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New Muslims Qur'an & Sunnah

The Definition of Sunnah

The Prophet's Mosque in Medina

Following the Prophet is a divine command.

Linguistically, Sunnah means a way or method that can have two states, either good or bad. It is derived from the word “Sanan”, which is Arabic for: a road or a path.

Sunnah in this sense is mentioned in the hadith of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) in which he said, “Whosoever does a good Sunnah will get the reward for it and the reward of others who followed him in doing the same thing until the Day of Judgment. And whosoever does a bad Sunnah will have the punishment of doing it and the punishment of others who followed him in practicing it.”(Muslim)

However, the definition of Sunnah differs depending on the area of Shari`ah. For example, a scholar in the area of Usul al-Fiqh (Arabic for: fundamental principles of Islamic jurisprudence) will define Sunnah as “whatever the Prophet was reported to have said, did, or permitted others to do.”

As an example of what he said are the hadiths that deal with the different rulings in different contexts, such as his saying, “The reward of deeds depends on intentions.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Examples of his actions include the acts of worship, such as the way to perform Prayer, pilgrimage, the etiquette of fasting, etc.

The third type of Sunnah was represented by the Prophet’s silence upon seeing the Companions doing or saying something; his silence in such case served as an approval. Such approval might also be expressed verbally.

An example of his permission is when the Companions had two different opinions during the battle of Bani Qurayzah regarding the Prophet’s command “Do not pray `Asr till you are at Bani Qurayzhah” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim). Some of the Companions understood that the Prophet meant that they should delay Prayer till they reach the place. However, some Companions understood that the Prophet only wanted to urge them to hurry, and so they did pray `Asr on time – before reaching their destination. In neither case did the Prophet say anyone of them was wrong and he did not reject what they did.

Another example of the Prophet’s permission of an action is when Khalid ibn Al-Waleed ate a lizard that he himself refused to eat. Some of the Companions wondered and asked him, “Is it prohibited to eat it, O Messenger of Allah?” The Prophet replied, “No, but it is not common where I live, and I don’t feel like eating it.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

The term Sunnah is also used to refer to a religious ruling that is based on a legal evidence whether from the Qur’an, the Prophet’s sayings, or ijtihad (independent juristic reasoning) by the Companions, such as the collection of the Qur’an in one book and unifying the reading of the Qur’an on one reading narration.

Opposed to Sunnah, there is bid`ah (innovation in religion) about which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said clearly, “Follow my Sunnah and the Sunnah of the righteous Caliphs after me.” and did not say follow my bid`ah, which should not be taken as the same as Sunnah. This can be shown by the definition used in fiqh where we say this is a sunni divorce (done in accordance with Sunnah) and that is a bid`i divorce (not according to Sunnah).

These differences in looking at Sunnah are dependent on the faculty of scholars, just like any area of science where definitions vary. In general, we can define the Sunnah as whatever the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said or did to be way of life for us.

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This article has been taken with modifications from onislam.net.

 

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FEATURED New Muslims

The Prophet’s Guidance for New Muslim Youth

Prophet Muhammad came through with the message of Islam, and his target audience, so to speak, revolved around the youth of the time.

Prophet Muhammad came through with the message of Islam, and his target audience, so to speak, revolved around the youth of the time.

By Maria Zain

For new Muslims, it is vital to read up on how Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) kept the teenagers around him in good company, enjoining them in doing good deeds. Embracing Islam can be a life-changing experience.

Some new Muslims come to Islam alone, whereas others revert together with their whole family. If a couple decides to embrace Islam and have young children, it is most likely that their children will also become Muslims. For those with older children, especially those well in their teens, the transition can be trickier.

Some teenagers may very well follow in their parents’ footsteps whole heartedly, others may embrace Islam with a certain amount of wariness and there are probably many others who would prefer not to make the change.

However for family members who decide to come to Islam and who join them on their journey in becoming observing Muslims, it is worth to note the Sunnah on how Prophet Muhammad treated the youth. This will enable the transition to become smoother and more of a positive challenge for the family as a whole.

When Prophet Muhammad was given the first revelation in the cave of Mount Hira’, it was well known that he was 40 years old. As many men at that age, he had reached a certain pinnacle of leadership qualities. Men at the age of forty are often seen running their own corporations and enterprises, have attained successful marriages and raised teenage children.

