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DEFINITION OF HADITH
Literal meaning of ‘Hadith’
The word Hadith is singular and means Kalaam (speech). The plural is Ahaadith.
Technical definition of Hadith
The Fuqaha (Jurists) and Muhadditheen (Traditionists and experts in Hadith) differ in their definitions of Hadith. This is because the fields of both are different. According to the Fuqaha, the subject matter of Hadithis to deduce the laws of Shari’ah from Hadith and the subject matter of the Muhadditheen is to merely compilethe Ahaadith.Hence, according to the Fuqaha, the definition of Hadith is:The knowledge through which the sayings, the actions, the conditions and confirmations of Rasulullah[Sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam] are known. Conditions here refer to only voluntary conditions, notinvoluntary conditions.
The Muhadditheen do not differentiate between voluntary conditions and involuntary conditions. Therefore,the definition of Hadith according to the Muhadditheen is:The knowledge of the sayings of Rasulullah [Sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam], his actions, conditions,acknowledgements of actions and that of his Sahaba [Radhiyallahu 'anhum] and those beyond them (who arefollowed in Deen).
According to the Fuqaha of Khurasaan, the word Hadith is used only for Marfoo` Hadith. The word Athar isused for Mawqoof Ahaadith.
Imam al-Nawawiy [Rahimahullaah] (D: 676AH) has stated
that the majority of the Muhadditheen do not differentiate between Hadith and Athar. Both are used for Marfoo` and Mawqoof Ahaadith. Imam al-Tahaawi’s [Rahimahullaah] (B.229AH, D.321AH) compilation of
Sharh Ma’aani Al- Aathaar
has many Marfoo' Ahaadith. Imam Ibn Jarir al-Tabari’s [Rahimahullaah] (D.310AH),
Tahzheeb al- Aathaar
also has many Marfoo` Ahaadith. This indicates that the term Athar can also refer to Marfoo`Ahaadith.
SUBJECT MATTER OF HADITH
Allamah al-Kirmaaniy [Rahimahullaah] (B.224AH; D.310AH) states that the subject matter of Hadith is thepersonality of Rasulullah [Sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam] as a prophet.
Tawjeeh al-Nazhar Ilaa Usool al-Athar
Vol.1 Pg.37; Beirut 1st Edition 1416AH Edited by Sheikh Abdul-Fattaah Abu-Ghuddah
Fath al-Baaqiy Bi Sharh Alfiyyah al-'Iraaqiy
Pg.41; Dar Ibn Hazam Beirut; 1
Pg.26; Dar al-Basha-ir al-Islamiyya Beirut; 3rd Edition 1416AH
Sharh Sahih Muslim
Vol.1 Pg.63; Qadeemi Kutub Khana Karachi Pakistan
Pg.14; Dar Al-Fikr Beirut 2000BC Edition