Difference between the Qur’an, the Hadith Qudsi and the Prophetic Hadith

Difference between the Qur’an, the Hadith Qudsi and the Prophetic Hadith
The Qur’an has been conveyed to the Prophet (peace be upon him) in word and meaning.
By Editorial Staff

The Messengers of Allah (Glory be to Him) are the most chosen ones whom Allah has entrusted with the mission of conveying His revelation to people. Those Prophets (peace be upon them) are by no means divine. They derive their authority from the divine mission with which they are entrusted as well as the lasting revelation that descended down to them with the purpose of regulating people’s life, maintaining their beliefs, and organizing the relationship between them and God. So, the Messengers of Allah are purely human while their messages are purely divine.

Our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the last of the Prophets (peace be upon them all) who received the Qur’an, the last divine scripture. However, the Qur’an is not everything that he received from God because there are other forms of revelation that came from God to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). These types of revelation include the Qudsi hadith and the Prophetic hadith. In this article, I will shed light on the main differences between the three types of revelation: the Qur’an, the Qudsi hadith and the hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in order to remove any related confusion.

The Qur’an

The Qur’an is the Book of Allah that He (Glory be to Him) has revealed to Prophet Muhammad and conveyed by Jibril (peace be upon him) from Allah to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). It is the very words that Muslims recite in the Prayers, schools or elsewhere. God says,

Indeed, this Qur’an guides to that which is most suitable and gives good tidings to the believers who do righteous deeds that they will have a great reward. (Al-Israa’ 17:9)

Say, “Whoever is an enemy to Gabriel – it is [none but] he who has brought the Qur’an down upon your heart, [O Muhammad], by permission of Allah , confirming that which was before it and as guidance and good tidings for the believers.” (Al-Baqarah 2:97)

The Qur’an has been transmitted to the Prophet (peace be upon him) in word and meaning in the sense that the articulation, the words, the coinage, the division of verses, the classification and order of chapters, the very vowels and constants, the styles of recitations, etc. are utterly divine, without any interference from anyone, even the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself. The job of the Prophet (peace be upon him) was to convey, interpret implement the Qur’an among all people. The companions of the Prophet wrote the Qur’an down from the tongue of the Prophet and memorized it, taught it to people who memorized it and learnt its exegesis. Then, generations circulated the Qur’an by memory and writing until it reached us today. Therefore, every word we read now from the Qur’an is from the speech of Allah (Glory be to Him). Almighty Allah says,

Indeed, upon Us is its collection [in your heart] and [to make possible] its recitation. So when We have recited it [through Gabriel], then follow its recitation. (Al-Muddaththir 75:17-18)

This (the Qur’an) is a revelation from the Lord of the worlds. And if he (Muhammad) had made up about Us some [false] sayings, We surely should have seized him by his right hand, And then certainly should have cut off his life artery (Aorta). (Al-Haqqah 69:43-46)

  • Scholars are agreed that it is not permissible to narrate the Qur’an by meaning, but one must stick to the very words taken from the Prophet (peace be upon him).
  • Reciting the Qur’an is a ritual act for which a Muslim is rewarded abundantly and generously by Allah. God says,

Indeed, those who recite the Book of Allah and establish prayer and spend [in His cause] out of what We have provided them, secretly and publicly, [can] expect a profit that will never perish. That He may give them in full their rewards and increase for them of His bounty. Indeed, He is Forgiving and Appreciative. (Fatir 35:29-30)

  • Almighty God has challenged the Arabs as well as the whole humanity since the coming of Prophet Muhammad till the end of time to bring about a book like the Qur’an in its eloquence, teachings, legislation, articulation, values and morals. This challenge is also presented to the Jinn as well to bring a similar book but all have failed. The challenge was down to even one chapter like one of the chapters of the Qur’an, even the smallest one of it but failure remained until today, which proves the divinity of the book of Qur’an. Almighty Allah says,

And if you (Arab pagans, Jews, and Christians) are in doubt concerning that which We have sent down (i.e. the Quran) to Our slave (Muhammad Peace be upon him ), then produce a Surah (chapter) of the like thereof and call your witnesses (supporters and helpers) besides Allah, if you are truthful. (Al-Baqarah 2:23)

  • The Qur’an has been revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) occasionally and not all at once, in coincidence with the incidents that happened at the time of the Prophet, in response to the questions of people, as an explanation of the legislation of Islam, in defense of the Prophet against the accusations of his enemy, etc. Almighty Allah says,

And those who disbelieve say, “Why was the Qur’an not revealed to him all at once?” Thus [it is] that We may strengthen thereby your heart. And We have spaced it distinctly. (Al-Furqan 25:32)

  • It is required before reciting the Qur’an to be ritually pure from the major and minor impurities because the Qur’an must be kept above any kinds of impurities. God says,

That (Book of Allah) none should touch but the purified. (Al-Waqi`ah 56:79)

The Qudsi Hadith

The Qudsi or divine hadith is the revelation of Allah upon the Prophet (peace be upon him) but its wording is from the Prophet Muhammad, differing from the Qur’an. That is to say that Allah has inspired the Prophet with specific information belonging to Allah and then the Prophet transferred this information to people in his own words. Thereupon, the Qudsi hadiths neither hit the high status of the Qur’an nor they take the peculiarities of the Qur’an such as purity, reward or inimitability.

An example of the divine hadith is the following hadith narrated by Abu Dharr from Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) as saying that Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, said:

My servants, I have made oppression unlawful for Me and unlawful for you, so do not commit oppression against one another. My servants, all of you are liable to err except one whom I guide on the right path, so seek right guidance from Me so that I should direct you to the right path. O My servants, all of you are hungry (needy) except one whom I feed, so beg food from Me, so that I may give that to you. O My servants, all of you are naked (need clothes) except one whom I provide garments, so beg clothes from Me, so that I should clothe you. O My servants, you commit error night and day and I am there to pardon your sins, so beg pardon from Me so that I should grant you pardon…” (Muslim)

The Prophetic Hadith

According to the scholars of hadith, the Prophetic hadith refers to what has been narrated from the Prophet (peace be upon him) of his sayings, actions, approvals, or innate or moral characters. It is less in status than the Qudsi hadith being its word and meaning from the Prophet (peace be upon him). It is similar to the Qudsi hadith in terms of the lack of their inimitability, the stipulation of purity, etc. However, the hadiths of the Prophet (peace be upon him) are not a personal output of the Prophet but rather an inspired revelation from God the Almighty who says,

Your companion (Muhammad) has neither gone astray nor has erred. Nor does he speak from [his own] inclination. It is not but a revelation revealed. (An-Najm 53:2-4)

The below table illustrates the main differences between the three types of revelation in a simple way.

Similarity The Qur’an Hadith Qudsi Prophetic Hadith
Literal revelation
The author God God The Prophet
Occasional revelation
Recitation in the Prayer
Purity needed
Conveyed by Jibril Sometimes
Transferred by Tawatur (recurrent narration)
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