The difference between Qur’an and Hadith

Islam is very clear on the concept of God and the concept of Prophet so that there is no confusion or ambiguity in the minds of Muslims between the two. Islam distinguished between a) The word of Allah brought by the angel Jibreel (Gabriel) as revelation, known as the Qur’an; and b) The words of Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) which are known as the Hadith.

This separate identity of Allah and His creation is very vital if you study the history of old religions and Islam ensured that they were not mixed. How was this done?

How Was The Integrity Of The Qur’an Insured?

The companions (radiallahu ‘anhum) on the instruction of Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam), wrote down the words of Allah as revealed and also kept them in memory, so as to ensure that from the time of revelation until now the word of Allah remains pure and untainted. However, the Prophet commanded the companions not to write down the Hadith during the early period of Islam, and the wisdom behind this was not to mix the Hadith with the word of Allah. It is very important for Muslims to understand the differences between the Hadith, Hadith Qudsi, and the Qur’an.

There is another important aspect to Hadith. The actions and sayings of the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) provided clarification of the meanings of Qur’an. When inquired about the character of Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam), his wife Aisha (radiallahu ‘anhaa) replied, His character is the Qur’an. This indicates that Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) gave further explanation of the Qur’an with what he said or did during his lifetime. For example, the Qur’an mentions prayer and the Hadith or the Sunnah shows Muslims how and when to do it. The following details will help clarify the matter further.

Defining The Types of Hadith

The meaning of Hadith is news, report or narration. They are reports about the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) in the following:

* What he said (qaul)

* What he did (fi’l)

* What he approved in other people’s action (taqrir)

* There are also reports about him i.e. what he was like (sifa)

There is agreement among most Muslim scholars, that the contents of the sunnah are also from Allah. However, these were expressed by the Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) in his own words or actions. They are the words and actions of a human being transmitted by the companions and family members (radiallahu ‘anhum), who memorized the words or closely observed the actions of Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) for the benefit of the Muslim Ummah.

Hadith Qudsi

Qudsi means holy or pure. There are some reports from Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) where he relates to the people starting with a statement “Allah (said) says” or “Allah (did) does”, but this information is not part of the Qur’an. These are called Hadith Qudsi.

For example: Abu Dharr Al-Ghifari reported, that Allah’s messenger related from his Rubb is that He said: O My slaves, I have forbidden oppression for Myself and have made it forbidden amongst you, so do not oppress one another...O My slaves, all of you are astray except for those I have guided, so seek guidance of Me and I shall guide you. O my slaves, all of you are hungry except for those I have fed, so seek food of Me and I shall feed you... [Reported by Muslim]

The Difference Between Hadith Qudsi and the Qur’an

While the common factor between Hadith Qudsi and the Qur’an is that both contain words from Allah which have been revealed to Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam), the main points of differences are:

1 . In the Qur’an the precise wording is from Allah, while wording in the Hadith Qudsi is given by the Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam);

2 . The Qur’an has been brought to the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) only by the angel Jibreel (Gabriel), while Hadith Qudsi may also have been inspired otherwise, such as e.g. a dream;

3 . The Qur’an is inimitable and unique, while the Hadith Qudsi is not;

4 . Qur’an has been transmitted by numerous persons (tawaatur), whereas the Hadith Qudsi is often only transmitted by a few or sometimes even by one individual. There are also Hadith Qudsi which are graded as Saheeh (highest authenticity), or hasan (authentic), or even da’if (weakness in the transmission or text). There is no such doubt about any of the verses of the Qur’an.

5 . Hadith Qudsi cannot be recited in the prayer.

The Qur’an was recorded at the time of revelation and the verses and chapters were arranged on the instructions of Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) during his lifetime. Every year during the month of Ramadan the angel Jibreel came to the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) and recited the Qur’an with him, and during the year the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) died, the angel Jibreel came twice and recited the Qur’an with him. This was not so in the case of Hadith.

All chapters and verses of the Qur’an were collected and arranged during the caliphate of Abu Bakr (radiallahu ‘anhu). They were written on sheets and bound together as a book during the caliphate of Uthman (radiallahu ‘anhu) in the same order as shown by the Prophet Muhammad (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) himself. Additional copies of the Qur’an were made during this occasion and sent to several Islamic cities. However, the compilation of Hadith did not start until very much later and by that time, the Qur’an was already available in the final form of a bound book.

The science of collecting, analysing, compiling, grading and reporting of Hadiths became a special field of studies after the period of companions (radiallahu ‘anhum). The leading reports are from Al-Bukhari, Muslim, At-Tirmidhi, An-Nasai, Ibn Majah, and Abu Dawood which are known as the six most authentic books (As-Sihaahus-Sittah). The validity of a Hadith depends solely on its agreement with the Qur’an and the grading of a Hadith depends on the reliability of the chain of narrators who reported it.

In order to do this, the reporter studied the characters and the life of every single person who were mentioned in the chain of narrators. We notice that utmost care was exercised not only in reporting the exact words, but also sifting through the characters of persons who reported them. If a single person in the chain of narrators is reported to be of doubtful character or unreliable, then the entire Hadith is either rejected or this fact is noted down and specifically mentioned.

The Imams who undertook this enormous task of compiling and reporting the Hadiths exercised great care in their lifetime effort, because these studies laid the foundation for the guidelines in understanding and practicing Islam in the life of every Muslim.

The Types Of Hadith

The meaning of Hadith is news, report or narration.

They are reports about the Prophet (sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) in the following:

* What he said (qaul)

* What he did (fi’l)

* What he approved in other people’s action (taqrir)

* There are also reports about him i.e. what he was like (sifa)

Life in the Hereafter

TWO assets which all of us value beyond measure are good health and free time. Our lives are heavily affected by these two parameters. We take special care to watch what we eat, exercise, as we have become very health-conscious. We try to maximise our free time by ensuring that we do only the things which give us pleasure, albeit exclusively in this world.

