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The Hadith of Muhammad

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    This resource has been prepared by John Terry (2021). The following excerpts of the Hadith of Muhammad are adapted from the Internet Sacred Texts Archive, and the copyright information on this translation by M. Muhsin Khan can be found here for these Hadith in particular and here for the web source generally. 

    What is a Hadith?

    A Hadith is a brief account of an activity or saying of the prophet Muhammad, (c. 570-632). While the Quran (alternately spelled Qur'an or Koran) was established as the holy book of Islam by around 650, the Hadiths were not formally collected until the 9th and 10th centuries but were seen by many medieval Muslims and are indeed by many modern Muslims to be complimentary texts to the Quran. The Hadiths are part of what constitutes the Sunna, or code for moral behavior.

    Muhammad's Life and Context

    Muhammad was probably born around 570 CE into a merchant family and, as a young man, married Khadija, a wealthy widow about 15 years older than him. They had four daughters together, and one son who did not survive infancy. Their daughter Fatima would marry Muhammad’s cousin Ali, producing Muhammad’s main family line. According to various biographical accounts of Muhammad’s life, he tended to meditate on his own in the desert and did not engage much in the traditional sacrifices and rituals of the region. When he was about 40 (c. 610), he was meditating in the cave of Hira outside of Mecca and the angel Gabriel appeared, commanding him to

    Read, O Prophet, in the Name of your Lord Who created—

    Created man from an embedded clot.

    Read! And your Lord is the Most Generous,

    Who taught by the pen—

    taught humanity what they knew not.2

    Quran basically means “the Recitation,” and Muhammad was to be the very last and most respected prophet of the God of Abraham. His recitation preaches “submission” (Islam) to the one true God and a rejection of idols. He recited his revelations to scribes, and his very first supporters were among his family: Khadija encouraged him, even taking him to a Christian cousin of hers who immediately understood Muhammad’s pedigree as a prophet.3 Some family members believed him, and this forms the core early group of believers––the first Muslims (or “those who submit”).

    Seen historically, Islam is a religion that perhaps shouldn’t have succeeded; in fact, the Quran even emphasizes that “there is no compulsion in religion,” (Quran 2:256) and “to you your religion, to me mine.”4 But it did succeed based in part on the charisma of Muhammad. The Hadiths and related traditions help answer this crucial question: why was Islam successful?

    Arabian Peninsula, c. 500-700

    Muhammad’s Arabia lies beyond the major empires of Rome (known by modern people as “Byzantium” during the medieval period) and Persia (dominated by the Sassanians and their series of rulers each known as the “King of Kings”). Inland Arabia was relatively dry and barren, with trade routes crisscrossing desert landscapes. Larger populations were better supported in what is now Yemen, in the southern part of the peninsula. There, coastal cities supported by lucrative Indian Ocean and Red Sea trade routes (transporting spices and precious metals from south Asia and east Africa) boasted their own indigenous spices such as myrrh.

    Religiously, Arabia was a mix of indigenous polytheistic religions as well as monotheistic religions such as Judaism and Christianity. By the time of Muhammad, a new way of social organization was dominated by the Quraysh, which usually translates to something like “the Association” in English. The Quraysh was basically a large network kinship groups that governed the various regions of Arabia; it was the Quraysh that banished Muhammad from his native Mecca out of fear of competition for authority, causing him to embark on his hijra ("flight" or "departure") to Medina.

    The Hadith as History

    There are a few things to look for when reading Hadiths:

    1. Many Hadiths have two parts: the isnad (transmitters, or chain of transmitters), and the matn (the main text)
    2. Which details stand out as interesting or peculiar? What do you think these details tell us about the society that produced the Hadiths?
    3. Many Hadiths seem very specific. Try to contextualize them by thinking about the society Muhammad (and his successors) was trying to transform.

