An Arabic word signifying “narrative” or “communication”; the name given to sayings traced to the prophet Mohammed, or to reports of his actions by eye-witnesses. The authenticity of the ḥadith depends upon the value of the chain of tradition (“sanad,” “isnad” = “support”) which precedes the quotation or the report (“matn”); that is, upon the trustworthinéss of the authorities who have handed down the tradition. Since, on account of the meagerness of the Koran, the most important documents for the religious, ritualistic, and legal development of Islam are contained in the ḥadith, the examination of the authenticity of the latter, with especial regard to the trustworthiness of the channels of transmission, has always formed one of the most important theological concerns of Islam. Notwithstanding the painstaking and precise character of such examinations, European critics hold that only a very small part of the ḥadith can be regarded as an actual record of Islam during the time of Mohammed and his immediate followers. It is rather a succession of testimonies, often self-contradictory, as to the aims, currents of thought, opinions, and decisions which came into existence during the first two centuries of the growth of Islam. In order to give them greater authority they are referred to the prophet and his companions. The study of the ḥadith is consequently of the greater importance because it discloses the successive stages and controlling ideas in the growth of the religious system of Islam. According to the consensus of Mohammedan critics, six canons, in which the most authentic records of the ḥadith are collected, have attained special authority, and form the most important source, next to the Koran, for Islamic theology. The collections of Bukhari (d. 870) and Muslim (d. 875) are those to which the highest authority is ascribed. These are supplemented by four others, namely, the collections of Abu Daud (d. 888), Tirmidhi (d. 892), Nasa’i (d. 914), and Ibn Maja (d. 886). All these works have recently been rendered accessible in the Orient; three-fourths of the Bukhari collection has been printed also in Europe (3 vols., Leyden, 1862-68).
Through an inexact extension of the term the contents of these works as well as the ḥadith in general have been called “sunnah,” which latter term must be distinguished from “ḥadith.” By “sunnah” are to be understood the religious customs handed down from the oldest generations of Islam, whether authenticated in the form of ḥadith or not. ḥadith, on the other hand, may be a record of what is regarded as sunnah, but is not identical with it. For the sake of offering an analogy from Jewish literature, a parallel has often been drawn between “ḳur’an” and “miḳra” and between “sunnah” and “mishnah.” This comparison, however, is quite absurd, for the Arabic “sunnah” (which means “manner,” “custom”) is etymologically and materially different from the Hebrew word with which it was identified. Just as incorrect was the widely prevalent opinion, which was supported by a comparison of the differences observed in Judaism between Rabbinites and Karaites, that the two great divisions into which Mohammedans are divided, Sunnites andShiites, are distinguished from each other through the fact that the former recognize, in addition to the Koran, the traditions of the ḥadith and sunnah, while the latter recognize only the validity of the Koran as a religious document, and not of the ḥadith. For the Shiites also recognize ḥadith as a source of religious doctrine, but they make the condition that the “isnad” be tranṣmitted by authorities whom they regard as trustworthy (Shiitic ḥadith). As far as contents are concerned, the Shiitic ḥadith often coincides with the Sunnitic ḥadith (excepting in regard to the principles of public law).
The scope of the ḥadith includes everything that comes under the influence of religion—the ritual, the law in its entirety, the religious legends, and the ethical precepts and views. Within it a halakic and a haggadic ḥadith may be discriminated. The material which early Islam borrowed from Judaism is also clothed in the garb of the ḥadith. In later generations rabbinical precepts and legends which found their way into Mohammedan literature as a result of intercourse between Jew and Mohammedan were simply claimed as Islamic property, and, put in the technical phraseology of the ḥadith, were ascribed to the Prophet. In the article Islam the subject of derivation from the Halakah is treated more in detail. Even more plainly than in the case of the law and its codification, Jewish influence is seen in those portions of Islamic religious literature which correspond to the Jewish Haggadah, because here its elements were not forced into codified forms, and could therefore develop in greater freedom. This Mohammedan Haggadah seems to have received its final form, if at all, only very late; it is seen expanding freely as long as the impulse to ḥadith-creation remains active to any degree. Apart from the legendary amplifications of Biblical history, whose sources are usually rabbinical Haggadah and apocryphal literature, the moral precepts attributed to Mohammed and his companions and successors also show traces of rabbinical origin. And even Biblical passages are sometimes claimed in Mohammedan literature as ḥadiths of the Prophet. If, on the one hand, for the sake of making a display of learning, citations (including some from rabbinical sources; see “Z. D. M. G.” lii. 712) which are foreign to the ḥadith literature are inserted in it as coming from Biblical sources (“taurat” and “zabur”; see ib. xxxii. 348 et seq.), on the other hand, rabbinic sayings are sometimes inserted as being original Mohammedan ḥadiths. A few characteristic examples must suffice:
- (1) נֹ מפתהות של הקב ֹה שלא נםסרו ביר שליח (Ta’an. 2a; comp. ‘ארבעה מפתחות וכוֹ . Tan., Gen., ed. Buber, pp. 106, 155); found in Bukhari’s “Tauḥid,” No. 4; “Istisḳa’,” No. 28 (the thought is the same, though five keys are mentioned instead of three or four).
