What is the meaning of the Sunnah
What is the difference between Hadith and Sunnah?
The term "Sunnah" has three different meanings, which are often confused by Muslims when the term is mentioned in discussions.
Answered by Šayẖ Nūḥ Ḥā Mīm Keller
The first meaning of the word “Sunnah” is in the context of šarīʿa judgments, in which “Sunnah” is a synonym for “mandūb"Or" recommended ". So it is something that will be rewarded for practicing in the next life, such as using miswāk to brush your teeth before prayer, but you will not be punished for failure to do so. You could use them in this context „wāǧib“or counter “mandatory”; So one means something for which one will be rewarded for the execution in the next life, for example for carrying out the imposed prayers, and also be punished for failure to do so. The Sunnah is in this sense after wāǧib or "duty" on the second level of those things which Allah requires of us.
A second meaning of the Sunnah is described in the context of identifying written sources, namely when, for example al-kit-b, i.e. the Qurʾān, the Sunnah, i.e. the H-dīt, is opposed. In this sense, Sunnah is basically a synonym for ḥadīṯ and is used to distinguish one's own source evidence from that of the Qurʾān. It should be noted that this shows a vastly different meaning from the meaning of the term “Sunnah” mentioned above, even if people sometimes mix the two together, believing that the Qurʾān determines what is obligatory, while the Hadith merely determines the Sunnah or that Set Recommended. The regulations of both types can be found both in the Qurān and in the hadiths.
A third meaning of the Sunnah illustrates the path of the Prophet - peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him - which are embodied in his sayings, actions and noble states of heart, along with his approvals (either by explicit affirmation or by silent approval), as well those things which he intended but was not given the opportunity to do, such as fasting on the ninth day of Muḥarram (taswa). Here the Sunnah simply describes the path of the Prophet - peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him - and should not be confused with either of the two meanings already mentioned. In contrast to the first meaning, his Sunnah or his way contains not only what is recommended, but rather the whole šarīʿah and the entire spectrum of its laws, whether compulsory (wāǧib), recommended (Sunnah), permitted (mubāḥ), the avoidance of what is frowned upon (makrūh) or forbidden (ḥarām). And in contrast to the second meaning, his Sunnah or his way - peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him - is not only contained in the Aḥādīt, but first and foremost in the Qurʾān. Thus ʿĀʾiša - may Allah be pleased with her - said in a hadeeth in Ṣaḥīḥ al-Buẖārī: "His character was the QuranʾĀn.“
The confusion and resistance that often arises when Muslims discuss the Sunnah could perhaps be avoided if these differences were clear.
Original source: http://www.masud.co.uk/ISLAM/nuh/hadith.htm
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