    The Hadiths are basically the sayings, deeds, and actions of Muhammad. They are distinct from the Quran but they provide blueprints for ways to live a holy life based on the life of the Prophet himself. Unlike the Quran, which was codified by the 650s, the Hadiths were not written down during Muhammad’s life––some of them were even fabricated later. Ulama have spent entire careers through the centuries determining which Hadiths were later forgeries and which were genuine. From there, the Hadiths exist as a constellation of notes and stories and in a way their “authenticity” matters less than their impact on medieval and modern Islamic culture. The Hadiths also help answer crucial theological questions about heaven and hell, the nature of God, and even apocalypse, none of which are directly engaged in the Quran in a sustained way.

    “The Quran is the fount of Islamic doctrine, but it is not a legal manual. Only a small portion of its verses address legal matters, ad even practices as fundamental as the five daily prayers are found nowhere in the holy book. Instead, it is the Sunnah of the Prophet that has provided the bulk of the Shariah [concept of holy law]. Muhammad’s words, deeds, habits, and rulings are seen by the ulama (Muslim scholars) as explaining, implementing, and adding to the Quran . . . The Sunnah of the Prophet was transmitted from him primarily through Hadiths, or reports about Muhammad’s words and deeds. Recalled by the Prophet’s Companions, Hadiths were transmitted from them by their students. The second degeneration of Muslims began setting down Hadiths, which had until then generally been transmitted orally, in written form in the early 700s. Along with the Quran, the legal rulings of the Companions and the legal opinions of the early ulama, Hadiths became a major component in the Muslim effort to answer the question that lies at the heart of the Shariah: ‘Which actions are pleasing or displeasing to God?’”5


    Sahih Bukhari 1.2.76

    Narrated By Ibn 'Umar.7 Allah's Apostle said: Islam is based on (the following) five (principles):

    1. To testify that none has the right to be worshiped but Allah and Muhammad is Allah's Apostle.

    2. To offer the (compulsory congregational) prayers dutifully and perfectly.

    3. To pay Zakat (i.e. obligatory charity)

    4. To perform Hajj (i.e. Pilgrimage to Mecca)

    5. To observe fast during the month of Ramadan.

    Sahih Bukhari 1.2.10

    Narrated By Abu Musa.8 Some people asked Allah's Apostle, "Whose Islam is the best? i.e. (Who is a very good Muslim)?" He replied, "One who avoids harming the Muslims with his tongue and hands."

    Sahih Bukhari 1.2.11

    Narrated By 'Abdullah bin 'Amr.9 A man asked the Prophet , "What sort of deeds or (what qualities of) Islam are good?" The Prophet replied, "To feed (the poor) and greet those whom you know and those whom you do not know."

    Sahih Bukhari 1.2.12

    Narrated By Anas.10 The Prophet said, "None of you will have faith till he wishes for his (Muslim) brother what he likes for himself."

    Sahih Bukhari 1.2.30

    Narrated By Al-Ahnaf bin Qais.11 While I was going to help this man ('Ali Ibn Abi Talib), Abu Bakra met me and asked, "Where are you going?" I replied, "I am going to help that person." He said, "Go back for I have heard Allah's Apostle saying, 'When two Muslims fight (meet) each other with their swords, both the murderer as well as the murdered will go to the Hell-fire.' I said, 'O Allah's Apostle! It is all right for the murderer but what about the murdered one?' Allah's Apostle replied, "He surely had the intention to kill his companion."

    Sahih Bukhari 1.2.32

    Narrated By Abu Huraira.12 The Prophet said, "The signs of a hypocrite are three:

    1. Whenever he speaks, he tells a lie.

    2. Whenever he promises, he always breaks it (his promise).

    3. If you trust him, he proves to be dishonest. (If you keep something as a trust with him, he will not return it.)"

    Sahih Bukhari 1.2.37

    Narrated By Abu Huraira. Allah's Apostle said, "Whoever observes fasts during the month of Ramadan out of sincere faith, and hoping to attain Allah's rewards, then all his past sins will be forgiven."