- (2) Peah i. 1; see “R. E. J.” xliv. 66 et seq.
- (3) ‘יאה עניותא לישראל כברזא סומקא וכוֹ (Ḥag. 9b); see Schreiner, “Studien über Jeschu’a b. Jehuda,” p. 14, note 3, Berlin, 1900.
- (4) הרוצה לשׁקר ירחיק עריו (an old Jewish saying not found in the Talmud; comp. Brüll’s “Jahrb.” vii. 28); occurs in Abu Zaid’s “Nawadir,” pp. 171, 179, Beirut, 1894: “When it pleases you to lie, leave your witness at a distance” (it is possible, however, that this saying was borrowed by the Jews from the Arabs).
- (5) קול באשה עריו (Beẓah 29a), as a religious rule; a literal translation in the “Mufid al-‘Ulum,” p. 31, Cairo, 1310 A.H.
- (6) “In heaven is proclaimed: ‘A, the daughter of B, shall be the wife of C, the son of D’”; cited as teaching of the Prophet by Jahiẓ, “Le Livre des Beautés et des Antithèses,” ed. Van Vloten, p. 218.
- (7) Abot iii. 7; see Goldziher’s “Abhandlungen zur Arab. Philologie,” i. 193.
Other examples may be found in Barth’s “Midraschische Elemente in der Muslimischen Tradition,” in the “Berliner Festschrift,” pp. 33-40.Bibliography:
- Goldziher, Ueber die Entwickelung des ḥadith, in Muhammedanische Studien, ii. 1-274, Halle, 1890;
- idem, ḥadith und Neues Testament, pp. 382-399;
- idem, Neue Materialien zur Literatur des Ueberlieferungswesens bei den Muhammedanern, in Z. D. M. G. l. 465-506);
- W. Marçais, Le Taqrîb d’en-Nawawî, Paris, 1902.
OF THE POWER AND VIRTUE OF THE DIVINE NAMES.
GOD himself, though he be one only essence, yet hath divers names, which expound not his divers essences or deities; but certain properties flowing from him; by which names he pours down upon us, and all his creatures, many benefits; ten of those names we have above described. The Cabalists, from a certa in text of Exodus, derive seventy-two names, both of the angels and of God, which they call the name of seventy-two letters and Schemhamphores, that is, the expository. From these therefore, besides those which we have reckoned up before, is the name of the divine essence, Eheia, אהיה which Plato translates ὤν, from hence they call God τοὄν, others ὁων, that is, the Being. Hu, הוא, is another name revealed to Esay, signifying the abyss of the godhead, which the Greeks translate ταυτὸν, the Latins, himself the same. Esch, אש, is another name received from Moses, which soundeth fire, and is the name of God; Na, נא, is to be invocated in perturbations and troubles. There is also the name Ja, יה, and the name Elion, עליונ, and the name Macom, מוקם, the name Caphu, כפכ the name Innon, יונן and the name Emeth, which is interpreted truth, and is the seal of God; and there are two other names, Zur, זור and Aben, אבנ, both of these signify a solid work, and one of them expresseth the Father with the Son; and many names we have placed in the scale of numbers; and many names of God and the angels, are extracted out of the Holy Scriptures by our Cabala, and the Notarian and Gimetrian arts, where many words retracted by certain of their letters, make up one name; or one name dispersed by each of its letters, signifies or renders more. Sometimes they are gathered from the heads of words, as the name Agla, אגלא, from this verse of the Holy Scripture, viz.אתהגיכר לעולמארכי, that is, the Mighty God for ever. In like manner the name Iaia, יאיא, from this verse, viz. הוהאלהינן יהוהאהר that is, God our God is one God; in like manner the name Java, יאוא, from this verse, יהי אור זיהיאזר, that is, let there be light and there was light: in like manner the name Ararita, אראריתא from this verse, אהר ראש אהרזתז ראש ייהורו תמורהזואהר, that is, one principal of his unity, one beginning of his individuality, his vicissitude is one thing; and this name Hacaba, הקבא is extracted from this verse, יהקרואכברהוא the holy and blessed One; in like manner this name, Jesu, ישו is found in the heads of these two verses, viz., יביאשלוהולו, that is until the Messiah shall come; and the other verse,ינון שמוזית, that is, his name abides till the end. Thus also is the name Amen, אמנ, extracted from this verse, ארנימלר נאטן, that is, the Lord is the faithful King. Sometimes these names are extracted from the ends of words, as the same Amen