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Difference between sunnah and adab


What is the difference between sunnah and adab? Is sunnah something proven from hadith and adab not proven from hadith? What is the need for adab if we have the sunnah of Nabi (sallalahu ‘alayhi wa sallam)?


Adab which is usually translated as etiquette is a broad term which the fuqaha say also includes acts that Nabi (sallalahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) had done, but not habitually.

(Bazzaziyyah; see Kash-shafu Istilahatil Funun vol.1 pg. 53)

Hafiz Ibn Hajar (rahimahullah) defines adab as ‘doing or saying praiseworthy actions or statements  and adopting splendid character’.

(Fathul Bari vol. 10 pg. 414)

Sunnah is defined as those deeds that are proven from the hadith and meet a certain technical criteria.

(Tuhfatul Abrar pgs. 9-16)

Why do we need adab?

1) The author of Bazzaziyyah says: ‘ Wajib was ordained to perfect the fard, sunnah to perfect the wajib and adab to perfect the sunnah’.

(See Kash-shafu Istilahatil Funun vol.1 pg. 53)

2) Imam ‘Abdullah ibn Mubarak (rahimahullah) said:

“If I leave out a single etiquette of Islam, I fear that Allah I will deprive me of all that He has bestowed me with.”

(Kitabu-Tahajjud of Al-Ishbili (rahimahullah) pg. 132.)

3) The following has been reported from the Salaf (pious predecessors) among them Imams Ruwaim (rahimahullah) and Abu ‘Ali Ad-Daqqaq (rahimahullah):

“Whoever belittles etiquette  will be punished by being deprived of the sunnah, and who leaves a sunnah will be deprived of the fardh (obligatory) deeds and he will eventually be deprived of his recognition of Allah”

(Kitabut- Tahajjud of Ishbili, pg.132 & Mu’idun Ni’am of Subki, pg. 85)


The above statements show the importance of adab, and what will result if adab is abandoned.


And Allah Ta’ala Knows best


Answered by: Moulana Suhail Motala


Approved by: Moulana Muhammad Abasoomar


Checked by: Moulana Haroon Abasoomar