Categories of Sunnah and its role in explaining and elaborating the Quran
Fatwa No: 40372

  • Fatwa Date:23-1-2014 - Rabee' Al-Awwal 22, 1435
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The Noble Quran was sent down to the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. It included all the purposes and goals for which he was sent in general terms and therefore they require an explanation and interpretation.
Then what about the role that the Sunnah plays in explaining the rules and regulations of the Noble Quran? What are the categories of the Sunnnah?


All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His Slave and Messenger.

The categories of the Sunnah and its role in elaborating and clarifying the Quran is a great long research that cannot be included in this Fatwa only.  However, we will mention some guidelines that can guide you to what you ask and show you how the Sunnah clarifies the Noble Quran and how it is closely connected to it. Actually, the Sunnah is of three categories and they are as follows:

The first category confirms and clarifies the Quran, as it was narrated on the authority of Ibn ‘Umar  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  him that the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “Islam is based on five (principles); Testifying that there is none worthy of worship but Allaah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah, establishing (the five compulsory) prayers, paying Zakah, (performing) Hajj, and observing fast during the month of Ramadan. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

The second category clarifies what is in the Quran, which has many aspects, and they are as follows:

1.     Explaining its general terms, such as explaining the number of Rak‘ahs of the Prayers and everything that is related to it, explaining the rules of Hajj and ‘Umrah, and the like.

2.     Specifying its general terms, such as specifying the forbidden kinds of trading and deducing them from the verse in which Allaah The Almighty Says (what means): {But Allaah Has Permitted trade...} [Quran 2:275]

3.     Qualifying its absolute statements, such as qualifying the verse in which Allaah The Almighty Says (what means): {After any bequest which was made or debt.} [Quran 4:12] Hence, the Sunnah has limited it to one-third and what is below it.

4.     Clarifying the ambivalent, such as clarifying the verse in which Allaah The Almighty Says (what means): {They who believe and do not mix their belief with injustice.} [Quran 6:82] When this verse was confusing and difficult for the Companions  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  them to understand, and they said: “Who of us has not done injustice to himself!” The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “It is not what you think. Rather it is as what Luqmaan said to his son: {O my son, do not associate [anything] with Allaah. Indeed, association [with Him] is great injustice.}”  So, he explained to them that injustice here means associating others with Allaah The Almighty.

5.     Expanding its brevity, such as mentioning the details of the story of the Companions of the Trench which the Noble Quran mentioned in brief.

6.     Abrogating some of the rulings of the Quran, such as abrogating the ruling of bequeathing to parents and heirs in general, where Allaah The Almighty Says (what means): {If he leaves wealth [is that he should make] a bequest for the parents and near relatives according to what is acceptable – a duty upon the righteous.} [Quran 2:180]

7.     Building a ruling according to a principle set in the Quran; such as prohibiting consuming one another's property unjustly in the prohibited contracts even if this is done by mutual consent. Allaah The Almighty Says (what means): {O you who have believed, do not consume one another's wealth unjustly but only [in lawful] business by mutual consent.}  [Quran 4:29]. The Sunnah also clarified that the prohibited contracts are unlawful, even if there is mutual consent.

The third category obligates or forbids a ruling that is not mentioned in the Quran; such as the obligation of giving the Zakah of Al-Fitr, prohibiting a man from marrying a woman while he is married to her paternal or maternal aunt, prohibiting eating the flesh of every wild animal having canine teeth and every bird having a talon, prohibiting men from wearing gold or silk garments and the like.

Allaah Knows best.

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