My question concerns the idea of Sunnah. I am not sure if people misuse the term or not. Many people define Sunnah as the way of life of the Prophet (pbuh). For this they incorporate the way the prophet did certain things and his likes and dislikes as well as what he actually ordered Muslims to do. I am confused though as to what exactly is the Sunnah of the Prophet in this regard.
In my opinion, the term, “Sunnah” refers only to those things, which the Prophet (pbuh) generally, promoted among ALL his followers, as a part of God’s guidance to man. By the above definition, A particular Hadith1 may or may not comprise of any Sunnah. Similarly, whatever the Prophet (pbuh) did, ate, wore, ride, etc., because it was never promoted by the Prophet (pbuh) among all his followers, as Deen, is therefore, not included in the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh).
Hadith may refer to any one or more of the Sunnahs of the Prophet, but basically, the Hadith is not the source of the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh). The source of the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh), on the contrary, is the consensus of the companions of the Prophet (pbuh)2 and the practical perpetuation of the companions as well as all the subsequent generations of Muslims3. Even today, there is generally, a complete consensus as well as practical perpetuation of the Muslims all over the world regarding the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh).
Examples of Sunnah, among a number of other things include:
Number of obligatory rak’ah in our daily prayers,
Takbeer e Tehreemah at the beginning of our prayers,
Bathing, takfeen and Jinazah prayers for the dead,
Eid Prayers and their rak’ah, etc.
31st December 1997
- A term used for narratives ascribed to the Prophet (pubh). [↩]
- i.e., no noticeable difference of opinion has been reported among them, in the particular matter. [↩]
- i.e., the companions of the Prophet (pbuh) as well as the later generations of Muslims has practically adhered to it, without any noticeable deviation. [↩]