What are Hadith?

Hadith are the collected sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).  In the introduction to the hadith collection, Provisions for the Seekers, Abdur-Rahman ibn Yusuf Mangera has this to say about them:

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was given an exceptional ability to convey in a few simple and beautifully phrased words, meanings that embrace whole libraries of wisdom and truths. The Messenger (peace be upon him) himself said, “I have been sent with the jawami’ al-kalim.” i.e comprehensive but concise language that is able to express a multitude of meanings in a few words.

The writing that I most admire always has this same quality, it’s concise but deep. I’ve collected pithy and wise quotes from literature for years, but the hadith are in a league of their own. My only regret is that I’m reliant upon English translations (for now), some of which are a poor shadow of the original Arabic.

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