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Sunnah Meaning in Islam and Its Significance

Sunnah- The World’s best man till today Holy prophet (P.B.U.H) is one of the most honorable individuals in Islam and is Allah’s last prophet. Muslims all around the world, follow the sayings and actions of the Prophet to please Allah. He’s a role model to both ancient and modern Muslims. The Muslims follow the teachings of the Quran, Sunnah, and hadith in their everyday life.

The sunnah word originates from the Arabic language. In Islam, it refers to the way of life of the Holy Prophet (P.BU.H). The actions and sayings of the prophet are called Sunnah.

In this article, we will discover the significance of sunnah and the rewards associated with it. The different types of sunnah along with examples.

Meaning Of Sunnah in English

To understand the meaning behind the word Sunnah, let’s explore its translation in a few common languages, to grasp the concept better. The word “Sunnah” originated from the Arabic language, in English, it translates into “Habitual practice”. Which means the activities a person carries out day to day.

However, In Islamic law, the Sunnah refers to the customary practices of the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H). it includes everything, the sayings, the actions, and the activities that Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) approved of, or did not oppose. Sunnah is the second source of Islamic Jurisprudence.

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Meaning of Sunnah in Urdu

In Urdu, the word “Sunnah” is often  pronounced as “Sunnat” (سنت). It is also referred to as the “Sunnat e Rasool” which means the rituals and practices of their Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H).

If we see the lexical meaning of the Sunnah in Urdu, it means “ Roz Karne wale kaam”. روزمرہ) کے عمل)

In Urdu, the Sunnat e Rasool, refers to the conduct of life carried out by the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H). The Muslims follow Sunnah and hold it in the highest regard. Because the Prophet (P.B.U.H) was the last Prophet of Allah, the way he lived his life carries a lesson for every Muslim.

The Sayings of the Quran about Sunnah

The Quran serves as evidence of the importance of Sunnah and Hadith. A believer cannot practice Islam, without following both the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah. The Quran and sunnah are indispensable. The sunnah includes everything the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H) said, did, and approved of. It also includes things he opposed, which means not doing them would be a Sunnah.

The sunnah provides guidance on every matter in life, later in examples, we will discuss how sunnah helps Muslims to make challenging decisions as well. In the Holy book of the Quran, The importance of Sunnah, and the rewards associated with following it have been discussed several times.

In Surah Anfal, which is present in para 9th and 10th, in verse no.1 Allah says,

يَسْـَٔلُونَكَ عَنِ ٱلْأَنفَالِ ۖ قُلِ ٱلْأَنفَالُ لِلَّهِ وَٱلرَّسُولِ ۖ فَٱتَّقُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ وَأَصْلِحُوا۟ ذَاتَ بَيْنِكُمْ ۖ وَأَطِيعُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُۥٓ إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ”

Which translates into:

“They ask you concerning the spoils of war? Tell them: ‘The spoils of war belong to Allah and the Messenger. So fear Allah, and set things right between you, and obey Allah and His Messenger if you are true believers.”

In this verse, Allah has clearly commanded the believers to obey him and his messenger. Which means following the sunnah. This verse reflects that true believer are those who obey Allah and the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H).

The Quran has also mentioned sunnah in the Surah Al-Hashar, verse no 7, which is in para number 28.

مَّآ أَفَآءَ ٱللَّهُ عَلَىٰ رَسُولِهِۦ مِنْ أَهْلِ ٱلْقُرَىٰ فَلِلَّهِ وَلِلرَّسُولِ وَلِذِى ٱلْقُرْبَىٰ وَٱلْيَتَـٰمَىٰ وَٱلْمَسَـٰكِينِ وَٱبْنِ ٱلسَّبِيلِ كَىْ لَا يَكُونَ

دُولَةًۢ بَيْنَ ٱلْأَغْنِيَآءِ مِنكُمْ ۚ وَمَآ ءَاتَىٰكُمُ ٱلرَّسُولُ فَخُذُوهُ وَمَا نَهَىٰكُمْ عَنْهُ فَٱنتَهُوا۟ ۚ وَٱتَّقُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ ۖ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ شَدِيدُ ٱلْعِقَابِ

This translates into:

“As for gains granted by Allah to His Messenger from the people of ˹other˺ lands, they are for Allah and the Messenger, his close relatives, orphans, the poor, and ˹needy˺ travelers so that wealth may not merely circulate among your rich. Whatever Messenger gives you, take it. And whatever he forbids you from, leave it. And fear Allah. Surely Allah is severe in punishment.”

In this verse, it is mentioned that the believers must take whatever they get from the Prophet (P.B.U.H). and they must avoid whatever the Prophet forbids. Because for them, He simply commands goodness and forbids wrongdoing. The words of the Prophet (P.B.U.H) are considered the direct orders of Allah. Or we can say that the Sunnah of the Prophet is the interpretation of the Quran.

