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The Sunnah

Meaning: Literal & Technical

Authority of the Sunnah

Role of the Sunnah

Significance of the Sunnah
No devout Muslim would ever dare to go against the teachings of the
Quran and Sunnah, but it is regrettable to note that some of the
liberal Muslims today tend to raise the slogan that the Book of Allah
(i.e. the Quran) is sufficient and that there is no need at all for the
Sunnah of the Prophet (SAW). Slogans like this are raised mainly by
people who want to get rid of the Shariah the Islamic Law completely.
The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) himself was well-aware that such ill-
natured opinions would arise and hence gave a clear warning of this as
reported by Al-Miqdam, one of his Companions: Prophet SAW saidI
have indeed been given the Quran and something similar to it besides
it (Sunnah). Yet, the time will come when a man leaning on his couch
will say, Follow the Quran only; what you find in it as halaal, take it
as halaal, and what you find in it as haraam, take it as haraam. But
truly, what the Messenger of Allah has forbidden is like what Allah has
forbidden. (Reported by Abu Dawud and Darimi.) In fact, ANYONE
BELIEVE IN THE QURAN, for Almighty Allah Himself has emphasized
the duty of Muslims to follow al-Quran and al-Sunnah.
Significance of the Sunnah

Prophet SAW said The time will come when a man
received my hadith while leaning on his couch will say,
Between you and me only is the book of Allah (al-
Qur an); what you find in it as halaal, take it as halaal,
and what you find in it as haraam, take it as haraam. But
truly, what the Messenger of Allah has forbidden is like
. what Allah has forbidden
Significance of the Sunnah
It was reported that the Messenger of Allah said: I have left
among you two things; you will never go astray as long as you
hold fast to them: the Book of Allah and my Sunnah. (Reported
by Haakim.) The Companions of the Prophet peace and blessings
of Allah be upon him, used to hold the commandments given by
the Prophet (s.a.w..), making no distinctions between both of them.
Literal Meaning
Literally, Sunnah means a clear path or a beaten track
but it has also been used to imply normative practice, or
an established course of conduct. It may be a good
example or a bad, and it may be set by an individual, or
people or a community.
According to its original meaning in the Arabic language,
Sunnah means a way, regardless of whether the intended
way is praiseworthy or detestable.

Literal Meaning
The Messenger of Allah SAW said, (Whoever sets a
precedent for a good Sunnah, then he has its reward and
the reward of all who apply it until the Day of
Resurrection. And whoever sets a precedent for an evil
Sunnah, then upon him is its sin and the sin of all who
apply it until the Day of Resurrection)

The Arabs used the word 'Sunnah' in reference to the

ancient and continuous practice of the community, which
they inherited from their ancestors
Later on, the term sunnah was applied to the practice of
the Prophet s.a.w.
The opposite of Sunnah is bid`ah, or innovation.
Technical Meaning
All what is narrated from the Prophet s.a.w.
including his actions, sayings and whatever he has
tacitly approved ( ). In addition, all the reports,
which describe his physical attributes (khilqiyya)
and character (khuluqiyya) ascribed to (udfa ila)
the Prophet, are also considered as Sunnah.
Sunnah and Hadith

Sunnah: includes the sayings, doings and tacit

approval of the Prophet s.a.w. ()
Hadith: a narration of the sayings of the Prophet
s.a.w. ()
Technical Meaning
Therefore, Sunnah can be used to describe a path
that people follow. In Islamic terminology, Sunnah
applies to a prophetic way which includes references
to the Prophets sayings, actions, approvals, physical
features and character behaviors.
His actions relate to anything he did, as
authentically reported by the Companions may Allah
be pleased with them. His silent approvals on
different issues meant he didnt oppose or mind
what he saw, heard or knew of the actions or sayings
of his Companions. Sunnah also includes everything
authentically narrated concerning the Prophet's
physical features and his behaviors.
Authority of Sunnah
The authority of al-Sunnah comes from
the al-Quran itself.

