The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ lived his life as an example of the Quran and how practice Islam in daily life as well as show it in our character. The Sunnah (his teachings, called ‘Hadith’) are transmissions of how he lived his life, so we can learn from him.
The Prophet’s Character
When his wife Ayesha was asked what the character of the Prophet was, she replied “… his character was the Quran” (narrated by Muslim, Abu Dawood, Ahmad) which means that the way he lived his life was in line with the teachings of the Quran. His character was soft and gentle, and he wasn’t harsh in his teachings.
“I have been sent to perfect good character.”
– Prophet Muhammad
Reported by Malik in Sahih
Compilation of his teachings
The Hadith and Sunnah can be seen as a biography of the Prophet. They are written records of acts he performed (e.g. how he prayed, how he opened his fast), how he was with people (his family, his followers, outside people) and things he said (sometimes through revelation from Allah known as ‘Hadith Qudsi’, but also ranges from advice he gave people, conversations he had and lessons he taught).
During his life he initially asked people not to record what he was saying, due to fear that people would confuse the transmission of the Quran with the transmission of his Sunnah. Later on, he allowed people to note down so that they could transmit to other people.
All Hadith has a chain of transmission, which is why there is always a “e.g. reported by Mailk” and then a mention of which book it’s recorded in “e.g. Sahih Muslim/Sahih Bukhara”. This is to ensure that the saying can be narrowed down to a credible course, and prevent people from spreading false Hadith, which has happened in the past and some false hadith are still floating around today. This is why it is important to always look up the credibility of the Hadith.
Are Hadith important? Can’t we just read the Quran?
This is a common questions amongst Muslims, and there is a movement of people who say they will follow just the Quran, while ignoring the Sunnah. Without going into too much debate, some points to consider are:
- If we are meant to follow only Quran, why did Allah send the Quran through a Prophet? Why didn’t He just send the book down and expect us to read it and understand it?
- The Quran, while being a seemingly simple book, has areas that need further explanation, which the Prophet provided. For instance, the Quran says to pray, but the Prophet showed us how to pray.
- People might feel like the Quran is hard to follow in daily life and perhaps asks too much, such as fasting and giving charity. The Prophet taught us how to follow what Allah asks but still keep a balance with everything else like family life and work.
Read the Teachings of the Prophet (Sunnah and Hadith)
Sunnah.com is excellent resource to browse the library of valid and credible Hadith.