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Sunnah

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The Oxford Dictionary of Islam What is This? Covers the religious, political, and social spheres of global Islam in the modern world

    Sunnah

    Established custom, normative precedent, conduct, and cumulative tradition, typically based on Muhammad 's example. The actions and sayings of Muhammad are believed to complement the divinely revealed message of the Quran, constituting a source for establishing norms for Muslim conduct and making it a primary source of Islamic law. In the legal field, Sunnah complements and stands alongside the Quran, giving precision to its precepts. Sunnah encompasses knowledge believed to have been passed down from previous generations and representing an authoritative, valued, and continuing corpus of beliefs and customs. Early Muslim scholars developed and elaborated the concept of Prophetic Sunnah in order to capture as complete a picture of Muhammad's exemplary life as they could authenticate on the basis of hadith reports. The quest to memorialize Muhammad's life and ground it in historically verifiable process led to the biographical tradition known as sirah. This literature informed and inspired Muslim communities' interpretations of Islam as they sought to ground their own juridical, doctrinal, and historical identities in what they perceived to be normative Sunnah. Sunnah serves as a common template for Muslim groups and individuals, permitting them to represent a connection with the beginnings of Islam and acting as a common referent in the religious discourse of community formation and identity. It fosters self-identity and enhances the private moral lives of Muslims.

    See also Hadith

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