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For other uses, see Sunna. Sunnah_sentence_0

Sunnah (Arabic: سنة‎, sunnah, plural Arabic: سنن‎ sunan [sunan), also sunna or sunnat, is the Arabic word for traditional customs and practices; in the Islamic community it refers to the traditions and practices of the Islamic prophet, Muhammad, that constitute a model for Muslims to follow. Sunnah_sentence_1

The sunnah is what all the Muslims of Muhammad's time, evidently saw and followed and passed on to the next generations. Sunnah_sentence_2

According to classical Islamic theories, the sunnah are documented by hadith (the verbally transmitted record of the teachings, deeds and sayings, silent permissions or disapprovals of Muhammad), and along with the Quran (the holy book of Islam), are the divine revelation (Wahy) delivered through Muhammad that make up the primary sources of Islamic law and belief/theology. Sunnah_sentence_3

Differing from Sunni classical Islamic theories are those of Shia Muslims, who hold that the Twelve Imams interpret the sunnah, and Sufi who hold that Muhammad transmitted the values of Sunnah "through a series of Sufi teachers." Sunnah_sentence_4

According to Muslim belief, Muhammad was the best exemplar for Muslims, and several verses in the Quran declare his conduct exemplary, and enjoin his followers to obey him. Sunnah_sentence_5

Sunnah provides a basis not only for major laws and rituals in Islam like how to pray salat, but for "even the most mundane activities", such as the order in which to cut fingernails or the proper length of a beard. Sunnah_sentence_6

In the pre-Islamic period, sunnah was used to mean "manner of acting", whether good or bad. Sunnah_sentence_7

During the early Islamic period, the term referred to any good precedent set by people of the past, including both Muhammad, and his companions. Sunnah_sentence_8

In addition, the Sunnah of the Prophet was not necessarily associated with hadith. Sunnah_sentence_9

The classical meaning that now prevails was introduced later in the late second century of Islam, when under the influence of the scholar Al-Shafi‘i, Muhammad's example as recorded in hadith was given priority of over all other precedents set by other authorities. Sunnah_sentence_10

The term al-sunnah then eventually came to be viewed as synonymous with the sunnah of Muhammad, based on hadith reports. Sunnah_sentence_11

Recording the sunnah was also an Arabian tradition and once they converted to Islam, Arabians brought this custom to their religion. Sunnah_sentence_12

The sunnah of Muhammad as based on hadith includes his specific words (Sunnah Qawliyyah), habits, practices (Sunnah Fiiliyyah), and silent approvals (Sunnah Taqririyyah). Sunnah_sentence_13

In Islam, the word "sunnah" is also used to refer to religious duties that are optional, such as Sunnah salat. Sunnah_sentence_14

Definitions and usage Sunnah_section_0

Sunnah (سنة [ˈsunna, plural سنن sunan [ˈsunan) is an Arabic word that means Sunnah_sentence_15


  • "habit" or "usual practice" (USC glossary); alsoSunnah_item_0_0
  • "habitual practice, customary procedure or action, norm, usage sanctioned by tradition" (Wehr Dictionary);Sunnah_item_0_1
  • "a body of established customs and beliefs that make up a tradition" (Oxford Islamic Studies Online);Sunnah_item_0_2
  • "a path, a way, a manner of life" (M.A.Qazi).Sunnah_item_0_3
  • "precedent" or "way of life" (pre-Islamic definition, Joseph Schacht and Ignác Goldziher).Sunnah_item_0_4

Its religious definition can be: Sunnah_sentence_16


  • "the Sunna of the Prophet, i.e., his sayings and doings, later established as legally binding precedents" (along with the Law established by the Koran ) (Hans Wehr);Sunnah_item_1_5
  • "All of the traditions and practices of the Prophet" of Islam, "that have become models to be followed" by Muslims (M.A.Qazi);Sunnah_item_1_6
  • "the body of traditional social and legal custom and practice of the Islamic community" (Encyclopædia Britannica);Sunnah_item_1_7
  • "the actions and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad" (Oxford Islamic Studies Online).Sunnah_item_1_8

