Quran and Hadith
"Alif Laam Raa. A book which we have revealed to you (Muhammad) so that you may lead the people from out of the darknesses into the light by their Lord's leave to the path of the All-Mighty, the Praiseworthy." [Qur'an 14:1]
What is the Qur'an?
The Qur'an is a Message from Allah to humanity. It was transmitted to us in a chain starting from the Almighty Himself (swt) to the angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad (saas). This message was given to the Prophet (saas) in pieces over a period spanning approximately 23 years (610 CE to 622 CE). The Prophet (saas) was 40 years old when the Qur'an began to be revealed to him, and he was 63 when the revelation was completed. The language of the original message was Arabic, but it has been translated into many other languages.
What is the Hadith?
In Islam, the Arabic word sunnah has come to denote the way Prophet Muhammad (saas), the Messenger of Allah, lived his life. The Sunnah is the second source of Islamic jurisprudence, the first being the Qur'an. Both sources are indispensable; one cannot practice Islam without consulting both of them. The Arabic word hadith (pl. ahadith) is very similar to Sunnah, but not identical. A hadith is a narration about the life of the Prophet (saas) or what he approved - as opposed to his life itself, which is the Sunnah as already mentioned.
Sahih Bukhari Volume 1, Book 2, Number 47:
Narrated 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."
Is it important to know the Quran?
The Qur'an is one leg of two which form the basis of Islam. The second leg is the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh). What makes the Qur'an different from the Sunnah is primarily its form. Unlike the Sunnah, the Qur'an is quite literally the Word of Allah, whereas the Sunnah was inspired by Allah but the wording and actions are the Prophet's. The Qur'an has not been expressed using any human's words. Its wording is letter for letter fixed by no one but Allah.
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was the final Messenger of Allah to humanity, and therefore the Qur'an is the last Message which Allah has sent to us. Its predecessors such as the Torah, Psalms, and Gospels have all been superceded. It is an obligation - and blessing - for all who hear of the Qur'an and Islam to investigate it and evaluate it for themselves.
Allah has guaranteed that He will protect the Qur'an from human tampering, and today's readers can find exact copies of it all over the world. The Qur'an of today is the same as the Qur'an revealed to Muhammad (pbuh).