At the top of his voice to a crowd of the faithful. They look on as the abstract concept is left in the air without being clarified or explained, it is not the simple case of shouting out a term, it needs to be elucidated upon.
Only then can it be understood and practiced.
What is the Sunna?
The Sunnah is confirmation of every praiseworthy attribute or characteristic and negation of every blameworthy characteristic. Got that? Then lets begin...
Two of the known characteristics of the Prophet (may Allah bestow upon him peace and blessings) before Islam was that he was truthful and trustworthy. As-Sadiq Al-Amin. Sadiq comes from the word truth and Amin comes from the word be faithful or honest which itself comes from a root word to mean secure. If you know a person you can trust then you can feel secure with them and you can give them anything secure in the knowledge that they will return it. Imana is something that you give to someone for safekeeping. Iman means faith.
So these two characteristics are what indicated to what he was going to be given. The last book of Allah and the manifestation of monotheism.
Now if we claim to be one of the followers of his nation then it behoves us that we be truthful and we become trustworthy. Yet if we take a look at believers many do not warrant being given a trust. Many people who you give something to borrow will then lend it to someone else who will then lend it to someone else who will then lose it. So when you ask for that item back the long winded response is that it has been lost. Where is the trust?
When we are asked to tell people the truth we do not; instead we twist things and finish off our sentences with a pack of lies. Where is the truth?
We have lost two the characteristics that our Prophet (may Allah bestow upon him peace and blessings) was known for. Then how can we claim to follow him if we do not do what he did? It’s like me claiming to a fan of Manchester United but you never see me in their stadium but you see in me in Manchester city’s stadium. Would you think that I am a City fan or a United fan? The answer is obvious!
This is your starting point be truthful and be trustworthy, both characteristics are linked. If you are truthful then you will become trustworthy. Please if someone lends you something bring it back to them. One of my friends lost something that I lent him and then he brought a replacement, this is being trustworthy.
Does it make perfect?
Well not quite but can attain a level of proficiency by repetition. We can never perfect but we can die trying. Always measure your characteristics against the Prophet (may Allah bestow upon him peace and blessings) and this will mean you will always keep trying.
Look at the Prophet’s (may Allah bestow upon him peace and blessings) characteristic and try to force yourself to have the same characteristic. Look at his truthfulness and ask yourself are you truthful? Look at his trustworthiness and ask yourself are your trustworthy? Look at his patience and look at yourself and ask are you patient? Or is it all just a farce or charade so the people think you are very good but really you are not good at all. Listen to hadith and pick out the characteristics and then apply it to yourself. Religion is about correcting yourself and not just about correcting others because you cannot always correct others but you can always correct yourself.
The changes that you make inside the heart can make such a drastic effect on you and your environment.
One of the most interesting statements that I read in the Tao Te ching was, “Everyone knows but no one practices.” That says it all,doesn’t it? We all know what we need to do but is anyone doing it? Only the few are and how few they are!
To make statements such as follow the Sunna can be problematic as someone who is new to the subject cannot understand this. It might make sense to those who had read the Sirah but not to those who haven’t; which makes it very difficult to understand. Reading hadith can help, read the forty hadith of Imam Nawawi and the Riyadh As-Saliheen by the same complier.
Most of all you need to see it practiced before you and that can only be done by witnessing someone who follows the Sunna. The way of the scholars is a way that explains the Sunna to us, in ways that books cannot begin to understand. Some scholars are books personified and this can be humbling to see.
Try to find a teacher or a scholar who embodies such characteristics and then try to pick up as much as you can from him. Also note that you may also find secrets with practicing Arabs who understand the way better than many non-Arabs. If you see them act in a way that pleases you then try to pick it up and practice it. When one of my friends meets a two people and he is going to shake their hands, he shakes the hand of the person on the right side with his right hand and hold the left arm of the other person, before shaking his hand. This is something he does so the person who he shook hands with secondly does not feel left out. This is very subtle and it needs to be seen as my explanation may not prove my point.