Islam Web gives two slightly different definitions: Sunnah_sentence_17


  • "the statements, actions and approvals (or disapprovals) of Prophet Muhammad", (definition used by "legal theorists");Sunnah_item_2_9
  • "anything narrated from or about the Prophet ... either before or after he became a prophet, of his statements, actions, confirmations, biography, and his physical character and attributes," (used by scholars of hadith).Sunnah_item_2_10

It was first used with the meaning of "law" in the Syro-Roman law book before it became widely used in Islamic jurisprudence. Sunnah_sentence_18

Sunnah and hadith Sunnah_section_1

Sunnah and hadith (the words, actions or approval that are narrated about Muhammad and which are believed to document Sunnah) are sometimes used synonymously, but not always. Sunnah_sentence_19


  • For example, the group known as "Ahl al-Hadeeth" is also sometimes called "Ahl as-Sunnah"; books such as "Kutub al-Hadeeth" are also sometimes called "Kutub as-Sunnah", (according to the Saudi fatwa site "Islam Question and Answer"). In the context of biographical records of Muhammad, sunnah often stands synonymous with hadith since most of the personality traits of Muhammad are known from descriptions of him, his sayings and his actions from hadith.Sunnah_item_3_11
  • Examples of where they are not used interchangeably but have different meanings are when Sunnah refers to the general affairs, i.e. the path, the methodology and the way of Muhammad; and to "adhering to Islam in the manner prescribed, without adding to it or introducing innovations into the religion", which hadith does not; fuqaha' scholars use the word "Sunnah" when explaining the ruling on doing a specific action as being mustahabb (liked or encouraged), which they do not with hadith). According to Seyyed Nasr, the hadith contains the words of Muhammad, while the sunnah contains his words and actions along with pre-Islamic practices of which he approved. In the context of sharia, Malik ibn Anas and the Hanafi scholars are assumed to have differentiated between the two: for example Malik is said to have rejected some traditions that reached him because, according to him, they were against the "established practice of the people of Medina".Sunnah_item_3_12

Sunnah Salat Sunnah_section_2

Main article: Sunnah salat Sunnah_sentence_20

In addition to being "the way" of Islam or the traditional social and legal custom and practice of the Islamic community, sunnah is often used as a synonym for mustahabb (encouraged) rather than wajib/fard (obligatory), regarding some commendable action (usually the saying of a prayer). Sunnah_sentence_21

Ahl as-Sunnah Sunnah_section_3

Sunni Muslims are also referred to as Ahl as-Sunnah wa'l-Jamā'ah ("people of the tradition and the community (of Muhammad)") or Ahl as-Sunnah for short. Sunnah_sentence_22

Some early Sunnî Muslim scholars (such as Abu Hanifa, al-Humaydî, Ibn Abî 'Âsim, Abû Dâwûd, and Abû Nasr al-Marwazî) reportedly used the term "the sunnah" narrowly to refer to Sunni Doctrine as opposed to the creeds of Shia and other non-Sunni Islamic sects. Sunnah_sentence_23

Sunnah literally means face, nature, lifestyle, etc. Sunnah_sentence_24

In the time of Muhammad's companion, newly converted Muslims accepted and rejected some set of creed by using reason. Sunnah_sentence_25

So many early Muslim scholars started writing books on creed entitled as 'sunnah'. Sunnah_sentence_26

In the Quran Sunnah_section_4

The word "Sunna" appears several times in the Qur’an, but there is no specific mention of sunnah of the messenger or prophet (sunnat al-rasool, sunnat al-nabi or sunna al-nabawiyyah), i.e. the way/practice of Muhammad. Sunnah_sentence_27

(There are several verses calling on Muslims to obey Muhammad—see below.) Sunnah_sentence_28

Four verses (8.38, 15.13, 18.55) use the expression “sunnat al-awwalin”, which is thought to mean "the way or practice of the ancients". Sunnah_sentence_29

It is described as something "that has passed away" or prevented unbelievers from accepting God. Sunnah_sentence_30

Sunnat Allah” (the "way of God") appears eight times in five verses. Sunnah_sentence_31

In addition, verse 17.77 talks of both the way of other, earlier Muslim messengers (Ibrahim, Musa, etc.), and of "our way", i.e. God's way. Sunnah_sentence_32

