The Prophet (pbuh) used to teach the Sunnah to his companions in word and deed, and urged them to follow it, as he said in his hadeeth: “Adhere to my Sunnah” and “Whoever neglects my Sunnah does not belong to me.” ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Mas’ood (may Allaah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allaah (pbuh) said: “There is no Prophet whom Allaah sent to any nation before me, but he had disciples from among his nation, and companions who followed his Sunnah and obeyed his commands.” (Narrated by Muslim, no. 71).
Some aspects of the Sunnah are waajib (obligatory) and some are mustahabb (encouraged). The Muslim should follow the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh), whether it is waajib or mustahabb, as long as it is proven in sound reports. The Sahaabah (may Allaah be pleased with them) used to spread the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh) among people and they called people to follow it.
The proper number of Takbeeraat during prayer is Sunnah
‘Ikrimah said: I prayed behind an old man in Makkah (i.e., Zuhr) and he said Takbeer twenty-two times. I said to Ibn ‘Abbaas that the man was a fool. He said, “may your mother lose you! The Sunnah of Abu’l-Qaasim (pbuh) was to say Takbeer five times in each rak’ah, plus the Takbeer for ihraam and for standing up for the third rak’ah. (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, no. 746).
Sitting muftarishan in prayer is Sunnah
‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Abd-Allaah narrated: I used to see ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) sitting with his legs crossed when he sat (to recite Tashahhud during the prayer). I was a mere youngster, and I did the same, but ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Umar told me not to do that. He said the Sunnah is to put your right foot upright and to fold the left foot beneath you [this is what is meant by Iftiraash or “sitting muftarishan” – Translator]. I said to him, ‘You do not do that.’ He said, ‘My legs do not let me [i.e., because of old age or sickness].’” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, no. 784).
It is Sunnah for a traveller to shorten his prayers if he misses praying a prescribed prayer with an imaam
Moosaa ibn Salamah al-Hudhali said: I asked Ibn ‘Abbaas, how should I pray if I am in Makkah and I do not pray with the imaam? He said, Two rak’ahs is the Sunnah of Abu’l-Qaasim (pbuh). (Narrated by Muslim, no. 1111).
Hajj al-Tamattu’ is Sunnah
[Hajj al-Tamattu’: this is when the pilgrim enters ihraam for ‘Umrah only, performs ‘Umra, finishes ihraam and then later enters a new ihraam for Hajj – Translator].
Muhammad ibn al-Muthannaa and Ibn Bashshaar said, Muhammad ibn Ja’far told us, Shu’bah told us: I heard Abu Jamrah al-Duba’i say: “I wanted to do Hajj al-Tamattu’, and some people told me not to do that. I went to Ibn ‘Abbaas and asked him about it, and he told me to do it. Then I went home and slept, and someone came to me in my dream and said, An accepted ‘Umrah and Hajj Mabroor [Hajj done in accordance with the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh), and accepted by Allaah]. I came to Ibn ‘Abbaas and told him about what I had seen (in my dream) and he said: Allaahu akbar, Allaahu akbar, the Sunnah of Abu’l-Qaasim (pbuh). (Narrated by Muslim, 2183, and by al-Bukhaari, no. 1465).
Praying two rak’ahs after each Tawaaf is Sunnah
Ismaa’eel ibn Umayyah said: I said to al-Zuhri that ‘Ataa’ was saying that the prescribed prayer was sufficient and there was no need to do two rak’ahs after Tawaaf. He said: The Sunnah is better. Abu’l-Qaasim never did Tawaaf seven times around the Ka’bah but he prayed two Rak’ahs afterwards. (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, Baab salaa al-Nabi (pbuh) li suboo’ihi rak’atayn.)
