History and Importance of Hadith

by, Umar Salman R.

Compilation of Ahadis

Compilation during Life of Holy Prophet (pbuh):

Prophet himself would give instructions about the transmission of what he taught,

“Preach what you hear me say. Also let those who see and hear me, take upon themselves to communicate my words to others and preach to their children, relatives and friends.” 

There is another report according to which on the Farewell Pilgrimage, the Prophet said,

“He who is present here should carry this message to him who is absent.”

The companions considered it their duty to preach the Ahadis to those who had not seen or listened to him A party of students called Ashab-e-suffah lived in the mosque itself were entrusted with the teaching of religion to tribes outside Madinah . From this group most famous was Abu Hurairah who remained in The Prophet Company at all the times and store up his memory every thing that Prophet said or did. Abu Hurairah efforts were from the very beginning directed towards the preservation of Ahadis.

It is related from Abu Hurairah that once one of the companions told the Prophet of his inability to remember what he heard from him. His reply was:

 “Take the help from your right hand” (Tirmizi)  

i.e., write it down. Abdullah bin Umar (R) began to write down whatever he heard from the Holy Prophet (pbuh) . His collections contained around 10,000 Ahadis. Abdullah bin Umar himself said: “I used to write everything that I heard from the Prophet (pbuh) intending to commit it to memory”. I spoke about it to the prophet (pbuh) who said:

“Write down, for I only speak the truth” (Abu Daud)

An other report of Abu Hurairah: ‘None of the companions preserved more traditions than myself , but Abdullah bin Amr is an exception for he used to write and I did not’. Hazrat Ali used to write down ahadis concerning the Orders, Instructions issued from Holy Prophet (pbuh). Hazrat Aisha also used to preserved the says of Holy Prophet (pbuh) Abdullah bin umar and Abdullah bin Abbas were engaged in preserving and transmitting the ahadis. The Compilation of Abdullah bin Umar was known as Sadiqa. Process of compilation started in the Life of Holy Prophet (pbuh)

Collection and Compilation After the death Of Holy Prophet (s)

After the Death of Holy Prophet , Islam was widely spread , new converts wanted to hear about Prophet (pbuh) from close companions and associates The companions were the beat authority for Knowledge of ahadis and sunnah as they had listened to Prophet(pbuh) Abu Hurairah , Abudullah bin Abbas , Abdullah bin Umar, Anas bin Malik became the centre to whom people came from different parts of the Islamic empire to gain Knowledge about the Prophet (pbuh).  Prophet (pbuh) wives were also vital custodians of Ahadis and were approached for instruction by other companions. Hazrat Aisha, Hazrat Hafsa, Hazrat umm-e- Habibah , Hazrat Maimunah and Umme-e-Salamah are among the earliest and most distinguished transmitters.

The Age of Companion ( 11-100 AH ) Approximately During this period Caliph Umar bin Abdul Aziz wrote to the governor of Madina to write down all the tradition of the Holy Prophet(pbuh) During this period the companions spread far and wide and settled in almost all the countries conquered by the Muslims. There was no book of compilation. The only alternative was to go to companion and hear the tradition from him. Thus, different centers of learning arose Students were not satisfied with only one centre, because that particular companion might have no Knowledge of all the traditions. It was reported that Jabir bin’ Abdullah travelled from Makkah to Syria to hear a single hadith. Similarly there were many companions who undertook long journeys to verify or hear sayings of Holy Prophet (pbuh) The important works of that period were: 1 : The works of Shihab Al Zuheri. 2: Collection of Abu Bakr Al Hazim

The Age of followers of the Companions (Tabaeens 101-200 AH): This is the age of followers of the companions of the Prophet (pbuh). The most important works of this period were carried out by:
·        Abudullah bin Mubarik at Khorasan.
·        Abu Bakr Rabi Shybah at Kufa
·        Sufyan bin’Uyaina at Madina
·        Imam Makhul in syria.
·        Abu Kilabah.

The out standing works of this period were:

·        Al Muwatta by Imam Malek bin Anas Kittab
·        Al-Athar by Imam Ahu Hanifa
·        Al-Musanaf by Imam Razzak
·        Jami Thauri by Imam Sufyan al-Thauri Kitab
·        Al-Kharaj by Imama Yousaf
·        Masnad Ahmed bin Humbal by Imam Ahmed Hanbal
·        Al-Maghazi by Waqidi

The Hanafi and Maliki School of Legal thoughts were formulated during this period in the light of the ahadith. Abu Hanifa founded the school of deduction or Qiyas By the end of second Century Imam Shafey and Imam Ahmed bin Hanbal also flourished.

Age of followers of the followers (Taba Tabaeen 200-300 AH): This is Golden age of Traditions. The six authentic books of traditions (al Sahah –al Sitta) were written. These are the most reliable books of traditions.

(1)  Sahih Bukhari: Written by Muhammad bin ‘Abdullah’ Ismael al-Bukhari(195-256 AH) Took 40 years for collection. His Sahih is next to Quran in authenticity. He selected nearly 7275 out of 600,000 traditions. He accepted only reliable traditions.
(2)   Sahih Muslim: written by ‘Abdul Hussain Muslim bin al Hajaj al-Nishapuri-Qushaieri (304-216 A.H) . He travelled many places to learn Hadith. His Sahih consist of 9200 traditions selected out of 300,000. It is considered next to Bukhari . Any tradition accepted by both Bukahri and Muslim has been termed as agreed.
(3)  Sunan of Abu Daud: Abu Daud wrote it during 202-275 AH. He travelled to all important centers of traditions. It consists of 4800 traditions selected out of 500,000 and it took him 20 years to complete his book.
(4)  Jami Tirmidhi: written by Abu’Isa-al-Tirmidhi during 209-279 AH. He was first man to determine the names, surnames and titles of narrators of traditions.
(5)   Sunan of Nisai: was written by Abu’Abdur Rahman an Nisai during 214-303 AH . It also contains weak and doubtful traditions.
(6)  Sunan of ibn Majah: written by Mohammad bin Yezid ibn Majah during 209-273.AH.


Authentic books of Shia’s were also compiled during that period. Important are:

(1)Al-Kafi fi ilm al deen (the sufficient in the science of religion): it was written by Abu J’afar Muhammed who died in 339 AH.
(2)Al-Istibsar (the prespective): written by Abu J’afar Bin Al Hassan who died in 389AH.
(3)Tehzeeb-ul-Ahkam (the revision of judgemens)t: written by Abu J’afar Mohammed Bin Al Hassan.
(4)Man la Yahzoroh ul Fiqh (one who has no legal expert present): written by Abu J’afar Muhammad’ Ali.