VALIDITY OF IMAAN AND THE SUNNAH
A condition for the validity of Imaan is to wholeheartedly accept the Sunnah – every statement, teaching, command, exhortation and admonition of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). The concept of Imaan in Islam is belief and acceptance of Allah’s Law as delivered to us by Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). Rejection of any part of this divine message regardless of its Fiqhi classifications negates Imaan. Minus the Sunnah, Imaan is never valid. While non-observance of the Sunnah without the attitude of Istikhfaaf is sinful, not kufr, the “only sunnah” Istikhfaaf attitude is kufr. Istikhfaaf of the Sunnah is akin to denial of the Sunnah.
Innumerable examples of the Sahaabah illustrate the imperative importance of the Sunnah. The Sahaabah treated with equanimity every act and teaching of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). Never ever did they search for classification of the Ahkaam for the purpose of abstention.
- Once Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) removed from a Sahaabi’s finger a golden ring and threw it away. As he threw it away, he commented: “Man deliberately places burning embers on his hand.” After Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) left the scene, someone advised the Sahaabi to retrieve the golden ring and apply it to some other lawful use. The Sahaabi who was a devotee of the Sunnah, said: “Never! I take oath by Allah that I shall never pick up something which Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) has thrown away.”
The value of the gold and other valid permissible ways of using the gold were not presented to justify acquisition of benefit from something which the Sunnah abhorred. The Sahaabi did not argue that it was “only sunnah” not to wear the gold ring, but it was permissible to apply the gold to other permissible usages. Rasulullah’s abhorrence for the gold ring was more than adequate for the Sahaabi’s abhorrence and his decision to abstain from retrieving the ring.
- Once a Sahaabi while walking in the street heard someone from the rear exclaiming: “Raise your Izaar (lungi/ the garment which covers the lower part of the body).” He turned around and saw Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam). The izaar was well below the ankles, hence the instruction. It Is haraam for men to wear their trousers on and below the ankles. Initially not understanding the purport of the instruction, and thinking that Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) was concerned with the garment becoming soiled and worn-out if it dragged on the ground, the Sahaabi said that it was an old Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) commented: “Is my Sunnah not sufficient for you?” The Sahaabi who narrated this Hadith said: “When I looked, I saw Rasulullah’s izaar half-way between his knees and ankles.” This is the importance of the Sunnah. Logic has to be set aside and substituted with obedience and devotion to the Sunnah.
- Hadhrat Abu Zarr Ghifaari (radhiyallahu anhu), a very senior Sahaabi of the loftiest rank, was once watering his farm with water from a dam. Some people passing by carelessly trampled on the bucket which broke. Spontaneously Hadhrat Abu Zarr Ghifaari (radhiyallahu anhu) sat down on the mud. Within a couple of seconds he laid down in the mud. The people present in surprise sought an explanation. He replied: “I was angered by the negligence of these people. I heard Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) say that if one is overwhelmed by anger, one should sit down, and if the anger persists, then one should lie down. I did so in obedience to this instruction.” This was his attitude towards the Sunnah. He did not think for a moment about the mud, his clothes, the criticism and mockery of onlookers, nor did he justify abstention from this Sunnah act with the ‘only sunnah’
- Regarding his Sunnah, Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) said: “You have not believed (accepted Imaan) as long as your desires are not subjugated to that (Sunnah) which I have brought.” – Mishkaat. The Qur’aan and Ahaadith are replete with warnings for those who do not wholeheartedly submit to the Sunnah – “they are not of me”.
- Once while Imaam Abu Yusuf (rahmatullah alayh) who is next in rank to Imaam Abu Hanifah (rahmatullah alayh), was narrating Hadith, he said: “Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) loved (to eat) dubbaa”. (Dubbaa is marrow, not bone marrow. It is a vegetable belonging to the pumpkin family.) A student spontaneously blurted out: “I don’t like dubbaa”. The illustrious Imaam Abu Yusuf (rahmatullah alayh) drew his sword, and ordered: “Repent (renew your Imaan) otherwise I slay you.” Imaam Abu Yusuf (rahmatullah alayh) was among the greatest Fuqaha and Aimmah Mujtahideen. He was not known to be a Sufi dwelling in the state of spiritual ecstasy. He was the Faqeeh next in rank to only Imaam Abu Hanifah.
