Following the Footprints of Prophet (PBUH)
In today’s world, there is unfortunately not an ideal Muslim society which has been shaped by the divine principles of the Holy Qur’an and the way Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) governed. Thus nations of the world cannot see a living model society inspired by the Companions of Prophet. Even though there are some societies trying to implement Islamic law and Islamic education, it is still far beyond to name them as a ‘model society of Islam’.
COMPREHENDING THE SUNNAH AS A WHOLE
Sunnah is actions, expressions and confirmations of our Prophet (PBUH) related to every walks of life extending from etiquette of eating and drinking to the state administration. Sunnah encompasses the social, individual and family life as a whole.
To comprehend the sunnah, which encircles the every walks of life, better we can divide it into three parts as “worship”, “good moral”, and “practice”.
It is told about the Prophet (PBUH) as “servant, human being and Messenger” in many verses of the Holy Qur’an. The Prophet (PBUH) is a servant of Allah (SWT) with worship which he did for the sake of Allah (SWT); and he is a human being with his relationship with the other people and with his good moral; and he is a Messenger with his duty of receiving the wahy (the holy revelation) and practicing and disseminating it within the society.
We, to be honoured as being his ummah, should remember these three aspects of him when we contemplate on “the Sunnah of the Prophet” and we should take him as sample for us in terms of these three aspects. As much as we can do, we should perform the worships which he did and should adopt his good moral which Allah (SWT) praised thus: “thou keepest indeed to a sublime way of life”. As best as we can do, we should learn the rules, disseminate and teach them. Otherwise, we cannot claim that we obey the sunnah to the full extent only observing the supererogatory and adab worships
In the world of today, when it is told about the sunnah, people often think of the etiquette of eating and drinking. (the sunnahs such as using miswaq, donning the turban, reciting basmala beginning the meal makes up a little compartment of our life). Of course, sunnahs concerning drinking and eating are sunnahs and they should be observed but while caring about details we should not neglect the basics.
Let’s suppose that we obey the adab sunnahs but we do not follow the sunnahs concerning moral, invitation to Islam and practicing it which we mentioned above, then can we claim that we obeyed the sunnah at full length? For
example, are we able to control our anger when we get angry? Are we able to forgive the faults of our Muslim brothers? To control our anger, to forgive our brothers’ faults are all sunnah. Remember that when the Prophet (PBUH) conquered the Mecca city, he forgave the polytheist people who had treated him as enemy for twenty years. Are we able to show forgiveness for our brothers which he showed for his enemies?
Our Prophet (PBUH) was told about a woman. “such-and-such woman prays at nights and fasts in days but disturbs her neighbours with her tongue.” The Prophet (PBUH) said “there is no any goodness in her, she is in fire (in Hell).” And then they talked about another woman : “such-and-such woman performs only fardh (obligatory) prayers, and fasts in month of Ramadan, and gives a piece of cheese as alms but she does not disturb anybody with her tongue.” The Prophet (PBUH) said for her “she is in Paradise.” (Ahmed, c.2.s.440, Hakim, c.4.s.183 [Turkish])
If we pay attention to this narration, even though someone worships a lot, if s/he does not show a good moral, s/he cannot be a good servant.
In the world of today, the ones who only worship and do not fulfill the task of invitation people to Islam are in category of those who misunderstand the sunnah. Imam Ghazzali narrates such a hadith in his book Ihya: “Community of a country including 80 thousand people who prayed like the Prophets were tormented.” When asked “O Messenger of Allah (PBUH) “How did it happen?” he responded: “They did not get angry for the sake of Allah (SWT) (to the evils and denials which were commited) and they did not invite people to goodness and prevent them from commiting evils.”
We confront to the people who do not concieve the sunnah as a whole and observe the sunnah partially (worship and adab [manners]) and oppose it in other points such as good moral and invitation. They think that they live by sunnah and they are pious people. (We also do not think differently.) However, they take reward for the part of the sunnah which they practice but they commit to sin and to be held responsible for the part of sunnah which they oppose. Furthermore, they cause a false devoutness (or false concept of sunnah) to be spread in society.
