worldly temptations are more prevailing, more rampant, and less avoidable these days than ever before in the history of humankind. many muslims have been negatively affected by the glare of the achievements of the modern age and its mundane developments and have fallen in the traps of lusts, secularism, and the so-called ‘american dream’ insomuch that they have neglected many of the teachings of their religion as they pursue the gains of this world. adhering to the sunnah of the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) has become difficult and those who try to adhere to the teachings of their religion have become subject to peoples' mockery and are often branded as fanatics.
the sunnah of the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is the ship of salvation and the haven of safety. the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) urged us to adhere to it and warned us against neglecting it. he said: “ adhere to my sunnah and to the way of the rightly-guided caliphs who will come after me and cling to it strongly. beware of newly-invented matters, for every newly-invented matter is an innovation (bid`ah) and every innovation is a going astray.” (abu dawud)
when evil and corruption become widespread and innovation prevails, the reward for the one who adheres to the sunnah will be greater, and the status of those who follow the sunnah will be higher, for they live as strangers with the light that they bear in the midst of that darkness and because of their efforts to set aright people’s affairs.
the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “islam began as something strange and will revert to being something strange, so glad tidings are for the strangers.” it was said: who are they, o messenger of allah? he said: “those who are righteous when the people are corrupt.” (muslim)
moreover, the prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “ahead of you are days of patience, during which being patient will be like grasping a hot coal. the one who does good deeds then will have a reward like that of fifty people who do such deeds.” and, someone else added, they said: o messenger of allah, the reward of fifty of them? he said: “the reward of fifty of you.” (abu dawud and at-tirmidh) in some narrations of the hadith it says: “they are the ones who will revive my sunnah and teach it to the people. ”
adhering to the sunnah means several things:
1- doing obligatory duties and avoiding haram things.
2- avoiding innovations in actions and beliefs.
3- striving to do sunnah and mustahab (recommended) deeds as much as one is able.
4- calling people to goodness and trying to reform them as much as possible.
shaykh salih al-fawzan said in al-muntaqa:
you must adhere to the sunnah of the messenger of allah (peace and blessings be upon him) and follow it constantly, and not pay any attention to those who criticize you or blame you for that, especially if these are obligatory sunnahs that must be adhered to, and are not just recommended, provided you do not go to extremes. however, if you go to extremes, that is not appropriate; rather, it is essential to be balanced and moderate in applying the sunnah and acting upon it, without exaggerating or going to extremes, and without being negligent or careless.