Nor does he say of his (prophet) own desire. It

is no less than inspiration sent down to him
[Al-Najm, 3-4]
Allah said:

And whatever the Messenger orders

you observe it, and whatever he
forbids you, refrain from it

[Al-Hasr, 59:7]
Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those
who are in charge of affairs among you. Should
you happen to dispute over any matter, then refer
it to Allah and to the Messenger
[Al-Nisa: 59]
[80 : ]
Whoever obeys the Messenger is obeying God. And
whoever turns away-We did not send you as a watcher
.over them

[65 :]
But no, by your Lord, they will not believe until they call
you to arbitrate in their disputes, and then find within
themselves no resentment regarding your decisions, and
.submit themselves completely

[157 : ]
Those who follow the Messenger, the illiterate Prophet,
whom they find mentioned in the Torah and the Gospel
in their possession. He directs them to righteousness,
Role of the Sunnah
with regards to the Quran
The main role played by the Sunnah is as an explanatory of
the Quran and an integral with it.
Scholars have identified three main areas in this regard,
this include:
a. Reemphasis of the ruling of the al-Quran
b. Explanation and Elaboration of various rulings in the the
c. The Sunnah sometimes may enact a ruling on which the
Quran is silence about it. (al-Sunnah al-Muassisah)
Reemphasis of al-Quran-1
Sunnah reemphasis the injunctions of al-Quran

Allah said:

O you who believe! Eat not up your property among yourselves
unjustly except it is a trade amongst you, by mutual consent.
[Al-Nisa: 29]

In this regard, the Prophet Muhammad saw. said:

It is unlawful to possess the property of a Muslim
without his express consent
.Expalnation and Elaboration of al-Quran-2
a-Sunnah explains and elaborates the concise () injunctions
of the Quran.
Example: The injunctions related to the quantity and amount of
zakah which the Quran does not mention in detail.

The Quran says:

And perform al-salah, and give zakah, and whatever of good

(deeds that Allah loves) you send forth for yourselves before
you, you shall find it with Allah. Certainly, Allah is All-Seer of
what you do.
[Al-Baqarah: 110]
b. The Sunnah qualified (muqayyadah) the unqualified
(mutlaq) verses of al-Quran:
Mutlaq is when the hukm is unconditional, whereas
Muqayyad is when the hukm is conditioned to

Cut off (from the wrist joint) the (right) hand of the thief,
male or female, as a compensation for that which they
committed, a punishment by way of example from
Allah.And Allah is All Powerful, All Wise. (al-Maidah:
Therefore, here this ruling is conditioned to so many things,
i.e. the existance of evidence, the motive of stealing, the
amount of stealing, and etc
C-. The Sunnah specifies (takhsis) the general (Amm)
injunctions of al-Quran.
Am means general or collective rulings, whereas khas
is contrast to it, i.e it is specified for particular area or

Cut off (from the wrist joint) the (right) hand of the thief,
male or female (al-Maidah: 38)

Whomsoever commit thievery will end up with one hand

chopped off regardless to the amount of the stolen
property. But this is not the case, because the Prophet
Muhammad saw said:

Narrated 'Aisha: The Prophet s.a.w. said, "The hand of a thief should
be cut off for stealing a quarter of a Dinar.
3. To explain the ambiguous verses of the Quran:


Permitted to you, on the night of the fasts, is the approach to your wives. they
are your garments and ye are their garments. God knoweth what ye used to do
secretly among yourselves; but he turned to you and forgave you; so now
associate with them, and seek what God hath ordained for you, and eat and
;drink, until the white thread of dawn appear to you distinct from its black thread

Day time begins from fajr prayer and continues until solat al-Maghrib OR
Sun rises until sun sets
4.To Enact Rulings
(al-Sunnah al-Muassisah)

The Sunnah may enact a ruling on which the

Quran is silence about it. This kind of Sunnah
is referred to as al-Sunnah al-Muassisah or
the founding Sunnah.
The rulings on the prohibition of eating wild animals
with canine teeth, prohibition regarding simultaneous
marriage to the maternal and paternal aunt of ones
wife, the punishment of rajm (stoning to death) for
adultery committed by married Muslim are all
originated in the Sunnah which the Quran is silence
about them.
The Classification of Sunnah
a) The Sunnah, according to the reference to a particular
authority is divided into four types:

1. Hadith al-qudsi (sacred or divine); it is a revelation from

Allah (s.w.t.) relayed with the words of the Prophet

2. Hadith al-marfu (elevated); the chain of the hadith ends

at the Prophet s.a.w., e.g. I heard the Prophet s.a.w.

3. Hadith al-mauquf (stopped): the chain of the hadith ends

at the companion, e.g., we were commanded to ...

