Will you explain the difference between a verse (ayah) and a hadith?

The Details of the Question
Will you explain the difference between a verse (ayah) and a hadith?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

A verse means a sentence whose beginning and end are obvious in the Quran. Each verse of the Quran is a miracle. Each verse is evidence for the honesty of the prophet that conveys it and an exemplary lesson for those who think, contemplate and meditate; each verse is ‘something strange’ because it is a miracle and has a value.   

Hadiths are the words, deeds, approvals and the sunnah of the Prophet that consist of his moral and humanly qualities expressed in words or in writing. In this sense, hadith is synonymous with the sunnah. 

The word hadith was started to be used as a general name for the news reported from the Prophet in the course of time.

The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) did not only convey the revelation that he received from Allah to people but he also explained them and practiced them in his own life, being a concrete example for them. Therefore, he was also called the living Quran.  

Islamic scholars generally regard the hadiths related to religious issues as to have beeen revealed to the prophet by Allah and show the following verse as evidence for it: "Nor does he say (aught) of (his own) Desire. It is no less than inspiration sent down to him “(an-Najm, 53/3-4). In addition, they say the word hikmah (wisdom) mentioned in the following verse means sunnah: "Allah did confer a great favor on the Believers when He sent among them an Messenger from among themselves, rehearsing unto them the Signs of Allah, sanctifying them, and instructing them in Scripture and Wisdom, while, before that, they had been in manifest error." (Aal-i lmran, 3/164) As a matter of fact, some narrations reported from the Prophet and his Companions put forth this truth. The following is reported from the Messenger of Allah: "I was given the Book and the like of it (the sunnah)" (Abu Dawud, Sunan, II, 505). Hassan Ibn Atiyya made the following explanation regarding the issue: "Jibril (Gabriel) brought and taught the sunnah to the Messenger of Allah just as he brought and taught the Quran." (Ibn Abdilbarr, Jamiu'l Bayani'l-ilm, II, 191).

As it is understood from the verses and news above, the Quran and the hadith (or the sunnah in a broader sense) are the same in terms of being revelations sent to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) by Allah. However, the Quran differs from the hadith because it is impossible to produce something like the Quran in terms of its meaning and words, it is determined in writing in the preserved tablet (Lawh al-Mafuz), and neither Jibril nor the Prophet (pbuh) can make any changes in it. Hadith was not revealed as words; so it is not miraculous like the words of the Quran; it is permissible to report it only with its meaning as long as the meaning is not changed.   

As a fiqh source based on revelation, the state of the hadith in comparison to the Quran and in terms of the decrees it brings is as follows:

1. Some hadiths confirm and affirm the decrees that the Quran has brought; for instance, the hadiths that forbid disobedience to the parents, bearing false witness and committing suicide.

2. Some hadiths explain and complement the decrees that the Quran has brought. Performing prayers, making hajj and giving zakah are ordered in the Quran but it is not stated how they should be carried out. We learn how to fulfill them from hadiths.

3. Some hadiths impose decrees about the issues that the Quran does not mention at all. The hadiths that prohibit eating the flesh of domestic donkeys and birds of prey and the hadiths that determine several decrees about diyahs, etc are examples of hadiths showing that hadiths can be an independent legislative source.

What we have stated up to now shows the place of hadith (sunnah) in the religion of Islam. The fact that it is necessary to give importance to the hadith as a source that comes immediately after the Quran from the point of view of the religion of Islam and to act in accordance with the sunnah of the Prophet is ordered by definite expressions both by Allah and His messenger Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh). The following verses regarding the issue are present in the Quran: "Say: ‘If ye do love Allah, follow me: Allah will love you and forgive you your sins’"(Aal-i Imran, 3/31); "Say: ‘Obey Allah and His Messenger’; but if they turn back, Allah loveth not those who reject Faith” (Aal-i Imran, 3/32; "And obey Allah and the Messenger; that ye may obtain mercy " (Aal-i Imran, 3/132); " So take what the Messenger assigns to you, and deny yourselves that which he withholds from you " (al-Hashr, 59/7). As it is seen, in the verses like the ones above, obedience to the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) is ordered together with obedience to Allah; it is even stated clearly that obedience to the Prophet (pbuh) means obedience to Allah. 

In a hadith, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, " Know it very well that I was given the Quran and the like of it (the sunnah). The time will come when a man replete on his couch will say: Keep to the Quran; what you find in it to be permissible treat as permissible, and what you find in it to be prohibited treat as prohibited. Doubtlessly, what the Messenger of Allah makes haram is like what Allah has made haram." (Abu Daawd Sunnah, 5; Ibn Majah, Muqaddima, 2; Ahmad b. Hanbal, Musnad, IV,131), warning Muslims against those who despise the sunnah and want to separate it from the religion and emphasizing that the religion cannot be thought of without the sunnah.

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