The Relationship Between Koran and Sunnah

According to the Koran, Prophet Muhammad was chosen by Allah to be His messenger to the world. Allah revealed the Koran to him, and also supplied him with additional information to convey to the people. As Islam is derived from the Koran, the smaller details are derived from the teachings of the Prophet. Those teachings are called Sunnah (or Sunna). For example, Allah asks Muslims for five prayers a day, but the Prophet used to add more prayers in between the five compulsory ones. Following the Prophet's examples, or Sunnah, leads to great rewards from Allah and allowance for sins to be forgiven on Judgment Day.

Some Sunnah have to do with the way the Prophet carried out his daily life. Others give the Prophet's explanation of Koranic text. These clarifications are found in the Hadith—quotes and anecdotes of Muhammad. There are thousands of Hadith that Muslims use to understand the Koran and Allah's instructions thoroughly. A simple example would be as follows: The Koran states in reference to ablution, or ritual cleansing, that a person must wash his arms to the elbows, and his face, head, and feet. Prophet Muhammad complements the Koran by teaching his followers exactly how to wash, what other body parts to include, and the number of repetitions.

It is important to emphasize that the Prophet's Sunnah and Hadith are believed to be of divine source, like the Koran itself. Any other rituals of worship innovated by people that are not in accordance with the Koran or the Sunnah are variations of the original Islamic teachings. The Koran comments on this as follows: “It is not fitting for a Believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah and His Messenger to have any option about their decision: if any one disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he is indeed on a clearly wrong path” (33:36).

From a general perspective, the Koran and the Sunnah are the two sources of Islam. The Koran comes first, then the Sunnah complements it, explaining and clarifying what is difficult for the people to understand. Prophet Muhammad provided guidance through his Hadith and gave the people an example to follow. Muslims consider him the role model for Islam, and his teachings cannot be separated from the teachings of the Koran.

According to Islamic teachings, ablution is a standard requirement before most acts of worship. The Koran and the Sunnah teach that the hands, mouth, nostrils, arms, face, head, ears, and feet must be washed or wiped with clean water in that particular order to qualify as proper ablution.

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