4. Hadith al-maqtu (severed) ): the chain of the hadith

ends at the successor of the companions.
b) Classification according to the number of reporters involved in
each stage of isnad :
1. Hadith al-mutawatir (consecutive): is a hadith which is reported by such
a large number of people that they cannot be expected to agree upon a

lie, all of them together. This type of hadith is considered as the most
authentic type of Sunnah and is next to the Quran in term of its

2. hadith al-ahad (isolated): is a hadith which is narrated by people whose

number does not reach that of the mutawatir.

Hadith al-ahad can be further divided into three:

a) Al-Mashur (famous): It is a hadith reported by more than two
narrators at any stage in the isnad,
b) Al-aziz (rare, strong): It is a hadith reported by only two
reporters at any stage in the isnad,
c) Al-Gharib (strange): At some stage of the Isnad, only one
reporter is found narrating it
c) According to the nature of the text and isnad, Sunnah can
be classified into three kinds:

1. Ziyadh al-thiqah: a particular hadith reported in different

sanad (chain) by additional authentic reporters.

2. Hadith al-Munkar (denounced): is a hadith which is

reported by a weak narrator, and whose narration goes
against another authentic hadith

3. Hadith al-Mudraj (interpolated): an addition by a reporter

to the text of the hadith being narrated.
d) Classification of Sunnah was based on the degree of their reliability or
the quality of the Sunnah .
1. The Hadith Sahih: These are the authentic Sunnah declared so after fulfilling
the following five conditions:
a) The chain of the hadith (sanad) must be linked or continuous,
b) It must be transmitted by an honest (thiqah)and just (adil) person
c) The transmitter must have a good memory (mundabit)
d) The hadith must not contradict other authentic hadith (if it is contradict
to another authentic hadith, therefore this hadith is no longer sahih)
f) The hadith must be free from any hidden defects. (anything that could
defect the hadith)

2. The Hadith hasan: These are the fair traditions where their source are known
and their reporters are unambiguous although inferior in the matter of
authenticity to the hadith sahih.

Some scholars defined Hadith Hasan as the hadith that fulfils the conditions of
Hadith sahih, except that the narrators have less ability in their memorization.

3. The Hadith dhaif: These are the weak traditions, which are not very reliable. It
does not fulfill any one or more of the above-mentioned criteria.

4. The Hadith maudu: (fabricated or forged): is a hadith whose text goes against
the established norms of the Prophet's sayings, or its reporters include a liar
Authentic Collections of Sunnah

1. The Sahih of al-Bukhari (d. 256AH = 870 CE).

2. The Sahih of Muslim (d. 261AH = 875 CE).

3. The Sunan of Abu Daud (d. 275 AH = 888 CE).

4. The Sunan of Al-Nasai (d. 303 AH = 915 CE).

5. The Al-Jami` of al-Tirmizi (d. 279 AH = 892 CE).

6. The Sunan of Ibn Majah (d. 273 AH = 887 CE).

(.The Sahih of al-Bukhari (d. 256AH = 870 CE. 1
- Al-Jami al-Musnad al-Sahih al-Mukhtasar min Umur Rasulullahi wa
Sunanihi wa Ayyamihi or well known as Sahih al-Bukhari by Abu
Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Ismail Ibn Ibrahim Ibn Al-Mughirah al-Ju'fi
from Al-Bukhara, widely known as Imam Al-Bukhari (b. 194 - d. 256
- Compiled over a period of 16 years.
- Considered as the most authentic book after the Quran.
- Consist 7275 hadith with repetitions, 4000 without repetition, selected
among 600,000 hadith.
- Reported he would pray two rakah of istikharah before recording each
- He has followed strict conditions in the inclusion of hadith in his
collection and among these conditions is that there must be a clear
indication that shows that a narrator has met with the person who he claim
to have hear from. A mere indication that both of them have lived during
the same period is not sufficient.
- He has divided all the hadith according to books consisting of different
topics about Islam. He begins with the Book of Revelation followed by the
Book of Belief.
- Many commentaries, the most famous commentary is Fath al-Bari Shar
Sahih al-Bukhari by Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani Al-Shafie (773 - 852 A.H.).
(.The Sahih of Muslim (d. 261AH = 875 CE. 2