    Sahih Bukhari 1.2.47

    Narrated By Abu Huraira. One day while the Prophet was sitting in the company of some people, (The angel) Gabriel came and asked, "What is faith?" Allah's Apostle replied, 'Faith is to believe in Allah, His angels, (the) meeting with Him, His Apostles, and to believe in Resurrection." Then he further asked, "What is Islam?" Allah's Apostle replied, "To worship Allah Alone and none else, to offer prayers perfectly to pay the compulsory charity (Zakat) and to observe fasts during the month of Ramadan." Then he further asked, "What is Ihsan (perfection)?" Allah's Apostle replied, "To worship Allah as if you see Him, and if you cannot achieve this state of devotion then you must consider that He is looking at you." Then he further asked, "When will the Hour be established?" Allah's Apostle replied, "The answerer has no better knowledge than the questioner. But I will inform you about its portents.

    1. When a slave (lady) gives birth to her master.

    2. When the shepherds of black camels start boasting and competing with others in the construction of higher buildings. And the Hour is one of five things which nobody knows except Allah.

    The Prophet then recited: "Verily, with Allah (Alone) is the knowledge of the Hour..." (31. 34) Then that man (Gabriel) left and the Prophet asked his companions to call him back, but they could not see him. Then the Prophet said, "That was Gabriel who came to teach the people their religion." Abu 'Abdullah said: He (the Prophet) considered all that as a part of faith.

    Sahih Bukhari 1.6.302

    Narrated By 'Aisha.13 We set out with the Prophet for Hajj and when we reached Sarif I got my menses. When the Prophet came to me, I was weeping. He asked, "Why are you weeping?" I said, "I wish if I had not performed Hajj this year." He asked, "May be that you got your menses?" I replied, "Yes." He then said, "This is the thing which Allah has ordained for all the daughters of Adam. So do what all the pilgrims do except that you do not perform the Tawaf round the Ka'ba till you are clean."

    Sahih Bukhari 1.6.305

    Narrated By 'Aisha. Whenever anyone of us got her menses, she, on becoming clean, used to take hold of the blood spot and rub the blood off her garment, and pour water over it and wash that portion thoroughly and sprinkle water over the rest of the garment. After that she would pray in (with) it.

    Sahih Bukhari 1.6.315

    Narrated By Anas bin Malik. The Prophet said, "At every womb Allah appoints an angel who says, 'O Lord! A drop of semen, O Lord! A clot. O Lord! A little lump of flesh." Then if Allah wishes (to complete) its creation, the angel asks, (O Lord!) Will it be a male or female, a wretched or a blessed, and how much will his provision be? And what will his age be?' So all that is written while the child is still in the mother's womb."

    Sahih Bukhari 1.17.125

    Narrated By 'Abdullah bin Zaid. The Prophet went towards the Musalla and invoked Allah for rain. He faced the Qibla and wore his cloak inside out, and offered two Rakat.

    Sahih Bukhari 2.17.126

    Narrated By Sharik bin 'Abdullah bin Abi Namir. I heard Anas bin Malik saying, "On a Friday a person entered the main Mosque through the gate facing the pulpit while Allah's Apostle was delivering the Khutba.14 The man stood in front of Allah's Apostle and said, 'O Allah's Apostle! The livestock are dying and the roads are cut off; so please pray to Allah for rain.' " Anas added, "Allah's Apostle (p.b.u.h) raised both his hands and said, 'O Allah! Bless us with rain! O Allah! Bless us with rain! O Allah! Bless us with rain!' " Anas added, "By Allah, we could not see any trace of cloud in the sky and there was no building or a house between us and (the mountains of) Sila." Anas added, "A heavy cloud like a shield appeared from behind it (i.e. Sila' Mountain). When it came in the middle of the sky, it spread and then rained." Anas further said, "By Allah! We could not see the sun for a week. Next Friday a person entered through the same gate and at that time Allah's Apostle was delivering the Friday's Khutba. The man stood in front of him and said, 'O Allah's Apostle! The livestock are dying and the roads are cut off, please pray to Allah to with-hold rain.' " Anas added, "Allah's Apostle I raised both his hands and said, 'O Allah! Round about us and not on us. O Allah! On the plateaus, on the mountains, on the hills, in the valleys and on the places where trees grow.' So the rain stopped and we came out walking in the sun." Sharik asked Anas whether it was the same person who had asked for the rain (the last Friday). Anas replied that he did not know.

