The Sunnah

Islam       Session Ten

Item #3, bullet #5 of Outline:  The Sunnah

The Koran is the holy book of Islam, but it is not the Muslim’s only guide.  Muslims also have the Sunnah (“a well trodden path”). The Sunnah is comprised of two elements – The Hadith and the Sira.  The Hadith is a compilation of the words and deeds of Muhammad and the Sira is a biography of Muhammad.

According to Islamic scholar Mohammed Nasir-ul-Deen al-Albani, “There is no way to understand the Koran correctly except in association with the interpretation of the Sunnah.”  Scholar Wael B. Hallaq concurs, observing “that the Sunnah is binding on Muslims” and has been established “on the basis of the Koran which enjoins Muslims to obey the Prophet and not to swerve from his ranks.” (#17, P. 18)

The Hadith is the collection of the words and deeds of Muhammed.  Several different Hadiths have been compiled, but only two are considered “Sahih” (“sound” or “reliable”).  These are Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim; both compiled in the 9th century.

According to Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan of the Islamic University in Medina . . .”they (many religious scholars of Islam) unanimously agreed that the most authentic book after the Book of Allah (the Koran) is Sahih al-Bukhari.”  (#15, P. 46).  The al-Bukhari Hadith, which contains 2,602 traditions, is only Hadith that will be cited in this presentation.

Following are some examples of traditions taken from the al-Bukhari Hadith; there location will be identified with reference to volume, book and number.  For example: “The Prophet cut off the hands and feet of the men belonging to the tribe of Uraina and did not cauterize (their bleeding limbs) till they died.” (8,82,795) (#2, P. 43)

  • “The Prophet wrote the (marriage contract) with Aisha while she was six years old and consummated his marriage with her while she was nine years old and she remained with him for nine years.” (7,62,88) (#2, P. 43)
  • “Allah made the prophet wealthy through conquests.” (3,495) (#14, P. 62)
  • “He (Muhammad) commanded that anyone who fell away from Islam should be murdered.” (4,260,630) (#14, P. 62)
  • “Muhammad predicted that no one would be left on earth after one hundred years. (1,539) (#14, P. 63)
  • “We should drink camel urine as a medicine.” (1,234) (#14, P. 65)
  • “People turn into rats, pigs and monkeys.” (4,524,627) (#14, P. 64)

The Hadith of al-Bukhari will be cited many times in future sessions of this presentation.

The Sira is a biography of Muhammad written by one of Islam’s greatest scholars, Ibn Ishaq, in the eighth century. Along with the Koran and the reliable hadiths, the Sira is a canonical text of the Islamic faith. (#2, P. 44-45)

An excerpt from the Sira:

  • ” When God gave permission to his Apostle to fight, . . .Now they (Muhammad’s followers) bound themselves to war against all and sundry for God and his Apostle, while he promised them for faithful service thus the reward of paradise.” (Sira. P. 208) (#2, P. 46)

To summarize:  The Sunnah, as noted above, has been established on the basis of the Koran and is binding on Muslims.  It is comprised of the Hadith and the Sira.  The Hadith of al-Bukhari is considered the most authentic.  The Sira (a biography) of Muhammad is the second part of the Sunnah, but is not cited as guidance nearly as often as is the Hadith.

Shariah Law will be the subject of the next session.