The scholars of Hadith have differentiated between two distinct types of Hadith which are termed as al-Hadith an-Nabawi and al-Hadith al-Qudsi. The former being restricted to the sayings of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), while the latter pertains to the sayings of the Prophet through the medium of Divine inspiration. Al-Quds means holy or sacred. The sayings that are termed as al-Qudsi are such that while the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was relating them to his Companions (may Allah be pleased with them), he mentioned that Allah, in effect, had communicated them to him. However, these communications do not form part of the Qur’an.
Such reports are included within the category of al-Hadith al-Qudsi. An example of this type of Hadith is one which had been reported by Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) in which it is mentioned that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said that Allah said: “If My servant likes to meet Me, I will love to meet him.”
While the common factor between al-Hadith al-Qudsi and the Qur’an is that both contain words from Allah which were revealed to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), they are nevertheless distinct from each other as pointed out hereunder:
1. The Holy Qur’an contains the verbatim words of Allah, while al-Hadith al-Qudsi contains the message of Allah conveyed to the people by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) in his own words.
2. The Holy Qur’an is inimitable and unique, but such is not the case with al-Hadith al-Qudsi. This is so because the latter is not the verbatim word of Allah.
3. The Holy Qur’an is recited in every prayer but al-Hadith al-Qudsi cannot be recited in any prayer.”
Elaborating on the differences between Hadith Qudsi and Hadith Nabawi and between it and the Qur’an, we’d like to cite for you the following:
“A Hadith Qudsi (plural Ahadith Qudsiyyah) is a statement where Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) reports a statement and he refers it directly to Allah. The regular Hadith or what is generally known as a Hadith Nabawi is a Hadith where one of the Companions reports the Prophet’s statements, his deeds, or things that happened in his presence and he approved of them. There are more than one hundred Ahadith Qudsiyah. They are very beautiful and deal mostly with spiritual and ethical subjects.
Sometimes, people ask questions about the difference between the Qur’an and the Hadith Qudsi. They say that the Qur’an is the world of Allah and Hadith Qudsi also refers to Allah’s words, then how do they differ? The scholars of Hadith have mentioned five main differences between the Qur’an and the Hadith Qudsi:
1. The Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) verbatim, i.e. its words and meanings are both from Allah. The Hadith Qudsi was not a verbatim revelation, its words are from the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).
2. The Qur’an was revealed via Angel Jibreel while Hadith Qudsi may have been inspired by other ways, such as in the form of a dream.
3. The words of the Qur’an are miraculous or inimitable (mu’jizah) while the words of the Hadith Qudsi are not of this nature.
4. The Qur’an is recited in formal prayers (salah) but the Hadith Qudsi cannot be recited in prayers.
5. One is not allowed to touch the Qur’an in the state of Janabah (post-sexual impurity), while there is no such prohibition for touching the books of Hadith Qudsi.”