The Importance of Hadith

 

1.      Revelation

The Prophet’s(sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) sayings and actions were primarily based on revelation from Allah and, as such, must be considered a fundamental source of guidance second only to the Qur’an.  Allah in the Qur’an said concerning the Prophet:

Your companion [Muhammad] has not strayed, nor has he erred, Nor does he speak from [his own] inclination. (Qur’an 53:2-3)

Therefore, the hadith represents a personal source of divine guidance which Allah granted his prophet which was similar in its nature to the Qur’an itself.  The prophet reiterated this point in one of his recorded statements

“Indeed, I was given the Qur’an and something similar to it along with it”

2.      Tafseer

The preservation of the Qur’an was not restricted to protecting its wording from change.  Were that the case, its meanings could be manipulated according to human desires, while maintaining its wording.  However, Allah also protected its essential meanings from change by entrusting the explanation of the meanings of the Qur’an to the prophet himself.  Allah states the following in the Qur’an regarding its interpretation:

“…. And We revealed to you the message that you may make clear to the people what was sent down to them and that they might give thought.”(Qur’an 16:44)

Therefore, if one is to understand the meanings of the Qur’an, he or she must consider what the prophet said or did regarding it.  For example, In the Qur’an Allah instructs the believers to offer salaah and pay the zakaah.  However, in order to obey these instructions correctly, one must study the methodology of the prophet in this regard.  Among his many clarifications concerning salaah and zakaah, he instructed his followers saying “pray as you see me pray”, and he specified that 2.5% of surplus wealth, unused for a year, should be given as zakaah.

3.     Laws

One of the primary duties of the prophet was to judge between people in their disputes.  Since his judgements were all based on revelation, as stated above, they must be considered a primary source of principles by which judgements are carried out in an Islamic state.  Allah also addressed this responsibility in the Qur’an saying:

“O you who have believed, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you. And if you disagree over anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger, if you should believe in Allah and the Last Day. That is the best [way] and best in result.”

Thus, hadiths are essential for the smooth running of the law courts in an Islamic state.

4.     Moral Ideal

Since the prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) was guided by revelation in his personal life, his character and social interactions became prime examples of moral conduct for Muslims until the last day.  Attention was drawn to this fact in the following ayah:

“Indeed in the Messenger of Allah you have a good example to follow for him who hopes in (the Meeting with) Allah and the Last Day and remembers Allah much”(Qur’an 33:21)

Consequently, the daily life of the prophet as recorded in the hadith represents an ideal code of good conduct.  In fact, when the prophet’s wife, Aa’isha was asked about his conduct, she replied, “His character was the Qur’an”

5.     Preservation of Islam

The sciences of narration, collection and verification of hadith was unknown to the world prior to the era of the prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam).  In fact, it was due in part to the absence of such reliable science that the messages of former prophets became lost or distorted in the generations that followed them.  Therefore, it may be said that it is largely due to the science of hadith that the final message of Islam has been preserved in its original purity for all times.  This is alluded in the Qur’an;

“Indeed, i have revealed the reminder, and indeed i will protect it” (Qur’an 15:9)

Taken from Bilal Philips’ book Usool Al-Hadith

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