Al Hamdulilah i Rabbil Alamin Was salatu was Saalaamu ala Khairul Ibad Sayidanna Muhammad amd ba'du- When one take the Shahadah, or Testimony, by which one becomes Muslim, one affirms belief in Allah , La ilaha ill allah, and in the person of His messenger, Muhammad ar Rasoolullah. This means that one has two sources to follow, Allah, and His appointed guide Muhammad. In fact, many places in Al Quran Allah commands the believers to submit, and actively seek the judgement of Muhammad (saws) in all of their affairs, in some instances even telling them they cannot have faith until they affirm his decision, and acquiesce to it without any harj, that is dislike or displeasure. We know what the Book of Allah (SWT) is, Al Quran , but now the question needs to be asked as to how do we follow the messenger, and exactly what constitutes this thing known as Sunnah. In the time of Muhammad (SAWS) Arabia was divided along two major lines, the Nizari, Northern Arabs, and the Yemeni, Souther Arabs. The Nizari Arabs were of caucasian descent, dwelt in tents, and small oases, were mostly nomadic herders and traders. Due to the harshness of their lifestyle, their culture was rather rough and rustic, and lacked a religious and philosophical disposition which is the right of more settled nations. These people were known as Al Araa'ab, The Desert Dwellers. The Yemeni Arabs were those of Nubian/African descent. They, like most ancient Nubian cultures, were a settled people, building towns and villages, having governmental order, and living a more pastoral, agrarian lifestyle. As such, due to being settled in one place and having surplus, they were able to pay more attention to the higher truths, and had a society based on honor, morals , and had a strongly religious disposition. These were the people that Muhammad was sent to, the Yemeni and not the Nizari. "Muhammad(SAWS) said: 'Faith and wisdom belong to Yemeni people, while loudness and rebellion belong to the dwellers in the tents." Muwatta Imam Malik The term Sunnah is not a term which originates with Islam. Among the Yemeni Arabs, the Ummah ul Dawah or the Community which Muhammad was sent to call, Sunnah had been a common term in vouge and usage from the earliest of Pre-Islamic days. For these people, Yemeni Arabs, Sunnah meant the ancestral practice, the ancestral culture and values. Literally the word Sunnah is derived from an Arabic word which denots the 'way to the watering hole', and thus signifies a well trodden path which brings success. So Sunnah was the way to live or practice the ancestral culture. Just as Muhammad(saws) received Al Qura'an to purify the religion of Ibrahim, he received the Sunnah to restore the Ibrahimic cultural practices. Now the question should be asked, what are the sources where we can find the Sunnah? Ask a Sunni Muslim and they will quickly tell you As Sihah As Sittah-The Six Authentic Collections. These are collections of Ahadith, tales, from which they say they derive the Sunnah. However Sunnah and Hadith are not synonymous. Sunnah is the way to carry out the command of Allah (swt), while hadith are tales or narrations. In the six authentic collections we have hadith which implement laws, morals, stories, and even beliefs which have no basis in the Book of Allah. In fact, these collections were collected some 3-400 years after the death of Muhammad (saws). This was during the time known as Ayyam ul Fitnah, the days of trial, when the Nizari Arabs usurped the rulership of Islam, Al Khilafah, and begin to perveert the din. Many of the ahadith found in these six collections were fabricated to support new political or religious trends which arose at that time, thus these books are not the source of the Sunnah. Again, the Sunnah doesnt legislate, it simply explains the legislation sent down by Allah. (swt)There is however one book which we can be sure contains the Authentic Sunnah of Rasulullah, this is the book called Al Muwatta of Imam Malik ibn Anas. Imam Malik lived three generations after Muhammad (saws) and as such was closer to the events and happenings which occured and was able to meet companions of Rasulullah as well as their students. Imam Malik was born of purely Yemeni Ancestry, and dwelt in the Yemeni town of Madinah al Munawwarah. Secondly, in any report contained in Al Muwatta there are only three people between Imam Malik and Rasulullah, in some cases only two, which makes it more authentic and trustworthy. Most importantly, Al Muwatta does not innovate any actions, or beliefs, but simply lays down and explains how to carry out the Command of Allah (SWt) Thus making it a candidate for the real Sunnah.