The Sunnah within Islam, means path or way.
The Sunnah are deeds attributed to Muhammad, the four rightly guided caliphs and close companions at the time.
The deeds can be obligatory, permissible, prohibitions, recommended, voluntary, or disliked.
The Established Sunnah
The established Sunnah is the traditions which have been passed down generations of Muslims and are now a set of Islamic practices and principles, which Muslims use to emulate Muhammad; in loose terms, it can mean, the life of Muhammad.
Prior to Islam, the Sunnah were the Laws of Arabia, which were the legal morals and principles of that time, these grew out the customs and practices of the people of Arabia and gained legal validity overtime.
The Sunnah lost its original meaning after the bringing of Islam and is now solely attributed to Islam. This is an established pattern in Islam, wherever Islam enters, traditions, customs, laws, religion, names and governments are abolished to the extent people forget what was originally in place before Islam. Nothing will be accepted of people, unless for the worship of Allah.
Muhammad and the Established Sunnah
The Qu’ran is believed to have been revealed over a period of 23 years. Within Islamic belief, every word in the Qur’an is the perfect, unalterable decree of Allah. All verses are believed to be the divine laws, which all mankind will live by until the day of judgement.
Muhammad was the chosen messenger of Allah, sent after a long line of messengers to reveal the final message of Allah and to fulfill the revelations of Allah by explaining and teaching the meaning of the Qur’an.
Anything Muhammad did, said, or made permissible or forbidden, is believed to have been ordained by Allah.
Muhammad had four roles:
- To recite verses.
- Purify people.
- Teach people the understanding of the Qur’an.
- Teach wisdom.
“Certainly did Allah confer [great] favor upon the believers when He sent among them a Messenger from themselves, reciting to them His verses and purifying them and teaching them the Book and wisdom, although they had been before in manifest error.”(3.164)
“He gives wisdom to whom He wills, and whoever has been given wisdom has certainly been given much good. And none will remember except those of understanding.”(2.269)
The wisdom mentioned in these verses is the Sunnah.
Complete obedience to Allah and Muhammad is ordered within the Qu’ran verses, one example is below, but the occurrence of verses with orders to obey Muhammad, as well as Allah, are numerous.
“Say, “Obey Allah and the Messenger.” But if they turn away – then indeed, Allah does not like the disbelievers.”(3.32)
Muhammad is believed to be the perfect creation of a human being and an example (3.21) in which the path to paradise (Jannah) is to emulate Muhammad (6.153).
The Qur’an and the recordings of the things Muhammad did, or said, cannot be questioned or criticised, to do this would mean rejecting the revelations of Allah, the creator of all.
“He is not questioned about what He does, but they will be questioned.”(21.23)
“O you who have believed, do not ask about things which, if they are shown to you, will distress you. But if you ask about them while the Qur’an is being revealed, they will be shown to you. Allah has pardoned that which is past; and Allah is Forgiving and Forbearing.” (5.101)
Muslims are ordered to love Muhammad, to the extent they will sacrifice their life in his cause and to give up all of their worldly desires.
There are three types of love for Muhammad:
- Pity and compassion – The love a father has for a child
- Respect and Esteem – The love a child has for a father
- Admiration and Kindness – The love a person has for all
Deeds in the Sunnah
Examples of obligatory deeds:
- Praying five times a day, fasting during Ramadan, unless very ill or physically unable.
- Striving for Allah’s rule in all lands.
- Beating the wife if she is disobedient.
- Wearing the hijab.
- To respond to the call to jihad, or to be personally responsible if the collective duty for jihad is not met.
Examples of prohibitions:
- To not take genuine non-Muslim friends.
- To not leave the battlefield.
- To not worship idols, symbols or images, which includes supporting others who do, for example, Christians with a cross.
- To not pledge allegiance with any other government but Islam.
- To refrain from adultery, fornication, alcohol.
Examples of recommended deeds:
- To pray optional supplementary prayers.
- To free a slave.
- To say one hundred times a day, “There is no god but Allaah alone, with no partner or associate; His is the Dominion, to Him be all praise, and He is able to do all things”
- Observing voluntary fasts.