Our Prophet (PBUH) spoke “When my ummah deteriorates, the ones who follow my sunnah obtain the rewards of a hundred martyrs” (Bayhaki). This hadith shows us the easiest and quickest way of gaining the approval of Allah (SWT). But, to gain this reward it is necessary to comprehend and live by sunnah as a whole with its aspects of “worships”, “good moral” and “invitation to Islam”, instead of understanding and practicing it half and deficiently.
TO BE ABLE TO BE PIONEER AND SAMPLE TO THE HUMAN WORLD
The “model figure” to be taken as sample is the Prophet (PBUH), and “the model society” is the community of companions (sahabas).
The fact that the Prophet (PBUH) is the model figure for his ummah is cited in the following verse: “Verily, in the Apostle of Allah you have a good example for everyone who looks forward [with hope and awe] to Allah (SWT) and the Last Day, and remembers Allah (SWT) unceasingly.” (Al-Ahzab, 21)
And that the companions are the model people for Muslim community is cited in the following verse: “YOU ARE indeed the best community that has ever been brought forth for [the good of] mankind: you enjoin the doing of what is right and forbid the doing of what is wrong, and you believe in Allah (SWT).” (Al-i Imran, 110)
While that verse puts the companions as samples for the Muslim ummah, it also implies that the Muslim ummah should be pioneer and model for all humanity. Concluding this verse we may say the following: Our Prophet (PBUH) is model for his companions and the companions community is model for the ummah and the ummah is model for all human kind.
During the emergence of Muslim society in Madina, the only “model figure” whom the Muslims took as sample was our Prophet (PBUH). The Madina community (the companions) which modelled him (PBUH) became model for the Muslims who lived in their time and who lived later. Their being model in the Muslim societies was not only in terms of the hereafter. They became model in every walks of life -in social life as well as in belief and worship. Thanks to the perfect structure of Islam in the social life, they and the ones who modelled them governed most of the world. The Muslim societies who modelled the companions impressed all the world nations in a short while, and they became pioneer and model for them. (A century later after the death of the Prophet (PBUH), the caliphs had founded a state which was larger than the Roman Empire of then. The Islam Caliphate was expanded from the North Africa to the India. The soil which Ottomans governed was 20 million square kilometres)
The Muslim ummah enjoyed being the pioneer and model for human kind for centuries being inspired by the Prophet (PBUH) and the companions. But during last two hundred years in which we have been under influence of the west civilization, the Muslim ummah degraded to the position of “modelling” from the position of “being modelled”. (The Ottomans were the leader of the world nations and western nations also confirmed their supremacy in diplomacy indisputably. Now, their grandchildren long to integrate with European Union.)
In the world of today there is not any ideal Muslim society which models the companions and is a model for world nations and which has been shaped by the Holy Qur’an and sunnah. Even though there are some societies who try to implement Islamic law and Islamic education, there are many obstacles for us to show them as ‘model society of Islam’ for world nations.
Islam is perfect, good and excellent in all respects. But, the fact that perfectness, goodness and excellence are available inherently in the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah theoretically is not sufficient to convince people of today. It is necessary to practice that excellence and provide people to see it. The Muslims should form such a community around the The Holy Qur’an and Sunnah, the other nations should envy of Muslims and model them, thinking ‘we also should be like Muslims’. Bediuzzaman says thus:
“If we show the excellence of the moral of Islam and truths of belief through our actions then the followers of the other religions will convert into Islam group by group; perhaps some continents and states of the earth will enter into Islam.” (Damascus Sermon)
It is a fact that forming a Muslim society which will be a model for the world will have great hardships. The societies of today, beyond being model, are in the grip of intestine fights and problems. Before being a model for the world, Muslims should come to an accommodation and solve their problems within themselves. In the world of today, the westerners have problems as well as Muslims. It is not exaggeration to say that the moral problems of West are bigger than the problems of Muslim world.
As there is not a man without problem, there is not a society also without problem. But these problems differentiate in terms of being little or much. The healthiest society is the one which can minimize its problems. The importance of the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah faces us here. the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah contain a potentiality to solve the problems in individual and social life. We need to produce solutions for the problems of today through the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah and form a dynamic society which is pioneer and model for human kind instead of longing and amusing ourselves for the times in which Islam was dominant.
