What is the difference between Mazhab & Deen and Hadith & Sunnah?


Dear Mubashir Nazir Sahib,


This is Arif Aziz.

After a long time I am contacting with you.

I am regular reader of your articles published in ISHRAQ DAWA’H edition. Also time to time I visit your URL. I would like to ask you that :

1. What is the difference between Mazhab & Deen?

2. What is the correct and simple definition of Sunnah and what is the difference between Hadith & Sunnah?

Your detailed and comprehensive reply by return email will be highly appreciated.

Thanking you very much,

As a student of DEEN I request you to please allow me to submit any question in your good honour.

Thanks, once again.



Dear Arif sb

Wa alaikum us salam wa Rahmatullah

Its a pleasure to received your email. How are you and how the life going on?

Regarding your questions, the answers are as follows:

1. The words “Deen” and “Mazhab” are not the terminology of the Quran & Sunnah. In the Quran, word “Deen” is used to describe as different meanings e.g. Religion, law of the land, reward etc. which is obviously taken from the Arabic vocabulary. For example:

إِنَّ اللَّهَ اصْطَفَى لَكُمْ الدِّينَ فَلا تَمُوتُنَّ إِلاَّ وَأَنْتُمْ مُسْلِمُونَ

“Surely, Allah has chosen the ‘religion’ for you. So you should not die unless you are submitting yourself to God.”

لا إِكْرَاهَ فِي الدِّينِ

“There is no persecution in the religion.”

إِنَّ الدِّينَ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ الإِسْلامُ

“Surely, the religion in front of Allah is Islam.”

مَا كَانَ لِيَأْخُذَ أَخَاهُ فِي دِينِ الْمَلِكِ

“It was not possible for him to keep his brother according to the law of the king.”

مَالِكِ يَوْمِ الدِّينِ

“The Owner of the Day of Judgment.”

The word “Mazhab” is not used in the Quran. In general sense, it is used as a synonym of “Deen” which means “religion”. In Fiqh, it is used to describe the sense of “Point of View” in a disputed manner.

Recently, two scholars Dr. Israr Ahmed & Ghulam Ahmed Pervez have used these terms in different meanings. According to them, the word “Deen” is more general and includes the sense of a “System”. Ancient scholars do not agree with them and use these terms synonymously.

2. In Quran & Hadith, the word Sunnah is used in its literal sense as “practical example”.

فَقَدْ مَضَتْ سُنَّةُ الأَوَّلِينَ

“The example of earlier people has passed.”

In terminology of religious studies, Sunnah means the practical example of the Prophet صلی اللہ علیہ وآلہ وسلم which he instituted among his followers. It is available to us through the consensus practical perpetuation (Tawatur) of Sahaba Kiram.

Hadith is a general term used to describe any information about the sayings and practice of the Prophet. Information about Sunnah is also available to us through Hadith.

The same is the point of view of Hanafi and Maliki Schools of Thought. Imam Shafi’i also has the same view. But these scholars use different words to describe the Sunnah e.g. Sunnat Mutawatira, Sunnat Ma’loomah, Sunnat Thabitah, I’lm ul A’aam etc.

Scholars for certain schools of thought e.g. Hanbali, Ahl Hadith, Zahiri, and some Shafi’i use these both terms synonymously. While reading their books, it is essential to know that which scholar uses what term in what meaning.

If you want to study the discipline of Usul ul Fiqh in depth, you have to study in a systematic manner. Do not limit yourself only to a particular school of thought but study other schools of thought in detail on the “Principles of Understanding Islam”. Also see the Kitaab ur Risala of Imam Shafi’i (d. 204H) in detail which is considered the first book in this discipline. I’ve translated that book. The relevant debate of Hadith & Sunnah is available on the following link but he has used different terms i.e. I’lm ul A’aam and I’lm ul Khas:

I hope this will help. Please feel free to ask any question in future.



Don’t hesitate to share your questions and comments. They will be highly appreciated. I’ll reply as soon as possible if I know the answer. Send at mubashirnazir100@gmail.com.

What is the difference between Mazhab & Deen and Hadith & Sunnah?
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