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Back to Hadith
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Addition Date 20/12/2013
What does Hadith mean in Islam?
What is Hadith?

The Arabic word Hadith means ‘statement or ‘talk. In the Shariah, the word Hadith means those things or action, which Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) said or did. You will also come across the word ‘Sunnah which is also used for Hadith, but usually ‘Sunnah is used to report a deed, such as how the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) slept or ate etc, while Hadith is used for ‘talk.

There are 6 populer and well know Hadith books, which were compiled by great scholars of Islaam:

•  Hadith Book: Sahih Bukhari
•  Hadith Book: Sahih Muslim
•  Hadith Book: Sunnah Abu Dawood
•  Hadith Book: Sunnah Nasai
•  Hadith Book: Jami Tirmidhi
•  Hadith Book: Sunnah ibn Majah

There are many others, but these are the most commonly used by Muslims to seek knowledge.

Some people nowadays incorrectly say that you dont need Hadith or Hadith books, and that the Quran is enough for guidance to the straight path.

The correct view and understanding is that many times the Quran gives us the general principal of an order; but to understand the order clearly, Hadith is required.

Basically without Hadith we won't have clear understanding on how to practice Islam properly, Islam is a way of life, which was taught to us by the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w), which we know as the Sunnah we should try and follow all the Sunnah's to gain great rewards in the hereafter.

An example of a Sunnah is the beard. Recently a non-Muslim asked me, why do you trim your mustache but keep a beard, the answer was it is a Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w).

Some Quran references on following the Sunnah / Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w):

"Whatever of good reaches you, is from Allah, but whatever evil befalls you, is from yourself. And We have sent you (Muhammad) as a Messenger to humanity, and Allah is sufficient as a witness. He who obeys the Messenger, has indeed obeyed Allah, but he who turns away, then We have not sent you as a watcher over them. (Soorah An-Nisa Ayat  79-80)

"Let those who oppose the Messenger’s order beware of a fitnah (trial) to befall them, or a painful torment to be inflicted upon them." (Soorah  24 ayah 63)

O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger, and those of you who are in authority. If you differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger if you believe in Allah and the Last Day. This is better and more suitable for final determination." (Soorah 4 ayah 59)

Obey Allah and His Messenger, and do not dispute (with each other) lest you fail and your strength depart; and be patient - surely, Allah is with those who are patient. (Soorah 8 ayah 46)

"Say (O Muhammad): ‘if you (truly) love Allah, follow me! Allah will then love you and forgive your sins.’ And Allah is All Forgiving, All Merciful."} (Soorah Al-e- Imran ayah 31)

Imam Bukhari (RH)

Few persons in the world have even been endowed with a proverbial memory. One of them is Imam Bukhari, the greatest compiler of Hadith (narratives pertaining to the Prophet’s life and his sayings) that Islam has produced. He is said to have retained in his memory one million Ahadith with full details of all the different sources and reporters of each Hadith which came down to him. His Sahih Bukhari (collection of Hadith) is universally recognised as the most authentic collection of Ahadith of the Holy Prophet of Islam (S.A.W).

His father Ismail was a well-known and famous Muhaddith in his time and had been blessed with the chance of being in the company of Imam Malik, Hammad Ibn Zaid and also Abdullah Ibn Mubarak.

Abu Abdullah Muhammad bin Ismail bin Ibrahim bin al-Mughira al-Jafai), later known as Imam Bukhari, was born in Bukhara on the day of Friday13 Shawwal, 194 A.H. (July 21 810 A.C).   The newly-born child had scarcely opened his eyes in the world when he lost his eyesight. His father was immensely grieved at it. His pious mother wept and prayed to God (Allah) to restore the eyesight of her newly-born child. And by the Grace of God, the eyesight of the newly-born child was fully restored.   He lost his father when he was still a child. He was brought up by his illustrious and virtuous mother.   He began his study of the Hadith at the early age of eleven. In his 16th year, he made pilgrimage of the Holy places along with his mother and elder brother. There he attended the lectures of the great teachers of Hadith in Makkah and Madinah. He was still 18 years old, when he wrote a book on the decisions made by the Companions of the Prophet (s.a.w) and their followers.

His elder brother, Rashid ibn Isma‘il reports that the young Bukhari used to attend the lectures and discourses of learned men along with him and other pupils. But, unlike other pupils he never took notes of these discourses. They criticized him for not taking notes of the lectures and thus wasted his time. Bukhari did not give any reply. One day, being annoyed by their consistent criticism of his carelessness, Bukhari asked his fellow pupils to bring all they had noted down. By that time, his fellow pupils had taken down more than 15 thousand Ahadith. Young Bukhari, to the amazement of all, narrated all the 15 thousand Ahadith from his memory with minutest details which had not been noted down by the follow pupils.

Later, he started on a study pilgrimage of the world of Islam, which lasted 16 years. Of this period, he spent five years in Basrah, visiting Egypt, Hijaz, Kufa and Baghdad several times and wandered all over Western Asia in quest of knowledge and learning . During his travels he reported Ahadith from 80,000 persons. With the help of his exceptional memory he could retain these Ahadith with all their sources in his mind to be penned down at an opportune time.

The fame of young Bukhari had soon reached the distant parts of the Islamic world and wherever he went he was received with great veneration. People were wonder-struck by his deep learning and extraordinary memory.   A large number of learned and pious men throughout the world of Islam  became the disciples of young Bukhari.  Darami, who was a spiritual teacher of Bukhari admits that his learned pupil had deeper insight into the Hadith.

