What is the Sunnah? Could you explain the importance of Sunnah in Islam?
The Sunnah is what the Prophet did, said and all of his acts and attitude. Then, we can say that what he did during his lifetime is the Sunnah.
The word sunnah used in fiqh books means “there is reward if we do it but there is no sin if we do not do it.” For instance, eating with the right hand, cleaning the teeth, not to eat while standing, etc.
However, when we consider the word sunnah in its broad sense, it includes everything that our Prophet did. In that case, the wishes and prohibitions of Allah are also included in the Sunnah. For instance, did our Prophet perform prayers? Yes. Then it is sunnah to perform prayers.
Accordingly, it is necessary to divide sunnah into parts.
Fard:Everything that Allah definitely wants us to do or to avoid. It is our Prophet who carries out the commands and prohibitions of Allah in the best way and who serves as an example. We should follow him in order to carry out the commands and prohibitions of Allah. Such as performing prayers, fasting, avoiding fornication and not eating anything haram (forbidden).
Wajib:The wajibs of our religions: for instance, it is wajib to perform the prayer of witr as three rakats.
Nafilah:The things other than fard and wajib that we carry out while performing prayers. For instance, to read some verses from the Quran while performing prayers is fard but to read subhanaka prayer is nafilah.
Adab:If we do as the Prophet did while doing our daily tasks like eating, sleeping, entering the mosque or toilet, etc, we will have done them in accordance with their procedures. A person who does not act accordingly is not regarded to have committed sins.
It means we can divide sunnah as fard, wajib, nafilah and adab. It is the order of the superiority of the parts of sunnah.
We can think of it like a human body. Man has necessary organs to live: for instance, the brain, heart, head, etc. The principles that we must believe in are like the heart and brain of our spirit.
Our body has sense organs like eyes, ears, hands, feet, etc. Fards are like them. They are the eyes, ears, hands and feet of our spirit. A person who does not perform fards is like a person without hands, feet, eyes and ears.
We also have some beauties and adornments like fingers, eyebrows and hair in our bodies. We can live without them. However, if we have them, we will be perfect. Similarly, the nafilah and adab parts of sunnah are the adornments and beauties of our spirit. If we perform them, we will receive many rewards; if we do not perform them, we will not receive any sins.
To sum up, the fard and wajib parts are the sunnahs that are obligatory to be performed. We will receive many rewards if we perform the nafilah and adab parts.
As for harams, we must protect our spirits from killing and poisoning harams as we protect our bodies from killing factors like aids, poison and fire.
The importance of Sunnah
Sahih (authenticated) Muslim summarizes the importance of Sunnah as follows:
Whatever or whenever the Apostle of God (peace be upon him) conducted or said something on anything, he did it as a prophet. Everything that he did is far from being deviated and wrong. All his words and actions were kept within the limitations of God's design. Therefore, everyone should follow and imitate every moment of his life. His life is a live Quran, and a sum of Divine Laws.
There are so many verses and hadiths in Quran and in hadith books, which precisely state that adhering to the Sunnah is the fundamental basis of the religion.
Some of them are as follows:
O you who believe! Obey God and obey the Messenger, and those from among you who are invested with authority; and if you are to dispute among yourselves about anything, refer it to God and the Messenger, if indeed you believe in God and the Last Day. This is the best (for you) and fairest in the end. (an-Nisa, 4:59)
Tafsir scholars of the Quran interpret the command, "refer it to God and the Messenger" as "consult the Quran and the Sunnah".
Badiuzzaman Said Nursi interprets the verse, Say (to them, O Messenger):
"If you indeed love God, then follow me, so that God will love you and forgive you your sins." God is All-Forgiving, All-Compassionate (Aal-i Imran, 3:31) as, If you believe in God (May His Glory be exalted), you will surely love Him. Since you love God, you will act in the manner He loves. To do that, you must resemble the one God loves. And he may be resembled by following him. Whenever you follow him, God will love you, too. Besides, you have to love God so that He shall love you.
These phrases form only a brief and concise meaning of the verse. It means that the most exalted goal for man is to receive Almighty God's love. The verse shows that the way of achieving this elevated aim is by following God's Beloved one and his Practices. (Flashes, 11th Flash)
Al Maududi expresses the statements below about surrendering to the Sunnah:
Leaving the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad even on a small scale could lead you to be loved less by God and His messenger. The first condition of love and affection is absolute submission. One who loves the Messenger of God, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), should submit him/herself to him and should obey his commands.
In this connection, I would like to mention some of the parts which are about adhering to the Sunnah from Risale-i Nur Collection.
The sources of the Noble Prophet's Illustrious Practices are three: his words, his acts, and his conduct. And there are three categories of each of these three: obligatory, voluntary, and laudable.
It is imperative to follow those that are obligatory and compulsory, and there are penalties and punishment for giving them up. Everyone is charged with following them. As for the voluntary sort, as laudable, the believers are again charged with following them, but there is no penalty or punishment for giving them up. However, there is great merit in acting in accordance with them and following them. And to change them is innovation, misguidance, and a great error. To follow and imitate the Prophet's customary actions is extremely laudable and in accordance with wisdom, and is beneficial for both personal life and social life and for human kind. For in all his habitual actions are numerous things beneficial for life, and furthermore, through following them, such conduct and actions become like worship.
