Allah Ta’ala’s blessings and peace be upon our master Muhammad Mustafa (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and on his family and Companions.
Acting upon what the Prophet of Islam Muhammad Mustafa (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has shown mankind, is called ‘following the Sunnah’. Following the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is incumbent upon every Muslim, as the Sunnah of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is in reality following the Qur’an.
Three types of Sunnah
According to the dictionary, the following words explain the Sunnah; the features, life, and the way shown.
In the language of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) and the Companions, it denotes the whole of lawful practices followed in the Religion, particularly the perfect path of the Prophets (Alaihimus Salaam), whether pertaining to belief, religious and social practice, or ethics.
In its technical sense Sunnah has three meanings:
- Sayings of Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), meaning the Hadith.
- Actions that Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) did, meaning his practices.
- Approval; meaning actions of the companions in the presence of Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) that were not disapproved of by him. Also, something attributed whether physical or moral to the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), whether before or after he proclaimed his Prophethood.
To follow the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) means using him as an example. For instance, acting upon the way shown by Rasoolullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) throughout our daily lives in the way we pray as well as the manners and etiquettes of eating, drinking, sleeping etc.
Important to follow
Muslims are the best of creation and have been given the Islamic Sacred Law (Shariah). This is why all actions are to be done according to the Sunnah. In the same way as it is necessary (Wajib) to believe in the Prophets (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam), to follow the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is also vital. Some acts are “obligatory” (Fardh) to follow; some are “necessary” (Wajib), some teachings of the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) are to teach us (his followers) etiquettes and manners and are known as “Sunnah”, and some fall into the category of “desirable” (Mustahab) or “supererogatory” (Nafl).
By following the blessed Sunnahs, we will find benefit not only in this world throughout our day-to-day lives, but also in the hereafter. One can gain satisfaction of the heart, internal peace, and peace of mind. Faith (Imaan) will become firm and steadfastness on Islam will increase. Many benefits can be gained in terms of status by following the blessed Sunnahs, i.e. by acting upon the blessed Sunnahs you can gain closeness to Allah Ta’ala and His Beloved Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam). (Al-Siba’i, Al-Sunna wa Makanatuha fi al-Tashri’ al-Islami (p.47))
Three reasons for following anyone
There are three reasons why people will follow someone; 1) due to fear, 2) due to greed, 3) or due to love. This means the reason for following may be because of a person, a ruler, or due to fear of losing something such as wealth. Following for these reasons holds no meaning and is useless. If the following is done because of wealth or worldly pleasure, then this type of following is meaningless too.
Following in reality means to follow with love and sincerity and anything done with love is accepted by Allah Ta’ala. The only purpose of following is due to love and gaining the pleasure of Allah Ta’ala.