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Sunnah (Arabic: سنة) lexically means a road or pathway that is trodden and generally refers to a habitual practice or a customary procedure. Islamically the term denotes the narratives relating the speech, biographical details and deeds of Prophet Muhammad, his daughter Fatima and the twelve Imams.[1] The term is often used synonymously with hadith, however the Sunnah is considered to include statements (qawl) , actions (fi'l) and tacit approvals (taqrir).[2]

After the Qur'an, the Sunnah is the second source used by jurists to derive religious edicts.[3] Imam Muhammad al-Baqir (as) considers holding fast to the Sunnah of the Prophet as a basic characteristic of an extremely well qualified jurist, and says:

إنّ الفقيه الزاهد في الدنيا ، الراغب في الآخرة ، المتمسك بسنّة النبي
A true jurist is he who renounces what is in this world, desires for what is in the hereafter and clings to the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh).[4]


  1. Outlines of the Development of the Science of Hadith, by Dr. Mustafa Awliya'i
  2. Sunnah, from Shi'i and Sunni Viewpoints, by Ayatullah Ali Mishkini
  3. What are the sources of Shi‘i jurisprudence {fiqh}?, The Shi'ah Rebuts by Sayyid Rida' Husayni Nasab
  4. Usul al-Kafi, vol. 1, “Kitab Fadl al-Ilm,” Baab al-Akhdh bi’s-Sunnah wa Shawahid al-Kitab, hadith 6
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