Briefly, the ummah should regain the role of being pioneer and model for the mankind. Every single Muslim has a task to reach this goal.
Are we ready to fulfill our tasks as members of the ummah?
THE SOURCE OF SUNNAH IS WAHY (REVELATION)
Miqdam b. Ma’dikerb (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates that Prophet said:
“Pay attention! I was given a book (by Allah (SWT)) and together with it another one fold (Sunnah) also was given me. Before long, a man who is full on food and sits on a chair will say “That the Holy Qur’an is sufficient to you. Consider halal (licit) whatever you see halal in it, and consider haram (illicit) whatever you see haram in it.” (And he will deny my hadiths)” (Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud) In a narration it was said (what I made haram is like what Allah (SWT) made haram).
This hadith which is famous as “Arika” hadith among hadith scholars is a miracle of our Prophet (PBUH) which gives information about ghaib (the unseen). It is possible to hear some people who are full on food and influential voice that kind of claims.
Let us look at those verses which confirm the statements of our Prophet (PBUH): “and neither does he speak out of his own desire: that [which he conveys to you] is but [a divine] inspiration with which he is being inspired” (An-Najm, 3-4)
“God has bestowed upon thee from on high this divine writ and [given thee] wisdom, and has imparted unto thee the knowledge of what thou didst not know. And God’s favour upon thee is tremendous indeed.” (An-Nisa, 113)
Pay attention to this verse that it explains that our Prophet (PBUH) was given both the book and the wisdom by Allah (SWT). The book in question is the Holy Qur’an and there is not controversy fort hat. It is clear that the wisdom is his Sunnah. Concluding from this verse and the like the scholars agree on that the source of Sunnah is wahy; that is revelation.
Bediuzzaman says so concerning this matter:
“Revelation is divided into two parts: One is the clear revelation. The Prophet is interpreter, disseminator of it and he does not interfere with it, such as The Holy Qur’an and some hadith qudsis (sacred hadiths).
Second part is implicit revelation. The gist and essence of that part depend on the revelation; but its details belong to the Gracious Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. The Prophet Ahmad, himself, peace and blessings be upon him expounds the brief stuff which comes from revelation depending on again revelation or inspiration, or he explains with his insight.”
THE IMPORTANCE OF OBSERVING SUNNAH IN THE FINAL PERIOD OF THE WORLD
It is narrated by Abdullah b. Amr (may Allah be pleased with him):
“What befell on the Jews will all befall on my ummah inch by inch. Even, when one of them fornicates with his mother, there will some in my ummah who will imitate him. The children of Israel divided into 72 fractions. My ummah will divide into 73 fractions. Except one, all of them are doomed to the hell.”
They asked: “O Messenger of Allah (PBUH), which one of them (fractions) will be saved?” He replied: “The ones who follow me and my companions.” (Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, Tabarani)
“I left two things to you. If you stick them you won’t be misguided. One of them is the book of Allah (SWT) and the other one is the Sunnah of his Messenger.” (Muwatta)
Amr b. Awf al-Muzani (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Prophet said so:
“Whoever revives and enlivens one of my sunnah which was destroyed and if the people live by that sunnah, that man takes rewards in the number of the people who live by that sunnah. And the rewards of the ones who practice that sunnah will not decrease.” (Tirmidhi, Ibn Mace)
Rezin has narrated the hadith in the following way: “Whoever revives and enlivens one of my sunnah which was destroyed after me, that means s/he loves me. And whoever loves me, s/he is together with me (in the heaven)”
Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Prophet (PBUH) said thus:
“Whoever follows my sunnah when my ummah deteriorates and degrades will obtain the rewards of a hundred martyrs.” (Bayhaki)
Jabir b Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates that our Prophet (PBUH) said the following:
“The religion of Islam set out strange and it will come back strangeness again in the end as it was in the beginning. The happy are those strangers.” They asked “O Messenger of Allah (SWT)! Who are those strangers?” The Prophet answered “They are ones who try to amend people when they degrade.” (Tabarani, Muslim narrate the first part of the hadith)
It is said in narration of Taberani and Ahmad; “The strangers are sincere people among bad people whose obedients are few and the rebels are a lot.” It is said in the narration of Tirmidhi; “They are ones who amend my sunnah which people damages after me.” In Musnad Shihab it is said “they are ones who revive my sunnah and teach it to the servants of Allah (SWT).”
