What Is the Holy Saying (Hadith Qudsi)?

A saying (hadith) is synonymous with speech (kalam) in meaning. It is called a ‘hadith’, saying, in consideration of its renewal and step-by-step occurrence.

As for ‘quds’(lit. holy, divine),it means the pure. When a saying is qualified by the ‘holy’ or the ‘divine’, it denotes the divine words sent down not out of inimitability or challenge. Based on this, the Holy Qur’an is not called, according to the conventional application, a holy saying, even though it is a divine speech.

As regards the manner of the transmission of the holy saying to us, it is through the prophets and their executors.

On the meaning of the holy saying, Ayatollah Shaykh Ja‘far Subhani thus explains: The holy saying is a divine speech revealed not out of inimitability and is related by one of the prophets or the executors, such as His words: ‘Fasting belong to Me, and I will recompense it’. One ofthe differences between it and the Qur’an is that the latter has been revealed for the sake of challenge and inimitability, counter to the holy saying. For the Messenger of God (upon whom) used to deliver spiritual counsels to his Companions, which he related from his Lord (exalted and majestic be He). These were neither a revelation sent down so it may be called a Qur’an, nor were they an explicit tradition traced back to himself directly so it may be called a hadith. Rather, these were sayings which the Prophet carefully purposed to introduce with words indicative of their ascription to God’s words:, so that he would clearly state that his task was to relate them from God with a style that was distinctly different from that of the Qur’an. Nonetheless, it includes a breeze from the realm of holiness, a light from the world of the unseen, and an awe from the Possessor of Majesty and Munificence. These are the holy sayings which are also called the divine or lordly sayings.[1]

In this connection too, the scholar Martyr Sayyid Hasan al-Shirazi says: It (the holy saying) is the pure word that God has preserved from the excessively elegant clear statement. He has not adorned it with inimitability because He has withheld it except from the possessors of brilliant intellects free from the turbidity of sense-intuitions and suppositions. It is then the word of God, and the word of God is the highest. Does any word in the earth or the heaven ascend to the word of God, with the exception of the Qur’an, that Book wherein there is not doubt from the Lord of the worlds?[2] He also mentions: With all that the holy saying became the twin brother of the Qur’an, that came to perform the role of the Qur’an among bygone communities and to help perfect the task of the Qur’an among the best community ever brought forth for mankind.[3]

Examples of Holy Sayings

1. God (high exalted be He) revealed to David: ‘Tell My servants, I have not created you in order to profit from you, or rather, in order for you to profit through Me’.[4]

Moses (upon whom be peace) said: ‘O my Lord! Which acts are better with You? He said: Love for children. For I have originated them with a disposition to My Unity. If I make them to die, I admit them by My mercy to My Garden.’[5]

2. The Prophet (upon whom) said: ‘God (glory be to Him) says, I am the best partner. He who associates a partner with Me in his act, it will be to his partner to the exclusion of Me. For I only accept that which is purely dedicated to Me.’

‘My servant! I have created things for your sake, and I have created you for My sake. I have given you the world through doing good ( to men) and the afterworld through faith.’[6]

3. God (high exalted be He) said: ‘When I desire to bring together the good of the world and the afterworld for a Muslim, I appoint for him a humble heart, a remembering tongue, a body that bears patiently the trials and tribulations, and a faithful wife who pleases him when he looks at her and safeguards him when he is absent in respect to her soul and his property.’[7]

Books on the Holy Saying

A number of scholars devoted books to the holy saying, so they collected a great number from among those of them which they chose or could collect. Among these scholars are the following:

1. The master of traditionists Muhammad ibn al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali al-Husayn al-Hurr al-‘Amili (may God sanctify his pure soul). He compiled a book on the holy sayings which he entitled al-Jawahir al-Saniyyah fi al-Ahadith al-Qudsiyyah (The Splendid Jewels in the Holy Sayings). The book was published in 1405/1984 by al-Wafa Institute in Beirut, Lebanon.

2. Ayatollah Martyr Sayyid Hasan al-Shirazi. He composed a book in which he collected a number of the holy sayings under the title Kalimat Allah (The Word of God ) published by al-Wafa Institute, Beirut.

Collection & Translation by www.darolhadith.net

1. Subhani, Ayatollah Ja‘far, Usul al-Hadith wa Ahkamuh fi ‘Ilm al-Dirayah. (Qum: Imam al-Sadiq Institute, 1414).

2. Kalimat Allah, p.18.

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid., p.169.

5. Ibid., p.23.

6. Ibid., p.169.

7. Ibid., p.191.