Thursday, 28 June 2018

Reality of Sunna and Amal al-Tawatur


بســم اللــه الرحمــن الرحيــم

والصلاــة والسلاــم علــى نبيــه الكريــم

وعلــى اهــل بيتــه الطيبيــن الطاهريــن المظلوميــن

والعاقبة للمتقين

Having established that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him & his family), in his person, is the Ma’khadh or source of Islamic knowledge, because it was upon his heart that the divine Revelation was revealed, I now move on to the four things that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him & his family) brought or authorized as sources of law: (1) the Quran (2) the Sunna (3) Ijma (4) Ijtihad
These are the four sources of Shari’a in their proper sequence according to the mainstream and orthodox Ahl us-Sunnati wal-Jama’a. With regard to the Sunna, it means the Qawl (saying), F’il (action) and Taqrir (approval) of the Prophet (peace be upon him & his family). One of the common misnomers that is becoming widespread among the Muslims is that the only source of the Prophet’s Sunna are the Ahadith. Certainly, the Ahadith are a source of knowledge of the Prophet’s Sunna, but the reader should consider the fact that the Prophet’s Sunna was obviously in existence even before the Ahadith were narrated and collected. For example, the Quraan enjoins the Believers to pray five times a day, but the details of those mandatory prayers, including the number of rakaat is known from the Sunna. It is from the Sunna that the Fajr prayer consists of two raka’a, Zuhr consists of four raka’a, Asr consists of four raka’a, Maghrib consists of three raka’a and Isha consists of four raka’a. Suppose not a single Hadith was narrated concerning the number of raka’at for these mandatory prayers, would any reasonable person conclude thereby that there is no proof for the number of rakaat for these prayers? Obviously not! That is because the Muslim community has come to know and practice this necessary knowledge regarding the number of rakaat in the prescribed prayers through Amal al-Tawatur, or continuous mass practice going back to the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Hence, Amal al-Tawatur is also a source of Sunna, in fact, it carries greater weight and significance than isolated reports from the Hadith, known as Khabr Wahid. Members of the Ahl al-Hadith sect, however, consider the Hadith as the sole source of Sunna, and emphasize a literal reading of the Hadith, making no distinction between mutawatir (mass-transmitted) and khabr wahid (solitary report) and rejecting the concept of attaining the Sunna through Amal al-Tawatur independent of the texts of the Hadith. Take for instance the issue of covering the head for a male, with a turban, skullcap, etc. Muslim males of Ahl us-Sunna have been covering their heads for religious significance, especially during acts of worship, as Amal al-Tawatur. But the Ahl al-Hadith sect does not consider covering the head for a male as having any religious significance, and so it is common among their ranks to go bareheaded and pray bareheaded. They argue that since there isn’t a single authentic Hadith which enjoins covering the head for a male, or quotes any virtue in doing so, therefore they conclude that covering the head for a male is of no consequence and is merely a cultural custom. Another strong example is the issue of Udhiya or the animal sacrifice that is on the Eid al-Qurban (Festival of Sacrifice) and days of Tashriq in the month of Dhi al-Hijja. According to the Ahl al-Hadith, what is there, from the Hadith specifically, in preventing someone from sacrificing a bird for the Udhiya? The fact that Muslims restrict themselves to sacrificing an’am animals during the Festival of Sacrifice, meaning camels, cattle, sheep and goats, is an example of Amal al-Tawatur, since there is nothing explicit in either the Quran or the Hadith which forbids us from sacrificing birds, chicken or even deer, all of which are Halal, but we come to know from the mass practiced Sunna of the Muslim community that despite being Halal, those animals cannot be sacrificed for the Festival of Sacrifice. Outside of the Festival of Sacrifice, to ordinarily sacrifice deer, birds, ducks, chicken, etc., is a valid act of worship in order to attain closeness to Allah. This sums up my discussion on the reality of Sunna and the fact that it is not only derived from the Hadith but more importantly from Amal al-Tawatur, the continuous mass practice of the Muslim community going back to the time of the Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) and his Companions (radi Allahu anhum).

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