“The most important distinction between the Qur’an and all other words or writings therefore is that the Qur’an is the speech from Allah, revealed in its precise meaning and wording through the Angel Gabriel, transmitted by many…”
Previously: Revelation and Scriptures before the Qur’an
Qur’an Series # 3: The difference between the
Qur’an, Hadith and Hadith Qudsi.
WITH THE NAME OF ALLAH, THE ALL-MERCIFUL, THE VERY-MERCIFUL
1] The Qur’an
The Qur’an can be defined as follows:
• The speech of God, sent down upon the last Prophet Muhammad, through the Angel Gabriel, in its precise meaning and precise wording, transmitted to us by numerous persons (tawatur), both verbally and in writing.
• Inimitable and unique, protected by God from corruption.
Other Names of the Qur’an:
The revelation from God to the Prophet Muhammad is referred to in the Qur’an itself by the name qur’an (recitation) as well as by other names, such as e.g.
furqan (criterion, see Al-Qur’an 25: 1),
tanzil (sent down, see Al-Qur’an 26: 192),
dhikr (reminder, see Al-Qur’an 15: 9), and
kitab (scripture, see Al-Qur’an 21:10).
Other references to the Qur’an are by such words as nur (light), huda (guidance), rahmah (mercy), majid (glorious), mubarak (blessed), bashir (announcer), nadhir (warner), etc.
All these names reflect one of the various aspects of the revealed word of God.
2] The Hadith
The Meaning of Hadith:
The word hadith means news, report or narration. It is in this general sense that the word is used in the Qur’an.
Technically, the word hadith, (pl. ahadith) means in particular the reports (verbal and written) about the sunnah (practice) of the Prophet Muhammad.
Hadith reports about the Prophet Muhammad are of the following kinds:
• What he said (qaul),
• What he did (fi’l), and
• What he (silently) approved (taqrir) in the actions of others.
There are also reports about him, i.e. about what he was like (sifa).
The difference between the Qur’an and Hadith:
There is agreement among Muslim scholars that the contents of the sunnah are also from Allah. Hence they have described it as also being the result of some form of inspiration.[Footnote 9] The contents of the sunnah are however expressed through the Prophet’s own words or actions, while in the case of the Qur’an the Angel Gabriel brought the exact wording and contents to the Prophet, who received this as revelation and then announced it, in the very same manner that he received it.
The difference between these two forms has been illustrated by Allama Suyuti (following Juwaini) in the following manner:
“The revealed speech of God is of two kinds:
As to the first kind, Allah says to Gabriel:
Tell the Prophet to whom I sent you that Allah tells him to do this and this, and He ordered him something. So Gabriel understood what His Lord had told him. Then he descended with this to the Prophet and told him what His Lord had told him, but the expression is not this (same) expression, just as a king says to someone upon whom he relies: Tell so-and-so: The king says to you: strive in his service and gather your army for fighting … and when the messenger (goes and) says: The king tells you: do not fail in my service, and do not let the army break up, and call for fighting, etc., then he has not lied nor shortened (the message)…
And as to the other kind, God says to Gabriel:
Read to the Prophet this (piece of) writing, and Gabriel descended with it from God, without altering it the least, just as (if) the king writes a written (instruction) and hands it over to his trustworthy (servant) and says (to him): Read it to so-and-so.
Suyuti said: The Qur’an belongs to the second kind, and the first kind is the Sunnah, and from this derives the reporting of the Sunnah according to the meaning unlike the Qur’an.” – [Sabuni, tibyan, p.52.]
It is generally accepted that the difference between the Qur’an and Sunnah is as follows:
Difference between the Qur’an and Hadith
|Words||Speech of God||Words or actions of the Prophet, inspired by God.|
|Words Reported||Reported in their precise wording||Not necessarily precise wording|
|Tawatur (transmitted by numerous people)||Transmitted by tawatur||Not necessarily transmitted by tawatur, except in some instances.|
3] The Hadith Qudsi
Qudsi means holy, or pure. There are some reports from the Prophet Muhammad where he relates to the people what God has said (says) or did (does), but this information is not part of the Qur’an. Such a report is called Hadith Qudsi, e.g.:
Abu Huraira reported that Allah’s messenger said:
Allah, Mighty and Exalted is He, said:
If My servant likes to meet me, I like to meet him, and if he dislikes to meet Me, I dislike to meet him.
While the common factor between hadith qudsi and the Qur’an is that both contain words from God which have been revealed to Muhammad, the main points of difference between Qur’an and hadith qudsi are as follows:
Difference between the Qur’an and Hadith Qudsi
|Definition||Speech of Allah revealed by Allah to the Prophet through Angel Gabriel||Related to the people by the Prophet of what Allah has said (says) or did (does), but this information is not part of the Qur’an.|
|Wording||Precise wording from Allah||Wording is given by the Prophet Muhammad.|
|Source of Information||
|Receiving of information||Direct revelation, brought to the Prophet by Angel Gabriel from Allah.||Direct revelation or via inspiration like in a dream. (Dreams of God’s Prophets and Messengers are considered as revelations).|
|Inimitable and Unique||
|Tawatur (transmitted by numerous people)||Transmitted by tawatur||Transmitted often by only a few or even one.|
|Can recite in prayer?||Qur’an is recited in prayer||Hadith Qudsi cannot be recited in the prayer.|
Distinctive Features of the Qur’an:
The most important distinction between the Qur’an and all other words or writings therefore is that the Qur’an is the speech from Allah, revealed in its precise meaning and wording through the Angel Gabriel, transmitted by many, inimitable, unique and protected by God Himself against any corruption.
[End of the post]
InshAllah, next in the Qur’an Series: What is Wahy (Revelation)?
Quran Series #2: Scriptures before the Qur’an and the Revelation
Quran Series #1: An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur’an
::Terms/Concepts Learned Today::
• Qur’an = The speech of Allah;
• Hadith = report or narration;
• Ahadith (pl.) = reports or narrations, plural of Hadith
• Hadith Qudsi = The Hadith that the Prophet relates to the people of what God has said or does, but this information is not part of the Qur’an;
• tawatur = transmitted by numerous people, for e.g. the Qur’an is tawatur;
• The Qur’an is also known as furqan (criterion), dhikr (reminder), and kitab (scripture) ;
• Sunnah = the practice or the way of the Prophet Muhammad. We get to know of the Sunnah from the Ahadith;
• Surah = Chapter of the Qur’an
• Ayah = Verse (sign) in the Qur’an
Source for series # 3:
[Denffer, Ahmad Von. " 'Ulum Al-Qur'an: An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur'an." The Islamic Foundation, 1994. Page 17-21. With some editing and omissions.]