Yes, the Sunnah, the practice and example of the Prophet, is the second authority for Muslims. A Hadith is a reliably transmitted report of what the Prophet said, did, or approved (his Sunnah). Belief in the Sunnah is part of the Islamic faith. The Sunnah is used as an explanation or a further clarification of the Qur’an.
From the Islamic standpoint, Sunnah refers to anything narrated or related about the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), authentically traced to him regarding his speech, actions, traits, and silent approvals before and after the revelation.
‘Aisha (the wife of the Prophet) was once asked: “What was the character of the Prophet?” She replied: “His character was nothing but the Qur’an”. Thus the Prophet, peace be upon him, was an embodiment of the Qur’an itself: whatever he practised or said, i.e. the Sunnah, is related to the guidance of the Qur’an. Let us explore the role of the Sunnah in relation to the Qur’an.
- The Sunnah explains Qur’anic injunctions in detail.
- The Sunnah can establish a specific meaning when a number of meanings are possible.
- The sayings of the Prophet Muhammad explain some historical events in detail since they are mentioned only briefly in the Qur’an.
- The Sunnah can specify exemptions from a general injunction.
Muslims cannot choose to go against the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah. Believing in the Qur’an without the Sunnah is a contradiction as the Qur’an confirms the importance of the Sunnah:
“O you who believe! Obey God and obey the
Messenger and those charged with authority among
you; and if you differ in anything among yourselves,
then refer it to God and the Messenger if you do
believe in God and the Last Day. That is best and
most suitable for final determination.” (Quran 4:59)