This indicates to some scholars (such as Javed Ahmad Ghamidi) that sunnah predates both the Quran and Muhammad, and is actually the tradition of the prophets of God, specifically the tradition of Abraham. Sunnah_sentence_33

Christians, Jews and the Arab descendants of Ishmael, the Arabized Arabs or Ishmaelites, when Muhammad reinstituted this practice as an integral part of Islam. Sunnah_sentence_34

History/etymology Sunnah_section_5

According to historians (particularly Daniel W. Brown), the classical Islamic definition of Sunnah as the customs and practices of Muhammad (only) was not the original one. Sunnah_sentence_35

First century of Islam Sunnah_section_6


Prior to the "golden age of classical Islamic jurisprudence", the "ancient schools" of law prevailed. Sunnah_sentence_36

The golden age, starting with the creation of the Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi'i, Hanbali, etc. schools of fiqh in the second century of Islam, limited sunnah to "traditions traced back to the Prophet Muhammad himself" (sunna al-nabawiyyah). Sunnah_sentence_37

But the ancient "regional" schools of law, located in several major cities of the new Arab empire of Islam -- Mecca, Kufa, Basra, Syria, etc.,—had a more flexible definition of sunnah than is now commonly used. Sunnah_sentence_38

This being the "acceptable norms" or "custom", which included examples of the Prophet's Companions, the rulings of the Caliphs, and practices that "had gained general acceptance among the jurists of that school". Sunnah_sentence_39


Examples of the use of non-Muhammadan sunnahs at this time is found in a (non-Muhammadan) tradition/hadith comment Sunnah_sentence_40


  • on the difference in the number of lashes used to punish alcohol consumption, Caliph Ali reported that (Muhammad and Abu Bakr ordered 40 lashes, Umar 80) — "All this is sunna";Sunnah_item_6_13
  • on Umar's deathbed instructions on where Muslims should seek guidance: from the Qur’an, the early Muslims (muhajirun) who emigrated to Medina with Muhammad, the Medina residents who welcomed and supported the muhajirun (the ansar), the people of the desert, and the protected communities of Jews and Christians (ahl al-dhimma); hadith of Muhammad are not mentioned.Sunnah_item_6_14


In al-Ṭabarī's history of early Islam, the term "Sunnah of the Prophet" is not only used "surprisingly infrequently", but used to refer to "political oaths or slogans used by rebels", or "a general standard of justice and right conduct", and not "to specific precedents set by Muhammad", let alone hadith. Sunnah_sentence_41

An early theological writing by Hasan al-Basri (Risala fi'l Qadar) also is "empty of references to specific cases" when mentioning Sunnah of the Prophet. Sunnah_sentence_42

Daniel Brown states that the first extant writings of Islamic legal reasoning were "virtually hadith-free" and argues that other examples of a lack of connection between sunnah and hadith" can be found in: Sunnah_sentence_43


According to one source (Ahmad Kazemi Moussavi and Karim Douglas Crow), early Sunni scholars often considered sunnah equivalent to the biography of Muhammed (sira). Sunnah_sentence_44

As the hadith came to be better documented and the scholars who validated them gained prestige, the sunnah came often to be known mostly through the hadith, especially as variant or fictional biographies of Muhammad spread. Sunnah_sentence_45

al-Shafi'i Sunnah_section_7

Abū ʿAbdullāh Muhammad ibn Idrīs al-Shāfiʿī (150-204 AH), known as al-Shafi'i, argued against flexible sunnah and the use of precedents from multiple sources, emphasizing the final authority of a hadith of Muhammad, so that even the Qur'an was "to be interpreted in the light of traditions (i.e. hadith), and not vice versa." Sunnah_sentence_46

While the sunnah has often been called "second to the Quran", hadith has also been said to "rule over and interpret the Quran". Sunnah_sentence_47

Al-Shafiʿi "forcefully argued" that the sunnah stands "on equal footing with the Quran", (according to scholar Daniel Brown) both being divine revelation. Sunnah_sentence_48

As Al-Shafi'i put it, "the command of the Prophet is the command of God". Sunnah_sentence_49

