Establishing the Sunna. Excerpted from the book: The Messenger of God: Muhammad by Fethullah Gulen. THE SUNNA HAS TO BE ESTABLISHED.
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The Sunna as one of the two main sources of Islam was memorized, recorded, and carefully preserved so that it could be passed down without distortation or alteration.
The Sunna, the unique example set by the Messenger of God for all Muslims to follow, shows us how to bring our lives into agreement with God’s commands, and obtain His good pleasure.
The Sunna is the window opened on the Messenger of God, the sacred way leading to the blessings of Islam. Without it, Muslims cannot implement Islam in their daily lives, establish a connection with the Messenger, or receive his blessings.
The companions knew the Prophet would intercede for them only if they followed the Sunna;
On the Day of Judgement, I will put my head on the ground and ask God to forgive my nation. I will be told; “ O Muhammad, raise your head and ask; you will be given whatever you ask. Intercede; your intercession will be accepted”
The Companions obeyed the Messenger in everything. They were so imbued with love for him that they strove to imitate him in every possible way. In fact, the Quran itself led them to do this, for it states that obeying the Messenger is directly related to belief;
But no, by your Master! They will not believe till they make you the judge in disputes between them, then they shall find in themselves no impediment touching your verdict, but shall surrender in full submission. (4:65)
The following are only a few examples of their degree of submission.
Shortly before his death, the Messenger raised an army, appointed Usama to command it, and told him to “advance only as far as the place where your father was martyred, and strengthen our rule there” The Messenger took to his bed before the army departed. When Usama visited him, the Messenger prayed for him. The Prophet died just before the army disembarked. Abu Bakr, his immediate political successor and the first caliph, dispatched the army without a second thought; despite uprisings in various parts of Arabia. He said “By God, even if wolves attack us from all directions, I will not lower a flag hoisted by the Messenger”
Ali once drank water while standing. Maysara ibn Ya’Qub criticised him: “Why are you drinking while standing?” Ali answered:”If I do so, it’s because I saw the Messenger do so. If I drink while sitting, it’s because I saw the Messenger do so”
It is not for any believer, man or woman, when God and His Messenger have decreed a matter, to have the choice in the affair. Whosoever disobeys God and His Messenger has gone astray into manifest error.(33:36)
The Traditions further declare;
The best of words is the Book of God; the best way to follow is that of Muhammad. The worst affair is innovations (against my Sunna). Each innovation is a deviation.
I have left you two precious things that, if you hold fast to them, will never lead you astray: The Quran and the Sunna
The companions and the immediately following generations were meticulous in narrating or transmitting these Traditions. They showed the utmost care and exactness in separating sound Traditions from those that had been fabricated. After memorizing the sound ones, they passed them down to the next generations.
Zubyr ibn Awwam, one of the ten Companions assured Paradise, narrated only a few Traditions from God’s Messenger, for fear of making a mistake.
Anas Ibn Malik, who served the Messenger for 10 years, said :”If I were not so afraid of making a mistake, I would related many more narrations from the Messenger”
Literal Narration- Although the literal narration is better and always preferable, narration of meaning is allowed if the narrator has an expert command of Arabic.
For example, one day Ubayd ibn Umayr narrated: “A hypocrite resembles a sheep left between rabidayn (two flocks).” Abd Allah ibn Umar objected: “He did not say so. I heard the Messenger say: “A hypocrite resembles a sheep left between ghanamyn (two flocks). The meaning is the same, except the words used are different.
Some Orientalists and their Muslims followers try to cast doubt on the Sunna’s authenticity on the pretexts that some Companions narrate too many Traditions and that there are vast numbers of Traditions.
First, the Traditions are not limited to the Messenger’s words. Rather they cover his entire life; all his actions, likes and dislikes, and approvals or tacit confirmations of what his Companions said and did.
He lived for 23 years among them as Messenger of God. He taught them Islam down to its smallest details.