Hadith (arabic for saying or message) sayings of hazrat muhammad (Sm), but in a wider sense, also what he did or what he consented to. A hadith consists of two elements: sanad and matan; those who narrate it are called sanad and the text is called matan.

Hadith belong to three categories: qawli, fa'ali, and taqrir. Qawli (Arabic qawli, saying) are hadith which were actually said by the Prophet; fa'ali hadith are based on his actions (Arabic fa'al, action). Taqrir hadith are based on the prophet's consent. Hadith may also be divided into marfu, those hadith which emanate directly from the prophet, mawqoof, those hadith narrated by the sahabas or companions of the Prophet, and maqtu, those hadith narrated by the tabi'in or associates of the companions. Depending on the number of narrators, hadith are further categorised into two: mutawatir and ahad. If the number of narrators at all levels is high, the hadith are called mutawatir; if the number of narrators is few, the hadith are ahad, which are further classified into three groups: mashhoor, aziz and gharib. Depending on the virtues of the narrators, hadith are called sahih, hasan and zayif.

The sayings of the Prophet were not compiled during his lifetime. Due to his apprehension that hadith might find their place into the quran, the Prophet initially instructed his companions not to write down the Hadith. Later, he gave the permission to selected number of his companions to compile them. Khalifa Umar bin Abdul Aziz started the work of collecting and compiling hadith. In response to his call, Ibn Shihab Zuhuri, Abu Bakr bin Hashem and others started the work of collecting and compiling hadith. They were followed in this task by Imam Ahmad, Imam Shafe'yi and Imam Malik. Later, six volumes of authentic hadith were compiled and became known as Siah Sitta.

People take recourse to the hadith for understanding the inner meaning of the Quran or the Islamic way of life. Hadith are cited in Friday congregations and religious discourses and are also used to decide between what is acceptable in Islam and what is not. Along with the Quran, hadith are also taught in the madrasahs and other educational institutions of Bangladesh. [Muhammad Abdul Baqi]