Furthermore, it is pertinent to ask: “Is eating marrow integral to Imaan to warrant execution for a natural dislike for it?” What act of kufr did the student commit to justify the reaction of Imaam Abu Yusuf (rahmatullah alayh)? The act of kufr which he committed was the ‘only sunnah’ attitude which minimizes the status the Sunnah of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), and which leads to its displacement. If someone does not have a liking for dubba’ or any act which the Shariah does not impose for practical observation, he has no right to minimize its significance, importance and holiness if it happens to be a preference of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), for such an ‘only sunnah’ attitude is Istikhfaaf bis Sunnah which is kufr which warrants even the capital punishment of execution.
- Once Hadhrat Hudhaifah (radhiyallahu anhu), also a very senior-ranking Sahaabi whom Hadhrat Umar (radhiyallahu anhu) had appointed governor of a country was invited for meals by the Christian king of Irbal. During the course of eating, a morsel of food fell from Hadhrat Huzaifah’s hand. As he picked it up and was about to eat it, his companion whispered that he should refrain from so doing. The Christian king and noblemen were staring and they despised such an act. Hadhrat Huzaifah (radhiyallahu anhu), fired by the Sunnah of his Beloved Nabi (sallallahu alayhi wasallam), commented loudly: “Should I abandon the Sunnah of my Beloved for these ignoramuses?” He proceeded to eat the morsel. This was the devotion for the Sunnah. Anyone who opposed this Sunnah was labelled an ‘ignoramus’.
The epithet, ‘ignoramus’ was directed at the non-Muslims. As for any Muslim who opposes or belittles the Sunnah – who makes Istikhfaaf of the Sunnah – the designation is grave, exceptionally grave. He is not just an ignoramus. He becomes a kaafir with his Istikhfaaf necessitating repentance and renewal of Imaan.
- In Kash-shaaful Qina’, it is mentioned: “The authorities (of the Shariah) say: We reject the testimony of a person (who neglects the Sunnah) because such action is tahaawun with Sunnatul Muakkadah.” (Tahaawun: to consider something insignificant, to despise, to regard as unimportant).
- In Sharh Muntahal Iraadaat of Al-Bahuti it is stated: Whoever permanently abandons the Sunnah of Nabi (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) is an evil person. His testimony is not acceptable. Frequently tahaawun with the Sunnah leads to tahaawun with the Faraaidh.
- In Hujjatullaahil Baalighah, Muhaddith Shah Dahlawi (rahmatullah alayh) states: “Verily, the Nabi (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) has warned us against perpetration of the various kinds of tahreef (misinterpretation, distortion of the laws, changing the laws of the Shariah, etc.). In fact, he emphasized this prohibition, and he extracted a pledge from his Ummah in this matter. Among the greatest elements of Tahaawun is abstention from acting according to the Sunnah. With regard to this issue are the statements of Rasulullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam): ‘There has not been a Nabi whom Allah has sent before me except that he had from his Ummah disciples and companions (Hawaariyyoon and Ashaab) who followed his command. Then after that (i.e. after the initial period of strict observance of the Sunnah of the Nabi) came such transgressors who said what they did not practise, and who practised what they had not been commanded with (by their Nabi). Therefore, he who wages Jihaad against them with his hand (i.e. with force), verily he is a Mu’min; he who wages jihad against them with his tongue, verily he is a Mu’min; he who wages jihad against them with his heart, verily, he is a Mu’min. Besides these (three stages of Imaan) there is not an atom of Imaan.”
Further, the Nabi (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) greatly stressed adherence to the Sunnah, especially at the time when people are in disputation. ……..Among the worst of people (among the Muslimeen) is he who searches for the sunnah of jaahiliyyah.’
I (i.e. Muhaddith Dahlawi) therefore say: ‘The organization of the Deen is reliant on following the Sunnah of the Nabi.”
In these Hadith narrations and admonitions of the Sages of Islam there is more than a bushel of warning, admonition and naseehat for the Ulama-e-Soo’ in particular who propound the “only sunnah” concept as a basis for abstention from the Sunnah. The Ulama-e-Soo’ s attitude of approbation and reprobation in the Laws of Allah Ta’ala, stemming from the “only sunnah” conception is veiled kufr as a consequence of Istikhfaaf and Tahaawun bis Sunnah.