    Sahih Bukhari 2.18.152

    Narrated By Ibn 'Umar. The Prophet said, "The sun and the moon do not eclipse because of the death or life (i.e. birth) of someone but they are two signs amongst the signs of Allah. When you see them offer the prayer."

    Sahih Bukhari 2.26.596

    Narrated By Abu Huraira. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "Whoever performs Hajj for Allah's pleasure and does not have sexual relations with his wife, and does not do evil or sins then he will return (after Hajj free from all sins) as if he were born anew."

    Sahih Bukhari 2.26.601

    Narrated By Ibn Abbas.15 Allah's Apostle had fixed Dhul Hulaifa as the Miqat16 for the people of Medina; Al-Juhfa for the people of Sham; and Qarn Ul-Manazil for the people of Najd; and Yalamlam for the people of Yemen. So, these (above mentioned) are the Mawaqit for all those living at those places, and besides them for those who come through those places with the intention of performing Hajj and 'Umra and whoever lives within these places should assume Ihram17 from his dwelling place, and similarly the people of Mecca can assume lhram from Mecca.

    Sahih Bukhari 3.46.693

    Narrated By Abu Huraira. The Prophet said, "Whoever frees a Muslim slave, Allah will save all the parts of his body from the (Hell) Fire as he has freed the body-parts of the slave." Said bin Marjana said that he narrated that Hadith to 'Ali bin Al-Husain and he freed his slave for whom 'Abdullah bin Ja'far had offered him ten thousand Dirhams or one-thousand Dinars.

    Sahih Bukhari Volume 3.46.709

    Narrated By Qais : When Abu Huraira accompanied by his slave came intending to embrace Islam, they lost each other on the way. (When the slave showed up) Abu Huraira said (to the Prophet), "I make you witness that the slave is free for Allah's Cause."

    Sahih Bukhari 3.49.856

    Narrated By Anas : It was said to the Prophet "Would that you see Abdullah bin Ubai." So, the Prophet went to him, riding a donkey, and the Muslims accompanied him, walking on salty barren land. When the Prophet reached 'Abdullah bin Ubai, the latter said, "Keep away from me! By Allah, the bad smell of your donkey has harmed me." On that an Ansari man said (to 'Abdullah), "By Allah! The smell of the donkey of Allah's Apostle is better than your smell." On that a man from 'Abdullah's tribe got angry for 'Abdullah's sake, and the two men abused each other which caused the friends of the two men to get angry, and the two groups started fighting with sticks, shoes and hands. We were informed that the following Divine Verse was revealed (in this concern): "And if two groups of Believers fall to fighting then, make peace between them." (49.9)

    Sahih Bukhari 4.52.49

    Narrated By Samura : The Prophet said, "Last night two men came to me (in a dream) and made me ascend a tree and then admitted me into a better and superior house, better of which I have never seen. One of them said, 'This house is the house of martyrs."

    Sahih Bukhari 4.52.83

    Narrated By Anas bin Malik : The Prophet said, "Plauge is the cause of martyrdom of every Muslim (who dies because of it)."

    Sahih Bukhari 4.52.88

    Narrated By Anas : The Emigrants and the Ansar started digging the trench around Medina carrying the earth on their backs and saying, "We are those who have given a pledge of allegiance to Muhammad that we will I carry on Jihad as long as we live." The Prophet kept on replying, "O Allah, there is no good except the good of the Hereafter; so confer Your Blessings on the Ansar and the Emigrants."

    Sahih Bukhari 7.69.481

    Narrated By Ibn 'Umar : Allah's Apostle said, "Whoever drinks alcoholic drinks in the world and does not repent (before dying), will be deprived of it in the Hereafter."

