I have come across many people who do not know the difference between hadith and Sunnah and often mix these concepts. These two terms are used interchangeably though inaccurate. Hadith and Sunnah are two different terms having a different meaning, so, these two terms cannot be mixed.
Difference between Hadith and Sunnah
In more easy and common words, Sunnah is what our beloved Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (S.A.W.W) has said, did approved, disapproved. So, it is based on the actions performed by the Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (S.A.W.W). Meanwhile, Hadith is what is being reported from the Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (S.A.W.W).
Several Ulema-e-Islam has cleared the difference between Hadith and Sunnah. These two terms are not only different in the context of their authenticity, but also in terms of their content.
Let’s figure out what Hadith actually means. A hadith is “A narration of the words, deeds, or tacit approvals of the Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (S.A.W.W).” the two main sources of Islam are Quran and Sunnah. Ahadith are only what is being explained and contained in these two sources.
It also explains the exemplary way in which our beloved Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (S.A.W.W) has followed Islam. Hadith is the explanation of the Quran and Sunnah. Many Ahadith are being found that can record the Sunnah or explain the qur’anic verses.
Moreover, the scholars of Hadith have also called hadith as a ‘Khabar’. A Khabar can be authentic or just a rumor and so is believed for hadith. There are many suspicions regarding Ahadith.
Ahadith can be unauthentic or authentic as well. Ahadith are being transferred from person to person and there is a strong possibility that they can be molded according to the memory of the person.
The literal meanings of the word Sunnah are “Busy Path, Trodden Path, or Beaten Path”. Sunnah refers to all the practices of the Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (S.A.W.W). these practices are being followed by the Muslims.
One thing must be cleared that the practices of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) are actually the practices of Prophet Abraham (SWT). In Quran, the Almighty Allah has very clearly mentioned that,
“Then We revealed to you to follow the ways of Abraham, who was true in faith and was not among the polytheists. (16:123)”
Moreover, where it is believed that Hadith can be suspicious and can be inauthentic, Sunnah cannot be so. It is as authentic and true as the Quran. Sunnah is a practice that is flowed by the generations. So there are no chances of any error as a thousand people from generation to generation are performing the same practices.
Sunnah is purely according to the practical aspects of Islam. For example, offering prayer, performing Hajj, giving Zakat, Nikah, wadu, and Tayammum.
One important thing to note down is that Sunnah is not based on Hadith. It is called an independent source of Islam.
So, the above-mentioned differences were some of the very common ones and we must have to clarify what actually Hadith and Sunnah are without mixing them. I hope you guys have now clear minds about the difference between Hadith and Sunnah.