What differentiates the Prophet’s leadership qualities, though, was that an important majority of followers were at the time new Muslim youth.

In the most important mission of any man’s plight, Prophet Muhammad was commanded to change the mindset of the pagan Arabs, to do away with waylay practices, oppressive behavior, corrupted attitudes, and to embrace Islam as their comprehensive way of life.

Islamic history relays that this was a gruelling attempt at changing the culture of stone-cold pagans who were deeply rooted in their traditions. Prophet Muhammad came through with the message of Islam, and his target audience, so to speak, revolved around the youth of the time.

Anas ibn Malik (may God be pleased with him) was one of the young men who grew very close to the Prophet. Anas mentioned that the Prophet never once uttered a word of disgrace upon him, neither any other member of the youth of society. He had worked for the Prophet and grew up observing and learning through the Prophet’s actions and behavior. Anas was recognized as one of the most fluent narrators of hadiths of his time.

Prophet Muhammad had other young companions who flocked with him like feathers of a bird. He often joked with them, calling ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib (may God be pleased with him) ‘AbuTuraab’ (father of the dust), for sleeping on the dusty ground. He was also very close to his family members, in particular his youngest daughter Fatimah, and was known to show his affection for her in public.

On several occasions, when Fatimah entered a room where the Prophet was, he would rush over to her, take her by her hands, kiss her and offer her his seat. Fatimah was also known to reciprocate in kind. But as much as the Prophet kept affectionate and jovial relations with the youth, he continuously moulded them to be the leaders of the future.

There is no doubt that ‘A’ishah, Prophet Muhammad’s wife, rose to the ranks of leadership at a very young age and as she outlived her husband for half a century, she became a teacher like no other woman seen in history. Until this very day, Muslims around the world read of her narrations and regard her with the highest respect as one of the feistiest women of the companions. Another young wife, Hafsah, daughter of Umar, was appointed as the keeper of the Holy Qur’an, a grave responsibility for any youth. This shows that though many companions were teens during the Prophet’s lifetime, adulthood was only a stone-throw away.

 How the Prophet did it?

The Prophet (peace be upon him) was also adamant in protecting the youth in public, honoring their opinions during debates, even against the wisest of Muslims.

‘Ali once narrated that youth between the age of fourteen and twenty-one needed to be befriended – treated as friends. Do we teach the Muslim youth the same way? Do we earn their trust by befriending them, respecting their opinions and helping them through difficulty much like good friends would do? Or do we continue to berate them for their mistakes; chastise them for their ignorance; and ignore them when they are in need, with the excuse that they are just ’troubled teenagers’?

The youth face a plethora of social ills today. From drugs to prostitution, from school drop-outs to poor qualifications; from obsession with pop culture to over-indulgences in peer pressure– it can be difficult for the Muslim youth to stand by Islamic principles with so many distractions surrounding them.

As parents of the youth of this chosen religion, we have to realize that education spans further than the walls of the classroom. The youth surrounding the Prophet were continuously surrounded by adults, not by their peers. They learned hands on how to deal with business transactions, travelling for da`wah (calling to God), teaching those who were illiterate (regardless of age) and engaged in household chores the way adults would do.

The Prophet would have frowned at those who removed the autonomy of the youth in making their own decisions, partaking in society, learning from real life scenarios and exploring their own interests and strengths that will eventually help them excel as adults in the real world. The Prophet was also adamant in protecting the youth in public, honoring their opinions during debates, even against the wisest of Muslims and allowing them to join him on even the most dangerous entourages. The youth surrounding the Prophet were definitely very involved in society.

Parents nowadays should not just categorize their teens as hormonal teenagers. For new Muslims, it is vital to read up on how Prophet Muhammad kept the teenagers around him in good company, always enjoining them in doing good deeds and encouraging them gently to ward off evil.

Embracing Islam as a family may be difficult, especially with elder children in tow, but showing how well they are appreciated within the realm of Islam, reinforces individualism, independence and autonomy in making decisions. The upside of a Muslim family coming together to Islam is that parents and children can learn together and teach each other as they journey along to becoming better Muslims. Even if older children decide not to follow their parents’ choice in faith, they still need to be treated with love and respect in light of the Sunnah, as in time they may open up to the beautiful faith and its stance on the importance of the youth.

