HADITH, the science of Islamic tradition, applying particularly to the sunna (actions, sayings, virtues, opinions, and ways of life of muhammad ). The hadith is one of the four fundamentals which form the background of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence). It encompasses all the relationships between man and God and between man and man, including methods of prayer, fasting, pilgrimage, marital laws, and commercial affairs. The believer must be acquainted with the sunna of the Prophet and model his life in accordance with it; any deviation from the traditional path is a bidʿa ("a harmful innovation"). The first to hand down the hadith were the companions (ṣaḥāba) of Muhammad, who followed the course of Muhammad's life and heeded his words. After his death, masses of believers went to the companions in order to hear the sunna of the Prophet. The men of the second generation continued to propagate the tradition which they had received from the ṣaḥāba, handing it down to their followers. Thus, a chain of traditionalists was formed, the isnād ("support"), which preceded the texts (matn) themselves or the main part (of the teaching). At first, the hadith was handed down orally. A few of the traditionalists, however, wrote down the traditions for their personal use; these lists (ṣaḥīfa, "sheet") aided subsequent traditionalists, as well as the editors of the hadith. The editing of collections of the hadith began at the end of the umayyad period; the editors adopted two different methods: musnad, the classification of traditions according to the names of the traditionalists and muṣannaf, their classification according to subject, and editing according to the content. The oldest extant documents are a fragment on papyrus of the ṣaḥīfa by Ibn Lahī'a (d. 790), found in Egypt and containing traditions which are mainly of an eschatological nature; the collection by Mālik ibn Anas (d. 795), al-Muwaṭṭa: a section of the collection of ʿAbdallah ibn Wahb (d. 812), also written on papyrus, which contains the sayings of the Prophet, the first caliphs, and the men of the second generation, mainly on ways of behavior and virtues; and the musnad of Aḥmad ibn Ḥanbal, which contains about 30,000 hadiths. From the beginning of islam the believers attributed great importance to the hadiths as complementary and explanatory material to the koran . The principle that certain traditions of the Prophet were nullified by later sayings of the Prophet was accepted; many works were written on the subject. The most eminent Muslim scholars dedicated their efforts to the clarification of the unusual words which are found in the hadith. The struggle between social movements, political parties, and various religious trends within Islam gave rise to an abundance of hadiths which were attributed to the Prophet. Some contradicted others, thus confusing the Muslim scholars of tradition. A special science was established which is concerned with meticulous investigation into the reliability of the men of the isnād, as to character, talent, propriety, and ideological attachment to the various social and political groups. The hadiths were classified as "genuine" (ṣaḥīh, the best category), "fair" (ḥasan, the middle category), and "weak" (ḍaʿīf) and were divided accurately and systematically according to their frequency, the number of authorities in the isnād, the relationship which existed among them (oral or written tradition), etc. During the ninth century six collections of hadiths (muṣannaf, see above) were written and accepted as reliable by Muslims: al-Bukhārī (d. 870), Muslim (d. 875), Abu Dāʾūd (d. 888), al-Tirmidhī (d. 892), al-Nasaʾī (d. 915), and Ibn Māja (d. 886). The works of al-Bukhārī and Muslim were particularly esteemed: the former contains 7,275 hadiths selected by the author from about 200,000 hadiths after a most meticulous examination. In the course of time many collections of hadiths were compiled; some are more comprehensive but not as esteemed as the six aforementioned works, which have been edited and commented upon in detail by Muslim scholars. The great interest in the hadith gave rise to a special movement of "searchers of knowledge" (ṭullūb al-ʿilm), who wandered around the world in search of the scholars of the hadith in order to listen to their teachings. The influence of Judaism on the development of the ḥadith is evident not only in their content (see Qiṣaṣ al-Anbiyāʾ ("The Legends of the Prophets") and bible in Islam) but also in the form in which they have been handed down. There is a striking similarity between the isnād and the chain of masoretes in tannaitic and amoraic literature in the halakhah and the aggadah (cf. also the concept of "a ruling received by Moses at Sinai" and the opening of the tractate Avot: "Moses received the Torah at Sinai and handed