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Pure Motivation » General Discussion » Islam/ إسلام » Quran & Sunnah » History of the Sunnah -I: At the time of the Prophet

History of the Sunnah -I: At the time of the Prophet

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Muslims were, early on, aware of the significance of the Sunnah and its authority. They, one generation after the other, were keen to preserve the Sunnah because they saw that as a part of the preserving of the last revelations man is ever to receive. Their efforts were unabated, and the remarkable job they did is unparalleled in the experience of any other religion or civilization.

At the time of the Prophet :

One of the main reasons behind this is the fact that the Prophet clearly taught the Companions the importance of his Sunnah, its place in Islam and their role in saving it, teaching and conveying it to others around them and to those who would come after them. In so doing, he followed an effective methodology, which will be briefly outlined below:

1. He emphasized the importance of seeking knowledge and teaching it to others. He said: "Seeking knowledge is obligatory upon every Muslim (male and female)." [Ibn Maajah] Also, he said: "Whosoever pursues a path to seek knowledge therein, Allaah will thereby make easy for him a path to Paradise. No people gather together in one of the houses of Allaah (mosques), reciting the Book of Allaah and studying it among themselves, without tranquility descending upon them, mercy enveloping them and angles surrounding them, and Allaah making mention of them to those (angels) who are with Him." [Muslim]

2. He always had a center for teaching. Most of the time, it was the mosque.

3. He was soft in his dealings and always facilitated things and made them easy for others. He was merciful and humble and made himself readily available.

4. He never pushed people into anything. Instead, he gradually taught them and led them to change. He always motivated them to follow his example and be their best.

5. He would not continuously teach or work with them, but he would give them enough breaks to avoid overstressing or boring them.

6. He spoke plainly and clearly and he talked to people at their level of understanding and intellectual ability. Whenever appropriate, he spoke to people in their own dialect for the Arabs had different dialects.

7. He used the method of repetition. He would repeat whatever he wanted to stress for three times to insure that all heard him properly and clearly understood what he was saying.

8. When questioned, he would give more than what is expected as an answer and use the occasion to further clarify things for all, and teach about other things.

9. Whenever the Prophet had to choose between two ways, he chose the easier way, which had facility and mercy if there was nothing forbidden in that, and he kept away from the difficult and harsh ways.

10. He attached special attention to teaching the women and provided them special times for questions. He encouraged them to ask and learn.

11. He used to do his best in everything, and he perfected whatever he did, thus setting an example for others.

The era of the Companions and their Followers

The Companions did their utmost to convey Islam to the generations succeeding them in the best and most accurate way possible. They sincerely loved it, honestly lived according to it and faithfully preserved it and kept any impurity or irregularity out of it.

Their role in the preservation of Islam was one of utmost importance to its continuation, but they were highly prepared for it by the best teacher and trainer, the Prophet . Thus the studying of this era, especially with respect to the history and authority of the Sunnah, is necessary to all Students of Knowledge.

And since this article will not provide enough details to properly cover the subject, it is recommended that the readers consult the following list of books on the subject:

Studies of Early Hadeeth Literature by M. M. Azami, Sunnah Qabla at-Tadween (the Sunnah before Writing) by Ajaj Al-Khateeb, The Sunnah and its Place in Islam by Mustafa As-Siba'ee, Manhajj an-Naqd fi Uloom Al-Hadeeth (The Methodology of Critique in the Sciences of Hadeeth) by Noor-ud-deen Etr, Al-Hadeeth wal Muhaddithoon (Hadeeth and Hadeeth Narrators) by Muhammad M. Abu Zahou, and Hujjiatus Sunnah (The Authority of the Sunnah) by Houcine Chouat.

Methodology of the Companions in Preserving the Sunnah

Before discussing the Companions' ways of learning, practicing, preserving and conveying of the Sunnah, it is worthwhile to shed some light on the main points one needs to understand about the Companions and their methodology:

1. The Companions were fully aware of the responsibility they shoulder after the death of the Prophet .

2. The Companions are all trustworthy. They never doubted one another in the matters of this religion and the narration of Hadeeth.

3. The Companions have developed a methodology for scrutinizing Hadeeths and narrators, and by doing that have established the rules of ascertaining narrations for those who came after them.

4. The ability of different Companions to understand the Sunnah, memorize it and convey it varied from one Companion to another.

5. The Companions left Makkah and Madeenah to many places around the Muslim world, at the time, for the purpose of delivering the message and teaching Islam to those who accepted it thus spreading the Sunnah throughout the land.

It is interesting to note that about 750 Companions narrated Hadeeths, seven of whom narrated a high number of Hadeeths, and about twenty narrated an average number, the rest narrated a small number.

The seven who narrated a large number of Hadeeths are: Abu Hurayrah who narrated 5374 Hadeeths, 'Abdullaah Ibn ‘Umar narrated 2630, Anas Ibn Maalik narrated 2286, 'Aa'ishah narrated 2210 Hadeeths, 'Abdullaah Ibn 'Abbaas narrated 1660, Jaabir Ibn 'Abdullaah narrated 1540, and Abu Sa'eed AI-Khudri narrated 1100 Hadeeths . They understood their role and were aware of the significance of their ability in narrating the Hadeeths and did their best to deliver them diligently and accurately. Muslims of all times are indebted to them .

