Are oral traditions relating to the words and deeds of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Hadith collections are regarded as important tools for determining the Sunnah, or Muslim way of life, by all traditional schools of jurisprudence.

Definition and usage Linguistically the word ‘hadith’ means: that which is new from amongst things or a piece of information conveyed either in a small quantity or large. In English academic usage, hadith is often both singular and plural. And hadith is what is spoken by the speaker. Tahdith is the infinitive, or verbal noun, of the original verb form. Therefore, hadith is not the infinitive, rather it is a noun.

In Islamic terminology, the term hadith refers to reports about the statements or actions of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, or about his tacit approval of something said or done in his presence. Classical hadith specialist Ibn Hajar says that the intended meaning of "hadith" in religious tradition is something attributed to Muhammad, as opposed to the Qur'an. Other associated words possess similar meanings: "khabar" (news, information) often refers to reports about Muhammad, but sometimes refers to traditions about his companions and their successors from the following generation; conversely, "athar" (trace, vestige) usually refers to traditions about the companions and successors, though sometimes connotes traditions about Muhammad. The word sunnah (custom) is also used in reference to a normative custom of Muhammad or the early Muslim community. Overview Hadiths were originally oral traditions of Muhammad's actions and customs. From the first Fitna (dissension) of the 7th century people questioned the sources of hadiths. This resulted in a list of transmitters, for example "A told me that B told him that Muhammad said." Hadith were eventually written down, evaluated and gathered into large collections mostly during the reign of Umar II (bin Abdul Aziz, grandson of Umar bin Khattab 2nd Caliph) during 8th century, and also in the 9th century. These works are referred to in matters of Islamic law and History to this day.

History Traditions of the life of Muhammad and the early history of Islam were passed down orally for more than a hundred years after Muhammad's death in 632.

Muslim historians say that caliph Uthman (the third caliph, or successor of Muhammad, who had formerly been Muhammad's secretary), was the first to urge Muslims to write the Qur'an in a fixed form, and to record the hadith. Uthman's labors were cut short by his assassination, at the hands of aggrieved soldiers, in 656.

The Muslim community ( ummah) then fell into a prolonged civil war, which Muslim historians call the Fitna. After the fourth caliph Ali ibn Abi Talib was assassinated in 661, the Umayyad dynasty seized control of the Islamic empire. Ummayad rule was interrupted by a second civil war (the Second Fitna), re-established, and ended in 758 when the Abbasid dynasty seized the caliphate, and held it, at least in name, until 1258.

Muslim historians say that hadith collection and evaluation continued during the first Fitna and the Umayyad period. However, much of this activity was presumably oral transmission from early Muslims to later collectors, or from teachers to students. If any of these early scholars committed any of these collections to writing, they have not survived. The histories and hadith collections we have today were written down at the start of the Abbasid period, more than a hundred years after Muhammad's death.

Scholars of the Abbasid period ( The Abbasids were the dynasty of caliphs who ruled the Islamic Empire from 750 until the Mongol conquest of the Middle East in 1258) were faced with a huge corpus of miscellaneous traditions, some of them flatly contradicting each other. Many of these traditions supported differing views on a variety of controversial matters. Scholars had to decide which hadith were to be trusted as authentic and which had been invented for political or theological purposes. To do this, they used a number of techniques which Muslims now call the “ science of hadith” which is very vague at it’s best.

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