After the Qur'an itself, the hadith of the Prophet Muhammad form the most important foundation of Islamic thought. The hadith were accounts -- usually brief -- of the words and actions of the Prophet. As such, they were subjected to intense scrutiny by generations of Muslim scholars. Better know as the Muqaddima, Ibn al-Salah (1181-1245) composed this work while serving as the head of the Dar al-Hadith al-Ashrafiya in Damascus, one of the most prestigious institutions for the study of hadith in the Islamic world. Here he provides a complete overview of the science devoted to the study of the words and actions of the Prophet Muhammad, and also a guide to the terminology and techniques of the scholars of hadith as it summarizes most of the previous work on the subject and forms the basis of almost all later activity in the field. The book enjoyed immense popularity and influenced most subsequent writing on the subject.