Hadith and Its Significance in Islam
In Arabic language, the basic meaning of word Hadith is ‘a news item or a conversation/tale/ report’. The Arabic word hadith can be used in all contexts like historical or modern and false or true etc. But when we use the word Hadith in Islamic context, it refers to the actions and sayings of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) exclusively.
Allah (s.w.t) says in the Qur’an:
وَمَا يَنطِقُ عَنِ ٱلۡهَوَىٰٓ (٣)
إِنۡ هُوَ إِلَّا وَحۡىٌ۬ يُوحَىٰ (٤)
Nor does he speak of (his own) desire. (3) It is only a Revelation revealed. (An-Najam 53: 3-4)
So, we learn from the verses of the Qur’an that all the sayings and actions of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) were based upon direct revelation from the Creator of the heavens and earth. He (s.a.w) was neither a fabricator nor a misleader.
The saying of RasuUllah(s.a.w) that “Indeed, I was given the Qur’an and something similar to it along with it.” (Abu Dawud) clearly states that nature of Hadith is similar to the Qur’an.
Qur’an is the book which is free of any changings from ever and ever. Allah (s.w.t) has maintained it in one format by keeping it under protection. Not only the wording of Qur’an is maintained but Allah also protected meanings of the Quran from change by assigning explanation of the meaning of Qur’an to RasulUllah(s.a.w). This is why till date Muslims search Ahadith for understanding ayaat of the Qur’an. Allah(s.w.t) says in Surah An-Nahl: With clear arguments and scriptures, and We have revealed to you the Reminder that you may make clear to men what has been revealed to them, and that haply they may reflect(16:44).
There are many commandments in the Qur’an which are obligatory to follow but we get the description and methodology of those tasks from different Ahadith, not in the Qur’an itself. For example, In chapter 2, verse:43 of the Qur’an, Allah commands believers to offer Salah and give Zakah but for the details of these obligatory tasks, one has to refer to Ahdaith of Prophet Muhammad(s.a.w). As, in a hadith of Bukhari, Prophet of Allah (s.a.w) said: ‘Pray as you saw me pray’. Similarly, the specific instructions about items and quantities of Zakah are found in different Ahadith. The most authentic books of Ahadith like SahihBukhari have whole chapters with compiled Ahadith related to Salah and Zakah, named: ‘Book of Salah’ and’Book of Zakah’.
Obeying Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) is like obeying Allah (s.w.t) as HE says in the Qur’an: O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority from among you; then if you quarrel about anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day; this is better and very good in the end. (An-Nisaa’ 4:59)
Prophet(s.a.w) was directly guided from Allah in all his personal and impersonal decisions and interactions, so his(s.a.w) life is the best role model for all the humanit as it is full of ingredients of wisdom, truthfulness, morality and intelligence. In Surah Al-Ahzab, Allah (s.w.t) says: ‘Certainly you have in the Messenger of Allah an excellent exemplar’.
Moreover, Aisha(R.A) said about the character of RasulUllah(s.a.w) that “His character was the Qur’an” (Al-Albani).
Unlike the previous nations, message of Ahadith has been preserved through Science of Hadith. The message of Islam has been preserved in original quality because of discipline of narration, collection and criticism of Hadith. In surah AL-Hijr, Allah (s.w.t) says: Surely We have revealed the Reminder and We will most surely be its guardian (15:9).