What was the message of Muhammed?
The message of Muhammed was essentially Tawheed. Tawheed is to believe in Allah in the correct manner (i.e. he is one, he has no partners and sons). We also believe that he is our Creator lord and Master. He created us for a purpose and we as Muslims try and follow Allah's will and plan so that we are fulfilling our purpose in this life.
Why did Allah create mankind?
Allah tells us in the Quran that he created us only so that we obey and worship him. To make this simple, Life is a test. Allah created us and given us free choice in this world to do whatever we want. Through this Allah wants to see how we live our lives - whether we will obey, worship and follow his command by our own free choice. If we follow Allah's will then he will reward us with Paradise .
If we worship other things when we are command to worship Allah alone, we do bad things when we are commanded to do good, when we ignore what Allah has said - Allah would then punish us by throwing us in Hell fire.
Therefore, we all have a choice in life, we can be Believers (people who believe in Allah and follow Allah's command) or we can be Kafirs (non-Believers - people who disobey Allah and don't believe in him). We have complete free choice in whatever we want to do in this life.
What did Muhammed bring?
The revelation that came to Muhammed were the words of Allah. These words came to Muhammed through the Angel Gibrael or Allah put them straight into the heart of Prophet Muhammed. This message was then recited to the people who use to memorise it and use it in prayers (salah). The prophet commanded his scribes to write it down. Once they had recorded it, they use to read it back to the prophet to make sure there was no mistakes.
This message is called the Quran. It has been preserved from those days until today - not one word or letter is different from then and today. A person who knows the Quran from start to finish is called a Hafiz. This message is still available to the whole world to study and learn.
How do we know that the Quran has never been changed?
The Quran is the world of Allah, Muslims have memorised this from the first days right until today. There has been millions of Hafiz throughout the world. The Prophet himself use to recite it in his prayers and the whole Quran to the Angel Jibrael in Ramadan. If the Quran had been changed then they would all have be reading it differently.
The faithful scribes recorded the Quran, they had read it back to the prophet when they had written it. All the copies of the Quran were identical in the early days. The Quran was collected together and a standard copy was made, copied and sent throughout the whole Muslim world. These copies are still with us today. There was a complete agreement between the companions of the prophet about what was in the Quran. All the Hafiz, who use to recite it in Ramadan, also use to recite it the same - they also completely agreed with the written copy. There has never been any other version of the Quran apart from the one we have today.
Allah guaranteed that the Quran would not be changed and he himself has promised that it will be kept pure until the day of judgement. Allah's promises are always true and there is no doubt in his words.
What does the Quran teach?
The Quran is a complete manual on how to live our lives. It tells us how to behave, to respect our parents and elders and to live as human beings are supposed to. It teaches us about what is right and what is wrong. The Quran also tells us about the things that we have never seen with our eyes (the Unseen) - the Angels and Jinn, Day of Judgement, Heaven and Hell. It tells us about the prophets in the past and how they lived and what trials and tribulations they were put through.
The Quran tells us about how Allah created the universe and everything in it. It tells us about his creation and gives examples of its perfect harmony. It tells us how the universe works, the stars, sun, mountains.
The Quran tells us about Allah and his qualities (attributes and names), about his mercy and about his wrath. It helps us understand Allah better so that we can appreciate his bounties and become better human beings.
The Quran reasons with the human soul and forces it to face life and search for the truth. It asks us to use our minds and reason, which Allah has given us, that will lead us to the universal truth that Allah is one. We will also know Allah's prophet whom He sent to deliver the final message and come closer to Allah through the prophets teachings and advise.
What is the Hadith?
A hadith is information about the prophet- what the prophet did throughout his mission, what he said, how he treated people, what advise he gave. This is basically the prophet in action. The prophet use to live by the Quran and everything he did was according to the Quran, therefore his life becomes an example to us - the Quranic teachings in action.
Who wrote the Hadith?
The Hadith were originally oral transmission of information. This information was passed down and finally collected by some great scholars like Iman Bukhari and Muslim. They went to great lengths to prove that the Hadith they collected were true and had not been changed when the information was passed down. They classified the Hadith through the chain of narrators as authentic (Sahih), Good (Hasan), Weak (daif) and fabricated (mowzuh).
The Hadith has four parts
The sanad - the chain of narration
The Matan - the text of the Hadith
The Ikhraj - Collector of the Hadith
The Classification of the Hadith
The scholars in the past specialised in checking the sanads and checking the hadith through as many sources as possible. This helped to preserve the hadith and give us a good and reliable source of information about the prophet.
Which are the most common books of Hadith?
The most famous books of Hadith are the Sahih Six. These six of the most authenic and agreed upon Hadith from all the books available.