Sources of Islamic Law
Islamic law is either from Quran & Sunnah.
The linguistic meaning of sunnah is a "syster, example, or a path." In islam it refers to the practice of the Prophet peace be upon him, his life example, and includes his statements, actions and approval of other's actions. Hadith means "statement" which refers to traditions about Prophet Muhammada peace be upon him that circulated among his followers after his death. The Sunnah is contained in hadiths.
The Quran is the word of Allah, whereas the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, are the practical interpretations of the Quran. The Sunnah is whatever the Prophet said, did or approved, the Sunnah being inspiration also, but in the Prophet's words. The role of Prophet was to convey the Quran as he received it, to interpret it, and to practice it fully. His interpretations and practices produced what is known as the traditions. They are considered an equal source of legislation and must be in complete harmony with the Quran, which is the Standard & Criterion.
The term Sunnah refers to the statements and action of Prophet peace be upon him, as well as the statements and actions of others done in his presence which did not meet his disapproval. The Sunnah is considered the second source of revelation based on Allah's statement in the Quran.
"He does not speak from his desires. Verily it is inspiration which has been revealed." (An Najm 53:3-4)
The Prophet peace be upon him was given the job of conveying the final message of God to mankind.
"O Messenger, convey what has been revealed to you from your Lord." (Al Maida 5:67)
And he was also given the responsibility of clarifying for mankind God's intent in the message: "And We have sent down to you the Message, that you may explain clearly to the people what is sent for them, that perhaps they may reflect." (Al Nahl 16:44)
Sometimes, the Prophet peace be upon him, would explain the intent of the Quranic texts by making a statement, at other times he would do so by an act, and yet other times he would do so by both. For example, the Quraan commanded the believers to establish prayers without describing how Salah should be performed, so the Prophet peace be upon him, prayed among his followers then told them. "Pray as you have seen me pray." (Al Bukharee)
Thus the sunnah, was an exposition of the Quran by which its generalities were clarified and its intended meanings specified. Consequently, everything in the Sunnah is addressed in the Quran, either by inference of by direct reference. The address may be so general as to include the whole Sunnah as in the case of the verse:
"Whatever the Messenger gives you, take it; and whatever he forbids you, leave it." (Al Hashr 59:7)
Or the address may indicate generally defined laws, the details of which are left to the Sunnah. Hence, the Sunnah may explain the methodology, reasons, requirements and location, or it may explain the inclusions which could not be logically deduced. An example of such inclusions may be found in the case of forbidden foods beyond those mentioned in the Quran. Allah does state in reference to the Prophet:
"He made lawful for them the good (and pure) things and forbade them the bad (and impure) (Al Araf 7:157)
This refers to hadith: Anas bin Malik said,: On the day of the Battle of Khaybar a visitor came and said: O Messenger of Allah, the donkeys have been eaten. Then another came and said: O Messenger of Allah, the donkeys are being destroyed. Allah's Messenger peace be upon him then sent Abu Talha to make an announcement: Allah and His Messenger have prohibited you from eating the flesh of domesticated donkeys, for it is bad (and impure)
"Say: (O Muhammad to mankind): If you do love Allah, then follow me: Allah willl love you. And forgive you your sins. Allah is Forgiving Merciful. Say obey Allah and the Messenger, but if they turn away be sure Allah loves not unbelievers" (Al Imraan 3:31/2)
"Whoever obeys the Messenger has obeyed Allah." (Al Nisaa 4:80)
"O you who believe, obey Allah, and obey the Messenger, and those in authority among you." (Al Nisa 4:59)
"Muhammad is not the father of any man among you, but he is the Messenger of Allah and the seal of the prophets." ( Al Ahzaab 33:40)
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