Types of Sunnah

three types of Sunnah have been discussed in Islamic literature. They are:

1- Qawliyyah/Hadith

The sunnah Qawliyyah refers to the sayings of the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H). It is also known as Hadith. These sayings of the Prophet were noted down by his companions and preserved safely, so they could reach modern Muslims.

2- Sunnah Fi’liyyah

Sunnah Filiyyah, or sunnah al- Fi’liyyah, refers to the actions of the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H). This means the way he prayed salat, the exact way he fasted and performed the pilgrimages. But not just this, it also includes all of his daily activities and common rituals.

3- Sunnah Taqririyyah

Lastly, the Sunnah Taqririyyah refers to the actions and deeds of the companions of the Prophet (P.B.U.H) which our Prophet did not oppose. This means that either he was pleased by those deeds, or he kept silent on them.

Sunnah Vs Hadith

After the Holy Quran, Muslims consider the sunnah and Hadith as the ultimate guide to Islam. Because it includes the deeds of the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H). However, many people tend to confuse the use of the term Sunnah and Hadith. Both of them have different meanings.

The sunnah word originates from the Arabic language. In Islam, it refers to the way of life of the Holy Prophet (P.BU.H). The actions and sayings of the prophet are called Sunnah. Whereas, the hadith only accounts for the sayings of the Prophet.

Hadith word translates into ‘’Report, account, or narrative.” Hadith refers to the sayings of the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H) which were collected by his companions. After the death of the Prophet (P.B.U.H), the stories were passed down by a chain of narrators. Those who could not be verified were considered weak.

The most authentic sources for hadith are Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, and Sunan Abu Dawud.

Hadith Examples:

  1. Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace, and blessings be upon him, said:

 تُفْتَحُ أَبْوَابُ الْجَنَّةِ يَوْمَ الِاثْنَيْنِ وَيَوْمَ الْخَمِيسِ فَيُغْفَرُ لِكُلِّ عَبْدٍ لَا يُشْرِكُ بِاللَّهِ شَيْئًا إِلَّا رَجُلًا كَانَتْ بَيْنَهُ وَبَيْنَ أَخِيهِ شَحْنَاءُ فَيُقَالُ أَنْظِرُوا هَذَيْنِ حَتَّى يَصْطَلِحَا أَنْظِرُوا هَذَيْنِ حَتَّى يَصْطَلِحَا أَنْظِرُوا هَذَيْنِ حَتَّى يَصْطَلِحَا

Translation:

“The gates of Paradise are opened on Monday and Thursday. Allah forgives every servant who does not associate anything with Him, except a man with enmity between himself and his brother. It will be said: Delay these two until they reconcile, delay these two until they reconcile.”

  1. Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace, and blessings be upon him, said:

أَيْنَ الْمُتَحَابُّونَ بِجَلَالِي الْيَوْمَ أُظِلُّهُمْ فِي ظِلِّي يَوْمَ لَا ظِلَّ إِلَّا ظِلِ

Translation:

“Verily, Allah will say on the Day of Resurrection: Where are those who love each other for the sake of My glory? Today, I will shelter them in My shade on a day when there is no shade but Mine.”

Importance of Sunnah

The world has not seen a human being who was more kind than the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H). He was an ideal individual and is considered a role model for all Muslim nations. The way he led his life, holds many lessons for people to learn. As it is mentioned in the Quran Pak, in Surah Al-Ahzab, in verse no 21:

لَقَدۡ كَانَ لَكُمۡ فِىۡ رَسُوۡلِ اللّٰهِ اُسۡوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ لِّمَنۡ كَانَ يَرۡجُوا اللّٰهَ وَالۡيَوۡمَ الۡاٰخِرَ وَذَكَرَ اللّٰهَ كَثِيۡرًا ؕ‏

“Surely there was a good example for you in the Messenger of Allah,34 for all those who look forward to Allah and the Last Day and remember Allah much.”

Allah mentions in Quran that, Hazrat Muhammad (P.B.U.H) is a role Sunnah is important because it provides guidance on any and every matter, be it the way you should eat your food or the way you need to trim your nails. The Holy Quran and the Prophet’s Sunnah are recognized as the main sources of Islamic law.

Allah taa’la states in Surah An-Najam verses no.3 and 4 that:

وَمَا يَنطِقُ عَنِ ٱلْهَوَىٰٓ ٣

“Nor does he speak of his own whims.”

إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا وَحْىٌۭ يُوحَىٰ ٤

“It is only a revelation sent down ˹to him˺.”

This means that the actions and sayings of the Prophet, are not just his own teachings, but it is what is revealed to him By Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala. This means that not obeying him would equal not obeying Allah.

The benefit of Sunnah

As we all know that the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H) was one of the most beloved Prophets of Allah. Allah has clearly mentioned in Quran that the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H) is the last prophet, and the person who does not accept that, is not considered a Muslim. That’s what the Kalma Shahadat translates into.

