Third: The blessed Sunnah.
The literal meaning of Sunnah:
Sunnah is an Arabic word that means way, method and behavior, whether the behavior is good or bad, (1) as the Prophet (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "Whoever establishes a good way (Sunnah Hasanah) in Islam, will have a reward for it, and a reward equal to that of everyone who does it after him, without that detracting from their reward in the slightest. Whoever establishes a good method (Sunnah Sayyi'ah) a bad way in Islam, will bear the burden for that, and a burden equal to that of everyone who does it after him, without that detracting from their burden in the slightest." (2)
The Sunnah in Islamic Terminology:
Sunnah includes whatever has been narrated from or about the Prophet (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him) of his words, deeds, or approval. This is according to the scholars of principles of jurisprudence; however, the word has other meanings, according to the experts of other fields of Islamic science. (3)
This definition shows clearly that Sunnah involves three sides or aspects of the Prophet (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him).
-(A His words,: efor exampl his saying: "Verily, the deeds depend upon the intentions ...) (4) And his saying: "A Muslim is the one from whose tongue and hands the Muslims are safe; and a Muhajir (Emigrant) is the one who refrains from what Allah has forbidden. (5) There are many similar examples of his sayings.
-(B His actions, for example: the performance of the prayers and rituals of the Hajj (pilgrimage) and Umrah (the non-mandatory lesser pilgrimage made by Muslims to Mecca, which may be performed at any time of the year.) by the Prophet (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him) , and so on.
-(C His approvals that include his consent to the words or actions of his companion, that were said or happened in front of him and he (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him) remained silent or did not deny them, or accepted them or admired the doer, for example: the Hadith that was narrated by `Abu Sa`id (6) and Jabir (7) ibn `Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with them) who said: "We went out on an expedition with Allah's Messenger (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him), while some of us fasted and some of us broke the fast, But neither the observer of the fast found fault with one who broke it, nor the breaker of the fast found fault with one who observed it." (8)
In addition to that, Muslim scholars conclude that the nature of the Sunnah in explaining the provisions is of three types:
-1 In some cases, the Sunnah of the Prophet (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him) comes as a support for the provision of the Glorious Qur'an and denotes what has been already denoted by the Glorious Qur'an, or supports the ruling of the Glorious Qur'an, for example: the Hadiths of the Prophet (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him) that explain the necessity of prayer, almsgiving, fasting and pilgrimage without explaining their conditions or pre-requisites. Such Hadiths are coinciding with the verses of the Glorious Qur'an that explain the rulings. This category can be seen in the following Verse and Hadith:
The Prophet (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "Pay the deposit to him who deposited it with you." (9) The meaning of this Hadith coincides with the meaning of the Verse of the Glorious Qur'an that says: "Indeed, Allah commands you to render trusts to whom they are due." (10) And many other examples of this category.
-2 The Hadiths that come as the explanation for those rulings that were basically elucidated by the Glorious Qur'an. Thus, the Sunnah, sometimes, restricts some absolute rulings, or details some brief ones, or specifies some general rulings. There are many examples for this subject in the Hadiths that elucidate the rulings of the prayer, almsgiving, fasting and pilgrimage. There is an example for the Sunnah that restricted an absolute (11) ruling in the Glorious Qur'an about theft, as the Sunnah has ordered not to cut the hand of a thief but when the value of the stolen thing is equal to the quarter of a Dinar or exceeds, as the Prophet (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "The hand of a thief is not to be cut off except for one-quarter of a Dinar or more." (12) This Hadith has restricted the punishment of the theft to the quarter Dinar or upwards, that is general in the following verse: " [As for] the thief, the male and the female, amputate their hands." (13) As this Verse does not mention the amount that entails the punishment.
3 –Sometimes, the Sunnah introduces some new rulings that have not been elucidated by the Glorious Qur'an directly. This happens when the Sunnah brings a ruling that the Glorious Qur'an was silent about, for such issues, the Sunnah is the authority, such as the prohibition of marrying a woman and her paternal aunt, or marrying a woman and her maternal aunt in the same time, and the prohibition of domestic donkeys, and every wild animal with fangs and the birds with clutch. Furthermore, there are many other issues that were elucidated by the Sunnah only. (14)
The Legal Authority of the Sunnah:
The Glorious Qur'an gave emphasis to the necessity of obedience of the Prophet (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him) warning of the breach of his orders. In addition, the legal authority of the Sunnah and the necessity of abiding by it is an agreed upon issue between Muslims since the first period of the Islamic era.