(Notwithstanding the triumph of this theory, in practice the schools of fiqh resisted the thorough application of hadith and fiqh was little changed from the days before Al-Shafi'i.) Sunnah_sentence_50

Sunnah of Muhammad outranked all other, and "broad agreement" developed that "hadith must be the basis for authentication of any Sunnah," (according to M.O. Sunnah_sentence_51

Farooq). Sunnah_sentence_52

Al-Shafiʿi's success was such that later writers "hardly ever thought of sunnah as comprising anything but that of the Prophet", and sunnah was often considered synonymous with hadith. Sunnah_sentence_53

Systemization of hadith Sunnah_section_8

While the earliest Muslim lawyers "felt no obligation" to provide documentation of hadith when arguing their case, and the Sunnah was not recorded and written during Muhammad's lifetime, (according to scholar Khaled Abou El Fadl), all this changed with the triumph of Al-Shafi‘i and a "broad agreement" that Hadith should be used to authenticate Sunnah, (according to Mohammad Omar Farooq), over the course of the second century, when legal works began incorporating Prophetic hadith. Sunnah_sentence_54

Hadith was now systematically collected and documented, but several generations having passed since the time of its occurrence meant that "many of the reports attributed to the Prophet are apocryphal or at least are of dubious historical authenticity," (according to Abou El Fadl). Sunnah_sentence_55

"In fact, one of the most complex disciplines in Islamic jurisprudence is one which attempts to differentiate between authentic and inauthentic traditions." Sunnah_sentence_56

Classical Islam Sunnah_section_9

Islam jurists divide sunnah into that which has no legal consequences --al-sunna al-ʿādīyah -- (the "personal habits and preferences" of Muhammad); and that which is binding on Muslims -- al-sunna al-hudā. Sunnah_sentence_57

The literalist Zāhirī school disagrees holding that there was no sunnah whose fulfillment is not rewarded or neglect punished, while classical Islam holds that following non-binding al-sunna al-ʿādīyah is meritorious but not obligatory. Sunnah_sentence_58

Sufis see the "division between binding and non-binding" sunnah as "meaningless". Sunnah_sentence_59

Muhammad is al-insān al-kāmil, the perfect man, labib-Allah beloved of God, an intercessor, a "channel of divine light". Sunnah_sentence_60

Imitating his every action is "the ultimate expression" of piety. Sunnah_sentence_61

or in the words of Al-Ghazālī: Sunnah_sentence_62

Modernist Islam Sunnah_section_10

In the 19th century, "social and political turmoil" starting with the decline of the Moghal empire, caused some Muslims to seek a more humanized figure of Muhammad. Sunnah_sentence_63

The miracle-performing "larger than life" prophetic figure was de-emphasized in favor of "a practical model for restoration of the Muslim community," a virtuous, progressive social reformer. Sunnah_sentence_64

Nasserist Egypt, for example, celebrated the "imam of socialism" rather than the cosmic "perfect man". Sunnah_sentence_65

One who argued against the idea of sunnah as divine revelation, and for the idea that Muhammad's mission was simply to transmit the Quran was Ghulam Ahmed Perwez (1903–1985). Sunnah_sentence_66

He quoted the Quranic verse "The messenger has no duty except to proclaim [the message]," (Q.5:99) and pointed out several other verses where God corrects something Muhammad has done or said (8:67),(9:43), (66:1), thus demonstrating Muhammad's lack of supernatural knowledge. Sunnah_sentence_67

This era of rapid social and technological change, decline of Muslim power, and replacement of classical madhhab by Western-inspired legal codes in Muslim lands, also suggested a turn away from the "detailed precedents in civil and political affairs," called for by traditional Hadith, "for if worldly matters require detailed prophetic guidance, then every age will require a new prophet to accommodate changing circumstances". Sunnah_sentence_68

Islamic revivalism Sunnah_section_11

With de-colonialization in the late 20th century, a new Islamic revival emerged. Sunnah_sentence_69

Activists rather than theorists, they sought "to restore Islam to ascendency", and in particular to restore Sharia to the law of the lands of Islam it had been before being replaced by "secular, Western inspired law codes" of colonialism and modernity. Sunnah_sentence_70