Keeping the khutbah short and hastening to stand at ‘Arafaah is Sunnah
Saalim said: ‘Abd al-Malik wrote to al-Hajjaaj telling him not to differ from Ibn ‘Umar concerning the (rituals of) Hajj. Ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) came at noon on the Day of ‘Arafaah, and I was with him. He called at the pavilion of al-Hajjaaj, who came out wearing a wrap dyed with safflower. He said, “What is the matter, O Abu ‘Abd al-Rahmaan?’ [Ibn ‘Umar] said, ‘Let us go, if you want to follow the Sunnah.’ [Al-Hajjaaj] said, ‘Now?’ [Ibn ‘Umar] said, ‘Yes.’ Al-Hajjaaj said, ‘Wait for me, while I pour water on my head, then I will come out.’ So Ibn ‘Umar waited until al-Hajjaaj came out, then he walked between me and my father. I said, ‘If you want to follow the Sunnah, keep the khutbah short and hasten to stand at ‘Arafaah.’ He looked at ‘Abd-Allaah and when ‘Abd-Allaah noticed that, he said, ‘he is telling the truth.’” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, no. 1550).
Going from Muzdalifah to Mina at daybreak is Sunnah
‘Abd al-Rahmaan ibn Yazeed said: “We went out with ‘Abd-Allaah (may Allaah be pleased with him) to Makkah, then we came to Muzdalifah and prayed the two prayers [Maghrib and ‘Ishaa’], each with its own Adhaan and Iqaamah, and we ate dinner between the two prayers. Then he prayed Fajr when dawn came and some were saying that dawn had come and others were saying that it had not come. Then he waited until the day got brighter, then he said: if the Ameer al-Mu’mineen [‘Uthmaan] moves on towards Mina now, he will be following the Sunnah. I am not sure which came first, ‘Abd-Allaah’s comment or ‘Uthmaan’s setting out for Mina. He kept reciting Talbiyah until he reached Jamrat al-‘Aqabah and threw the stones on the Day of Sacrifice (Yawm al-Nahr).” (al-Bukhaari, 1571).
Doing the prayer before the khutbah on Eid is Sunnah
Taariq ibn Shihaab said: the first person who put the khutbah before the prayer on Eid was Marwaan. A man stood up and said to Marwaan, ‘You have gone against the Sunnah.’ Abu Sa’eed said, ‘This man has done what he was supposed to, for I heard the Messenger of Allaah (pbuh) say, “Whoever sees an evil action, let him change it with his hand [by taking action], and if he cannot, then with his tongue [by speaking out], and if he cannot, then with his heart [by feeling that it is wrong], and that is the weakest of faith.”’ (Abu ‘Eesaa said: a saheeh hasan hadeeth, 2098).
Sacrificing a camel whilst it is standing up and its left foreleg is tied is Sunnah
Ziyaad ibn Jubayr said: I saw Ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) come to a man who had made his camel sit down so he could slaughter it. He said to him, ‘Make it stand up with its foreleg tied, for this is the Sunnah of Muhammad (pbuh).’ (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 1598).
When drinking, one should pass the vessel to one’s right
Anas ibn Maalik said: the Messenger of Allaah (pbuh) came to our house and asked for something to drink. We milked a ewe then added some water from this well of mine. We gave it to the Messenger of Allaah (pbuh) and he drank. Abu Bakr and ‘Umar were to his left, and a bedouin was to his right. When the Messenger of Allaah (pbuh) finished drinking, ‘Umar said, ‘here is Abu Bakr, O Messenger of Allaah,’ pointing to him. But the Messenger of Allaah (pbuh) gave the cup to the bedouin, not to Abu Bakr or ‘Umar. The Messenger of Allaah (pbuh) said, “Those who are on the right, those who are on the right, those who are on the right.” Anas said, This is Sunnah, this is Sunnah, this is Sunnah.
(Agreed upon; this version narrated by Muslim, 3785).
Dividing one’s time equally among co-wives is Sunnah
Anas said: It is part of the Sunnah, if a man marries a virgin after having married a previously-married woman, he should spend seven nights with her, then divide his time equally (among the co-wives). And if he marries a previously-married woman after having married a virgin, he should spend three nights with her, then divide his time equally…” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 4813).