The Glorious Qur'an says in this regard: "And obey Allah and the Messenger that you may obtain mercy." (15) And Allah (Glory be to Him) says: "He who obeys the Messenger has obeyed Allah." (16) Furthermore, Allah (Glory be to Him) says: "O you who have believed, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you. And if you disagree over anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger, if you should believe in Allah and the Last Day. That is the best [way] and best in result." (17)
Also Allah the Almighty said: "But no, by your Lord, they will not [truly] believe until they make you, [O Muhammad], judge concerning that over which they dispute among themselves and then find within themselves no discomfort from what you have judged and submit in [full, willing] submission." (18) Moreover, He (Glory be to Him) says: "And whatever the Messenger has given you, take; and what he has forbidden you, refrain from." (19)
The verses in this sense are many, that bear clear indication and explicit evidence on the necessity of the obedience of the Prophet (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him) and the importance of abiding by his orders.
Furthermore, the Muslims have agreed on the necessity of the abidance by the Sunnah of the Prophet (may the peace and the blessings of Allah be upon him). No one disputed on this issue except Kharijites who disagreed on the legal authority of those Hadith which are independent and alone in explaining some issues, apart from the Glorious Qur'an. (20)
The prominent Muslim scholar, Shawkani(21) said: "The legal authority of the blessed Sunnah, and its independent value in legislating provisions are a religious necessity, no one can dispute on this issue except the one who has no knowledge of the religion of Islam at all." (22)
(1) Al-Ferozabadi: Al-Qamus Al-Muhit (4/237), Al-Mu`jam Al-Wasit, the Arabic Language Academy, p. 456 .
(2) Narrated by Muslim. See: Sahih Muslim with commentary of An-Nawawi, 5/531.
(3) See: Ash-Shawkani, Irshad Al-Fuhul, p. 33, Dar Al-Fikr- Beirut, and `Abdul-Wahab, `Ilm Usool Al-Fiqh (or the Science of Jurisprudence), p. 36-37, Dar Al-Qalam, edit. 14th, 1401.A.H..
(4)Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim, Ibn Hajar, Fat'h-Al-Bari, (1/9), and Sahih Muslim with commentary of An-Nawawi, 4 /571-572.
(5) Reported by Al-Bukhari and Muslim, Ibn Hajar, Fat'h Al-Bari, (1/53) and Sahih Muslim with commentary of An-Nawawi (1/214) .
(6) Sa`ad ibn Malik Al-Ansari, Al-Khazraji, who was regarded as minor and not eligible at the day of battle of Al-Badr, and was stopped from participating in this war due to his young age. He was one of those narrators who had a lot of narrations of Hadith and he had good understanding and good behavior. He died in63 A.H.. His date of death is disputed. See: Al-Isabah(2/32) and Taqrib At-Tahdhib (232).
(7) Jabir ibn `Abdullah ibn `Amr ibn Al-Haram, Al-Ansari, As-Salami, the companion and son of a companion. He fought nineteen battles and died in Al-Madinah after 70 A.H. when he was in his ninety. See: Al-Isabah, ( 1/214) Taqrib At-Tahdhib (136.(
(8) An-Nawawi, a commentary on Sahih Muslim (3/177).
(9) Reported by Ahmad, Abu Dawood, At-Tirmidhi. See: Ahmad Al-Banna, Al-Fat'h Ar-Rabbani) 19/93).
(10) An-Nisa': 58.
(11) See: Ash-Shawkani, Nayl Al-Awtar (7 / 299 -300), the Department of Scientific Research and Ifta, Riyadh.
Report (12)ed by Muslim, Ahmad, Ibn Majah and An-Nasa'i, see: Sahih Muslim with commentary of An-Nawawi, 4/258, and Majd Ad-Din Abul-Barakat `Abdus- Salam ibn Taymiyyah, Al-Muntaqa Min Akhbar Al-Mustafa (2/720) with commentary by Muhammd Hamid Al-Fiqi, Dar Al-M`arifah, Beirut, edit.2nd, 1398 A.H.
(13) Surah Al-Ma'idah:38.
(14) Shafa`i, Ar-Risalah, edited by Ahmad Shakir, p. -9192.
(15) Surah A'li-`Imran:132.
(16) Surah An-Nisa' :80.
(17) Surah An-Nisa' :59.
(18) Surah An-Nisa' :65.
(19) Surah Al-Hashr :7.
(20) Ibn Taymiyyah, Majmu`a Al-Fatwa, Dar Al-`Arabiyyah for printing and publishing, Beirut, (19/86).
(21) Muhammad ibn `Ali ibn Muhammad Ash-Shawkani, a jurist, a scholar of Shari`ah and a senior scientist from Yemen, who was born in 1173 A.H. and died in 1250 A.H..See: Al-I`alam, 6/298.
(22) Irshad Al-Fuhool, p.33.