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The meaning of As Sunnah, alHadith, al Khabar and al Athar

Assunnah : literally it derived from the word sanna
yasunnu-sunnah which means : method, way, course, rule,
mode or manner, habit
Technically assunnah is referring to the Prophets (s.a.w)
words, deeds, his tacit approval, his physical and moral
features whether before his prophethood or after it.
Al Hadith derived from the word haddasta- yuhaddithu
hadith which means to tell, to report or to transmit.
Technically, it is referring to all what is reported or
transmitted from the authority of the Prophet SAW that
includes his sayings, deeds, his tacit approval as well as his
physical and moral features. These features only refer to
his features after becoming the Prophet.
However, these two terms had been used interchangeably
by the scholars without having major difference in both.

The sayings of the Prophets means all what he said verbally
that constitute the highest wisdom after the Quran. Such as
the hadith :. .....
The deeds means all his deeds or conducts in different
situations which was witnessed and reported by the
companions.such as how to perform solah he said :
: ..
The tacit approval means his silence act in response to what
happened or the practices of the people at that time. This
silence act can be considered as an approval of the Prophet.
Such as his silence when the sahabah performed sholah
ashar in two different places in their journey to Bani
Quraidhah or in different occasions that he didnt comment
on it.
The physical and moral features means all his characters as
described by his companions whether there is legal

Al Khabar literally means news, information or story.
It includes the sayings/statements of the Prophet SAW
as well as the sayings/statements of the companions. It
is more general than al Hadith.
Al Athar literally means sign, imprint, impact or vestige
inherited from the past.
Technically it means the sayings or deeds of the
companions and successors.

Al Hadith al-Qudsi
Qudsi means : sacred, holy and pure.
It is referring to what has been revealed by Allah to the
Prophet Muhammad SAW by message/meaning while its
wording comes from the Prophet himself.
Hadith Qudsi is included in the category of hadith due to
its wording that comes from the Prophet himself, it is
not like Al Quran whereby its text originated from Allah

The compilation of Hadith

During Prophets time (up to 632 CE).
The ahadith mostly were memorized by the sahabah
without recording them. It is due to the reminder of the
Prophet in his saying : Do not write anything from me
except Al Quran and whoever has written anything from me
other than Al Quran he should erase it . Reported by Abu
Said al Khudri in Sahih Muslim.
This hadith has some implications on the writing of ahadith
during the Prophets time. That is by the self-restrain of the
sahabah to record ahadith.
The hadith was later understood that it doesnt mean haram
to write ahadith instead it is considered as a precaution for
the muslims not to focus on other than al Quran and it is to
avoid confusion between Al Quran and al Hadith at that

However there were some sahabah who recorded ahadith
for their own purpose such as sahifah al Sadiqah kept by
Abdullah ibnu Umar which was found later.
The Periode of Khulafa al Rashidun (632-661)
Al Hadith was not recorded and compiled yet at this time
due to the warning of Umar al Khattab as the caliph not to
write or compile al Hadith, even he withdrew his plan to do
However there were some sahabah who started to compile
ahadith such as the compilation of Hammam ibnu

Umar bin Ibn Abdul Aziz(720 CE).

The formal writing and the compilation of ahadith was
done only at the time of Caliph Umar bin Abdul Aziz (d
720 CE) in the end of the 1st century AH. who directed
the scholars of hadith to record and compile ahadith
This action was taken to protect hadith from vanishing
as well as to protect it from fabrication and to provide
sources in writing tafsir and fiqh.
However at this stage ahadith had been compiled in a
simple way and unsystematic.

The stages of hadith compilation

1. the stage of al Sahifah: it is the early stage whereby
hadith was recorded by individuals and not systematically
compiled. (until first half of second century of Hijrah).
2. Al Musannaf : (middle of 2nd century) at this stage
hadiths were compiled and arranged according to titles. E.g.
al Muwatta by Imam Malik.
3. Al Musnad (2nd half of 2nd Century AH). The hadiths were
compiled and arranged based on the names of reporters
and not selected yet. Eg. Musnad Imam Ahmad bin Hambal .
4. Al Sahih: (3rd century AH). The ahadith were compiled
and selected based on its authenticity. It was started by
Imam al Bukhari, Imam Muslim, Imam Abu Dawud, Imam al
Tirmidzi, Imam An Nasai and Imam Ibnu Majah. These six
works on hadith was known as Kutub al Sittah.

