So I was thinking and deliberating about this point regarding Sunnah and Hadith and how these two terms are used almost interchangeably and synonymously in many discussions and circles. Sometimes this leads to confusion and blurring of lines to identify the issue at hand. This might even have implications on the way we perceive the structure and sources of Deen. I have listened to some discussion regarding Sunnah but found only very few mentioning or separating these two terms.

If we try to define these maybe this would clear up the distinction a little bit:

(First of all when I say "Sunnah" this is referring to the technical meaning of this word and not the usual literal meaning which can be applied to any habit or action)


"The practice or action oriented part of the Deen. The set of practices and rituals which the Holy Prophet (saw) revived and instituted as a part of Islam and taught the first generation of Companions. This first generation then passed on these practices and rituals to the later generations and part of Ummah along with their overall essential (and maybe coarse) details. Examples include:

  • Salat
  • Hajj
  • Zakat
  • Saum etc.

The essential parts of these practices were transferred authentically via 'tawatur' (continuity) and 'ijma' (consensus) of the entire first generation of Companions and henceforth the later Ummah. Hence we see there are a few opinions/differences regarding the details of these practices but overall structure is agreed upon in the entire Ummah as a bulk. This kind of transmission is authentic and is like the transmission of Holy Quran which is transmitted via very authentic and sound means and also has 'ijma' and 'tawatur' of the entire Ummah from the very first generation of Companions.

The very noteworthy part about Sunnah is that the Prophet(saw) made sure that these get learned and later on transmitted to the whole ummah as part of his responsibility to convey the deen of Islam."


"These are the collections of the sayings and actions and circumstances of the life of the Prophet(saw) which he said or did during his lifetime (if we exclude other small details present about companions for now). Hence these might include details about instances where the Prophet(saw) himself practiced some part of the "Sunnah" in his very excellent manner. Other parts maybe relevant to the circumstances of the time and conversations and sayings about those.

Hadith was primarily an oral and written record of these sayings and actions. Though orally the record started from the first generation of Companions itself (maybe a few written fragments as well) but it did not enjoy the same level of 'tawatur' or 'ijma' of the entire first generation or ummah. Rather this was present with individual companions who voluntarily remembered or wrote down some part of the sayings and actions of the Prophet to whom they had access to and themselves experienced and were inclined to remember and pass on to later people.

The "authentic" collections which we now have of Hadith started getting compiled in the second and third centuries of Hegira.

The very noteworthy part about Hadith is that the Prophet(saw) did not enjoin or encourage the Companions as a whole to remember or write them down in order to pass onto later generations as part of his responsibility to convey the deen. He left it to the volition of interested individuals"

As a corollary to the above distinction made it can be said that the essentials/mandatory elements of Deen are all covered as part of Sunnah (without the necessity of Hadith)

So what are your thoughts regarding above distinction and the way it alludes to about the authentic sources of Deen? Are there any missing points/points of confusion that you see in the above? How much of this seems sound and agreeable?


1 Answer 1


I wish someone edits the question and deletes the body of question.

Sunnah is every rule related to worship, inheritance, business dealings, marriage, halal, haram, jihad, etc. sahih sunnah is revelation from Allah and only Allah can make something halal and haram. Rejection of Sahih Sunnah removes one from fold of Islam.

Ahadith are sayings of prophet, related to past nations (the story of people of Ditch, boy, monk, king and magician, story of zayd bin amr bin Nufayl who searched for religion of Ibrahim), grafting in agriculture , conversation with Aisha (i swear by rabb of Muhammad(peace be upon him)/i swear by rabb of ibrahim).

Musa b. Talha reported: I and Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) happened to pass by people near the date-palm trees. He (the Holy Prophet) said: What are these people doing? They said: They are grafting, i. e. they combine the male with the female (tree) and thus they yield more fruit. Thereupon Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said: I do not find it to be of any use. The people were informed about it and they abandoned this practice. Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) (was later) on informed (that the yield had dwindled), whereupon he said: If there is any use of it, then they should do it, for it was just a personal opinion of mine, and do not go after my personal opinion; but when I say to you anything on behalf of Allah, then do accept it, for I do not attribute lie to Allah, the Exalted and Glorious. Muslim 2361

Narrated Aisha: That Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said to her, "I know when you are pleased with me or angry with me." I said, "Whence do you know that?" He said, "When you are pleased with me, you say, 'No, by the Lord of Muhammad,' but when you are angry with me, then you say, 'No, by the Lord of Abraham.' " Thereupon I said, "Yes (you are right), but by Allah, O Allah's Messenger (ﷺ), I leave nothing but your name. Bukhari 5228.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .