Hadith of the Quran and Sunnah
Several hadith (oral traditions concerning the words and deeds of the Islamic prophet Muhammad) indicate the importance as sources of Islam not only the Quran (the revelation of God to Muhammad, infallible but containing compressed information), but also of the Sunnah (a detailed explanation of the everyday application of the principles established in the Qur'an, based on hadith). One of these hadith quotes Muhammad as saying (in his Farewell Sermon):
John Esposito explains the importance of the Quran and the Sunnah in Islam: "The Prophet Muhammad is seen as the 'living Quran,' the embodiment of God's will in his behavior and words. Sunni Muslims ... take their name from sunnah, meaning those who follow the example of the Prophet." Prof. Fatih Okumus refers to Muhammad as "the walking Qur’an," with the Sunnah giving an example to follow.
Both Sunni and Shia Muslims agree on the general importance of following both the Quran and the Sunnah. However, they may disagree as to whether some hadith or tradition forms part of the Sunnah in the first place. As the sayings and deeds of Muhammad were reported via many different sources, there was disagreement about what constituted sunnah, and how that affects what should be shariah.
Relationship to the Hadith al-Thaqalayn
Both Sunni and Shi'a Muslims accept the authenticity of the similar hadith of the two weighty things (Hadith al-Thaqalayn):
Yazid b. Hayyan reported, I went along with Husain b. Sabra and 'Umar b. Muslim to Zaid b. Arqam and, as we sat by his side, Husain said to him: [...] Zaid, narrate to us what you heard from Allah's Messenger (ﷺ). He said:
- [...] One day Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) stood up to deliver sermon at a watering place known as Khumm situated between Mecca and Medina. He praised Allah, extolled Him and delivered the sermon and exhorted (us) and said:
- [...] I am leaving among you two weighty things: the one being the Book of Allah in which there is right guidance and light, so hold fast to the Book of Allah and adhere to it.
- He exhorted (us) (to hold fast) to the Book of Allah and then said:
The Hadith al-Thaqalayn holds special importance for Shi'a Muslims, because they perceive it to provide support for the succession of Ali (a member of Muhammad's own family, or Ahl al-Bayt) rather than Abu Bakr (who was not a family member). Shi'as view the Hadith al-Thaqalayn as a clear indication that Muhammad wished to keep the matter of leadership within his own family. It is based on this claim that the Shi'as reject the first three Sunni caliphs.
Sunnis, by contrast, recognize the Hadith al-Thaqalayn as sahih but see it as mandating respectful obedience to members of the Ahl al-Bayt, rather than pertaining to succession.
Versions of this hadith (with slight variations) are cited in many Sunni collections. Among these are:
- Al-Jami'li-Akhlaq al-Rawi, an 11th-century collection by Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi
- Sunan al-Daraqutni, a tenth-century collection by Al-Daraqutni
- Sira al-Nabawiyyah, an eighth-century biography of the Prophet by Ibn Hisham
This hadith is considered sahih (authentic) by the following Sunni scholars:
The Sunnis generally accept this hadith, but narrowly define sunnah as the sayings and deeds of Muhammad. From a Sunni viewpoint, the Shi'a definition of sunnah is too broad; it includes Muhammad's "implicit approvals" and even the sayings of imams other than Muhammad.
Shi'as reject the hadith of the Quran and Sunnah, deeming it to be a fabrication designed to distract from another saying of Muhammad — the Hadith al-Thaqalayn — by replacing the latter's specific and pointed reference to Muhammad's Ahl al-Bayt with a generic reference to the sunnah.
The Shi'as believe that the Hadith al-Thaqalayn is mutawattir, meaning that it has been related so many times by so many people that there is no doubt about its authenticity.
- Recep Dogan (2013). Islamic Law, with the Quran and Sunnah Evidences (from a Hanafi perspective). FB Publishing. p. 12. ISBN 978-0-9857512-4-1.
The Prophet (pbuh) recommended these two sources to Muslims in his last sermon; "I am leaving you two trustees which, if you hold on to them you will never deviate from the straight path; they are Allah's book, the Qur'ān and His messenger's Sunnah." (Ibn Majah.)
- Umar F. Abd-Allah (2013). Mālik and Medina: Islamic Legal Reasoning in the Formative Period. Brill. p. 95. ISBN 978-9004247888.
In Malik's hadith, the Prophet states, "I have left with you two things which, if you follow them, you will never go astray: the Book of God and the sunna of His Prophet" (Muw., 2:899).
- Muhammad Hisham Kabbani (2003). The Approach of Armageddon?: An Islamic Perspective: a Chronicle of Scientific Breakthroughs and World Events that Occur During the Last Days, as Foretold by Prophet Muhammad. Washington, D.C.: Islamic Supreme Council of America. p. 67. ISBN 978-1-930409-20-0.
I have left among you two matters by holding fast to which, you shall never be misguided: Allah's Book and the Sunnah of His Prophet.
- John Esposito (2010). The Future of Islam. Oxford University Press. p. 43. ISBN 978-0-19-516521-0.
- Fatih Okumus (2008). "The Prophet As Example". Studies in Interreligious Dialogue. 18: 82–95. doi:10.2143/SID.18.1.2031612.
- Ahmad, Abu Umar Faruq (2010). Theory and Practice of Modern Islamic Finance: The Case Analysis from Australia. Boca Raton, Florida: BrownWalker Press. p. 59. ISBN 978-1-59942-517-7.
- Subḥānī, Jaʻfar (2001). The Doctrines of Shi'ism: A Compendium of Imami Beliefs and Practices. London: I.B. Tauris. p. 103. ISBN 978-1-86064-780-2.
- "Sahih Muslim, book 44: The Book of the Merits of the Companions, hadith 55". Translated by Abdul Hamid Siddiqui. Retrieved 2019-12-01.
- "Muwatta Malik, book 46: The Decree". Sunnah.com. Retrieved 2019-12-01.
Yahya related to me from Malik that he heard that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "I have left two matters with you. As long as you hold to them, you will not go the wrong way. They are the Book of Allah and the Sunna of His Prophet."
- Vol 1 p111, 1983 ed.
- Vol 4 p.245 #149
- vol6 p.8-10
- As stated in his book Mustadrak al-Hakim, vol 1 p 93
- As stated in his work Tamhid, vol 24 p 331
- As stated in his work al-Ihkam vol 6 p 243
- Mohammad Hashim Kamali (1999). "Law and society: the interplay of revelation and reason in the Shariah". In John L. Esposito (ed.). The Oxford History of Islam. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 107–154, 118. ISBN 978-0-19-510799-9.
- Syed Mohammed Ali (2004). The Position of Women in Islam: A Progressive View. Albany, New York: State University of New York Press. p. 7. ISBN 978-0-7914-6095-5.
- Musa, Aisha Y. Hadith as Scripture: Discussions on the Authority of Prophetic Traditions in Islam, New York: Palgrave, 2008.