Hadith and Sunnah are two concepts in Islam that are often misunderstood or misinterpreted. Although these terms share similarities, they have different connotations and statuses in the Quran. Assigning similar meanings to Hadith and Sunnah could create complications for Muslims. This article aims to differentiate between these two concepts by highlighting their features.
The word Sunnah is used in the Quran to describe the Sunnah of Allah, which helps to clarify the meaning of the term. It literally means a path that has been trodden – a smooth and beaten path. Allah did a great favor for believers by sending his prophet, who took it upon himself to instruct and purify people in the ways of Allah. The teachings of the prophet and his ways of dealing with friends and family can be considered to have Allah’s approval or seal. In every aspect of life, the prophet’s words or silent approval serve as a guide for Muslims. The prophet demonstrated the rules of conduct in Islam through his actual practice in life, making them of great significance and importance.
However, the prophet’s role is much more than that of a courier chosen to deliver Allah’s sayings. He also performs the role of interpreter and teacher. Although the basic laws regarding zakat, umrah, fasting, prayers, and pilgrimage are laid out in the Quran, there are no specific details about these subjects. This is where the Sunnah of the Prophet becomes useful for the faithful.
Hadith refers to the tacit approval of the prophet for a particular behavior or way of doing things. Islamic scholars called Muhaddithin discuss two classes of Hadith, namely Kahabar-i-Tawatur and Khabar-i-Wahid (or multiple evidence Hadith and single evidence Hadith). According to these scholars, Hadith is the approval of the prophet. If a follower acted in a certain way in the presence of the Prophet, and the Prophet neither said anything nor disapproved of the behavior, it was considered as an approval of the prophet.
In general, Hadith is the narration of the Prophet’s life and what he approved of during his life. Hadith literature is Islamic literature that contains narrations of the life of the Prophet and all the things he approved.
- Sunnah is always authentic, while Hadith can be authentic or spurious.
- Hadith have been written and interpreted by Islamic scholars, making them dependent upon their ways of thinking, character, memory, and intellect.
- Sunnah has been passed down from one generation to another, so there is little chance of error.