Like modernists, revivalists "vehemently rejected" taqlid and were not particularly interested in the classical schools of law (madhhab). Sunnah_sentence_71

But revivalists like Abul A'la Maududi and Mustafa al-Siba'i support for "the authority of Sunnah and the authenticity of Hadith in general" was "unwavering", as was their opposition to "Hadith denialism". Sunnah_sentence_72

At the same time they agreed that restoring relevant Sharia required "some reformulation" of the law, which would require a return to sources, which required agreement on how the sources were be to be "interpreted and understand" and reassessment of hadith. Sunnah_sentence_73

This involved examining hadith content (matn) for its spirit and relevance "within the context of the Sharia as a whole" according to the method of scholars of Islamic law (fuqaha) and weeding out corrupted hadith inconsistent with "reason, with human nature, and with historical conditions". Sunnah_sentence_74

Shibli Nomani, Abul A'la Maududi, Rashid Rida, and Mohammed al-Ghazali being proponents of this effort. Sunnah_sentence_75

Alternatives to classical hadith based sunnah Sunnah_section_12

Although "most writers agree", including skeptics, that "sunnah and hadith must stand or fall together", some (Fazlur Rahman Malik, Javed Ahmad Ghamidi) have attempted to "establish a basis for sunnah independent of hadith", working around problem of hadith authenticity raised by modernist and Western critics, while reaching back to pre-al-Shafiʿi meaning of Sunnah. Sunnah_sentence_76

"Living sunnah" Sunnah_section_13

In the 1960s, Fazlur Rahman Malik, an Islamic modernist and former head of Pakistan's Central Institute for Islamic Research, advanced another idea for how the (Prophetic) sunnah—the normative example of the Prophet—should be understood: as "a general umbrella concept" but not one "filled with absolutely specific content", or that was static over the centuries. Sunnah_sentence_77

He argued that Muhammad had come as a "moral reformer" and not a "pan-legit", and that the specifics of the sunnah would be agreed upon community of his followers, evolving with changing times as a "living and on-going process". Sunnah_sentence_78

He accepted the criticism of Western and Muslim scholars that the content of many hadith and isnad (chain of transmitters) had been tampered with by Muslims trying to prove the Muhammad had made a specific statement—but this did not make them fraudulent or forgeries, because if "Hadith verbally speaking does not go back to the Prophet, its spirit certainly does". Sunnah_sentence_79

Instead these collections of ahadith of al-Bukhari and al-Muslim's were ijma (consensus or agreement of the Muslim scholars—which is another classical source of Islamic law). Sunnah_sentence_80

Doing so they follow the spirit of the Prophet's mission, and "resurrect" the legal methodology of the pre-Shafi'i "Ancient schools". Sunnah_sentence_81

But just as second and third century Muslims could re-formulate hadith and law around a prophetic spirit, so can modern Muslims—redefining riba and replacing medieval laws against bank interest with measures that help the poor without harming economic productivity. Sunnah_sentence_82

Sunnah from practice not hadith Sunnah_section_14

Some of the most basic and important features of the sunnah – worship rituals like salat (ritual prayer), zakat (ritual tithing), hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca), sawm (dawn to dusk fasting during Ramadan) – are known to Muslim from being passed down 'from the many to the many' (according to scholars of fiqh such as Al-Shafi'i), bypassing books of hadith, (which were more often consulted for answers to details not agreed upon or not frequently practiced) and issues of authenticity. Sunnah_sentence_83

Modernist Rashid Rida thought this "the only source of sunnah that is beyond dispute". Sunnah_sentence_84

S.M. Yusuf argued "practice is best transmitted through practice", and a more reliable way to establish Sunnah than hadith. Sunnah_sentence_85

He also believed that the passing down of practice from generation to generation independent of hadith explained why early schools of law did not differentiate between sunnah of the caliphate and sunnah of the prophet. Sunnah_sentence_86

According to Javed Ahmad Ghamidi, another Modernist, this passing down by continuous practice of the Muslim community (which also indicates consensus, ijma) was similar to how the Qur’ān has been "received by the ummah" (Muslim community) through the consensus of the Prophet's Companions and through their perpetual recitation. Sunnah_sentence_87

Consequently, Ghamidi sees this more limited Sunnah of continuous practice as the true sunnah – equally authentic to the Quran, but shedding orthodox sunnah and avoiding problematic basis of the hadith. Sunnah_sentence_88

"Inner states" Sunnah_section_15

Sufi thinkers "emphasized personal spirituality and piety rather than the details of fiqh". Sunnah_sentence_89

According to the view of some Sufi Muslims who incorporate both the outer and inner reality of Muhammad, the deeper and true sunnah are the noble characteristics and inner state of Muhammad -- Khuluqin Azim or 'Exalted Character'. Sunnah_sentence_90

To them Muhammad's attitude, his piety, the quality of his character constitute the truer and deeper aspect of what it means by sunnah in Islam, rather than the external aspects alone. Sunnah_sentence_91

They argue that the external customs of Muhammad loses its meaning without the inner attitude and also many hadiths are simply custom of the Arabs, not something that is unique to Muhammad. Sunnah_sentence_92

Basis of importance Sunnah_section_16

The Qur'an contains numerous commands to follow Muhammad. Sunnah_sentence_93

Among the Quranic verses quoted as demonstrating the importance of hadith/sunnah to Muslims are Sunnah_sentence_94

Which appears in several verses: , , , Sunnah_sentence_95

The teachings of "wisdom" (hikma) have been declared to be a function of Muhammad along with the teachings of the scripture. Sunnah_sentence_96

Several Quranic verses mention "wisdom" (hikmah) coupled with "scripture" or "the book" (i.e. the Quran) -- al-kitāb wa al-ḥikma. Sunnah_sentence_97

Mainstream scholars starting with al-Shafi'i believe hikma refers to the Sunnah, and this connection between Sunnah and the Quran is evidence of the Sunnah's divinity and authority. Sunnah_sentence_98


  • -- "For Allah hath sent down to thee the Book and wisdom and taught thee what thou Knewest not (before): And great is the Grace of Allah unto thee."Sunnah_item_9_18
  • -- "...but remember Allah's grace upon you and that which He hath revealed unto you of the Scripture and of wisdom, whereby He doth exhort you."Sunnah_item_9_19
  • -- "And bear in mind which is recited in your houses of the revelations of God and of wisdom".Sunnah_item_9_20

Therefore, along with the Quran, the sunnah was revealed. Sunnah_sentence_99

Modern Sunni scholars have examined both the sira and the hadith in order to justify modifications to jurisprudence (fiqh). Sunnah_sentence_100

Hense, the imitation of Muhammad helps Muslims to know and be loved by God. Sunnah_sentence_101

Another piece of evidence for the divinity of the Sunnah—according to its supporters—are verses in the Quran that refer to revelations not found in the Quran. Sunnah_sentence_102

For example, there is no verse mentioning the original direction of prayer (the qibla) in the Quran, but God in the Quran does say He appointed the original qibla (). Sunnah_sentence_103

Other events mentioned in the Quran that already happened without Quranic command or description include a dream in which Muhammad would enter Mecca (); Muhammad's marriage to Zayd's ex-wife (Quran ); and the dispute over the division of spoils after the Battle of Badr (); all "definitive proof that besides the Quran other commands came to the Prophet by the agency of waḥy," according to revivalist Abul A'la Maududi. Sunnah_sentence_104

Yet another piece of evidence offered is that "Prophet witness" is "the chief guarantee" of what is divine revelation. Sunnah_sentence_105

In other words, "Muslims only know the Quran is revelation because of Muhammad's testimony to this fact. Sunnah_sentence_106

If prophetic word is not to be trusted, then the Quran itself is open to suspicion." Sunnah_sentence_107

Since the Quran is not, the Sunnah must be trustworthy. Sunnah_sentence_108

Alternative view Sunnah_section_17

The minority argument against the Sunnah of the prophet being divine revelation (waḥy) goes back to the ahl al-Kalam who al-Shāfiʿī argued against in the second century of Islam. Sunnah_sentence_109

Their modern "Quranists", the modern successors of the ahl al-Kalam, argue that the sunnah falls short of the standard of the Quran in divinity. Sunnah_sentence_110