In this time religion is like the movies. We attend lectures where people do not learn anything they are amused by stories that are illogical but seem interested. The speaker gets excited and attacks every group on the planet, because they are the saved group. How did you not know this? They
are the saved group!!? There is more an emphasis on upholding the culture than the religion and as a result we have folkloric Islam that is a mishmash of Hindu culture and Islam. Confusing so many people and further distancing those who want to see a type of Islam that is attractive.
This is one reason why people become Wahabi’s because they reject the nature of culture of some Sunni’s and see Wahabism as a pure form of Islam. Even though the Wahabi’s have a point, their way is against the majority in many cases, so even thought that way seems attractive it’s ending is not bright. This really affects women because many Sunni’s bar women from learning the religion as classes (if there are any!) are held in masjids are just for men. So what else is she to do except become a Wahabi because they hold the doors wipe open for them. Sometimes I think that some people consider religiousness is just for men and not women. This is another negative manifestation of the culture that needs to be erased. There are so many negative aspects of the culture that go against Islam but nobody seems to realise.
We need to rid ourselves of the negative aspects of the cultural Islam and move to a purer form of practice that excludes those negative aspects and highlights the positives. Speakers must attempt to understand the culture that they are in. Coming off a plane and speaking at a conference without knowing the problems and challenges people face is foolish.
Also those speakers living in the UK or US must learn English. Allah sent every Prophet with the ability to speak the language of the people. Zaid ibn Thabit was ordered by the Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings be upon him) to learn Hebrew. So can learning English to spread Islam be something that is shunned on by so many of those who come from the Indo-pak countires. It is a real shame that only a few speakers can speak English despite spending decades in the West.
We really should not be able to speak Urdu in our Masjids because the majority of people should be Muslims of European and not Asian stock. Dawah is another thing that we have failed to and anyone who is interested on reading more then please see our article on this subject.
Failure of Dawah
One of the core reasons why Dawah has failed is because people see religious people as the exact opposite of what they should be. This distances them from Islam. We hear of horror stories of poor defensive less women who are treated like slaves and when their use has expired then they are stabbed or burnt alive. This is against all the teachings of the Prophet (may Allah bestow upon him peace and blessings) all of them, he never spoke to a woman harshly never mind strike her!
Women will have their revenge on those who did this to them on the day of judgement. Our treatment of women needs to be addressed but who will risk their job by speaking about it? Some have been removed from their positions. So do we blame the English press for our own bad press when we set the fires burning in many cases? Then they see other Asians dealing drugs, how do these two facts make the Muslims be seen by the public?
This adds to the demonization of Islam and Muslim in the media. We are adding to this by our own heedless actions, may Allah forgive the muslims.
True followers of the Prophetic way put their feelings down and lowly; and then raise the flag of the standard of the Prophet (may Allah bestow upon him peace and blessings) high. Where are those people? Where have they gone? Have they all died out? Well you can be one of them, if you want,
start by telling the truth and then take it from there. Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) called the Prophets (may Allah bestow peace and blessings be upon him) character the Quran.
He never lied, cheated, stole, beat people, mocked people, backbited, gossiped or harmed people.
What about you? Most of us do all these things and call ourselves followers. How can we be true?
Keeping the practice alive
Keeping the practice alive keeps the religion alive. Practicing the Sunna means that you have something more valuable than the relics of the Prophet (may Allah bestow upon him peace and blessings) you have his action. Copying anyone shows them respect and to show them respect is to honour them. Keeping the practices alive means that you can pass them on to preceding generations and by not performing them we are letting the Sunna die out.
The main method of keeping the Sunna alive is by supporting teachers and scholars, as they are people who have an understanding the religion.
Do we really care about the Prophet (may Allah bestow upon him peace and blessings) if we let his Sunna die out? Then what is the point of the screaming Iman?