What is the Sunnah?

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

What is the sunnah?  Some people here are saying that the sunnah is the values of the Prophet (s.a.w.).  And others are saying it lies in the emulation of the manners and actions of the Prophet (s.a.w.).  They are both correct, and wrong.  The sunnah of the Prophet (s.a.w.) is annihilation of the self.  It is the removal of anything that detracts from the Divine.

It is not ye who slew them; it was Allah: when thou threwest (a handful of dust) it was not thy act, but Allah’s ... (Surah al-Anfal:17)

The reality of the sunnah is non-existence of the self.  The Prophet (s.a.w.) is the shadow of Allah (s.w.t.), in the sense that he did nothing of his own volition.  He moved as the Divine Hand Moved.

In seeking that reality, some choose to dress as he did, eat as he did, and do everything as he did.  That is an extreme state of ‘ishq, love.  And if that love is not present yet, then it is a process towards that love.  And perhaps, by that love, they no longer see themselves, but are drowned in the reality of the Prophet (s.a.w.), and see him.  This is a form of rabithah, connection.  And thus, it can be found that such people try to find that fana’ fi Rasul in the seemingly mundane and insignificant, from the way the Prophet (s.a.w.) cleaned himself, to the manner he cut his toenails, to the way he was in every situation.  That is a Manifestation of Allah’s (s.w.t.) Love for him.  We know more about his ways than we do of people in our time, and our lives.

If dressing and acting as the Prophet (s.a.w.) diminishes the self, such that the Divine Hand is apparent, then it is the sunnah of the Prophet (s.a.w.), which is, in reality, the Sunnah of Allah (s.w.t.).  These actions are the swalawat manifest.  But if wearing the turban and acting out the forms enhances the ego such that one feels aggrandised and superior in piety, then it is the sunnah of Shaythan, for it was he who first affected piety by its form without the substance of sincerity.  If the wearing of the turban, and the robes, and the carrying of the miswak makes one feel holy, then remove it all before it becomes fire.

And then, there are those who say they follow the sunnah in the manner of the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) values.  That is meritorious.  But it is also difficult since we are heedless by our love of the world.  Without reminders, we forget that pledge.  This intrinsic sunnah is to be kind, to be just, to be lovable and loving.  And most of all, to be like ashes, without ego.  But if in doing so, they mock those who seek to follow the dress and actions of the Prophet (s.a.w.), they have left the sunnah.  And if they feel they know better, they have left the sunnah.  The sunnah may never be found in any manner of arrogance.

Here, there is no protective cloak of its physical manifestation.  And thus, the former method is superior to the latter.  In keeping the sunnah by imitation of the dress and manners of the Prophet (s.a.w.), there is commitment, and there is a Blessing in that.  Keeping the values of the sunnah without the forms is about being.  But keeping the form means keeping the values, and it is about becoming.


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