Prophet Muhammad recognized the youth as important individuals of society. They were encouraged to learn and grow by participating in business trades, much like Anas ibn Malik; scholarly discussions, much like `Ali; and negotiations across nations, much like Usamah ibn Zayd; who led the Muslim army, including men who were old enough to be his grandfathers, at the tender age of fifteen.

The female youth of the time were not excluded from such responsibility. Ruqayyah (daughter of Prophet Muhammad) co-lead the first emigration to Abyssinia during the worst chapter of oppression upon the Muslims. Asmaa’ (daughter of Abu Bakr, may God be pleased with them all) risked her life during the Prophet’s and Abu Bakr’s plight to Madinah. She could have been killed, but due to her strong upbringing based on love for and fear of God, she took it upon her duty to protect the Prophet and her father when they were being hunted down by the Quraish.

Prophet Muhammad always perused kindness and patience in dealing with youngsters, treating them with respect, valuing their opinions and allowing them autonomy to make their own decisions.

Becoming a Muslim family, together, changes a person’s mindset on how they view teenagers. Instead of individuals who are either too young to make their own decision; or individuals who should be doing homework in order to earn straight A’s that will determine their success; or individuals who should be ‘enjoying’ life through partying and gossiping about celebrities, or being obsessed about reality television stars; the youth should be encouraged to be strong and active members of society.

The youth of today do not face the challenges of the youth of the companions. But they do definitely face a whole suite of fitnah (temptations) and conflicting identities in their own right. There are plenty of ways for the youth to become active members in the community; they just need to be befriended and encouraged by adults who wish to raise them as God-fearing adults rather than allow them to be trapped in the confusion of hormonal changes.

However, this has to be done in accordance with the Sunnah. Prophet Muhammad always perused kindness and patience in dealing with youngsters, treating them with respect, valuing their opinions and allowing them autonomy to make their own decisions.

For new Muslims, it is also important for their teenagers to find comrades of a feather, regardless of age and culture. As long as the new Muslim youth find a strong sense of belonging in Islam and a thriving Muslim community, their priorities as Muslims will be set on the right track and they will be able to achieve the same glory as the youth who surrounded Prophet Muhammad in the golden years of Islam.

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Source: islammessage.com

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His Character New Muslims

Prophet Muhammad: A Morality Message for All Time

A few months after his return to Medina, in the eleventh year of hijrah, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) decided to send an expedition to the north, near Mu’tah and Palestine, where a few years earlier Ja`far ibn Abi Talib, `Abdullah Ibn Rawahah, and Zayd ibn Harithah had been killed.

nature-peace

The Prophet had taught in various circumstances about warfare, respect for nature, or how to treat animals.

To everyone’s surprise, he gave the command to young Usamah, Zayd’s son, who was only twenty years old, though this three-thousand-strong army included such men as `Umar and other experienced Companions.

This choice gave rise to much criticism, but the Prophet reacted very promptly and put an end to all arguments when he proclaimed:

“You criticize the choice of Usamah to command the army as you had formerly criticized that of his father Zayd. Usamah is truly worthy of the command I entrust him with, as his father was before him.” (Ibn Hisham, As-Sirah an-Nabawiyyah)

Qualifications-based

In the past, some Muslims had reacted to the choice of Zayd because they still considered him as a slave, though he had been freed; now some opposed the choice of his son, perhaps because of his father, but mostly because of his young age.

By confirming his choice, Prophet Muhammad informed them that neither a man’s social origin nor his age should prevent him from exerting authority and power if he possessed the spiritual, intellectual, and moral qualities required. One had to show discernment by offering the most destitute in society real equality of opportunity and trusting the young so that everybody could express their skills and talents.

On a more general level, trust was a fine lesson in humility addressed to older Companions: they were to experience the inner, greater jihad of obeying a man who could have been their son, and in so doing remember that their time was limited, like any man’s.

By that choice, Prophet Muhammad taught them that time naturally erodes one’s energy, and one must be wise enough to learn to step aside, to delegate authority to those who are young and strong enough to create and build.

The Prophet gave young Usamah his recommendations and asked him to set out promptly. However, the Prophet’s sudden illness was to delay that departure, and the army waited near Medina during all those days of doubt about his condition.

