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Question of the Day
Did the Prophet ask us to follow his Sunnah?
Some self claimed scholars deny the fact that the Prophet did not explicitly state that the Sunnah is the second source of legislation. I only wonder how they turned a blind eye on the Prophet’s explicit statements in which he clearly declared that the Sunnah was divinely revealed to him just like the Quran. Al Miqdad ibn Ma’ed Yakreb reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said (I was given the book and a similar one with it. A time will come when a satiated man who has a full stomach sitting on his couch will say “abide by the Quran and whatever you have found in it permit it and whatever is not there prohibit it”). This means that the Prophet was divinely given the Quran to be recited and was given its clarification with it which is the Sunnah.
Through the Prophetic sunnah, the Prophet was allowed to clarify what was revealed in the Quran and was authorized to generalize rulings or restrict it to specific cases. He was also permitted to make new legislations that do not have its origin found in the Quran and Muslims are obliged to follow these new rulings and give it the same weight that is given to the revealed Quran. Also this hadith proves the miraculous nature of the Prophet’s message and a clear evidence of the legal authority and validity of the Sunnah as a second source of legislation because the Prophet predicted from more than 1400 years ago that a handful of ignorant people will appear and deny the validity of the Sunnah as a legal source for legislation. What is even more powerful is that the Prophet had described this bunch of people with their real characteristics that we see them with. He described them as a man whose stomach is full which indicates idiocy and feeble mindedness which results from reaching food satiation or results from idiocy. When the Prophet said the word “sitting on his couch”, this indicates those lazy people who preferred to stay home and pass uneducated judgments instead of seeking knowledge from its legitimate sources. It is a fact indeed that those who level such grave allegations against the Prophet’s sunnah don’t have any qualified scholars on whose hands they were taught and all of them are simply ignorant about Islam and its sciences.
Therefore in this article I am aiming to clarify that when it comes to the Prophet’s sunnah, there are two methods. The first method is the command of following the Prophet’s sunnah and the second method is warning against those who deny it. As for the first method, the Prophet commanded Muslims to follow his Sunnah and the imperative nature of this command was carried out in various ways. One of the famous hadiths regarding this issue was reported by al ‘Irbad ibn Sariyyah who said that the Prophet made a sermon in which he preached in a way that drew our tears and touched our hearts so they said “O Messenger of God, you have preached us with a farewell speech, would you give us an advice to hold on tight to so he replied, “Adhere to the piety of God and obedience even if an Abyssinian slave became the ruler. You will also see a lot differences and disputes after I am gone so hold on tight to my Sunnah and follow the sunnah of the rightly guided caliphs after me. Adhere to it and hold fast to it with your back teeth and refrain from illegal innovations in religion as it is an act of misguidance”.
Ibn Hiban reported this hadith in his collection of prophetic tradition under the title of “Chapter on the necessity of holding tight to the Prophet’s sunnah and what is pertinent to it in terms of commands and prohibitions”. Also the above mentioned hadith indicates that necessity of holding tight to the Prophet’s sunnah to an extent that one must hold fast to it with his back teeth; a metaphor which indicates the importance of abiding by the Prophetic sunnah. Along with commanding Muslims to abide by his sunnah, the Prophet warned against illegal innovations in religion which does not have any legal origin in the Quran or the Sunnah. Imam al Junayd said in this regard “All the roads are blocked for creation except those who trace the Prophet’s footsteps and follow his sunnah and abide by his way as all the roads of goodness are open through Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).”
As for the second method, it revolves around warning those who go against the Prophet’s sunnah. It was reported through Anas Ibn Malik that three men came to the Prophet’s wives asking about the Prophet’s worship and when they heard the answer, they felt that it is not much and said “and where do we stand when it comes to the Prophet who God has forgiven all his sins. So one of them stood up and said “As for me, I will pray all night indefinitely and the other said “I will fast the whole year without breaking my fast and the third said “As for me, I will isolate myself away from women and will never get married”. When the Prophet heard about what they said, he came over to them saying “You are the ones who said such and such..I swear by God that I am the most fearful of God among you and the most pious to Him but I fast and break my fast, I pray and I lie down and I get married and whoever deviates away from my Sunnah does not belong to me” (al Bukhari)
The important point in this hadith regarding our issue is the Prophet’s emphasis on the fact that whoever deviates from his sunnah does not belong to the Islamic faith because the Sunnah is part and parcel of this religion as it is a divine clarification of the divine revelation of the Quran that should be acted upon and held tight to it.