Because our orientation today is predominantly materialistic or even hedonistic, we try our best to maintain good health only to look good for other people or to live longer to savour longer the pleasures of this world. Likewise, free time to many means only an opportunity to sleep, a time for leisure, or a time to sit around or just “lie around the house.”

While Islam does not prohibit good health or free time, it does frown upon those who exhaust these resources in worldly pursuits alone. “Squander not in the manner of a spendthrift,” warns Allah, “for spendthrifts are surely the brother of Satan and Satan is very ungrateful to this Lord” [Qur’an 17:26-27]. If you have good health and free time to benefit from, then “...don’t waste (it) for Allah does not love the wasters” [6:141]. As a matter of fact, our beloved Prophet (Sallallahu alayhe wa sallam) once cautioned, “There are two things wherein many people victimise themselves: good health and free time.”

Sensibly, the believer devotes every ounce of his/her energy (good health permitting) to every moment he/she gets to strive for the triumph of Islam. Thus every effort is made to use all energy and time as efficiently as possible to serve and thank Allah for all of His grace.

Nothing could be more pleasing to the Almighty than for us to faithfully obey the Qur’an and the Sunnah, “Say: if you really love Allah, follow me (Prophet Muhammad),” Allah reminds us, “Allah will love you” [3:31].

On the other hand, Allah dislikes laziness and has advised us to use our time efficiently through the guidance of His Prophet. In other words if we utilise our good health to maximise our free time for the pleasure of Allah, then Allah promises success for us in this world and in the next.

On the other hand, if we squander our good health chasing transient worldly pleasures, and waste our precious time on issues which can only destroy our chances for a propitious. Hereafter, we can only be described by the prophetic words as those who “...victimise themselves” and take these assets for granted.

Unfortunately for many, death will be an awakening. Tragically, nothing can then be done to redress the wasting of time in this life. Many of us will dearly regret the lost opportunities on our deathbed and in the Hereafter. On the Day of Judgment we will be shocked to see our records. The unveiling of the Hellfire will only horrify us. Being dragged to it and thrown into it will only increase our sorrow for having wasted our time today in trivial pursuits.

The Minor Reckoning

For many of us the reckoning begins at death, for many consider it the minor reckoning. As death approaches, a certainty descends upon all of us, namely that this life is finite and each one of us will definitely depart. In the final moments of this life a deep remorse sets in as “he ascertains that the (time of) parting has come, and one leg joins the other, for this day the drive will be (all) to the Lord,” [75:33].

Now he remembers the thousands of hours he wasted not using them for the pleasure of Allah. Despondent over his dire predicament, he begs Allah “O Lord! Please send me back (to life in the world) so I can do good in the things that I neglected,” [23:99-100].

This is one’s first occasion of genuine regret. Though his previous life was replete with artificial ho-hum taubas he now seriously repents at a time when the door of repentance shows “closed.” He has spent as many as sixty-seven years or more thinking “I’ll repent tomorrow” or “I’ll be good tomorrow.”

Regrettably, he didn’t reach “tomorrow,” and tragically death awakens him to do good when it doesn’t matter. Amazingly, he acknowledges his neglect but it is too late, for Allah’s decree has descended, the case is closed and life in this world has adjourned for him and the reckoning is about to commence. Foolishly, he tries to convince Allah that if given another chance he will surely rectify his record and avail himself of all those lost opportunities. Still affected by his worldly demeanour of trickery, he thinks he can talks his way past the Almighty and persuade Him. He thinks he can strike a deal with the All-Knowing much as he used to do in this world. He forgets that he is now dealing with the Lord of the Universe and not some drug lord, business mogul, or Harvard lawyer.

He forgets he is now attempting to outwit the Knower of the Unseen - ie Knower of what dribbles off our tongues as well as what our hearts really intend. Allah knows that he was afforded innumerable chances in this world, yet he procrastinated. Another chance would only result in nothing but more laziness. No wonder Allah rejoins “... never, it is but mere words He says.” [23:100].

Our Nervousness and Horror on the Day of Judgment

On the Day of Judgment, on the plains of reckoning, he will inevitably face moments of intense remorse and loss. Already dejected he will now discover to his regret that his closest friends actually misguided him and thoroughly misled him. On a day when any help would be invaluable he finds that he cannot count on his worldly buddies. Today his close associates will avail him of nothing, for each has his own reckoning to worry about. He reflects on all the time he spent with his “friends” at parties where they spent late nights gossiping. He remembers his gambling “partners” and drinking buddies.

He sees the lightest punishment from the Hellfire confronting him. “The slightest punishment on the Day of Judgment for the people of the Hellfire,” cautioned Prophet Muhammad, “will be when a man who will be brought forth, once two tiny pebble-sized firebrands are put on the balls of his feet, his brains will boil from their impact.” Soon after, the neglectful will become uncontrollably nervous. Amazingly, fingernail biting doesn’t appease his tension; instead his stress takes him to new heights as he now begins to bite on both his hands.

The Day that the wrongdoer will bite at his hands, he will say, ‘O, if only I had never taken such a one for a friend. He (definitely) led me astray from the message (of Allah) after it had come to me ah! Satan is (nothing) but a traitor to man!’” [25:27-29].

Sadly, his realisation has come too late. He should have chosen his associates more carefully and picked his friends more cautiously. He cannot blame others as he used to in the world. Today he has to face the consequences of his own evil choices. He parted company with the people of Paradise so he could relish all the pleasures of this world with his Hellfire “buddies” and end up in eternal perdition.