Kutub al Sittah

Kutub al Sittah
The Sunni Muslims view the six major hadith collections as their
most important sources after Al Quran. They are, in order of
1. Sahih Bukhari, collected by Imam al-Bukhari (d. 256 A.H., 870
C.E.), it includes 2761 ahadith without repetition.
2. Sahih Muslim, collected by Imam Muslim b. al-Hajjaj (d. 261
A.H., 875 C.E.), it includes 2179 ahadith without repetition.
3. Sunan al Nasai, collected by al-Nasa'i (d. 303 A.H., 915 C.E.)
Abu Abd al-Rahman Ahmad bin Ali bin Syuaib bin Ali bin Sinan
bin Bahr al-Khurasani. It has 5761 hadith.
4. Sunan Abu Dawood, collected by Abu Dawood (d. 275 A.H.,
888 C.E.) Abu Dawud Sulayman bin al-Asath bin Ishak bin Basyir

5. Jami al-Tirmidhi, collected by al-Tirmidhi (d. 279 A.H,
892 C.E) Abu Isa Muhammad bin Isa bin Sawrah bin
Musa bin al-Dahhak al-Salmi has 3956
6. Sunan ibn Majah, collected by (
) Abu Abd Allah bin Yazid bin Majah al-Rabi
al-Qazwini.known as Ibnu Majah (d. 273 A.H., 887 C.E.).
it has 4341 hadith.
The first two, commonly referred to as the Two Sahihs
as an indication of their authenticity, both contain
approximately seven thousand ahadith altogether if
repetitions are not counted, according to Ibn Hajar.

The classification of hadith

Each hadith consists of two elements namely : al-Isnad
and al Matan
Al-Isnad means the chain of people through whom the
hadith was transmitted.
Al-Matan means the content or the text which contains
the statement or the incident reported by the narrator.
Al-hadith is selected to know its authenticity based on
both elements : the isnad and the matan of the hadith.
briefly the hadith can be classified based on two
categories namely the quality and the quantity of the
hadith and its narrators.

The classification of hadith based on

its narrators (isnad)
Briefly the hadith can be classified into 2 categories
namely : Mutawatir and Ahad.
Hadith Mutawatir means the hadith which was
reported by a large number of narrators whose
agreement upon a lie is inconceivable. This condition
must be met in the entire chain from the origin of the
report to the very end.
Large number here is normally above 4 to unlimited
Hadith mutawatir can be divided further into two types
namely mutawatir by words and mutawatir by meaning.

Mutawatir by words means the hadith was reported by

many with the same expression/nash. However the ahadith
which fall under this category is small in number.
Mutawatir by meaning means the hadith was reported by
many with different expression/wording but with the same
message. The ahadith of this nature are numerous.
Hadith Ahad
It means the hadith which was reported by small number of
narrators at one level or more which does not reach the
number of mutawatir. Small number here is referring to 4
persons and below.
There are different types of hadith which fall under this
category such as mashur, aziz, gharib etc.

Al-Hadith al-Mashur means the hadith which was
reported by three to four sahabah which doesnt reach
the level of mutawatir even if it is reported many many
in the next levels.
Al-Hadith al-Aziz means the hadith which was reported
by at least two narrators in every generation.
Al-Hadith al-Gharib means the hadith which was
reported by one narrator in one generation or in all.

Hadith classification based on the

1. al-Hadith al-Sahih: it is the hadith which is absolutely
correct hadith with no defect/s in its isnad (chain of
reporters) and in its matan (text). Hadith sahih has to
fulfil the following requirements ;
1. Its chain of reporters is continuous and there is no
missing person anywhere in the chain. (from the
Prophet to the last narrator).
2. every reporter/transmitter possessed the qualities of
adl (righteous conduct) and dhabit (strong memory).
3. it is not an isolated hadith (shaz).

2. Hadith Hasan means the hadith with almost similar

to hadith sahih except by having certain defect in its
reporter such as having weak memory.
3. Hadith dhaif means the hadith which has some
problems/defects in either its sanad (chain of reporters)
or in its text (matan) which may be in disagreement
with the very basic teaching of Islam (al Quran).
There are different types of hadith under this category
such as hadith al Mursal, al-Mauquf, al Munqati, etc.

For the first two types of hadith according to the

majority of Ulama it is compulsory for the Muslims to
follow and practice them.
While for hadith dhaif there are different opinions about
it. The common opinion among the Imams of Hadith is
that it can be practiced/followed only in fadhail amal
but not as hujjah(argument) with certain conditions
such as :
1. the hadith is not too weak .
2 the hadith is in line with meaning of other hadith
which is stronger.
3. the person who practiced it should not use it as an
authority but rather as a precaution.

Hadith maudhu means the fabricated hadith. It is

referring to the hadith which is made by someone and
attributed to the Prophet and infact it has no origin
from the Prophet or sahabah. It can be identified
through its isnad and matan which dont fulfil the
requirements of hadith.