Specifically because Sunnah_sentence_111


  1. with the exception of the ḥadīth qudsī, sunnah was not revealed and transmitted verbatim, as was the Quran; it was often transmitted giving the sense or gist of what was said (known as bi'l-maʿnā);Sunnah_item_10_21
  2. the process of revelation was not "external, entirely independent of the influence of the messenger"; it bares the "personality" or "mentality" (baṣīrat) of Muhammad;Sunnah_item_10_22
  3. unlike the Quran, it was not "preserved in writing" until over a century after Muhammad's death, which opens the question of how much corruption and/or error entered the writings and why, if it was divinely revealed, eternal truth, orders were not given to the earliest Muslims to write it down as they were for the Quran.Sunnah_item_10_23

Providing examples Sunnah_section_18

According to John Burton, paraphrasing Al-Shafi'i, "it must be remembered that the Quran text are couched in very general terms which it is the function of the sunnah to expand and elucidate, to make God's meaning absolutely clear." Sunnah_sentence_112

There are a number of verses in the Quran where "to understand the context, as well as the meaning", Muslims need to refer to the record of the life and example of the Prophet. Sunnah_sentence_113

It is thought that verses 16:44 and 64 indicate that Muhammed's mission "is not merely that of a deliveryman who simply delivers the revelation from Allah to us, rather, he has been entrusted with the most important task of explaining and illustrating" the Quran. Sunnah_sentence_114

For example, while the Quran presents the general principles of praying, fasting, paying zakat, or making pilgrimage, they are presented "without the illustration found in Hadith, for these acts of worship remain as abstract imperatives in the Qur’an". Sunnah_sentence_115

Types of sunnah Sunnah_section_19

Sunnah upon which fiqh is based may be divided into: Sunnah_sentence_116


  • Sunnah Qawliyyah - the sayings of Muhammad, generally synonymous with “hadith”, since the sayings of Muhammad are noted down by the companions and called "hadith".Sunnah_item_11_24
  • Sunnah Fiiliyyah - the actions of Muhammad, including both religious and worldly actions.Sunnah_item_11_25
  • Sunnah Taqririyyah - the approvals of Muhammad regarding the actions of the Companions which occurred in two different ways:Sunnah_item_11_26
    • When Muhammad kept silent for an action and did not oppose it.Sunnah_item_11_27
    • When Muhammad showed his pleasure and smiled for a companion's action.Sunnah_item_11_28

It may be also divided into sunnah that is binding for Muslims and that which is not. Sunnah_sentence_117

Ibn Qutaybah (213-276 AH) distinguished between: Sunnah_sentence_118


  1. Sunnah "brought by Gabriel";Sunnah_item_12_29
  2. sunnah from "Muhammad's own ra'y and is binding, but subject to revision";Sunnah_item_12_30
  3. "non-binding sunnah", which Muslims are not subject to "penalty for failure to follow".Sunnah_item_12_31

In the terminology of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), sunnah denotes whatever though not obligatory, is "firmly established (thabata) as called for (matlub)" in Islam "on the basis of a legal proof (dalîl shar`î). Sunnah_sentence_119

Sciences of Sunnah Sunnah_section_20

According to scholar Gibril Fouad Haddad, the "sciences of the Sunnah" ('ulûm as-Sunna) refer to: Sunnah_sentence_120

Sunnah in Shia Islam Sunnah_section_21

Shia Islam does not use the Kutub al-Sittah (six major hadith collections) followed by Sunni Islam, therefore the Sunnah of Shia Islam and the Sunnah of Sunni Islam refer to different collections of religious canonical literature. Sunnah_sentence_121

The primary collections of Sunnah of Shia Islam were written by three authors known as the 'Three Muhammads', and they are: Sunnah_sentence_122


Unlike Akhbari Twelver Shiites, Usuli Twelver Shiite scholars do not believe that everything in the four major books of the Sunnah of Shia Islam is authentic. Sunnah_sentence_123

In Shia hadees one often finds sermons attributed to Ali in The Four Books or in the Nahj al-Balagha. Sunnah_sentence_124

See also Sunnah_section_22


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: