In Islam, please give an account of Muhammad's Sunnah as a source of law as well as a model of exemplary conduct for life in general. 

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The Sunnah is a way in which Muhammad's words can be adhered to as both law and also as a guide for an individual on how to live and what to do.  The Sunnah serves as law because it comes from Muhammad and represents his beliefs as God's messenger to human beings.  The Sunnah reminds the individual of several elements regarding their condition in the world.  The notion of "submission" is only possible when there is a direct understanding to what they must submit.  The Qur'an indicates that there is a connection between law and daily practice in terms of appeasing the divine:  ""Say [to people], 'If you love God, then follow me [the Prophet]; God will [then] love you [people] and forgive your sins'.(Qur'an3.31)."  The individual's need to "surrender or submission" can only be possible if the plan to which they must acquiesce is understood.  The Sunnah is this plan and thus represents both the law of Islam, but also a model of exemplary conduct for life, in general.

Sunnah represents how Muhammad envisioned the individual living life.  It "implies the mode of life Muhammad lived, the example he set through his actions, sayings, judgments, attitudes- his practices or traditions."  This helps to explain how Sunnah represents a word of law.  It represents this because Muhammad is believed to have served as God's messenger, and thus the words he articulates are an expression of the divine.  At the same time, Sunnah is seen as how individuals go about living a life of shava¯rah, or following the will of God for the community.  Sunnah is thus both a word of law and the plan for which an individual can life an exemplary life for they know that hat they do is pleasing to the divine.  As it is a reflection of Muhammad, it is a reflection of the divine law in daily life.

The Sunnah strives for the individual to accomplish two fundamental and yet challenging elements of human consciousness.  The first perplexing notion is how to please the divine.  In the absence of direct contact, individuals are left to wonder if what they are doing is convergent with the wishes of the divine.  The second is how individuals know if they are living a virtuous life.  The Sunnah addresses both, as it makes clear how individuals can adhere to the law of Allah as well as live a life that is pleasing to him.  The practices outlined in the Sunnah eliminate ambiguity because they give clear and contextual guidance of how individuals should act and what they should do.  Muhammad's way of life outlined in the Sunnah is meant as daily practice and guidance, ensuring they understand how to fulfill their shava¯rah that has been assigned to human beings. In being able to follow Muhammad's example through the Sunnah, the connection between adhering to law and acknowledging a model for exemplary life is evident.

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