People of the traditions (of the Prophet). Also ashab al-hadith. The characterization refers to the adherents of the powerful movement of the late second and third centuries of Islam (late eighth and ninth centuries C.E.) that insisted on the authority of the traditions (hadith) attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, as against the informed “opinions” (ray) on which many contemporary juristic schools based their legal reasoning. This movement played a critical role in the emergence of Sunni Islam.