The Difference Between Qur'aan & Hadeeth

Islaam 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. Islaam distinguished between a) The word of Allaah brought by the angel Jibreel (Gabriel) as revelation, known as the Qur'aan; and b) The words of Prophet Muhammad which are known as the Hadeeth.

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

How Was The Integrity Of The Qur’aan Insured?

The companions on the instruction of Prophet Muhammad , wrote down the words of Allaah as revealed and also kept them in memory, so as to ensure that from the time of revelation until now the word of Allaah remains pure and untainted. However, the Prophet commanded the companions not to write down the hadeeth during the early period of Islaam, and the wisdom behind this was not to mix the hadeeth with the word of Allaah. It is very important for Muslims to understand the differences between the hadeeth, hadeeth Qudsi, and the Qur'aan.

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

Defining The Types Of Hadeeth

The meaning of Hadeeth is news, report or narration. They are reports about the Prophet 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 Allaah. However, these were expressed by the Prophet Muhammad in his own words or actions. They are the words and actions of a human being transmitted by the companions and family members , who memorized the words or closely observed the actions of Prophet Muhammad for the benefit of the Muslim Ummah.

Hadeeth Qudsi

Qudsi means holy or pure. There are some reports from Prophet Muhammad where he relates to the people starting with a statement "Allaah (said) says" or "Allaah (did) does", but this information is not part of the Qur'aan. These are called Hadeeth Qudsi. For example: Abu Dharr Al-Ghifari reported, that Allaah’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 Hadeeth Qudsi and the Qur’aan

While the common factor between Hadeeth Qudsi and the Qur'aan is that both contain words from Allaah which have been revealed to Prophet Muhammad , the main points of differences are:

1 . In the Qur'aan the precise wording is from Allaah, while wording in the Hadeeth Qudsi is given by the Prophet Muhammad ;

2 . The Qur'aan has been brought to the Prophet only by the angel Jibreel (Gabriel), while Hadeeth Qudsi may also have been inspired otherwise, such as e.g. a dream;

3 . The Qur'aan is inimitable and unique, while the Hadeeth Qudsi is not;

4 . Qur'aan has been transmitted by numerous persons (tawaatur), whereas the Hadeeth Qudsi is often only transmitted by a few or sometimes even by one individual. There are also Hadeeth 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'aan.

5 . Hadeeth Qudsi cannot be recited in the prayer.

The Qur'aan was recorded at the time of revelation and the verses and chapters were arranged on the instructions of Prophet Muhammad during his lifetime. Every year during the month of Ramadhan the angel Jibreel came to the Prophet and recited the Qur'aan with him, and during the year the Prophet died, the angel Jibreel came twice and recited the Qur'aan with him. This was not so in the case of Hadeeth.

All chapters and verses of the Qur'aan were collected and arranged during the caliphate of Abu Bakr . They were written on sheets and bound together as a book during the caliphate of Uthman in the same order as shown by the Prophet Mohammad himself. Additional copies of the Qur'aan were made during this occasion and sent to several Islaamic cities. However, the compilation of hadeeth did not start until very much later and by that time, the Qur'aan was already available in the final form of a bound book.

The science of collecting, analyzing, compiling, grading and reporting of hadeeths became a special field of studies after the period of companions . 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 hadeeth depends solely on its agreement with the Qur'aan and the grading of a hadeeth 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 hadeeth is either rejected or this fact is noted down and specifically mentioned.

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