Bukhari devoted not only his entire intelligence and exceptional memory to the writing of the momentous work, Sahih Bukhari, he attended to the task with utmost dedication and piety. He used to take bath and pray whenever he sat down to write the book. A part of this book was written by him sitting by the side of Prophet’s grave at Madinah.

Bukhari returned to his native place, Bukhara, at last and was given a rousing reception by the entire populace of this great cultural city. But he was not destined to live here for long. He was asked by the Ruler of Bukhara to teach him and his children the Ahadith of the Prophet at his Palace. This he declined and migrated to a town near Samarkand. Here he breathed his last on 30 Ramadan, 256 A.H. (31 August 870 A.C.)

The entire populace of the town and the vicinity came out to pay their last homage to one of the greatest sons of Islam. His grave is still a favourite place of Muslim pilgrimage.   His monumental work, Sahih Bukhari established his reputation as one of the greatest compilers of Ahadith in Islam.   It is said that Bukhari retained in his memory one million Ahadith of the Holy Prophet of Islam (s.a.w) with all the details of their sources and reporters. Out of the million Ahadith which he had learnt from some 80,000 reporters, he selected 7,275 Ahadith and, according to Ibn Hajar, 9,082 for his monumental work, Sahih Bukhari. He took 16 years to complete it.   This monumental work of Bukhari has been acclaimed by thousands of scholars, and erudite theologians as a rare accomplishment. More than 53 commentaries, some of these in around 14 volumes, have been written on Sahih Bukhari.

This book is divided in various chapters, for which he had planned a complete scheme. In his selection of Ahadith, he exercised great prudence on his part.   Bukhari is the author of about two dozen other books on religion, Islamic philosophy and history. But his monumental work is Sahih Bukhari, whose hundreds of commentaries and translations have appeared in different languages during the last one thousand years.

His passing

After returning from Bukhara, Imâm Bukhari decided to travel to Samarqand. He was still many miles from the city, when he heard that the people there had two veiws about him. So he decided to stay at a village along the way called "Kharteng". Here, he made the following invocation one night after the late-night prayer: "O Allah, the Earth despite its grandeur is becoming narrow and is troubling me greatly. So take me back to You." After this invocation, he became ill. Meanwhile, the people of Samarqand sent a messenger to bring him there. Bukhari got up and was ready to travel, but his strength gave way. He began to invoke Allah at length, then he took to his bed and his soul passed away to his Lord - may Allah have mercy on him. An indescribable amount of perspiration came out of him even after he consigned his life to the Creator of life. When this abated, he was shrouded. He died on the night of `Id al-Fitr, the first night of Shawwal in the year 256 AH. He had reached the age of 62 years, less twelve days. On this night, the sun of great knowledge, virtue and blessings had set, whose knowledge and actions had enlightened the hearts and minds of the great intellects and people of Samarqand, Bukhara, Baghdad and Nishapur.

His acceptance by Allah's Messenger sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam

Imam Bukhari devoted his entire life, in the search for the way of life given by the Holy Prophet sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam, in acting upon his sayings and researching into this science. His each and every action was a fragment of the way of the Messenger. Warraq stated: "In a dream, I once saw Imam Bukhari walking behind the Prophet sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam and his feet would fall exactly where the feet of the blessed Prophet had fallen."

Farbari stated: "Once in a dream, I met the Holy Prophet sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam and he asked me, Where are you going? I replied, To Muhammad ibn Isma`il (al-Bukhari). He then said, Go, and give him my salam.'"

Just as the Holy Prophet sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam had happiness with Imam Bukhari during his lifetime, he was also pleased with him after his death. Concerning this, `Abd al-Wahid ibn Adam Awaysi stated: "I saw the Holy Prophet sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam in my sleep standing with a group of his Companions. I asked, O Prophet sallallâhu `alayhi wa sallam, who are you waiting for? He replied, For Bukhari. After a few days I heard the news of Imam Bukhari's passing away. He had died at the very moment that I saw the Prophet sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam in my dream."

The baraka of Bukhari's maqam

3600 view of maqam of Imam Bukhari

The Janazah prayer was performed over Imam Bukhari and his body was covered with soil. A beautiful musk smell exuded from the earth of his grave which lasted for several days. People from far and wide began to visit it in astonishment and also took handfuls of earth from his grave for blessings (tabarruk).

Abul-Fath as-Samarqandî relates: "two hundred years after the death of Imam Bukhari, a drought struck Samarqand. The people made the istisqa prayer and invocations but rain did not fall. A saintly man came to the judge (Qadi) of the city and gave him some advice. He said: With the people of the city, go to the grave of Imam Bukhari and invoke Allah the Exalted there to give you rain. Perhaps Allah will accept our invocations and give us rain. The judge of the city accepted this advice with delight and proceeded to go to the grave. The people followed him and upon arrival, he prayed for rain in front of them at the grave. People wept and also sought the intercession of the one who was in the grave. At that moment, clouds gathered and Allah sent such heavy rain that those who were in Kharteng could not reach Samarqand for seven days because of the rain's abundance.

Imam Bukhari was not only a scholar, worshipper, a devotee and a prosperous man, but he always feared Allah and shone with the love of the Messenger sallallahu alayhi wa sallam. The virtuous outpourings he gave to the world during his life are still being given today and as the Muslim Ummah goes about its daily acts of worship, they realise how important the role played by Imam Bukhari was. He compiled and circulated the Ahadith of the Prophet wherever possible and Allah spread his status to every corner of the world. It is a fact that as long as the traditions of the Holy Prophet sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam (qila and qala) are mentioned in gatherings, lights and blessings will shower onto the grave of Imam al-Bukhari from the skies of the Most Merciful.

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