Adherence and Observance of Sunnah


The Quran calls the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him) Hikmah, which means wisdom. The Quran warns us:

That day the disbelievers and those who disobeyed the Messenger will wish that the Earth would swallow them up; and they won’t be able to hide from Allah anything they had spoken” (An-Nisa: 42).

For Muslims following the actions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) is of utmost importance because his Sunnah is a source of great benefit. Believers are encouraged to act in accordance with the Sunnah.

Here are some examples and sayings of the Prophet (peace be upon him) that express the importance of following his blessed Sunnah:

One day the Messenger (peace be upon him) gave us a moving talk and said “I told you to be pious! Obey and listen to your leader, even if he is an Ethiopian slave…you must…follow my Sunnah and the Sunnah of my guided successors and hold it firmly with your teeth” (Bukhari).

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said “my example is like that of rain, which falls on three types of ground; some falls on very fertile land and produces lush green vegetation, some falls on hard rocky land and here water gathers in a pool and people drink from it, and some falls on barren land, where there is neither growth nor pooling of the water. The first piece of land is an example of a person who has understood my message, benefits himself and others. The second plot is an example of a person who himself does not benefit but people benefit from his knowledge. Whilst the third plot is an example of a person who neither benefits himself nor others benefit from him”(Bukhari).

Whilst doing the Tawaf of the Ka’aba Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) turning to the black stone and said “Whatever Rasul-ullah did is good, I know you are only a stone if I had not seen the Prophet (peace be upon him) kissing you, I would not have kissed you either! (Bukhari).

What is the inheritance for a grandmother? Abu Bakr asked one day, who knows it? Mughira said “1/6th”. Abu Bakr asked who else can bare witness to this? Muhammad ibn Muslima said that he had also heard it from the prophet (peace be upon him) (Muwatta).

Abu Musa Al-Asharie (may Allah be pleased with him) knocked on Umar’s door 3 times but there was no reply so he went away. Umar called him back and asked him why he went after knocking 3 times, Abu Musa said that I heard the Prophet (peace be upon him) say if there is no response after the third time go away (Muslim).

Here are some more beautiful examples that show us the benefits and value of following the Sunnah even in this life:

The Prophet (peace be upon him) is our saviour and following his example will save us from ruin. It’s narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was informed about a house that had burnt down in Madina. He (peace be upon him) said that fire is dangerous, always put it out before going to sleep (Muslim), teaching us the importance of fire safety.

Abdullah ibn Umar was once wearing a red cloak and the Prophet (peace be upon him) showed a dislike of it, as soon as Abdullah ibn Umar got home he threw it away (Muslim). This just shows how careful the companions were regarding the feelings and emotions of the Prophet (peace be upon him), even though he never said anything about the cloak, Abdullah ibn Umar must have sensed the dislike of the Prophet through his body language and quickly went and got rid of his red cloak.

The Messenger (peace be upon him) said that mine and your example is that of a man who lights a fire and immediately flies and moths begin to fall in it. He tries to propel them away from the fire but they keep coming back into the fire. Similarly, I hold you back from your waist preventing you from falling into the fire (Bukhari).

Once the Prophet (peace be upon him) saw a golden ring on the finger of a disciple, he pulled it off him and threw it away. The man walked off embarrassed when someone told him to pick it up, he said, how can I? What the prophet (peace be upon him) disapproves of cannot be taken, no matter what it’s worth (Bukhari).

A man was once eating with his left hand and the Messenger (peace be upon him) ordered him to eat with his right hand, he said I can’t, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said “then you won’t” and from then on his hand was paralysed (Muslim). This hadith shows us the result of disobeying the Messenger (peace be upon him).

Why Follow the Sunnah?

  • It’s the truth, reality, good and blissful
  • It opens doors of Divine obedience and closes the door of Divine wrath
  • It represents the best moral values for human society
  • It encourages and motivates you to compete in good things
  • The Sunnah answers lots of our questions
  • It teaches us how to perform our religious duties properly

Learn to respect authority

Can you imagine a nation without a leader, a workplace without a boss, or an army without a general? It would be chaotic. Structure creates order; without it no progress can be made. You must learn to respect those in authority over you. Honour those who have lived longer than you because they possess a wealth of knowledge. Listen to them and develop yourself. Until you have learnt to take orders, you will never be qualified to give them. The Prophet (peace be upon him) understood this very well and has ordered his followers to show respect to those in authority.

Are you speaking words of doubt about your own organisation (or mosque)? Are you belittling those in authority over you? You must stop it now! True, they are not perfect (perhaps that’s why they can tolerate you). If you rebel against every instruction you are given, don’t complain when those around you rebel against your words and opinions. The law of reciprocity states that if you want to be treated with respect, you must respect others. That includes those you don’t often agree with, or even like.

“O Allah! Help me to respect the authority for I know that my success depends upon my attitude toward those you have placed in leadership over me. As I honour them, I believe You will honour me”.