Prophet Muhammad & War Ethics

A few weeks later, Abu Bakr was, according to the Prophet’s wish, to ask Usamah to carry out the expedition. He reminded him of the Prophet’s teachings concerning war ethics, for the latter had constantly insisted on the principles Muslims must respect when dealing with their enemies:

“Do not kill women, children, and old people,” Abu Bakr ordered him.

Literally, “Let the blood of women, children and old people never soil your hands.”

“Do not commit treacherous actions. Do not stray from the right path. Never mutilate. Do not destroy palm trees, do not burn houses and cornfields, do not cut down fruit trees, and do not kill livestock except when you are compelled to eat them …. As you move on, you will meet hermits who live in monasteries and serve God in seclusion. Leave them alone; do not kill them and do not destroy their monasteries.”  (At-Tabari)

Those teachings were essential, and they were conveyed to Usamah in the light of what the Prophet had said in various circumstances about warfare, respect for nature, or how to treat animals.

In a few sentences, Abu Bakr was synthesizing the essence of the Messenger’s teachings in this respect.

Years before, at the end of the Battle of Hunayn, the Prophet had passed by a group of people standing around a woman who lay on the ground, and heard that she had been killed by Khalid ibn Al-Waleed (who was then a recent convert). He was deeply angered and asked that Ibn Al-Waleed be told: “God’s Messenger forbids killing children, women, and slaves.” (Ibn Hisham, As-Sirah an-Nabawiyyah)

The Prophet’s Mercy

He had also blamed him when he had killed men who had already surrendered after a battle. In both cases, then, the message was the same: one should fight only enemy soldiers, while sparing all those who did not directly take part in armed conflict or could no longer cause any harm.

The Prophet had clearly stated before sending the Mu’tah expedition:

You shall not be treacherous, you shall not deceive, you shall not mutilate, you shall not kill children nor the inhabitants of hermitages (ashab as-sawami`).” (Ibn Hanbal)

War was never desirable, but when Muslims were compelled to it because they were attacked or because their survival was threatened, they had to keep strictly to what was needed to fight enemy forces who were armed and/ or determined to fight. If the latter wished for peace or surrendered, the war must be stopped, according to the Qur’anic injunction:

But if they incline toward peace, do you (also, in the same way) incline toward peace, and trust in God, for He is the One that hears and knows (all things). (Al-Anfal 8:61)

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The article is an excerpt from Dr. Tariq Ramadan’s In the Footsteps of the Prophet: Lessons from the Life of Muhammad, Oxford University Press (2007).

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His Character New Muslims

Muhammad: The Exemplar of Coexistence and Moderation

Most traditionists report that the Prophet entered Makkah on the twentieth or twenty-first of Ramadan of the eighth year of hijrah (630 CE).

The Day of Mercy

moderation_nature

The Prophet taught his Companions not only to forgive, but also to always remember that nobody can be held responsible for someone else’s mistakes.

Muhammad (peace be upon him) had segmented his army into divisions that encircled the city (Makkah) and closed in on the center together. A few Quraish groups posted themselves on the hills, led by Suhayl, `lkrimah, and Safwan, but after the first confrontations, they realized that resisting was pointless.

Suhayl sought refuge in his home, and `Ikrimah and Safwan ran away. The Prophet had demanded that no fighting or battle should take place on that day, which he called “the day of mercy”. (Ibn Hisham, As-Sirah An-Nabawyyah)

Some eight years before, the Prophet had left Makkah secretly, but with dignity and with his head held high. The Prophet now came back to Makkah in broad daylight, victorious, but this time he prostrated himself on his mount in thankfulness to the One as he recited the verses from the Surat “AI-Fath” (The Victory):

Verily We have granted you a manifest victory, that God may forgive you your faults of the past and those to follow, fulfill His favor to you, and guide you on the straight path, and that God may aid you with powerful help. It is He Who sent down tranquility into the hearts of the believers, that they may add faith to their faith. (Al-Fath 48:1-4)

He entered Makkah expressing the deepest humility, and he required that the greatest kindness should be shown to the Muslims’ former foes. He performed the greater ablution and prayed eight cycles of voluntary ritual prayer before resting for a few hours.

