What are Hadeeth and Sunnah?

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Articles in this Series :

 –  Introduction to ‘Hadith: The Integral Part of Islam’
- Article 1: What are Hadeeth and Sunnah?
- Article 2: Is Quran the only form of Revelation to Mohammad (SAS)?
- Article 3:  Role of Prophet Muhammad (SAS)
- Article 4: Importance of Sunnah, Hadith & Scholars
Article 5: Referring to Messenger (SAS), on the issue of Hadiths
- Article 6: Reply to common arguments of Hadith Rejecters (Part1)
- Article 7: Reply to common arguments of Hadith Rejecters (Part2) 
- Conclusion & References 


Article 1 -What are Hadeeths and Sunnah?

            Before we proceed to some of the core topics, we first need to lay down, what are we really discussing about? Because there is no point in discussing the importance or implications of Hadiths or Sunnah until we clearly define as to what are they.  So here are the basic definitions.


Hadeeth: The Arabic word Hadeeth basically means ‘an item of news, conversation, a tale, a story or a report,’ whether historical or legendary, true or false, relating to the present or the past. Its secondary meaning as an adjective is ‘new’ as opposed to qadeem, ‘old’. However, like other Arabic words (e.g. salaah, zakaah), its meaning changed in Islam. From the time of the Prophet (pbuh), his stories and communications dominated all other forms of communication. Consequently, the termHadeeth began to be used almost exclusively for reports that spoke of his actions and sayings.

Hadeeth and Sunnah: The term Hadeeth has become a synonym for the term Sunnah, though there is some difference in their meanings. Sunnah, according to Arabic lexicographers, means ‘a way; course; rule; manner of acting or conduct of life’.  Sunnah, as a technical term in the Science of Hadeeth, refers to whatever statements, acts, approvals, physical or character descriptions that are attributable to the Prophet (pbuh) along with his biography before or after the beginning of his prophet hood. It is thus synonymous with the term Hadeeth. However, according to Usool al-Fiqhscience (legal methodology), Sunnah refers to only the statements, acts and approvals of the Prophet (PBUH). It also refers to whatever is supported by evidence from the sharee‘ah (Islamic laws); the opposite of bid‘ah (innovation). And in the Legalistic science of Fiqh the term Sunnahrefers to recommended acts. The Examples of different types of Sunnah as per Science of Hadith could be seen below,

Example of ‘Statement’

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet (saww) said, “Whoever does not give up forged speech and evil actions, God is not in need of his leaving his food and drink (i.e. God will not accept his fasting.)” [Saheeh Bukhari]

Example for ‘Acts’

Malik b. Huwairith reported: The Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) raised his hands apposite his ears at the time of reciting the takbir (i. e. at the time of beginning the prayer) and then again raised his hands apposite the ears at the time of bowing and when he lifted his head after bowing he said: Allah listened to him who praised Him, and did like it (raised his hands up to the ears).  [Saheeh Muslim]

Example of ‘Approval’

Narrated Abdullah ibn Umar: I used to sell camels at al-Baqi for dinars and take dirhams for them, and sell for dirhams and take dinars for them. I would take these for these and give these for these. I went to the Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) who was in the house of Hafsah. I said: Apostle of Allah , take it easy, I shall ask you (a question): I sell camels at al-Baqi’. I sell (them) for dinars and take dirhams and I sell for dirhams and take dinars. I take these for these, and give these for these. The Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) then said: There is no harm in taking them at the current rate so long as you do not separate leaving something to be settled.  [Sunan Abu Dawud]

Thus Prophet(PBUH) allowed money exchange with condition

Example of character ‘Description’

Anas b. Malik reported: I served the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) for ten years, and, by Allah, he never said to me any harsh word, and he never said to me about a thing as to why I had done that and as to why I had not done that. [Saheeh Muslim].



Next Article in the Series
 Is Qur’an the only form of revelation to Prophet Muhammad (sas) ?