from this verse, לאב והרשעים , that is, the wicked not so; but the letters are transposed: so, by the final letters of this verse, לימה אמזמח that is, to me what? or what is his name? is found the name Tetragrammaton: in all these a letter is put for a word, and a letter extracted from a word, either from the beginning, end, or where you please; and sometimes these names are extracted from all the letters, one by one, even as those seven-two names of God are extracted from those three verses of Exodus, beginning from these three words, יזסעו ידאו יט, the first and the last verses being written from the right to the left; but the middle contrariwise, from the left to the right, as we shall shew hereafter; and so sometimes a word is extracted from a word, or a name from a name, by the transposition of letters, as Messia, משיה, from Ismah, ישמה, and Michael from Malachi, מלאכי but sometimes by changing the alphabet, which the Cabalists call Ziruph, צירוף so from the name Tetragrammaton,יהוה, are drawn forth מצפצ, Maz-Paz, כוזו, Kuzu. Sometimes, by reason of the equality of the numbers, names are changed, as Merattron, מטטרון, pro Sadai שדי, for both of them make three hundred and fourteen; so Jiai, ייאי and El, אל, are equal in number, for both make thirty-one; and these are the hidden secrets, concerning which it is most difficult to judge, or to deliver a perfect science; neither can they be understood or taught in any other language but the Hebrew. Therefore, these sacred words have not their power in magical operations from themselves, as they are words, but from the occult divine powers working by them in the mind of those who by faith adhere to them.
We will here deliver unto thee a sacred seal, efficacious against any disease of man, or any griefs whatsoever, in whose fore-side are the four-squared names of God, so subordinate to one another in a square, that, from the highest to the lowest, those most holy names or seals of the godhead do arise, whose intention is inscribed in the circumference; but on the backside is inscribed the seven-lettered name Araritha, and his interpretation is written about, viz. the verse from which it is extracted, even as you may see in the annexed plate, where A represents the former part, B the hinder; but all this must be done in most pure gold, or virgin parchment, pure, clean, and unspotted; also with ink made of the smoke of consecrated wax-lights, or incense and holy water. The operator must be purified and cleansed, and have an infallible hope, a constant faith, and have his mind lifted up to the Most High God, if he would surely obtain this divine power.
Now, against the depredations of evil spirits and men, and what dangers soever, either of journies, waters, enemies, arms, &c. in the same manner as is above said, these characters on the one side כיייי, and these on the other צפכה, which are the beginnings and ends of the five first verses of Genesis, and representation of the creation of the world; and, by this ligature, they say that a man shall be free from all mischiefs, if that he firmly believes in God, the Creator of all things.
Now these being done on a small plate of gold, as before described, (will be found to have the effect above mentioned); the figure of which you may likewise see in the annexed plate, fig. C and D, where C shows the former part, and B the hinder.
Now let no one distrust or wonder, that sacred words and divine names applied outwardly, can effect wonderful things, seeing, by them, the Almighty created the heavens and the earth; for there is no name of God amongst us (according to Moses the Egyptian) which is not taken from his works, besides the name Tetragrammaton, which is holy, signifying the substance of the Creator in a pure signification.
A genuine book of spells (or ‘grimoire’) from 18th century Germany, the Clavis Inferni. The sword and branch refer to God’s twinned powers of destruction and peace. A Latin text below reads “Qui facis mirabilia magna solus finis coronat opus,” roughly “You who alone doeth great wonders: the end shall crown the work.” Books like this flourished throughout the Enlightenment.-ZM