The Keenness of Imams to Follow the Sunnah
The meaning of sunnah: it means a method or example.
The general definition of sunnah: everything narrated about the prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) such as sayings, deeds or records.
The sunnah according to hadith scholars: everything narrated about the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) such as sayings, deeds, records and physical or behavioral features.
The sunnah according to jurists: it means the recommended act for which his doer is praised and his non-doer is not condemned.
The keenness of imams to follow the sunnah
A man came to Imam Malik (may Allah have mercy on him) and asked him: where to assume the state of ihram1?
Malik said: in the miqat2 where the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) assumed his “ihram”.
The man said: what if I assumed my ihram from a farer place (before reaching the place of the Prophet’s miqat)?
Malik said: I believe you should not.
The man said: what is wrong in doing that?
Malik said: I am afraid you might fall into a fitnah (trials or afflictions).
Malik said: almighty Allah says (what can be translated as): “and let those who oppose the messenger's (Muhammad) commandment (i.e. His sunnah legal ways, orders, acts of worship, statements, etc.) (among the sects) beware, lest some fitnah (disbelief, trials, afflictions, earthquakes, killing, overpowered by a tyrant, etc.) Befall them or a painful torment be inflicted on them.” (an-Nur: 63)
Imam Ahmed Ibn Hanbal said: I have never written a hadith without applying it. One time I learnt that the prophet (peace be upon him) was treated by hijamah3 then he paid the practitioner a dinar so I gave the practitioner a dinar when he applied hijamah on me as well.4
Abdel Rahman Ibn Mahdi said: I heard Sufyan saying: "I have never heard a haidth by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), unless i apply it at least once.”5
Narrated from Muslim Ibn Yassar that he said: "Ipray in my shoes and it is easier for me to take them off, i only do that to follow the sunnah".6
Ibn Rajab (may Allah have mercy on him) said: the one who follows the path of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) even if he lessens what he does is preceding the one who does not follow his path even if he increases.7
Narrated by Ibn Mas'oud (ra)8 said: "Reduction in the sunnah is better than increase in the Bid'ah (innovation in religion)"9.
Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allah have mercy on him) said: "If the sunnan10 are up to the person’s doing, they would eventually be left and abandoned and their traces would fade."
(1) Ihram: a state in which a pilgrim to Makkah observes certain rules, such as wearing the “ihram” dress and abstaining from acts forbidden for him such as hunting, wearing perfumes and cutting his hair.
(2) miqat: for the pilgrims it usually means the place where they should wear the “ihram” (pilgrim’s garb) and make the intention of “hajj” or “umhra”.
(3) hijamah: is cupping, bloodletting, a medical practice that was common in Muslim countries by making small cuts in certain parts of the body and using cupping glass o led ‘bad blood’ out.
(4) Tadrib Al-Rawi Fi Sharh Taqrib Al-Nawawi (144/2), Al-Sayyer (11/213), virtues of Imam
Ahmed by Ibn Al-Jawzi page 232.
(5) Al-Sayyer (7/242)
(6) Kitab Al-Zuhd By Imam Ahmad page 355.
(7) Lata’ef Al-Maref page 270.
(8) ra: radya Allah anhu/anha [may Allah be pleased with him/her]
(9) Narrated by al-Hakim and corrected by al-albany.
(10) Sunnan: prophetic teachings and practices, plural of sunnah.