- Giving charity (Sadaqah) not to be mistaken with Zakat, Zakat is obligatory.
- Woman praying at home.
There are also disliked deeds, which are not prohibited, but are discouraged and permissible deeds, which are not obligatory, but allowed.
The second type of Sunnah
The hadith are the individual narrations of Muhammad’s which have been passed down through a chain of narrators. The individual hadith explain the context behind the Qur’an, the laws of the Qur’an, Muhammads orders, prohibitions, and his actions within his lifetime. The individual hadith also incorporate a small amount of narrations of Muhammad’s close companions, (Sahabah) who are also of the Sunnah.
(The plural of hadith is, ahadith.)
The recordings in the ahadith of Muhammad were scrutinised for authenticity, reliability of narrators, number of narrations, contradictions within narrations; this is also called the Sunnah and the established Sunnah is within these.
One of the differences to distinguish the difference between the individual hadith and the established Sunnah is that some of the individual hadith have been abrogated, (replaced with a different ruling.) The established Sunnah only incorporates the final ruling.
The process of verification by Islamic scholars resulted in many hadith being declared fabricated or rejected. The remainder were put into categories of authentic (Sahih), good (Hasan), weak (Da’if).
It is unanimously agreed by Islamic scholars, and the Muslim Ummah (community), Sahih hadiths are the revelations from Allah, through Muhammad.
A weak hadith cannot be used for legislation alone, however can be used in conjunction with other evidence to present a case for judgement in a shari’ah court. A weak hadith can be used “softening the hearts of non-believers,” this is an attempt to ensure a non-Muslim will accept Islam. Another way a weak hadith could be used is to display “good deeds” or to teach children Islamic traditions.
A rejected hadith is not false, it is rejected due to one or more in the chain of narrators being unreliable, but it is still believed to have possibly been the words or actions of Muhammad. It is a narrator within the chain which is disputed, not the individual hadith. A rejected hadith can still be used for shari’ah judgements, this is disputed amongst scholars, but rejected hadiths can be and are used for judgements.
A fabricated hadith has been classified in this way, because a narrator has confessed the hadith is fabricated.
Extreme and Moderate Islam in the Sunnah.
Within western society the terms “extreme” and “moderate” Islam are commonly used, these terms have a very different meaning within Islamic terminology, these are the meanings:
- Moderate – following the Quran and the Sunnah of Muhammad and living by all requirements of the shari’ah.
- Extreme – to do more than Islam requires, so for instance, to fast or to pray excessively, which could make the person ill.
- Laxity – not following the Qur’an and the Sunnah of Muhammad, repeated rejection of the shari’ah. Within Islam this is disbelief for which the punishment is the death, (in some schools of thought there can be repentance) and will prohibit admittance to paradise in the afterlife and result in hellfire.
Censuring and Oppression
A Muslim is not only obligated to hold fast to the Sunnah, they are also required to censure others.
Oppression in Islam means a Muslim is being prevented from living within all requirements of Islam, as required by the Qur’an, Sunnah, which are the laws laid out in the Shari’ah.
It is forbidden for a Muslim to oppress another Muslim, if a Muslim sees such an act occurring, the requirement would be to advise the person, to enable the oppressor to correct the behaviour.
An example would be if a Muslim saw a child being brought up with incorrect Islamic teaching, or the parent of the child was showing laxity of Islamic teachings to their child, the person would be required to advise the child of the correct Islamic teachings and this could be without the knowledge or permission of the parent. This could be any Muslim, such as a friend, a member of the family, or an imam.
A child can be beaten at the age of ten for not praying and fasting, by the guardian or Imam.
In England 2014, the “Trojan horse Scandal” story broke. It emerged within a government investigation schools with high numbers of Islamic pupils were teaching Shari’ah within them. It was discovered a child was being beaten at an Islamic school and further investigation found Islamic teaching from the Shari’ah. This included punishment for apostates, adulterers and homosexuals, the punishment of beating a disobedient wife as of the Qur’an verse, 4.34. It was found there were teachings of Intolerance for religions, hatred towards Israel and Jews, racism towards white people and giving anti-western teachings. Topics censored from the curriculum and classes were things such as sexual, personal and social education, FGM, forced marriages, music, drama, any art which depicts faces or showed “immodest images” according to prohibitions in Islamic law.
