SUNNAH, also Sanat. ARAB. The traditions of Mahomed ; a recital containing a sentence or a declaration of 'Mahomed reg,arding some religious question, either moral, ceremonial, or theological ; the traditional laws of Muhammad anism, based on the sayings and doings of Mahomed. The Sunni sect regard them as of scarcely inferior authority to the text of the. Koran, established by usage and the law of cnstom ; they are not recognised by the Shiah sect. The fathers of tradition are styled Shaikh.. The traditions began to be gathered about forty years after Mahotned's death. Abu Horeira (A.11. 58), himself a companion of Mahomed, collected from the lips of eye-witnesses, or of those who had heard, no fewer than 3500 traditions regarding Mahomed. The traditions include predictions and prophecies, which Sprenger considers were invented to oppose Christians ; also stories of genii, idols, and soothsayers, invented for the heathen Arabs ; and, for the Persians, announcements as to Chosroos and the east. The Sunnah commands are optional, whilst the Farz is a divine command, but usually applied to the five indispensable obligations of purifi cation, prayer, almsgiving, fasting. and pilgrimage.
The Sunni sect of Multammadans regard the Sunnah (Sunnat) or legendary account of the actions and traditions of Mahomed as of equal value to the Koran. The Muhammadan religion ists are of two great sects, the Sunni and Shiali, the.fonner being in India, Turkestan, Turkey, and Arabia, while the Shiah are most numerous in Persia. The Sanni hold, amongst other points,
the succesaion to the khalifat to have followed in the line of Mahomed, Abubakr, Umar, '1St-Ilan, and Ali ; the Shiah sect, on the other hand, main taining Ali to have, and by right, succeeded his cousin and father-in-law 3fahomed. There are other points on which their sectarian differences turn, but small numbers of the Shiah religionists, in several parts of Asia as in the west of India,. believe in incarnations of Ali, and of these the Ismaili sect may be instanced. The Muham madans of India, of these two great religious sects, worship apart ; but amongst both sects are to be found, mixed together, the people of the various races, Syud, Shaikh Persian, Indian, Moghnl, Pathan, into which the Muliammadans are found arranged, and, as in the families of soine Christian countries, the sons will be found as Sunni and the daughters Shiah. The Sunni are occasionally styled Char-yari, or four friends, as recognising Abubakr, Umar, Usman, and Ali to have been the four khalifs. The Shiab are styled the Teen yari, or three friends. Amongst the Sunni in the south of India the Maharram is a period of extra vagant amusement, in which many non-Aryan and Aryan Hindu races join. The Sunni, by far the majority, at this period grossly outrage the grief of the Shiah sect, and scandalize the learned and devout ; and many of the mummers or Jalali are of the Pariah, Dher, and Mahratta races.— Wilson's Gloss.