The Muslims who follow the Sunnah of their Prophet is dear to Allah, and they will be rewarded, both in this world and in the hereafter as well. As the Prophet himself said,

“Whoever revives my Sunnah then he has loved me. And whoever loved me, he shall be with me in Paradise.” [Tirmidhi]

This implies that following the Sunnah of the Prophet does not just improve the quality of your life but it has eternal benefits for the believers. The ultimate aim of any Muslim in life is to reach Jannah, which is impossible without following the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah. Sunnah guides us about the smallest affairs in life, for example,

“The Holy Prophet used to sleep on his right side (Bukhari). Furthermore, he prohibited sleeping on the stomach. (Abu Dawud).”

According to a recent study, sleeping on one’s side lowers the risk of acquiring neurological disorders including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

Research has revealed that lying on the stomach might cause sudden death syndromes in infants, hence doing so is bad (SIDS). Another study discovered that children who sleep on their fronts tend to clench their teeth at night.

So it all comes down to the fact that the Sunnah of the Prophet is not just beneficial for the believers in the long term, but also improves the quality of life.

Sunnah Examples

To understand the concept of Sunnah better, let’s have a look at some examples. Sunnah refers to the deeds of the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H). It also refers to the deeds of the Prophet’s companions which pleased him, or those which he did not oppose, and kept silent on them.

1.   The Use Of Miswak

 

The Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H) used to use Miswak to clean his teeth, and it is considered a Sunnah. It comes from a tree that has great anti-bacterial properties and maintains proper hygiene of the mouth.

Abu Hurairah narrated that Allah’s Messenger said:

“If it were not that it would be difficult on my nation, then I would have ordered them to use the siwak for each prayer.” [Tirmidhi]

2.   Constantly Wearing a Smile:

A Believer should keep a constant smile on his face not, only its a Sunnah, but it is scientifically proven that smiling increases the production of the antidepressant hormone, serotonin. Which makes a person happy.

Ibn Jaz reports: “I have not seen anyone who smiled more than the Messenger of Allah .”[Tirmidhi]

3.   Sleeping and Waking up Early

When it comes to our capacity to perform successfully and efficiently during daily tasks, our sleeping habits, specifically the sleep of the night, are quite important. You can put yourself in the greatest possible frame of mind to be your best self throughout the day by beginning the day with the morning Salah, Fajr.

It was the Sunnah of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to rise early and pray his salat.

Hazrat Aisha (R.A) narrated Prophet: The prophet (P.B.UH) used to sleep early at night, and get up in its last part to pray, and then return to his bed.” (Al Bukhari).

Sunnah Prayers

The Muslims are obliged to pray five times a day, Fajr, Zohar, Asar, Maghrib, and, Isha. however, there are Sunnah prayers as well that Muslims can perform to obtain more rewards. Sunnah is the voluntary prayers, that were performed by our Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H).

The sunnah prayers are optional, but it is highly advised that a person prays these Sunnah rakats. on the Day of Judgment, any fard (Obligatory)  prayers that were missed will be made up with the sunnah prayers that were performed.

Sunnah of The Prophet FAQS

Q1. what is the meaning of Sunnah?

The word “Sunnah” originated from the Arabic language, in English, it translates into “Habitual practice”. Which means the activities a person carries out day to day.

Q2. What is meant by Sunnah in Islam?

In Islamic law, the Sunnah refers to the customary practices of the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H). it includes everything, the sayings, the actions, and the activities that Prophet Muhammad (P.B.U.H) approved of.

Q3. What are the types of Sunnah?

There are three types of Sunnah that have been discussed in Islamic literature. They are

  1. Qawliyyah/Hadith: The sunnah Qawliyyah refers to the sayings of the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H). It is also known as Hadith.
  2. Sunnah Fi’liyyah: Sunnah Filiyyah, or sunnah al- Fi’liyyah, refers to the actions of the Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H). This means the way he prayed salat, the exact way he fasted and performed the pilgrimages.
  3. Sunnah Taqririyyah: Sunnah Taqririyyah refers to the actions and deeds of the companions of the Prophet (P.B.U.H) which our Prophet did not oppose. This means that either he was pleased by those deeds, or he kept silent on them.

Q4. What is the difference between Sunnah and Hadith?

The sunnah word originates from the Arabic language. In Islam, it refers to the way of life of the Holy Prophet (P.BU.H). The actions and sayings of the prophet are called Sunnah. Whereas, the hadith only accounts for the sayings of the Prophet.

Q5. what are the most authentic sources for Hadith?

The most authentic sources for hadith are Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, and Sunan Abu Dawud.

Q6. What are the benefits of Following the Sunnah?

The Muslims who follow the Sunnah of their Prophet is dear to Allah, and they will be rewarded, both in this world and in the hereafter as well.

Q7. Give an example of Sunnah.

Using Miswak to clean your teeth and mouth is a Sunnah.

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