    Sahih Bukhari 7.69.484

    Narrated By Abu Huraira : The Prophet said, "An adulterer, at the time he is committing illegal sexual intercourse is not a believer; and a person, at the time of drinking an alcoholic drink is not a believer; and a thief, at the time of stealing, is not a believer." Ibn Shihab said: 'Abdul Malik bin Abi Bakr bin 'Abdur-Rahman bin Al- Harith bin Hisham told me that Abu Bakr used to narrate that narration to him on the authority of Abu Huraira. He used to add that Abu Bakr used to mention, besides the above cases, "And he who robs (takes illegally something by force) while the people are looking at him, is not a believer at the time he is robbing (taking)."

    Sahih Bukhari 4.55.657

    Narrated By Abu Huraira : Allah's Apostle said, "By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, surely (Jesus,) the son of Mary will soon descend amongst you and will judge mankind justly (as a Just Ruler); he will break the Cross and kill the pigs and there will be no Jizya (i.e. taxation taken from non Muslims). Money will be in abundance so that nobody will accept it, and a single prostration to Allah (in prayer) will be better than the whole world and whatever is in it." Abu Huraira added "If you wish, you can recite (this verse of the Holy Book): 'And there is none Of the people of the Scriptures (Jews and Christians) But must believe in him (i.e Jesus as an Apostle of Allah and a human being) Before his death. And on the Day of Judgment He will be a witness Against them." (4.159) (See Fateh Al Bari, Page 302 Vol 7)

    Sahih Bukhari 1.8.345

    Narrated By Abu Dhar : Allah's Apostle said, "While I was at Mecca the roof of my house was opened and Gabriel descended, opened my chest, and washed it with Zam-zam water. Then he brought a golden tray full of wisdom and faith and having poured its contents into my chest, he closed it. Then he took my hand and ascended with me to the nearest heaven, when I reached the nearest heaven, Gabriel said to the gatekeeper of the heaven, 'Open (the gate).' The gatekeeper asked, 'Who is it?' Gabriel answered: 'Gabriel.' He asked, 'Is there anyone with you?' Gabriel replied, 'Yes, Muhammad I is with me.' He asked, 'Has he been called?' Gabriel said, 'Yes.' So the gate was opened and we went over the nearest heaven and there we saw a man sitting with some people on his right and some on his left. When he looked towards his right, he laughed and when he looked toward his left he wept. Then he said, 'Welcome! O pious Prophet and pious son.' I asked Gabriel, 'Who is he?' He replied, 'He is Adam and the people on his right and left are the souls of his offspring. Those on his right are the people of Paradise and those on his left are the people of Hell and when he looks towards his right he laughs and when he looks towards his left he weeps.'

    Sahih Bukhari 1.8.345

    Then he ascended with me till he reached the second heaven and he (Gabriel) said to its gatekeeper, 'Open (the gate).' The gatekeeper said to him the same as the gatekeeper of the first heaven had said and he opened the gate. Anas said: "Abu Dhar added that the Prophet met Adam, Idris, Moses, Jesus and Abraham, he (Abu Dhar) did not mention on which heaven they were but he mentioned that he (the Prophet) met Adarn on the nearest heaven and Abraham on the sixth heaven. Anas said, "When Gabriel along with the Prophet passed by Idris, the latter said, 'Welcome! O pious Prophet and pious brother.' The Prophet asked, 'Who is he?' Gabriel replied, 'He is Idris." The Prophet added, "I passed by Moses and he said, 'Welcome! O pious Prophet and pious brother.' I asked Gabriel, 'Who is he?' Gabriel replied, 'He is Moses.' Then I passed by Jesus and he said, 'Welcome! O pious brother and pious Prophet.' I asked, 'Who is he?' Gabriel replied, 'He is Jesus.

