The Authority of SunnahThe Authority of Sunnah
Sh. Abdool Rahman Khan
The Qur’an and Sunnah are the foundation of Islam. Their
importance cannot be over-emphasized. The Sunnah is next in
importance only to the Qur'an and this status of the Sunnah has
remained unchallenged and undisputed throughout the centuries.
Despite the differences among Muslims in their (fiqhi) juristic
opinions, the authority of the Qur'an and the Sunnah of Rasoolullah
(SAS) was never denied by any jurist.
A proper understanding is therefore necessary with regards to
knowing their authority in our Deen and understanding the whole
process of transmission of this knowledge from one generation to
another until it reaches us. We should also know our
responsibilities in continuing this process of transmitting this
knowledge to the next generation.
Allah SWT preserved not only the Qur'an for posterity but has also preserved
the Sunnah by enabling the Companions and those after them (RA) to
memorize, write down and pass on the statements of the Messenger (SAS)
and the descriptions of his ways, in order to continue the blessings of
practicing the Sunnah for the Ummah until the end of time.
As the purity of the knowledge of the Sunnah became threatened, Allah
caused the Muslim nation to produce outstanding individuals of incredible
memory-skills and analytical expertise, who journeyed tirelessly to collect
hundreds of thousands of narrations and distinguish the true words of
precious wisdom of Rasoolullah (SAS) from those corrupted by weak
memories, from forgeries by unscrupulous liars, and from the statements of
the enormous number of 'ulama', the Companions and those who followed
their way, who had taught in various centers of learning and helped to
transmit the legacy of Muhammad (SAS) - all of this achieved through precise
attention to the words narrated and detailed familiarity with the biographies
of the thousands of reporters of Hadith. Action being the best way to preserve
teachings, the revivers of Islam also invigorated the practice of the blessed
The Meanings of the Words “Sunnah and Hadith”
The Meanings of the Word “Sunnah
Lexical Definition of the Word Sunnah
Definition of the Word Sunnah as Used by the Jurists
Definition of the Word Sunnah as Used by the Scholars of Hadith
Definition of the Word Sunnah as Used in Islamic Legal Theory
Definition of the Word Sunnah as Used by the Specialists in Aqeedah
The Meaning of the Word Hadith
The Relationship Between Sunnah and Hadith
Definition of Sunnah and Hadith
1.Sunnah; the second source of Shari’ah
2.Definition of Sunnah
Sunnah: Linguistic Meaning of Sunnah
A way, manner, a path, a conduct (good/bad)
Hence the Hadith:
مشْ ش هِْم رِْم جروُرو أُرو شنْ ش مِْم صشُرو قُرونْ شيَن لشَن وَن ه اشَن بِْم لشَن مِْم عَن نشْ ش مَن رشِْم جْ ش أَن لشُرو ثْ شمِْم هشُرو لَن شبَن تِْمكُرو هشُرودَنعْ ش بَن ه اشَن بِْم لشَن مِْم عُرو فَن ةشً ف نَنسَن حَن ةشً ف نَّةسُرو مشِْملَن سْ ش لْ شِْم ف يش اِْم نشَّة سَن نشْ ش مَن
صشُرو قُرونْ شيَن لشَن وَن ه اشَن بِْم لشَن مِْم عَن نشْ ش مَن رشِْم زْ ش وِْم لشُرو ثْ شمِْم هشِْم يْ شلَنعَن بشَن تِْمكُرو هشُرودَنعْ ش بَن ه اشَن بِْم لشَن مِْم عُرو فَن ةشً ف ئَنيِّئسَن ةشً ف نَّةسُرو مشِْملَن سْ ش لْ شِْم ف يش اِْم نشَّة سَن نشْ ش مَن وَن ءشٌ و يْ ش شَن
ءٌ و يْ ش شَن مشْ ش هِْم رِْم زاَن وْ ش أَن شنْ ش مِْم ش
Whoever introduces in Islam a good practice/way, will have his reward
for it and also a reward for those who act upon it without reducing
anything from this reward: likewise one who introduces an evil practice
in Islam, will be punished for this and all those who act upon that evil
practice will be punished without diminishing in any way the burden of
their evil deeds. (Muslim)
Or as we read 33:62
لً ف ديِْمبْ شتَن للشَّةِْم ةش اِْم نَّةسُرو لِْم شدَنجِْم تَن لنشَنوَن لشُرو بْ شقَن منشِْم رواشْ ش لَنخَن نشَن ذيِْملَّةا ف يشِْم للشَّةِْم ةش اَن نَّةسُرو
That was the Way of Allah in the case of those who passed away of old,
and you will not find any change in the Way of Allah.
Technical Meaning of Sunnah…
There are several definitions of the word Sunnah and it depends in what context it is
being used or who is defining “Sunnah”.
Fiqhi perspective: Sunnah denotes whatever is firmly established (thabata) as called for
(matlub) in the Religion on the basis of a legal proof (dalîl shar`î) It is something
recommended like saying: It is Sunnah to use miswak before Wudhu or additional Salaah.
Usool perspective: Sunnah is used as what the doer gets as a reward for doing it but
not a punishment for avoiding it as opposed to neglecting an obligatory act.
A Sunnah is one whose performance is indicated or encouraged by the law, however,
the law falls short of declaring it to be obligatory or required.
A Sunnah act is one that when performed a person is rewarded for it, but for which
he is not punished if he fails to perform it.
A Sunnah act is an action that one is requested to perform but not in a strict sense.
A Sunnah act is when the Prophet performed on a continuous basis although he
would sometimes not perform it with no particular apparent reason for not
Technical Meaning of Sunnah… Continued
The Scholars of Aqeedah define Sunnah to be: What Muslim
believes in. In other words the person is on Sunnah or he/she is
following the beliefs of Prophet Muhammad SAS and His
companions May Allah be pleased with them all, hence the name:
“Ahlus-Sunnah wal Jama’ah”. Sunnah is also in this context what is
the opposite of Bid’ah. It refers to the foundation of faith.