The Sunnah and Hadith are critical components of Islam and are the practices and sayings of Prophet Muhammad (SAW). The messenger of Allah (SAW) stated : “I have left among you two matters by holding fast to which, you shall never be misguided, the book of Allah (the Qur’an) and my Sunnah.” This quotation is what is termed as a Hadith.
The two terms are often interchanged in meaning but there is a difference between the two. Hadith are the narrations or sayings of the Prophet (SAW) whilst the Sunnah which means a ‘path’ contains those practices that are were established by the Prophet (SAW) among his companions and have passed down by the consensus of the generations. Many of these practices originated from Prophet Ibrahim (PBUH) and the messenger of Allah (SAW) made revisions to them or made some additions where appropriate.
It should be noted that the manner in which the Almighty dealt with the past nations – and which holds true for all nations- has been termed in the Qur’an as the Sunnah of Allah, a classic example appearing below:
There can be no difficulty to the Prophet in what Allah has indicated to him as a duty. It was the practice (approved) of Allah amongst those of old that have passed away. And the command of Allah is a decree determined.
Sura Ahzab 33:38
The established Sunnah is deemed as reliable as the Qur’an as it is transmitted in the same way ie general consensus of the generations. The Hadith may not be as reliable as the Sunnah and therefore may need to be verified and understood under the light of the Qur’an and established Sunnah. The Qur’an and Sunnah are therefore considered the primary sources of the religion and the Hadith as a source of understanding of the life of the Prophet (SAW) and his way of living i.e Sira. It therefore provides a supplement to study the Qur’an and the established Sunnah.
To get a more detailed description as well as the actual Sunnah and Hadith, the following links may be used: