bukhari

The Meaning of Sunnah According to the Muhaddithin and Jurists – Part 4 – Shaikh Muhammad Dhiya ur Rehman al-A’zami

Translated, Compiled & Annotated
Abu Hibban & Abu Khuzaimah Ansari

 

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Sunnah linguistically means example or way. It is narrated in Sahih Muslim from Abu Sa’id al-Khudri (RadhiAllahu Anhu) who said the Messenger of Allah (Sallalahu Alayhi Wasallam) said,

“You would tread the same path as was trodden by those before you inch by inch and step by step so much so that if they had entered into the hole of the lizard, you would follow them in this also. We said: Allah’s Messenger, do you mean Jews and Christians (by your words)” those before you”? He said: Who else (than those two religious groups)?” (Sahih Muslim (4/2054)

And it is also transmitted in Sahih Muslim via Jarir ibn Abdullah (RadhiAllahu Anhu) who said the Messenger of Allah (Sallalahu Alayhi Wasallam) said,

“He who introduced some good practice in Islam which was followed after him (by people) he would be assured of reward like one who followed it, without their rewards being diminished in any respect. And he who introduced some evil practice in Islam which had been followed subsequently (by others), he would be required to bear the burden like that of one who followed this (evil practice) without their’s being diminished in any respect.” (Sahih Muslim 4/2059)

[Trans Note] This is a portion of a longer Hadith which states, “Jarir ibn Abdullah reported that some desert Arabs clad in woollen clothes came to Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him). He saw them in sad plight as they had been hard pressed by need. He (the Holy Prophet) exhorted people to give charity, but they showed some reluctance until (signs) of anger could be seen on his face. Then a person from the Ansar came with a purse containing silver. Then came another person and then other persons followed them in succession until signs of happiness could be seen on his (sacred) face. Thereupon Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) said: (as above) END

This hadith mentions the virtue and benefits of reviving the Sunnah, spreading it amongst the people and following and acting upon it ie the Sunnah.

Another meaning of Sunnah is unpleasant appearance as it has been cited in Lisan ul-Arab that the Messenger of Allah (Sallalahu Alayhi Wasallam) encouraged to give Sadaqah when an unpleasant looking (Sunnah) person stood up. (Lisan ul-Arab (13/224) of Ibn Manzur)

Sahih al-Bukhari mentions the statement of Abu Hurairah (RadhiAllahu Anhu),

“Khubaib was the person who would pray 2 Rakahs of Sunnah for every Muslim who would die (ie killed unjustly).” (Sahih al-Bukhari (6/166) and (10/28)

Likewise the Messenger of Allah (Sallalahu Alayhi Wasallam) said as reported by Imam Malik in his Muwatta about the fire worshippers,

“Adopt the way (Sunnah) with them, the way that is applied to the people of the book.” (Muwatta (no.42), Imam Malik has transmitted this report via Jafar bin Muhammad from his Father from Umar bin al-Khattab (RadhiAllahu Anhu), however there is a disconnection in the chain because it is not established that Jafars Father, Muhammad met Umar (RadhiAllahu Anhu). However taking Jizyah from fire worshippers is established from other narrations because they also believe in some book instead of the Torat or Injil. However, they distorted their book so much that they eventually forgot it themselves. The Messenger of Allah (Sallalahu Alayhi Wasallam) ordered to take jizyah from them. The authentic hadith mentions the Messenger of Allah (Sallalahu Alayhi Wasallam) took jizyah from the fire worshippers of Hijr. For further details refer to Ahkam al-Quran (pg.54) of Imam ash-Shafi)

Meaning to take jizyah from the fire worshippers in the same way it is taken from the Jews and Christians. The Messenger of Allah (Sallalahu Alayhi Wasallam) said as occurs in Sahih Bukhari,

“The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “The most hated person to Allah is person who seeks that the traditions of the Pre-lslamic Period of Ignorance, should remain in Islam.” (Bukhari (12/210) [Trans Note] This is part of a longer Hadith which is, “The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “The most hated persons to Allah are three: (1) A person who deviates from the right conduct, i.e., an evil doer, in the Haram (sanctuaries of Mecca and Medina); (2) a person who seeks that the traditions of the Pre-lslamic Period of Ignorance, should remain in Islam (3) and a person who seeks to shed somebody’s blood without any right.”

Imam Tirmidhi transmits from Abu Waqid al-Laithi (RadhiAllahu Anhu), when the Messenger of Allah (Sallalahu Alayhi Wasallam) travelled to Khaibar they passed by tree which was venerated by the mushrikin, called Dhat Anwat and they would hang their weapons on it. So some of the companions (RadhiAllahu Anhuma) said,

“Oh Messenger of Allah (Sallalahu Alayhi Wasallam) make for us a tree like the Dhat Anwa? Upon which the Messenger of Allah (Sallalahu Alayhi Wasallam) replied, “Allaahu Akbar! By the One in Whose Hand is my soul, verily these are the ways of the earlier nations. You have said exactly as the Banu Israil have said to Musa, “Make for us a god just as their Gods He (Musa) said, “Verily you are an ignorant people (7:138).” Certainly, you will follow the ways of those who went before you.” (Sunan Tirmidhi (4/475), This Hadith is Hasan Sahih)

Sunan Tirmidhi transmits another narration from Jarir ibn Abdullah (RadhiAllahu Anhuma) where the Messenger of Allah (Sallalahu Alayhi Wasallam) said,

“Whoever starts a good tradition which is followed, then for him is a reward, and the likes of their rewards of whoever follows him, there being nothing diminished from their rewards. And whoever starts a bad tradition which is followed, then for him is the sin, and the likes of the sins of whoever follows him, there being nothing diminished from their sins.” (Sunan Tirmidhi (5/43), Musnad Ahmad (2/505), Imam Tirmidhi said, “This hadith is Hasan Sahih.”)

There are numerous ahadith and reports which have been transmitted in this regard collated in the books of Jam’e, Sunan and Masanid and all of them allude to the linguistic meaning of Sunnah being a way and path.

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