What is Sunnah?

Sunnah consists of the practices of the prophet Muhammad pbuh during his life aimed at setting an example for Muslims everywhere. Sunnah is inclusive of the Prophet’s routine, practices, and habits. The word Sunnah literally translates to a pathway or flow which in religious context relates to the recommended shari’ah lifestyle.

Sunnah is also relatively synonymous with Hadith. Sunnah (the prophet’s actions) were recorded by his companions in the Hadith.

Muhammad pbuh was the prophet of god, however his job was not just to deliver the holy scripture and be a mere vessel for dissemination of knowledge. The prophet exemplified the words he preached from the Quran. He related the Quran to the people and lived as a moral example so that people better understood the Quran, also avoiding the chance of misinterpretation.

The Quran recognises that the Prophet is the best example for other believers as it commands 3:32 “Obey God and his Messenger”

However this is not to be mistaken for worshipping the Prophet, instead he is shown as the ultimate role model, which is why his way of life is Sunnah, the clear path. By adhering to the Sunnah, Muslims are following the way of life prescribed in the Quran and accordingly becoming closer to Allah and living their lives perpetually following the word of Allah.

The Meaning of Islam and Common Misconceptions

The word Islam is derived from the Arabic root “SLM” which means, among other things, peace, purity, submission and obedience. In the religious sense the word Islam means submission to the Will of God and obedience to His law. The connection between the original and the religious meanings of the word is strong and obvious. Only through the submission to the WIll of God and by obdedience to His law can one achieve true peace and enjoy lasting purity. 


Some outsiders call Islam “Mohammedanism” and address the believer of Islam as “Mohammedans”. Muslims both protest and reject the use of these words. If Islam is classified as Mohammedanism, it is implied that the religion takes after a mortal being, namely Muhammad PBUH, similar to perhaps Judaism, Hinduism, etc. Another misconception that may arise is that “Mohammedans, are worshippers of Muhammad as perhaps Christians are of Jesus. However muslims worship God alone. Muhammad PBUH was only a mortal being commissioned by God to teach the word of God and lead an exemplary life. He stands in history as the best model for a man of piety and perfection. He is a living proof of what man can be and of what he can accomplish. 


Moreover Muslims do not believe that Muhammad PBUH founded Islam (in a sense of what its core values are), although it was restored by him in the last stage of the religious evolution. The original founder of Islam is no other than God himself, and the date of the founding of Islam goes back to the age of Adam. Islam has existed in one form or another all along form the beginning and will continue to exist till the end of time. 


From the book “Islam in Focus” by Hammuhad Abdalati

The Five Pillars of Islam

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These five pillars are the core of Islam and the basics prescribed to all Muslims to have an enriched and blessed life.

Shahadah (Declaration)

This means the expression of faith, done through the bearing witness to the oneness of god. This is done by reciting the “kalima” that translates to  “There is no God but God and Muhammad is the Messenger of God.” This proclamation expresses and individuals commitment to Islam through the acceptance of this basic fundamental principle.

Salah (Prayer)

Muslims need to pray five times a day to maintain a constant connection with God. Muslims pray towards The Kaaba (house of god) in Makkah, Saudia Arabia. The five prayers are offered at dawn (Fajr), noon (Zuhr), mid-afternoon (Asr), sunset (Maghreb), and night (Isha). During the holy month of Ramadhan, extra prayer are offered during the night called Taraweeh, as a form of extra supplication.

Zakat (Almsgiving)

Every financially capable muslim is prescribed to donate a fixed proportion of their personal wealth or income to to charity. This is the Islamic way of ensuring prosperity within communities and eliminating the financial gap between the classes. The Zakat is given at 2.5% of total income minus all expenses.

Sawm (Fasting)

Fasting is conducted during the holy month of Ramadhan. Fasting is a way of personal worship where Muslims aim to strengthen and deepen their relationship with their creator. Fasting is conducted through the restriction of food and water from sunrise till sunset. However, there are many more restrictive facets of fasting. A Muslim must also restrain from any sexual activity, aggression and foul language and general negative acts. Ramadhan is also the month of the descent of the Holy Qur’an which is why extra prayer during the night is rewarded greatly (taraweeh).  After Ramadhan, Muslims celebrate for three days by having a feast, Eid Al- Fitr where families unite and be merry.

Hajj (Pilgrimage)

For all financially and physically able Muslims, performing Hajj is obligatory. The Hajj is performed by going to the Holy landmarks associated with the creation of Islam in Makka and Medina. The Muslims follow the order of rituals as done by the Prophet Muhammad pbuh and the pilgrimage is marked a peak in their spiritual journey.