The plot was discovered after an investigation into the” Trojan horse letter,” which detailed a plot to install Islamic governors into at least 25 schools in Birmingham, UK, who would introduce Salafist teachings. (the Salaf were the first three generations of Muslims within Islamic history) The teachings would conform to the Shari’ah.
Rejecting the Sunnah
It should come as no surprise as a Muslim is required to sacrifice themselves for Islam, that Allah and Muhammad must rank higher than a Muslims own child.
So what happens if a Muslims child rejects the teachings of Islam?
There are a series of steps a parent has to go through if their child has rejected Islam, the first would be to advise, next is physical punishment, one of the last steps is disowning the child and publicising the information within the ummah which will stigmatise and isolate the person who rejected Islam.
Muslims are forbidden to kill their children due to poverty, however Allah and Muhammad rank higher than a Muslims offspring in every way.
There are revelations in the Qur’an which decree wives and children are enemies and children (and wealth) are but a trial to men (the verse was revealed when men were refusing to migrate to Muhammad; later for refusing to respond to jihad, due to family commitments).
The apostasy law with the combination of the Qur’an verses and the established Sunnah, which Muhammad ordered the death sentence for anyone who leaves Islam, means that we very often see “honour killings,” for which in Islamic law, there is no punishment for parents who kill their children for rejecting Islam.
If a Muslim rejects the Sunnah and the laws of the Qur’an, within some schools of jurisprudence, the person should be offered chance to repent, for which Allah is believed to forgive.
The consequences of the person repenting, would again be required to follow the laws within Islamic teachings.
Non-Muslims and the Sunnah
If a non-Muslim is critical or disrespectful about Islam, a Muslim is required to prevent or stop this being able to continue, either verbally or physically, within Islamic Law, if the Muslim kills the non-Muslim, there is no punishment. If harm may come to the Muslim by doing so, the Muslim is permitted to walk away from the situation.
Reform of Islam to assimilate with western values
The Wahabi movement was formed due to the relaxation of Islamic laws during the Ottoman Caliphate, which, in turn led to the creation of the Deobandis for which all modern day Jihadis grew from.
The Ottoman Empire during mid 19th century led reforms to conform with western values, one being the Tanzinat reform. The reforms gave Christian and Jews equal rights to Muslims, further reforms encouraged reverence of tombs and graves; this is seen as a innovation in Islam and is considered Shirk, which in Islamic belief will never be forgiven.
The reforms led to uprisings in Syria and Lebanon, which resulted in hundreds of villages sacked; in one Lebanon town alone saw 5000 Christians killed and hundreds of women raped.
Nowadays Muslims live amongst us in the west and people see a watered down version of Islam, Muslims have a “get out card”. By Allah’s decree, no blame will be upon a Muslim if they cannot follow all the rules of Islam, due to being oppressed. A Muslim is permitted to live as much of their faith as they are able to in an oppressed land, an oppressed land in Islamic belief is a land which is not yet under the rule of Islam.
The verse which prescribes this practice is:
“So fear Allah as much as you are able and listen and obey and spend [in the way of Allah]; it is better for your selves. And whoever is protected from the stinginess of his soul – it is those who will be the successful.” (64.16)
In addition to this, there is an Islamic law which prescribes lying, (Taqiyya) to conceal the true intentions, which is to propagate Islam to ensure Shari’ah will rule in all lands, which is a personal obligation for all Muslims.
There can be no doubt with evidence from the primary sources and by scholarly consensus that Muslims are required to follow the Sunnah and the historical sources also support this.
Many westerners do not know what is entailed in the Sunnah, which will ultimately be used to subdue all non-Muslims, which will lead to their defeat and see all lands living by the decree of Allah, which obeying Allah and Muhammad is the most important thing to all Muslims.