History of the Sunnah -II: The era of the Companions and their followers

­­­­­­­­­­­From: Al Jumu'ah Magazine


Anas reported that: “Three men came to the houses of the wives of the Prophet and asked how his worship was. When they were informed, they considered their own worship to be insignificant and said: 'Where are we in comparison to the Prophet when Allaah has forgiven his past and future sins?' One of them said: 'As for me, I shall offer prayer all night long.' Another said: 'I shall observe fasting perpetually, never to break it.' Another said: 'I shall abstain from women and will never marry.' The Prophet then came to them and said: “Are you the people who said such things? I swear By Allaah that I fear Allaah more than you do, and I am most obedient and dutiful among you to Him, but still, I observe fasting (sometimes) and break it (at others); I perform (optional) prayer (at night sometimes) and sleep at night (at others); I also marry. So whoever turns away from my Sunnah (i.e., my way) is not from me.” [Al-Bukhaari & Muslim]

Anas also reported: “A few of the companions of the Prophet inquired from his wives about his worship when he would be alone. When they found out, one of them said: 'I shall abstain from women and will never marry.' Another said: 'I shall never eat meat.' Another said: 'I will always offer the night prayer and shall never sleep.' Later, the Prophet ascended the pulpit, praised and thanked Allaah, and then said: “Why are some people saying such things? I perform (optional night) prayers (sometimes) and sleep at night (at others); I observe fasting (sometimes) and break it (at others); and I marry. So whoever turns away from my Sunnah (i.e., way) is not from me.”

'A few of the companions' in the narration means that there were between three to nine of them, and their asking: 'Where are we in comparison to the Prophet when Allaah has forgiven his past and future sins?' means that since they did not have this assurance that He had, then it followed that they would have to exert more effort in order to try to attain it; however, he explained to them that one may do the things that these men wished to refrain from and still be fearful of Allaah and obtain a great reward.

The second narration of this story includes different things that the companions stated that they will abstain from, which proves that they were more than three in number.

Also, the speech of the Prophet in the first narration reflects that he spoke to them directly, whereas the second one indicates that he spoke generally, without directing his speech to them in particular. It may be that he first spoke to everybody in the congregation and explained that such abstention is impermissible, and then spoke to the men concerned in private, addressing them personally so as not to expose their identity to others, which may have caused them embarrassment.

The fact that the Prophet took an oath was in order to show these men that despite him being forgiven by Allaah, he did not do what they planned to do, which was to exaggerate in their worship, and that reward from Allaah could be attained without such exaggeration; this is because he who is moderate in his worship is more likely to continue whereas those who exaggerate will eventually become too weak to continue and give up.

His saying: “…my Sunnah…” did not refer to the Islaamic categorization which refers to recommended acts rather than obligatory ones. Rather, it refers to his complete manner in life and his approach to every matter. He instructed them that the one who worships in any way other than his is not from him, meaning, that he does not follow him; here, he was alluding to the methods that monks have, who innovated extreme ways of worship for which they have been dispraised by Allaah.

The one who worships in a way other than that of the Prophet has not left the fold of Islam if he did it in ignorance or was mistaken in his interpretation of the Sunnah, but if he does it due to wishing to deliberately shun the way of the Prophet and thinks that his way and method is better, then he has committed an act of disbelief.

The following are some of many benefits that we can extract from this narration:

· The recommendation of imitating the ways of one's seniors and following in their footsteps, and that if one is unable to find out about their way of doing things by means of inquiring from men, then it is permitted to inquire from women, provided that nobody will be subjected to temptation.

· The virtue of marriage and an encouragement of it.

· One may do righteous deeds openly and inform others about them, provided he feels secure from thereby becoming arrogant.

· Deeds that are Islamically permitted may become recommended, disliked or prohibited, according to one's intention.

· Imaam At-Tabari said: “This narration refutes the claim of those who forbid eating lawful foods and wearing permissible clothing, claiming that it is better to use harsh clothing and refrain from eating good food.” But, Imaam Ibn Hajar added to this saying: “The fact of the matter is that the one who gets himself accustomed to always consuming fine things (i.e., food and clothing) may become too habituated to them and therefore cannot live without them, and consequently, when he is deprived from them, he may commit prohibitions in order to attain what he is accustomed to. On the other hand, refraining from them from the perspective of prohibiting them for oneself contradicts the saying of Allaah in the thirty-second verse of Soorah Al-A’raaf (which means): “Say: 'Who has forbidden the adornment of [i.e., from] Allaah which He has produced for His servants and the good [lawful] things of provision?...” [Quran 7: 32]

· The good deeds that are continuous are the dearest to Allaah, even if they are few.

· The method of the Prophet is the very best one, whereby he would sometimes eat in order to preserve his strength, and fast at other times; he would also sleep at night sometimes in order to have the strength to pray at night on other occasions; also, he would marry in order to fulfil his desires, save himself from following his lusts, maintain his chastity, and increasing the number of Muslims.

· A warning against exaggeration in the matters of the religion because this leads to one stopping the deeds that he is performing. Also, one who exaggerates in acts of worship will eventually become apathetic, which may cause him to stop his obligatory acts of worship and not only the optional ones that he performs. Also, one who only performs the obligatory deeds is also in great danger; if he loses interest, he may abandon worship altogether; so the best way is to be moderate.

· Finally, There is an indication in this narration that knowing Allaah and His rights and commandments is of a higher rank than simply worshipping Him without it, and that the deeds of the heart are essential for practicing servitude to Allaah.

source www.islamweb.com

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