Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine

July 2006
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Soul Talk

What Does the Sunnah Stand For?
By Dr.M. Fazl-Ur- Rahman Ansari

If the implications of the Sunnah are understood properly by Muslims, it will save them from indulgence in Bidah

The Qur’an has laid fundamental emphasis on the importance of imitation of the holy Prophet’s (Pbuh) Sunnah as a vital factor in the practice of’ Islam, because it begins in accepting him as the sole human guide and the perfect practical model The question, therefore, emerges: what does the Sunnah stand for? We may concisely answer this question by saying that the holy Prophet’s Sunnah stands for the dynamic manifestations of the ethico-religious dimensions of his personality, or looking at it in the perspective of the Qur’an, we many define it by saying that it is the realisation by him of the Qur’anic value-system in the different dimensions of his personality.

If the implications of the Sunnah are understood properly by Muslims, it will save them from indulgence in Bidah, on the one hand, and inspires them with intense fervour for realising in the Prophet’s personality, the ethico-religious idealism projected by the Qur’an.

It relates to a personality that has been the richest, the most profound, and the most perfect in history. Here are just a few facets selected off-hand, to provide a basic idea. They are: (1) Utmost devotion to God; (2) Spending every moment of life productively, and with planning and grace, not wasting it in frivolous pursuits (3) Maintaining highest fortitude, with a cheerful countenance and a never-failing smile, even in the most trying and terrifying circumstances (4) Gentleness in dealing with others (5) Forgiveness and love for the worst enemies (6) Practice of mercy in all situations. (conquest of Makkah demonstrating it at its climax) (7) Utmost generosity (8) Sacrifice for the welfare of others: feeding others, while himself remaining hungry, clothing others, while himself wearing coarse garments patched time and again, not keeping any wealth with him, in cash or kind, but distributing it to the needy before sunset every day (9) Extreme humility together with full dignity (10) Highest rational tolerance (11) Goodwill for all and ill will towards none (12) Eating less, sleeping less, talking less (13) Total abstinence from arguements (14) Immaculate cleanliness in respect of the body, the dress and the environment (15) Practice of truthfulness, honesty, fidelity and self-control.

It is sad that Muslims today have departed from following the Sunnah, but are engaged in external formalities in the name of Sunnah, arguing unnecess-arily and engaging in discussions that are of no value either for their lives here or in the hereafter.

The Ones who Serve, are Served
By Shems Friedlander

You must want more for your brother than you want for yourself and more important, before you want it for yourself.

Allah loves each one of us. Allah has created us. We are not here by accident. This world is a perfect design, if we can see it, if we can see ourselves and our surroundings…a vast sky held up by no pillars, a carpet of earth that gives us all the food and fruit and nourishment we need to live, animals of every species, some that we can ride, some that we can eat, some that can help us in our work. They have specific duties.

They have all been placed here as a means for us to see our inner natures. Just because we are dressed like human beings does not exempt us from having animal tendencies. The mouse in us that steals a little bit from here and there. The vain peacock that grooms himself all the time. The sly fox. The stubborn donkey that closes his ear to the name of Allah. The scorpion that stings. These are all in us.

Human beings have the opportunity not only to brush all that away, but to become real human beings both internally and externally, if we reflect why are we here? What is our purpose in this life? Allah said, “I was a hidden treasure, and I wished to be known. So I created man in order to be known.” In that statement, Allah says that He has given us the possibility, the potential, the guidance and support that we need to know Him. Man can know Allah. It is our purpose in this life to have faith, to worship, and to love Him. This world, this life is a place we are just passing through. We have to learn to serve one another. You must want more for your brother than you want for yourself and more important, before you want it for yourself.

Abu Yazid al-Bistami was a great Sufi sheikh. He was a pir, and known as the Kutub al-Arifin, the central pillar of knowledge, the man of the highest knowledge. One day in the courtyard of the mosque, he was making his ablutions in preparation for prayer. Across the courtyard, he saw a very old man. Today we have taps that can be turned on, and the water simply flows, but in the old days they used heavy clay pitchers for water, and if you were strong enough, you picked one up and washed yourself. Often the person next to you would help you pour the water, and in turn you did the same for him. What Abu Yazid al-Bistami saw was that no one was helping the old man. He walked over to the old man and said, “Old man, what could you have done in your long life that you do not have one friend, no one has come to help you?” The old man looked at him and said, “The ones who serve are served. And if I had not served Allah and His creation, how would the Kutub al-Arifin, the man of the highest knowledge, come now to serve me?”