Hadith is the secondary text of Islam. It is a series of collections of sayings (Hadiths). Each saying pertains to the behavior and actions of either the Prophet or his close companions and are meant to be used as guides in everyday life.
Each Hadith is composed of two parts
- The Isnad: A chain of authors, relating who told it to who over its lifetime. (Think of it as a record of a game of telephone) Each Isnad is inspected to determine the validity of the Hadith it is connected two. A rating system exists to classify Hadiths as Accurate, False, Uknown, Likely, Etc. These determinations are based upon the moral character and litteracy of the authors named in the Isnad as well as the historical consistancy of the chain (People must have lived at the same time to pass on the Hadith). All of these Hadiths are recorded and maintaned for legal purposes, despite their often erroneous nature.
- The core Hadith saying: Usually a parable in the form of a story about a prophet (often times Jesus) and his actions upon earth. Effective quotes and morals are also found often.
There is no official collection of Hadiths. However, four general collections are regarded by the Sunni as accurate while the Shia regard a different two as legitimate.