One of the biggest calamities that hinders Muslims of today, whether commoners or those considered to be of knowledge, is the lack of knowledge of the Sunnah in deciding matters for themselves or guiding others. As Muslims, the decision making process for our daily lives is made easy for us as we are aided divinely by the Qur'aan and Sunnah (the speech, action or approval of a speech or action by Prophet Muhammad . Anas reported that the Messenger of Allaah said (which means) : "I have left with you two things that (if you hold fast the them) you will never be misled after them (as long as you hold fast to them): The Book of Allaah and my Sunnah. They will not separate from each other till they meet me on the Hawdh (The pool of Paradise river water that flows outside the gates of Paradise on the Hereafter)." [Malik & Al-Hakim.] Furthermore, it is clear in the Qur'aan that Allaah has directed all Muslims to seek help from Him and the Prophet : "O you who believe! Obey Allaah and obey the Messenger and those charged with authority among you; and if you differ in anything among yourselves, them refer it to Allaah and the Messenger if you do believe in Allaah and the Last Day. That is best and most suitable for final determination." [4:59]

What Path Do We Take?

The Muslims must continue to strive in the footsteps of the Prophet's Companions as they hankered after knowledge in every facet of their lives in what the Prophet said and did. The Prophet instructed his followers to make his Sunnah as widely know as possible, taking care that they should not attribute to him anything falsely. He asked his followers to acquire knowledge and teach it to others. In his farewell address the Prophet declared, "Convey to others even if it a single verse from me". Thus the Companions regarded the knowledge of the Sunnah as a sacred trust which they must convey to others and to practice themselves.

There are numerous examples set by the Companions which show how emphatically they abided by the Sunnah of the Prophet , in addition to taking long and arduous journeys to obtain a single hadeeth. So great was the Companions attachment and allegiance to the Sunnah and with such intense zeal and devotion did they follow the Prophet , that if they saw someone ignoring or deviating from the Sunnah, they would exhort him to follow it. History has recorded that once Abdullaah b’Umar , who is well-known for his adherence to the Sunnah, saw his son Bilal stopping his wife from going to the Mosque. Umar said, "Don't do that because the Messenger of Allaah has said: "Don't stop the slave-girls of Allaah from entering the Houses of Allaah." Bilal was adamant the he would not allow her even after listening to this saying. Ibn Umar was so upset the he swore never to speak to him again until his dying day.

Asking For Evidence

In following the Sunnah, there could be many instances that someone tells us something or performs a certain action, and they say it's okay to do it, or its "Sunnah", and maybe quote a hadeeth. In whatever case, or if you have some doubts about their source, it is acceptable to ask the individual for proof. Once Abu Musa asked permission to enter upon 'Umar , but seeing that he was busy, he went away. 'Umar then said, "Didn't I hear the voice of 'Abdullaah bin Qais? Allow him to come in." He was called in and 'Umar said to him, "What made you do what you did." He replied, "We have been instructed (i.e. to leave if not admitted after asking permission thrice) thus by the Prophet ." 'Umar said, "Bring proof (witness) for this, otherwise I will do so-and-so to you." Then 'Abdullaah bin Qais went to a gathering of the Ansaar who then said, "None but the youngest of us will give the witness for it." So Abu Said Al-Khudri got up and said, "We used to be instructed thus (by the Prophet )." 'Umar said, "This tradition of the Prophet remained hidden from me. Business in the market kept me busy." (Al-Bukhaari)

Allaah has instructed us to hold fast to His Rope, i.e., Islaam (which means): "And hold fast, all of you together to the Rope of Allaah and be not divided among yourselves, and remember Allaah's favor on you, for you were enemies one to another but He joined your hearts together, so that by His Grace, you became brethren..." [3:103]. The Rope of Allaah includes the Sunnah of His Messenger as evident by the knowledge of the correct performance of salaah. Given the instructions in the Qur'aan that we must pray, there are no instructions on how we should perform the prayer. Without the Sunnah of salaah from the Messenger of Allaah , Muslims would be in dispute with one another or be divided among ourselves. So, we cannot exclude the Sunnah from being knots in the Rope of Islaam.

No Question Of What The Criterion Is

The actions and deeds of the Prophet were divinely inspired. Therefore, the same emphasis that we give to following the Messenger of Allaah in the correct performance of prayer, should also be given to following his Sunnah in our daily decision making. For the Sunnah are not to be taken as wise saying of sages and philosophers or the verdicts of rulers and leaders. However, one should believe with full conviction that the words and actions of the Prophet represent the will of Allaah, and thus by following the Sunnah as the Companions did, who were universally regarded as the living embodiment of the Sunnah, we are likewise blessed with Allaah's support, guidance and have set to motion an acknowledgment and renewal of our faith in Allaah's command (which means): "It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allaah and His Messenger have decreed a matter that they should have an option in their decision. And whoever disobeys Allaah and His Messenger, he has indeed strayed in a plan error." [33:36] In other words, by not following the Sunnah of the Prophet , one does not secure Allaah's support, help, inspiration to do good or His protection. He who does not enjoin Divine Guidance (Qur'aan & Sunnah) in his decision making is seized by Satan, especially if he is aware of Allaah instructions and the examples of the Messenger of Allaah , and instead embodies disunity, hatred, lack of brotherhood, religious differences and sectarian practices.

The Prophet taught the method of worship and prayer. He taught equality of mankind, rightful justice, worker rights and complete obedience to Allaah. He explained and showed us the responsibilities an individual has to himself, his parents, his family, his relatives, his neighbors, his friends, other religious sects, the society at large and animals. He taught the method of keeping oneself safe, clean, tidy, healthy, and pious. He taught us the correct ways of carrying out businesses. He taught us of the correct means of earning and spending our money. He taught us to be good and polite with others. He gave details of good manners and decency. He also showed us, from his own examples, how to talk, walk, deal with others, and move about in society. He showed us what our life style at home should be like. He showed us the ways and methods of ruling and governing our society and the world. In short, the Sunnah of the Prophet , is complete. It tells and shows us everything that a Muslim needs to know to make rightfully guided decisions in our daily life, and eliminate the need to associate oneself with any other sources of secular guidance. The Sunnah is one of the preserved sources of Islaamic knowledge, which must be studied, and more importantly implemented in the daily lives of Muslims. And finally, we are told of the punishment one would get in the next world if he refuses to follow this guidance: "And whosoever obeys Allaah and His Messenger will be admitted to Gardens under which rivers flow (in Paradise), to abide therein, and that will be the great success. And whosoever disobeys Allaah and His Messenger and transgress His Limits, He will cast him into the Fire, to abide therein, and he shall have a disgraceful torment." [4:13-14]

Complied from: The Authority and Authenticity of Hadeeth as a Source of Islaamic Law - Justice Muhammad Taqi Usmani; The Hadeeth is Proof Itself in Belief and Laws - Shaykh Nadir Ad-Din Al-Albani; The Way of the Prophet - Shaykh Muhammad Sadiq; An Introduction to the Sunnah - Suhaib Hasan, The Study of Al-Qur'aan - Al Qur'aan Society; A Treasury of Hadeeth - Dr. Mazhar U. Kazi.

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