- Al-Musnad al-Sahih al-Mukhtasar min Al-Sunan bi al-Naql al-'adl an

Rasulillah, popularly known as Sahih Muslim by Abu al-Husain
Muslim Ibn al-Hajjaj An-Nisaburi.
- This compilation is recognized as equally authoritative as Sahih al-
Bukhari with only slight differences in his criterion of acceptance of
certain hadith thus giving it second in rank of authority.
- Some scholars considered the arrangement of hadith in Sahih Muslim is
better than Sahih al-Bukhari.
- He would present his work to the scholars, if any fault was found with
any hadith he would omit it. Only agreed unanimously by the scholars
as authentic is included.
- He is reported to have said, Not all what I considered as authentic is
included in this collection, but what is included is those which are
unanimously agreed to be authentic.
- He was a student of Imam al-Bukhari.
- The number of hadith in his collection based on subjects is 3030
without repetition, and nearly 10,000 hadith with repetition.
- There are many commentaries on his book and the most famous is
Sahih Muslim bi Sarh al-Nawawi by Imam Al-Nawawi (d. 676).
(.The Sunan of Abu Daud (d. 275 AH = 888 CE. 3

- Sunan of Abu Daud was compiled by Abu Daud Sulaiman Ibn

al-Ash'ath al-Azdi Al-Sijistani.
- He compiled this book over a period of 20years,
- Selected some 4800 hadith out of 500,000 in his collection.
- His collection focused mainly on the hadith related to different
topics of Fiqh.
- Imam Abu Daud explained his methodology in the selection of
hadith when he said, I have mentioned the authentic and what is
close to it, from whatever is doubtful, I have enlightened them.
- His book was considered to be the first of its type and is
considered the best of the sunan collections next to the collection
of Bukhari and Muslim.
(.The Sunan of Al-Nasai (d. 303 AH = 915 CE. 4

- Al-Sunan Al-Mujtaba or Sunan of Al-Nasai by Abu Abdul

Rahman Ibn Ahmad Ibn Shu'aib Ibn Ali Ibn Sinan Ibn
Bahr Al-Khurasani Al-Nasai.
- This book is a collection from earlier and larger work
called Al-Sunan Al-Kubra.
- Imam Al-Nasai recorded the different chain of narrators
(asanid), then records the isnad where narrators have
made some mistakes. He would then explain what is
- Therefore, he recorded weak as well as authenticated
hadith, mostly to show what defect they had however,
the number of weak hadith in his collection is very few.
- The total number of hadith in his collection is 5761.
(.The Al-Jami` of al-Tirmizi (d. 279 AH = 892 CE. 5
- Al-Jmi' or Al-Sunan of At-Tirmiz was compiled by Imm al-
Hfiz Ab Is Muhammad Ibn Is Ibn Srah Al-Tirmiz.
- He was a student of Abu Dud who further improved the
principles of criticism of hadth adopted by his teacher.
- Introduced new terminologies and categories of hadith such as
a, asan, a if and g harb.
- Imm al-Tirmiz is reported to have said, I have compiled this
book and present it to the scholars of al-Hijz, al- Irq and al-
Khurasan and they were all happy with it, whoever have it (al-
Jmi ) in his house, is like having the living Prophet with him .
- His aims in his collection were to:
a) systematically collect the hadith.
b) discuss the legal opinions of early scholars.
c) discuss the quality of the ahdth.
- His book has been divided into 50 sub-books and contains 3956
- Famous commentaries: Bahr al-Mazi
6. The Sunan of Ibn Majah (d. 273 AH = 887 CE(.

- Sunan of Ibn Mjah compiled by Imm al-Hfiz Ab

Abdullah Muammad Ibn Yazd Ar-Qazwn Ibn Mjah.
- His book is considered the lowest grade of the six and it
contains 4341 hadith, 3002 of which were already recorded by
the authors of the previous five books mentioned.
- The remaining hadith which he recorded are graded as
follows: 428 authentic (a), 199 good (asan), 613 of weak
(a f), 99 munkar or makzb (rejected or forged).
- Where the other narrators would note when they recorded a
weak hadith, Ibn Maajah would remain silent. For this reason
some scholars do not counting his work among the six books.
- The first one to include Sunan Ibn Mjah as part of the six
principle works is Ab Fal Muhammad ibn hir al-
Maqdis in his writing Arf al-Kutub al-Sittah