article on Muhammad al-Bukhari.
  3. Wikipedia article on Hadith
  4. See the Wikipedia article on Isnad.
  5. See the Wikipedia article on matn.
  6. Gacek, Adam (2009). Arabic Manuscripts: A Vademecum for Readers. Handbuch der Orientalistik. Erste Abteilung, Nahe und der Mittlere Osten. 98. Leiden: Brill. p. 92. ISBN 9789004170360. Retrieved 2018-04-07. "And though written transmission prevailed, having been given a boost by the introduction of → paper in the second half of the 2nd/8th century, it was still the oral tradition which was regarded as the most authoritative, especially in Hadith." 
  7. Compare: Holland, Tom (2012). In The Shadow Of The Sword: The Battle for Global Empire and the End of the Ancient World. London: Hachette. ISBN 9780748119516. Retrieved 2018-04-06. "…all the sprawling collections of hadiths — none of which in the form we have them, predates the beginning of the third century after the hijraWikipedia…" 
  8. Islamic awareness article
  9. Blog