Yes, since as both friend and foe agree, the person of Muhammad (PBUH) manifested the highest degrees of moral virtues; and since as all are agreed, he is the most famous and excellent individual in the human race; and since as indicated by his thousands of miracles, and testified to by the World of Islam that he founded and its achievements, and affirmed by the truths of the Qur'an of which he was the herald and interpreter, he was the most excellent Perfect Man and most excellent guide; and since as the fruit of following him, millions of the people of perfection have advanced through the degrees of attainment and reached the happiness of both worlds; for sure his Practices and actions are the finest examples to be followed, and the safest guides, and the soundest laws to be taken as principles. Happy is the one whose share of following the Practices of the Prophet (PBUH) is great. While those who are lazy and do not follow them suffer vast loss, and those who consider them to be unimportant commit a great crime, while if they criticize them, which infers denying them, it is serious misguidance. (ibid)
O Friend! When I was making my way with apprehension and full of anxiety, I witnessed that Prophet Muhammad's Sunnah was serving as stars and lamps. Each sunnah or sharia law shines as sun bright over the oppressive rebellion ways against God's design. If a man, even, least bit discards and departs from that straight path (of God) of sunnah; he becomes a puppet of Satan, a stage where fears and misdeeds exhibited, and a mount loaded with the burden of mountains. (Mesnevi-i Nuriye)
The Practices of the Prophet (PBUH) are courtesy. There is no matter among them beneath which a light, and courtesy, is not to be found. The Noble Prophet (Upon whom be blessings and peace) said:
Those who obey God and His messenger will be in the company of prophets, devotees, martyrs, and the ones that God bestowed His benefaction and gifts. How beautiful friends are those!
One whoever obeys His messenger, he/she obeys God.
Addabani Rabbi fa ahsana tadibi, the interpretation of it is as follows: "My Sustainer taught me good conduct, and how well he taught me." Yes, one who studies the Prophet's biography and knows his Practices will certainly understand that Almighty God gathered in His Beloved all the varieties of courtesy and good conduct. One who gives up the practices abandons courtesy. He verifies the rule, "The ill-mannered person is deprived of Divine favor," and is discourteous in a way that causes him loss.
“There is a beautiful straightness for the ones among you who wish for the hereafter and recall the name of God often by submitting oneself to God.”
The importance of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and his Sunnah were embroidered like a golden string in the verses by God.
The hadiths that demonstrate the unbreakable connection between the Quran and hadiths:
Abu Dawud narrates from Irbad b. Sariya. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) once led the prayer and then turned to us; he made such a fluent speech that the hearts shivered and the eyes shed tears. One of the listeners said, "O Messenger of Allah! It seems as if it were a farewell speech; so what injunction do you give us?" The Messenger of Allah said, "I enjoin you to fear Allah, and to hear and obey even if it be a slave; for, those of you who live after me will see great disagreement. You must then follow my sunnah and that of the rightly-guided caliphs. Hold to it and stick fast to it. Avoid novelties, for every novelty is an innovation, and every innovation is an error. They lead you to fire."
Muslim narrates from Jabir (r.a.):
When the Messenger of Allah delivered the sermon, his eyes became red, his voice rose and his anger increased so that he was like one giving a warning against the enemy and saying, " The enemy has made a morning attack on you and in the evening too." He would also say, "The last hour and I have been sent like these two" and he would join his forefinger and middle finger; and would further say:" The best of the speech is embodied in the Book of Allah, and the best of the guidance is the guidance given by Muhammad. And the most evil affairs are their innovations; and every innovation is error."
Bukhari and Muslim narrate from Anas (r.a.):
The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, "None of you will be regarded to have believed unless he loves me more than himself, his father, his children and everybody."
The Prophet said, "May the mercy of Allah be on my deputies." When he was asked, "Who are you deputes?", he said, "Those who practice my Sunnah and teach it to others."
The Messenger of Allah expresses the loftiness and holiness of the Sunnah and the necessity of following him concisely as follows: "If Musa Ibn Imran (Moses) had lived in my period, he would have done nothing but follow me."
That is, there is no way else but to follow Hz. Muhammad, who is the perfect man, even for Moses, who is a prophet having a book; it is such a great bliss and luck for the ordinary and sinful ummah like us to follow the Sunnah of the glorious Prophet.
"If you abandon the sunnah of your Prophet, you will go astray."
"If a person follows his own desires instead of what I have brought, he will not be regarded as a real believer."
"Allah and I damn those who abandon my Sunnah."
"A person who deviates from my Sunnah is not regarded to be following my way."
"A person's deed that does not comply with our way is rejected."
They are some verses and hadiths related to the issue. There are a lot of verses and hadiths in the Quran and hadith books stating definitely that adhering to the Sunnah is an indispensible principle of the religion. Then, the claim "Let us act in accordance with the Quran only" is away from being serious. Sincere Muslims do not heed claims like that.