OBEDIENCE TO PROPHET IS OBEDIENCE TO ALLAH (SWT)
It is narrated by Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) that our Prophet (PBUH) spoke thus: “Whoever obeys me, indeed s/he obeys Allah (SWT). Whoever obeys the official whom I appoint, indeed s/he obeys me. Whoever rebels me, indeed s/he rebels Allah (SWT). Whoever rebels my official, indeed s/he rebels me.” (Ibn Abi Shayba, Bukhari, Muslim)
This hadith is compatible with following verse:
“Whoever pays heed unto the Apostle pays heed unto God thereby; and as for those who turn away – We have not sent thee to be their keeper.” (An-Nisa, 80)
In many suras of the Holy Qur’an, there are verses which cite about obedience to Allah (SWT) and his Messenger (PBUH). The scholars say that obedience to Allah (SWT) means obedience to the Holy Qur’an and obedience to Messenger (PBUH) means obedience to Sunnah.
“For, all who pay heed unto Allah (SWT) and the Apostle shall be among those upon whom Allah (SWT) has bestowed His blessings: the Prophets, and those who never deviated from the truth, and those who [with their lives] bore witness to the truth, and the righteous ones: and how goodly a company are these!” (An-Nisa, 69)
THE PLEASURE AND LOVE OF ALLAH (SWT) IS ONLY OBTAINED THROUGH OBEDIENCE TO SUNNAH
It is stated in the Holy Qur’an thus:
“Say [O Prophet]: ‘If you love Allah (SWT), follow me, [and] Allah (SWT) will love you and forgive you your sins; for Allah (SWT) is much-forgiving, a dispenser of grace.’” (Al-e Imran, 31)
This verse puts forth clearly that the only way of obtaining the pleasure of Allah (SWT) is obedience to Sunnah. Bediuzzaman makes long explanations especially on this verse in 11th Flash, “Mirqatu’s Sunnah”, where he tells about the importance of Sunnah.
Anas b. Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) said so:
The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said to me thus: “O my child! If you are able to live without bearing grudge for anybody, do this!” And he continued, “O my child! That is my Sunnah. Whoever revives my Sunnah, that means s/he loves me, and whoever loves me, s/he is together with me in the heaven. (Tirmidhi)
SUNNAH IS MILDNESS
Our Prophet (PBUH) has prevented his ummah from excess and negligence by saying “The best of deeds are ones which are mild and moderate”. Some companions talked about some worships among themselves. One of them said “I will pray all the nights till I die”. Another one said “I will spend my days by fasting till I die”. Another one said “I will keep myself away from women; I will never get married while I am alive.” The Prophet (PBUH) approached them and said:
“Are you the ones who say so-and-so? I swear to Allah (SWT) that the one who stands in awe of Allah (SWT) most among you is me and the one who fears of Allah (SWT) most (who has taqwa) is me. However, I fast and sometimes I don’t. I pray at nights, but I sleep, also. And I get married with women. Whoever turns away from and does not follow my sunnah s/he he is not my follower.” (Bukhari, Muslim)
TO LEARN AND TEACH SUNNAH
It is narrated by Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) that our Prophet (PBUH) said the following:
Our Prophet (PBUH) said “May approval of Allah (SWT) be upon me and my successors!” We asked “O the Messenger of Allah! Who are your successors?” The Prophet answered (PBUH) “They are the ones who succeed me and narrate my hadiths and teach them to people” (Tabarani)
In another narration there is the phrase “the ones who revive my sunnah” in the place of “the ones who narrate”. Due to that hadith some hadith scholars (such as Bukhari, Ahmad b. Hanbal) were called as “Amir-ul Mu’minin (The leader of believers)”
Abu Dharda (may Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Prophet said so:
“Whoever learns forty hadith to teach my ummah, Allah (SWT) will resurrect him in the hereafter as scholar and I will be witness and intercessor for him” (Bayhaki, Shuabu’l Iman)