After that, he mounted his camel, Qaswaa’, and went to the Ka`bah sanctuary, where he performed the seven rounds of circumambulation. Then, with his stick, he pulled down the idols and destroyed them while repeating the Qur’anic verse “Truth has arrived, and falsehood perished: for falsehood is bound to perish.” (Al-Israa’  17:8 1)

He had the keys to the sanctuary brought to him and required that all religious images be obliterated, in order to reconcile the House of God with its essence, which was to celebrate the worship of the One, Who cannot be represented and must not be associated with any image:

There is nothing whatever like Him, and He is the One that hears and sees. (Ash-Shura 42:11)

This gesture of destruction by the Prophet was, in appearance, the exact antithesis of all that he had usually been doing since leaving Makkah, as he had had mosques (devoid of any image) built to mark the sacred space of worship of the One God.

On the level of the spiritual message, however, this gesture was exactly of the same essence, since by breaking the idols that lay inside and near the Ka`bah he was destroying what had, in the course of centuries, perverted the cult of the Transcendent.

With this act Muhammad turned the Ka`bah into a real mosque, in which henceforth only the One was to be worshiped.

The Quraish people were gradually coming out of their homes and gathering inside the sanctuary enclosure. After destroying the idols, the Prophet exclaimed: “There is no god but God, the One, Who has no partner.”

He has fulfilled His promise, supported His servant, and routed the enemy clans; He alone (has done that). (Ibn Hisham, As-Sirah An-Nabawyyah)

Then he turned toward the Quraish, told them about the rules of Islam, and recited this verse:

O humankind! He created you from a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes that you may know each other. Verily the most honored among you in the sight of God is the most righteous of you (the most deeply aware of God’s presence). And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). (Al-Hujurat 49:13)

After that, he asked them “how they thought he was going to deal with them. (Ibn Hisham, As-Sirah An-Nabawyyah) They replied that as “a noble brother, son of a noble brother,” he would certainly deal with them kindly. (Ibn Hisham, As-Sirah An-Nabawyyah)

Forgiveness and Moderation

At that point, the Prophet recited the verse that punctuates the story of Prophet Joseph (peace be upon him) when he was reunited with his brothers, who had wanted to kill him: “This day let no reproach be (cast) On you: God will forgive you, and He is the Most-merciful of then who show mercy.” (Yusuf 12:92). Then he exclaimed: “Go on, you are free!” (Ibn Hisham, As-Sirah An-Nabawyyah)

The Prophet granted his forgiveness to all the women and men who came to him or to a Companion. Wahshi ibn Harb, who had killed Hamzah, was also forgiven, but the Prophet asked him to refrain from appearing in his presence in the future.

Many Quraish converted to Islam on Mount As-Safa in front of `Umar; some years before, the Prophet had been called a liar on that same spot. When `Ikrimah ibn Abi Jahl came to the Prophet, the latter warned his Companion: “`lkrimah, Abu Jahl’s son, is coming to you as a believer. Do not insult his father, for insulting the dead hurts the living without reaching the dead.”

He thus reminded them not only to forgive him but also to always remember that nobody can be held responsible for someone else’s mistakes. not even their father’s, according to the meaning of the Qur’anic verse “No bearer of burdens can bear the burden of another”. ( Al-Israa’ 17:15) Prudence was required, as well as nobleness of soul.

The Prophet stayed in Makkah for two weeks, and the situation been to settle down. He sent expeditions to make sure that his alliances with the nearby tribes were solid and that those who had announced they accepted Islam had given up all idol worship.

Khalid ibn Al-Waleed had been entrusted with such a mission among the Banu Jadhimah, who eventually surrendered, but Khalid decided, against Abd Ar-Rahman ibn `Awf advice, to execute the prisoners toward whom he harbored particular resentment.

After executing some of them, he stopped at Abd Ar-Rahman’s insistence, the latter having made it dear to him that his behavior was motivated by other intentions than faith in God and justice. The Prophet got very angry when he heard of Khalid’s behavior; he decided to pay blood money for all the dead, and he kept repeating aloud: “0 God, I am innocent of what Khalid ibn Al-Waleed has done”. (Ibn Hisham, As-Sirah An-Nabawyyah)

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The article is an excerpt from the author’s In the Footsteps of the Prophet: Lessons from the Life of Muhammad, Oxford University Press (2007).

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