In cases of divorce the Sunnah should be followed
Chapter: the words of Allaah (interpretation of the meaning): “O Prophet, when you divorce women, divorce them at their ‘Iddah (prescribed periods), and count (accurately) their ‘Iddah (periods)…” [al-Talaaq 65:1]. We should count the days and know how many days have passed at any given time. The way of divorcing according to the Sunnah is to divorce a woman when she is taahir (pure, i.e., not during her period or post-natal bleeding) and without having had intercourse with her since she became taahir, and the divorce should be witnessed by two witnesses. (Saheeh al-Bukhaari).
When departing this world
Ibn ‘Umar (may Allaah be pleased with him) reported that when the deceased was placed in the grave [Abu Khaalid said on one occasion: when the deceased was placed in the lahd (niche) of his grave], the Prophet (pbuh) said, “Bismillaah wa Billaahi wa ‘ala millati Rasool-illaah (in the name of Allaah and by the help of Allaah and on the religion of the Messenger of Allaah).” On another occasion, he said: “Bismillaah wa Billaahi wa ‘ala Sunnati Rasool-illaah (pbuh) (in the name of Allaah and by the help of Allaah and on the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allaah (pbuh)).” (Abu ‘Eesa said: this is a ghareeb hasan hadeeth with this isnaad. 967).
Seeking permission to enter three times is part of the Sunnah
Abu Sa’eed said: Abu Moosa sought permission to enter upon ‘Umar. He said, Assalaamu ‘alaykum, may I enter? ‘Umar said, That was once, then he kept silent for a while. Abu Moosa again said, Assalaamu ‘alaykum, may I enter? ‘Umar said, That was twice, then he kept silent for a while. Abu Moosa again said, Assalaamu ‘alaykum, may I enter? ‘Umar said, That was three times. Then Abu Moosa went away. ‘Umar asked the doorkeeper, What happened? The doorkeeper said, He went away. ‘Umar said, bring him back. When he came back, ‘Umar said, What is this that you have done? Abu Moosa said, It is the Sunnah. ‘Umar said: is it? Then he said, I did not know this… (Abu ‘Eesa said: a saheeh hasan hadeeth, 2614)
Ibn ‘Abbaas recited al-Faatihah aloud during a Janaazah (funeral) prayer in order to teach people the Sunnah
Talhah ibn ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Awf said: I prayed the Janaazah prayer behind Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with him), and he recited the Opening of the Book (i.e., he recited al-Faatihah aloud). He said: (I did that) so that they might learn that this is Sunnah. (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 1249)
The imaams denounced those who go against the Sunnah.
Al-Tirmidhi narrated in his Sunan that one of the scholars of the madhaahib said: Salaat al-istisqaa’ (prayer for rain) should not be done, but they should make du’aa’ and then leave, all of them. Abu ‘Eesa said: this is against the Sunnah.
Al-Bukhaari (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in his Saheeh:
Chapter on following the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh):
Ibn ‘Awn said: there are three things which I love for myself and my brothers: this Sunnah, that they should learn about it and ask about it; the Qur’aan, that they should seek to understand it and ask about it; and that they should leave people alone unless it is for a good reason.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, Kitaab al-I’tisaam bi’l-Kitaab wa’s-Sunnah).
Let those people fear Allaah who think of the Sunnah as unimportant and say it is only the matter of externals and does not matter, and they go against it deliberately, thinking that this proves how moderate and reasonable they are, as they claim. They are doomed and lost, for the Sunnah of our Prophet (pbuh) is most dear to us.
Even if a particular aspect of the Sunnah is mustahhab (encouraged) rather than waajib (obligatory), is there not a reward for us in following it? Do we have so much hasanah that we do not need to seek more?
O my brothers and sisters, may Allaah have mercy on me and on you, strive to follow every proven Sunnah that you learn from your Prophet (pbuh) and do not neglect it, for it will benefit you on a Day when neither wealth nor sons will be of any avail. Adhere to the Sunnah and teach it to your children. Revive it in the midst of those who are unaware of it, so that you may be among the most blessed of people through the intercession of Muhammad (pbuh).
O Allaah, help us to follow the Sunnah. Cause us to live in accordance to the Sunnah, and to die adhering to the Sunnah. May Allaah bless our Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).