The Sunnah is the legacy, the traditional body of customs and practices established by Muḥammad ﷺ and maintained by the first generations of Muslims. They serve as a precedent and the normative example of how to practice Islam.
Together, the Qurʾān and Sunnah serve as the official standard and touchstone for Muslims and their religion. If something is not in the Qurʾān and Sunnah, then technically speaking it’s not Islam. A lot of new practices have been invented by people over the years, and Muslims are careful to preserve their religion from these.
The Sunnah has been recorded in reports called Ahādīth.
- Say, ‘Obey God and the Messenger’ [...] (Qurʾān 3:32)
- The Messenger of God is an excellent model for those of you who put your hope in God and the Last Day and remember Him often. (Qurʾān 33:21)
- Thus We have sent among you a Messenger of your own to recite Our revelations to you, purify you and teach you the Book and wisdom, and to teach you what you did not know. (Qurʾān 2:151)
- if anyone opposes the Messenger, after guidance has been made clear to him, and follows a path other than that of the believers, We shall leave him on his chosen path- We shall burn him in Hell, an evil destination. 4:115
Sunnah Muʾakkadah سنة مؤكدة — the emphasized example of the Prophet
"Sunna of Guidance" (sunnat al-huda), ordered or emphasized in word or deed. As opposed to sunnah less binding in their legal status, such as what they called "Non-Emphasized Sunna" (sunna ghayr mu'akkada) and "Sunna of Habit" (sunnat al-`ada).
the model emphasized by the Prophet
Some made a distinction between what they called "Emphasized Sunna" (sunna mu'akkada) or , such as what the Prophet (saws) ordered or emphasized in word or in deed, and other types of Sunna considered
If a particular action is considered Sunnah, i.e. an extra prayer, it means it’s an exemplary action that is optional, a bonus.