it down to Joshua, Joshua to the Elders, the Elders to the prophets,…"). Judaism has also influenced the hadiths which deal with the daily conduct of man, man's relationship to God, ethics, piety, various customs, as well as legal affairs, marital laws, and rites. The influence of Christianity on the hadith is not as apparent. (Meir Jacob Kister and Haïm Z'ew Hirschberg) While the Jews and their religion, and the Israelites and their history, receive relatively scant attention in the hadith literature proper (especially in the aforementioned six canonical collections), other Islamo-classical genres composed primarily of hadith reports – including sīra (prophetic biography), maghāzī (chronicles of military campaigns) and above all tafsīr (Koran commentary) – devote considerable space to subjects Jewish. This distinction may be attributed to the central   purpose of the muṣannaf hadith compilations – namely, to inculcate legal and behavioral norms as opposed to relating anecdotes of solely historical or anthropological interest – as well as to an increasing distaste on the part of medieval Muslim purists for the reservoir of Jewish material (known as Isrā'īliyyāt) that had infiltrated Islamic discourse since the faith's inception. Hadith reports as expressed in these various other frameworks (sīra, maghāzī, tafsīr) dwell at length on matters pertaining to the Jews, who are referred to with a certain rough interchangeability as Yahūd, Banū Isrā'īl or ahl al-kitāb (people of the book). They delve into issues such as ancient Israelite history; tales of the biblical prophets; the rocky relationship between the Children of Israel and their God (Allāh); Arabian Jews and their interaction with the fledgling Muslim community; Jewish theology, law, custom and ritual; the role and fate of the Jewish community in the Eschaton; the character of the Jews and the correct Muslim attitudes toward them; and more. The information obtained by Muslims concerning Jewish norms and historiography and reflected in the hadith ranges from the impressively accurate (including near verbatim recapitulations of biblical and midrashic passages and relatively sophisticated rehearsals of Talmudic sugyot) to the confused, propagandistic and fantastic: Jews excise urine-splattered flesh, pluck each other's eyes out in retribution, are enjoined by the Torah to forego booty in war, and believe Ezra is the son of God as the Christians believe Jesus is the son of God; Jewish law forbids the consumption of geese and ducks, prohibits the use of sand for purification if water cannot be found, commands its adherents to slaughter a yellow heifer if an unidentified corpse is found in a field, etc. While ancient Israelites are on some rare occasions portrayed positively in the hadith literature, for the most part Jews of all periods are presented in a highly negative light. They are Muḥammad 's (as they were Jesus', as well as their own prophets') most intractable adversaries, who lost no opportunity to try and trip up the Arabian apostle and mock his message. They are conceived as the historical epitome of excess and evil and – having been abandoned by God as a result of such noxious traits – now also the model of misery. The Jews may be said to function as the emblem of all that Muslims should not be, a kind of sunna (exemplary tradition) in reverse. (Z.A. Maghen (2nd ed.) -BIBLIOGRAPHY: I. Goldziher, Muslim Studies (trans. Barber and Stern), 2 (1970), 15–250; A.J. Wensinck, Handbook of Early Mohammedan Tradition (1927); E.I.J. Rosenthal, Judaism and Islam (1961), index; ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: F. Rahman, Islamic Methodology in History (1965); A. Jeffery, A Reader on Islam (1962), 79–248; A. Guillaume, The Traditions of Islam (1924); J. Schacht, The Origins of Muhammadan Jurisprudence (1950); M.M. Azmi, Studies in Early Hadith Literature (1968). Most of the canonical collections of hadith have been translated – with varying accuracy and eloquence – into English, and are available in book form and online. There are many scholarly studies on Jews in, and the influence of Judaism on, hadithbased Islamic literature. Among the most accessible are A. Geiger, Judaism and Islam (trans. F.M. Young) (1970); S.D. Goitein, Jews and Arabs: Their Contacts through the Ages (1955), esp. chap. 4; C. Adang, Muslim Writers on Judaism and the Hebrew Bible (1996); H. Lazarus-Yafeh, Intertwined Worlds (1992); B. Wheeler, Prophets in the Qur'an: An Introduction to the Qur'an and Muslim Exegesis (2002); U. Rubin, Between Bible and Qur'an: The Children of Israel and the Islamic Self-Image (1999); G. Newby, The Making of the Last Prophet: A Reconstruction of the Earliest Biography of Muhammad (1989).

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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