Traditions purporting to quote the Prophet verbatim are known as Hadith. The Sunnah, however, is a broader term; it refers to the Hadith as well as to narratives purporting to describe the conduct of the Prophet and his companions in a variety of settings and contexts.


As already stated sunnah means the way or example of the Prophet and the way he lived and did things. Muslims are advised to follow his sunnah as this is the best way to avoid making mistakes. It doesn’t mean that we have to do everything literally the way he did but in essence most of what he did was designed to teach us how to do the right thing. Muslims believe that the Prophet was a perfect human being, he was sinless and he sacrificed everything to establish God’s law and the religion of Islam for the benefit of humanity. For this he is loved without limitation. A Muslim loves and respects the Prophet unconditionally.


Quran means recitation or that which is recited.

The words of God were recited by Muhammad, they were not his own words. Since the Quran was compiled just after the Prophet’s death, it has been recited by millions of people all over the globe.

The Quran has 114 chapters. Some are quite short (only a few verses (ayats) and some are very long. All in all, there are 6236 verses.

There are several translations today. The Quran must always be written in Arabic (classical Arabic). One cannot vary even a single syllable or letter of the Quran. Doing so would alter its meaning and create a path towards corruption.

The Quran today is the same Quran of the time of the Prophet. The Quran as is found in Mali or Bosnia is the same as the one being read in Indonesia or Australia. The Quran is the most read book in the world and it has been memorised by millions of Muslims, preserving the Quran for all time.

If all the religious books of the world were gathered and lost today and all the soft copies on file and on-line were destroyed by a virus. The only religious book that would survive is the Quran, because no other holy text has been memorised like the Quran.

The English translations that we recommend are:
Yusuf Ali
Muhammad Asad

There are many more translations however these two are the most thorough and have detailed footnotes to assist in understanding the translations.

The best version is the one in Arabic and the best way to understand the full meaning of the Quran is to learn Arabic.

On being a Muslim in the west –

Schools of Thought

Within the Sunni branch of Islam there are four main schools of jurisprudence. They are called Hanafi, Shafi, Hanbali and Maliki; named after the scholars who wrote the complete works of Islam. All Sunni Muslims follow the same Islam but may differ on jurisdictional points such as traditions of the prophet that may be accepted by, for instance, Imam Shafi and rejected by Imam Abu Hanifa. However, differences are subtle and negligible. In general there is no conflict between these different schools of thought and essentially they have the same theological beliefs.

It is our advice that if you are unsure of which Madhab or school of jurisprudence you belong to then to research one madhab and stick to it. Some Muslims take a bit from each madhab and then ultimately, down the track get confused and fall into some problem areas which could for instance nullify your prayer or determine important aspects of your ibadah (worship).

It is important that a Muslim should NEVER allow their particular madhab to be a point of conflict or that one is better than the other. It is important to stick to the madhab that you feel most comfortable with and that suits your lifestyle and obligations in accordance with the law in Australia.

There are of course other schools of thought that do not fit into the main traditional madhabs (ie. Maliki, Hanbali, Shafi and Hanafi). They are not exactly schools of thought but more like groups; the most well known is called Salafism or previously referred to as Wahhabism.

This group was started in Arabia about 200 years ago by a scholar named Muhammad ibn Abdal al-Wahhab (1702-1793). He advocated for a return to the original or pure teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. This would mean we would have to not only neglect thirteen centuries of Islamic scholarly development but also disrespect their bodies of work. Scholars such as Muhammad Al Ghazali, Ibn Rushd, Said Nursi and others.

Islam was founded by the Prophet Muhammad, who imparted his knowledge to 100000 companions who spread the message of Islam to others. Schools were established and just like any university, lecturers were trained, employed and were made responsible to protect the knowledge that the Prophet had given to us. The way that it was protected is a system called Ijaza.

Ijaza is like a certificate but it is given to you by a trusted and respected scholar who will only give it to you if you have passed every test and are guaranteed to protect it once the scholar dies. After 1400 years this tradition has continued and that is what most Muslims in the world follow.

It is important that when we think about joining any groups we do so with the basic motto that our Prophet taught us: Islam is the middle way or in other words the path to moderation.

On the other side of the spectrum there is another approach called Sufism (or Tasawwuf). This is the spiritual and esoteric side of Islam. Although both Salafism and Sufism adhere to Islamic principles and theology, they tend to conflict with each other’s approaches and as the latter places little importance on the rules of religion and more on the spiritual meaning of faith. Sufis focus much more on performing dhikr or remembrance of Allah through various ways mainly repetition of the names of Allah. They also renounce worldly affairs or material possessions and focus on spiritual growth. In the modern context a sufi can be a professional by day and do his dhikr by night.

Whatever, school of thought you choose, whatever is your approach to be a Muslim, as a Muslim living in the west, such as Australia, one must always be conscious of the local customs, the religious environment and the law of the society that you find yourself in. As a Muslim in Australia you will find yourself as a minority and so the society is not tailored exactly for your needs. Therefore, you need to look for right environment and services that will help you deal with living in Australia as a Muslim. The problem is that it is very hard to know which is right and which is harmful to you.

The best way, is to trust your parents’ guidance in the first place. Your parents would follow a madhab but if they are not sure then it is important to read reliable books on Islam which you can obtain from a university library or some on-line sites. The most important step is to strengthen your knowledge of the life of the Prophet (pbuh), by reading books about his life (seerah). Once you have a clear picture on the history of Islam, you will feel more confident about your future direction. It is also important to understand the broader history of Islam and the great empires that existed and the extent of its influence.

The next step is to understand what we mean by theology of Islam. That is aqida of Muslim belief. Once we learn about the aqida one will know how God is understood in Islam and how our relationship is forged with God.

The next step once you have equipped yourself with the sound knowledge of the Seerah and Aqida, then you can begin researching fiqh.

Remember learning fluent speaking Arabic will also strengthen your ability to read the and understand the Quran but also in understanding the various laws in Islam, however, it is not essential to learn fluent Arabic as most of the essential texts have been translated to English. It is essential to learn enough Arabic to be able to read and recite the Quran.

Fiqh is far too broad a subject to explore here but we recommend that you look at the extensive works that have been written by experts.

The important thing is to ask yourself how far you have to go to be a good Muslim?
Unless you are a scholar, it is not necessary to read every book on fiqh but to stick to one madhab and learn as much as possible about that madhab so that you do not make any mistakes when you are praying, fasting, giving zakat or in other practices such as marriage, divorce and inheritance.