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Sunna

SUNNA

Literally, trodden path, meaning norm or practice.

The Sunna refers to the divine physical and moral laws set out in the universe and in the Qurʾan. However, the term is used most commonly in reference to the example and customary practice of the prophet Muhammad. The Prophet's Sunna has more than one usage in Muslim tradition. As a technical term used in the shariʿa (Islamic law), it refers to the binding rules derived from the Prophet's sayings, or hadith. The Sunna then represents the laws that can be extracted from the hadith. As such, it is the second most important source of law after the Qurʾan. In a more general meaning, often used by jurists and theologians, the Sunna refers also to all the customs and habits of the Prophet, including his everyday life practices, that are not considered by the shariʿa as obligatory. Hence the term Sunna is often used in the sense of recommended or good practice. Examples of this are the supererogatory prayers and fasting the Prophet performed over and above the prescribed rituals. These are referred to as Sunna prayers or Sunna fasting. Certain very strict Muslim movements make the nonbinding Sunna obligatory, and extreme Muslim parties have, at times, after seizing power, imposed it on all Muslims and made practices such as wearing beards mandatory, although the enforcement of any practice that is not legally binding is considered illegitimate in Islamic law.

see also hadith; muhammad; qurʾan; shariʿa.


Bibliography

Kamali, Mohammad Hashim. Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence, revised edition. Cambridge, U.K.: Islamic Texts Society, 1991

scott alexander
updated by maysam j. al faruqi

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Sunna

Sunna (Arab., ‘custom’). Customary practice which, in Islam, may refer to both bad and good examples in the past. But supremely the sunna refers to the way in which the Prophet Muḥammad and his Companions (Ṣahāba) lived, and to what they said and did (attending also to that concerning which they were silent). Thus Qurʾān is the fundamental authority, but the sunna forms the first living commentary on what Qurʾān means, and thus becomes equally the foundation for Muslim life: the sunnat al-nabī, the ‘example of the prophet’, controls Muslim life even in small details. Non-Shiʿite Muslims are therefore known as Ahl al-Sunna waʾl-jamāʿa, the people of the sunna and of the gathered assembly, i.e. Sunnis. Shiʿites (Shīʿa) share most of the sunna with them, but place emphasis on the role of the Imām in guiding the community, and they also accuse Sunnis of suppressing ḥadīth which support Shīʿa beliefs and practices.

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Sunna

Sunna the traditional portion of Muslim law based on Muhammad's words or acts, accepted (together with the Koran) as authoritative by Muslims and followed particularly by Sunni Muslims. The word is Arabic, and means literally ‘form, way, course, rule’.

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Sunna

Sunnabelladonna, Connor, donna, goner, gonna, honour (US honor), Maradona, Mashona, O'Connor, Shona, wanna •corner, fauna, forewarner, Lorna, Morna, mourner, sauna, scorner, suborner, warner •softener • Faulkner •downer, uptowner •sundowner •Arizona, Barcelona, boner, condoner, corona, Cremona, Desdemona, donor, Fiona, groaner, Iona, Jonah, kroner, Leona, loaner, loner, moaner, Mona, owner, Pamplona, persona, postponer, Ramona, stoner, toner, Valona, Verona, Winona •landowner • homeowner • shipowner •coiner, joiner, purloiner •crooner, harpooner, lacuna, lacunar, lampooner, Luna, lunar, mizuna, Oona, oppugner, Poona, pruner, puna, schooner, spooner, Tristan da Cunha, tuna, tuner, Una, vicuña, yokozuna •honeymooner • Sunna • Brookner •koruna

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