In the name of Allah the Most Gracious the Most Merciful
The meaning of Sunnah in different sciences of Islaam
By Shaykh Dr Muhammad bin ‘Umar bin Saalim Baazmool may Allah preserve him
The shaykh mentions in his book “Virtues of Following the Sunnah” the different meanings of the term “sunnah”. He said that it could mean:
1. Linguistic (Lugha) meaning of Sunnah
Seerah or Tareeqah- a path or a way
You could say: Bakr is on the sunnah (path) of Zayd.
2. Legislative (Sharee’ah) meaning of Sunnah
Following what the Messenger (peace be upon him) ordered and staying away from the prohibited. The sharee’ah includes everything the messenger ordered in regards to doing the obligatory/recommended affairs and also leaving off the prohibited/disliked affairs.
3. Meaning of Sunnah according to the scholars of Hadeeth
It is whatever is attributed to the messenger from his:
- Statements– Ex: “All actions as based on intentions”
- Actions- Ex: How he would pray
- Whatever he acknowledged- If something was done in front of him and he didn’t prohibit it
- Description of his attributes- Ex: He wasn’t too tall or short, his face was white, and his smile was like the moon.
- His mannerisms- Ex: ‘Aisha said about him that his mannerisms were the Quran
4. Meaning of Sunnah according to the scholars of Fiqh and Usool Fiqh
It is whatever is attributed to the Messenger from his:
- Whatever he acknowledged
It is popular (opinion) people have that sunnah only takes the meaning of recommended (mustahab), meaning whoever does the action will be rewarded while the one who leaves it off will not obtain a sin. What is apparent is that this meaning only is found in Fiqh and Usool Fiqh. It is not correct for us to explain the word sunnah as what comes from the messenger, or from the speech of the companions, their students, or major imaams to only mean recommended. That is because sunnah is more general and it encompasses both recommended and obligatory affairs.
And for this the imaams of the salaf (pious predecessors) in the first three generations would author and compile books with the name “sunnah” in the title, and what was meant was the affairs of creed (or aqeedah).
Ibn Abee ‘Aasim, Abdullah bin Ahmad ibn Hanbal and other than them had books entitled “Kitaabus Sunnah” (and sunnah here meant creed).
Translated by: Michael AbdusSalaam Deonarain
الفقير الى الله