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(hädēth`), a tradition or the collection of the traditions of MuhammadMuhammad
[Arab.,=praised], 570?–632, the name of the Prophet of Islam, one of the great figures of history, b. Mecca. Early Life

Muhammad was the son of Abdallah ibn Abd al-Muttalib and his wife Amina, both of the Hashim clan of the dominant Kuraish (Quraysh)
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, the Prophet of Islam, including his sayings and deeds, and his tacit approval of what was said or done in his presence. The term, which literally refers to an individual tradition, is also used as a synonym of sunna, the normative custom of the Prophet and his companions, and as the name of a scholarly discipline. Hadith, as a discipline, consists of two branches, the first concerned with the validation of the individual traditions through the process of biographic examination of its chain of transmitters back to the Prophet (isnad), and the second concentrating on the actual content of the validated traditions (matn) as a source of religious authority. Since the formalization of Islam, this source of authority has been viewed as second only to the Qur'an. Hadith currently exists in two main sets of collections, corresponding to the Sunni and Shiite division within Islam. Sunni Islam recognizes as authoritative the collections of Bukhari and Muslim followed in importance by those of Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi, an-Nasai, and Ibn Maja. Shiite Islam accepts only traditions traced through Ali's family. The major Shiite collections are those of al-Kulini, al-Babuya al-Qummi, and al-Tusi.


See W. A. Graham, Divine Word and Prophetic Word in Early Islam (1977); G. H. A. Juynboll, Muslim Tradition (1981).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(Arabic), the recorded traditions based on incidents from the life of, or pronouncements by, Muhammad and his companions. Studies by I. Goldziher and C. Snouck Hurgronje have shown that the greater part of the Hadith date from the late seventh and early eighth centuries, when it became apparent that the precepts of the Koran could not resolve all the legal and ethical problems of Muslim society. In the ninth to tenth centuries, tens of thousands of Hadith were grouped according to subject and given permanent form in six manuscript collections. This body of work came to be known as the sunna and became one of the sources of Muslim law.

Each Hadith consists of the basic text, or matn, conveying its factual content, and the list of supporting authorities, or isnad —that is, the chain of individuals through whom the text was transmitted to the compiler. Of the six canonical collections of Hadith, two were regarded as the most authoritative and were called “the authentic ones” (as-Sahihani, literally Health)— namely, those compiled by al-Bukhari (810–70) and by Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj (or al-Nishapuri, 817–74). The Hadith were a significant influence in the development of Arabic literature.


Krymskii. A. E. Istoriia musul’manstva, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1904. Part 1.
Shmidt, A. E. “Ocherki istorii islama kak religii.” In the collection Mirislama, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 32–55; no. 2, pp. 185–202; no. 4, pp. 562–81. St. Petersburg, 1912.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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