Sources of Islam

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi



Islam is the guidance which was first inspired by the Almighty in human nature and after that it was given by Him with all details to mankind through His prophets. Muhammad (sws) is the last of these prophets. Consequently, it is now he alone who in this world is the sole source of this religion. It is only through him that man can receive divine guidance and it is only he who, through his words, deeds or tacit approvals, has the authority to regard something as part of Islam until the Day of Judgement. The Qur’an says:


هُوَ الَّذِي بَعَثَ فِي الْأُمِّيِّينَ رَسُولًا مِّنْهُمْ يَتْلُو عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتِهِ وَيُزَكِّيهِمْ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ (2:62)

It is He who has sent among the unlettered a Messenger from amongst themselves who rehearses upon them His verses and purifies them and for this he instructs them in shari‘ah and in hikmah. (62:2)


It is this shari‘ah (law) and this hikmah (wisdom) which is termed as “Islam”. The source of this religion is the Prophet Muhammad (sws) from whom it has been given to the ummah through the consensus of his Companions (rta) and through their perpetual practice and perpetual recitation in two forms:


1. The Qur’an

2. The Sunnah


1. The Qur’an

Every Muslim knows that the Qur’an was revealed by Allah to Muhammad (sws) – the last of the prophets – and it has since then remained with the ummah with the unanimous verdict from the ummah itself that it is this very book which was revealed to the Prophet (sws), and which his Companions (rta), through their consensus and through their perpetual recitation, delivered to the world without the slightest alteration.


2. The Sunnah

By Sunnah is meant that tradition of Prophet Abraham’s (sws) religion which the Prophet Muhammad (sws) instituted among his followers as religion after reviving and reforming it and after making certain additions to. The Qur’an has directed Muhammad (sws) to obey this Abrahamic tradition in the following words:


ثُمَّ أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ أَنِ اتَّبِعْ مِلَّةَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ حَنِيفًا وَمَا كَانَ مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ (123:16)

Then We revealed to you to follow the ways of Abraham, who was true in faith and was not among the polytheists. (16:123)


The following portion of Islam has been given to us through the Sunnah:


Worship Rituals

i. The Prayer

ii. Zakah and Sadqah of ‘Id al-Fitr

iii. Fasting and ‘Itikaf

iv. Hajj and ‘Umrah

v. Animal Sacrifice and the takbirs during the days of tashriq1


Social Sphere

i. Marriage and Divorce and their relevant details

ii. Abstention from coitus during the menstrual and the puerperal period


Dietary Sphere

i. Prohibition of pork, blood, meat of dead animals and animals slaughtered in the name of someone other than Allah

ii. Slaughtering in the prescribed manner of tadhkiyah by taking Allah’s name


Customs and Etiquette

i. Remembering Allah’s name before eating or drinking and using the right hand for eating and drinking

ii. Greeting one another with assalamu ‘alaykum (peace be to you) and responding with wa ‘alaykum al-salam (and peace be to you)

iii. Saying alhamdu lilah (praise be to Allah) after sneezing and responding to it by saying yarhamu kallah (may Allah have mercy on you)

iv. Saying adhan in the right ear of a new born baby and saying ‘iqamah in its left ear

v. Keeping moustaches trimmed

vi. Shaving pubic hair

vii. Shaving the hairs under the armpits

ix. Circumcising the male offspring

x. Cleaning the nose, the mouth and the teeth

xi. Cleaning the body after excretion

xii. Bathing after the menstrual and the puerperal period

xiii. Ghusl-i Janabah2

xiv. Bathing the dead before burial

xv. Enshrouding a dead body and preparing it for burial

xvi. Burying the dead

xvii. ‘Id al-Fitr

xviii. ‘Id al-Adha


This is all what the Sunnah is, and it can be said with certainty that there is no difference between it and the Qur’an as far as their authenticity is concerned. Just as the Qur’an has been received by ummah through the consensus of the Prophet’s Companions (rta)  and through their perpetual recitation, the Sunnah has been received by it through their consensus and through their perpetual practice and stands validated like the Qur’an in every period of time through the consensus of the ummah. Consequently, there is no doubt or debate about it now.

All that is Islam is constituted by these two sources. Nothing besides these two is Islam or can be regarded as its part.

A narrative of the words, deeds or tacit approvals of the Prophet (sws) called Hadith and the knowledge gained from them can never be regarded as absolutely certain. Hence, a Hadith does not add anything to the content of Islam stated in the Qur’an and Sunnah. Ahadith (plural of Hadith) only explain and elucidate what is contained in these two sources and also describe the exemplary way in which the Prophet (sws) followed Islam. This only is the sphere of Hadith which falls within the ambit of Islam. Outside this sphere, there exists no narrative which can be called or accepted as Hadith.

Within this sphere, however, every person who after being convinced of a Hadith accepts it as one containing the words, deeds or tacit approvals of the Prophet must follow it. In no circumstances can he evade or ignore it; in fact, it becomes incumbent upon him to accept any directive or decision of the Prophet (sws) depicted in that Hadith.



(Translated from Ghamidi’s Mizan by Shehzad Saleem)







1. The tenth, eleventh and twelfth of dhu al-hijjah.

2. The ceremonial bath performed after ejaculation or after sexual intercourse.