    Then I passed by Abraham and he said, 'Welcome! O pious Prophet and pious son.' I asked Gabriel, 'Who is he?' Gabriel replied, 'He is Abraham. The Prophet added, 'Then Gabriel ascended with me to a place where I heard the creaking of the pens." Ibn Hazm and Anas bin Malik said: The Prophet said, "Then Allah enjoined fifty prayers on my followers when I returned with this order of Allah, I passed by Moses who asked me, 'What has Allah enjoined on your followers?' I replied, 'He has enjoined fifty prayers on them.' Moses said, 'Go back to your Lord (and appeal for reduction) for your followers will not be able to bear it.' (So I went back to Allah and requested for reduction) and He reduced it to half. When I passed by Moses again and informed him about it, he said, 'Go back to your Lord as your followers will not be able to bear it.' So I returned to Allah and requested for further reduction and half of it was reduced. I again passed by Moses and he said to me: 'Return to your Lord, for your followers will not be able to bear it. So I returned to Allah and He said, 'These are five prayers and they are all (equal to) fifty (in reward) for My Word does not change.' I returned to Moses and he told me to go back once again. I replied, 'Now I feel shy of asking my Lord again.' Then Gabriel took me till we '' reached Sidrat-il-Muntaha (Lote tree of; the utmost boundry) which was shrouded in colors, indescribable. Then I was admitted into Paradise where I found small (tents or) walls (made) of pearls and its earth was of musk."

    Sahih Bukhari 4.55.657

    Narrated By Abu Huraira : Allah's Apostle said, "By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, surely (Jesus,) the son of Mary will soon descend amongst you and will judge mankind justly (as a Just Ruler); he will break the Cross and kill the pigs and there will be no Jizya (i.e. taxation taken from non Muslims). Money will be in abundance so that nobody will accept it, and a single prostration to Allah (in prayer) will be better than the whole world and whatever is in it." Abu Huraira added "If you wish, you can recite (this verse of the Holy Book): 'And there is none Of the people of the Scriptures (Jews and Christians) But must believe in him (i.e Jesus as an Apostle of Allah and a human being) Before his death. And on the Day of Judgment He will be a witness Against them." (4.159) (See Fateh Al Bari, Page 302 Vol 7)

    Sahih Bukhari Volume 4.55.658

    Narrated By Abu Huraira : Allah's Apostle said "How will you be when the son of Mary (i.e. Jesus) descends amongst you and he will judge people by the Law of the Quran and not by the law of Gospel (Fateh-ul Bari page 304 and 305 Vol 7)


    [1] AH means anno hijri––"year of the hijra," or flight/departure to Medina after Muhammad was exiled from Mecca. The "hijra year" begins its count in 622 CE and is calculated by the lunar calendar.

    [2] Quran 96:1-5

    [3] Quran 21:107

    [4] Quran 109:6

    [5] Jonathan Brown, Muhammad: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 103.

    [6] This notation refers, in order, to volume number, book number, and hadith number.

    [7] Abdullah ibn Umar (d. 693) was a companion of Muhammad and seen as a major compiler of Hadiths in the 7th century.

    [8] Abu Musa al-Ash'ari (d. 672) was another companion of Muhammad and a pivotal figure in the conquest of Persia.

    [9] 'Abd Allah ibn 'Amr ibn al-'As (d. 684) was another companion of Muhammad and a compiler of Hadiths and took part in governing Egypt after the conquest there.

    [10] Anas ibn Malik (d. 712) was a young servant and companion of Muhammad's.

    [11] Al-Ahnaf bin Qais was a tribal leader of the Banu Tamim who accepted Islam after Muhammad sent a missionary to him.

    [12] According to medieval Sunni scholars, Abu Huraira produced among the largest collection of Hadiths.

    [13] ʿĀʾishah bint Abī Bakr, or Aisha, was Muhammad's third wife. In the various biographical Lives of Muhammad she is presented as a scholarly figure. She was the daughter of the caliph Abu Bakr and even led troops in battle against the third caliph Uthman.

    [14] Sermons.

    [15] Abd Allah Ibn Abbas (d. 687) was a cousin of Muhammad and an interpreter of the Quran.

    [16] A miqat is a sacred boundary through which pilgrims performing the hajj must pass. Beyond the miqat many activities are prohibited.

    [17] Ihram is the status of holiness pilgrims should achieve before passing through the miqat.

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