Origination of Sunnah from the Prophet

“Nor does he speak from [his own] inclination. It is not but a revelation revealed.”[Quran 53:3-4]

It is necessary for complete understanding of the meaning of the Sunnah to appreciate and understand the way Sunnah originates from the person of the Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention ). In essence, this took place in three forms or ways:Through sayings, actions, as well as his physical characters and per­sonal attributes and his approvals of others’ acts and sayings:
Sayings:This includes everything he sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention )said. ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattaab may Allaah be pleased with himsaid that the Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention )said:“Indeed, all actions are based on intentions, and surely, every man shall have only that which he intended. Therefore, whoso­ever immigrated for the sake of Allaah and His Messenger, then his immigra­tion is for Allaah and His Messenger.”[Muslim]
Actions:All of his sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention )actions and deeds. For example, ‘Aa’ishah may Allaah be pleased with hersaid:“He sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention )used to fast so much that we would say he sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention )would never break the fast, and he sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention )used to abstain from fasting for so long that we would say he sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention )will never fast.”[Bukhaari]
Approval:This happens when someone does something in front of him, or in his absence but it gets reported to him sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention )then he sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention )approves of it either by being silent and not commenting on it (Tacit Approval) or by saying something that would indicate agreement or endorse­ment of it (Explicit Approval). An example of the tacit approval would be the incident reported by Sa’eed Ibn Abi Awfa may Allaah be pleased with himthat he went with the Prophet, sallal­laahu alayhi wa sallam, on seven expeditions, and we ate locust with him (while he sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention )was watching).” [Bukhaari and Abu Daawood] An example for the explicit approval is reported by Abu Sa’eed Al-Khudri may Allaah be pleased with himthat two men were trav­eling without water, so at the time of the Prayer they made dry ablution (Tayam­mum). Then sometime later, they found water and one of them repeated ablu­tion and Prayer but the other did not. When they told the Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention )he sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention )told the one who did not repeat:‘what you did is the Sunnah,'and said to the other:you will get a double reward.’[Abu Daawood]
Descriptions:This includes everything related to his sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention )character like Ibn ‘Abbaas may Allaah be pleased with himdescription of him as being,“The most generous of all people.”[Bukhaari], as well as his sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention )physical attributes, as in the Hadeeth,“He sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention )had a face that was more beautiful than all people’s, he sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention )was best in character, and was of an average height: not too long or short.”[Bukhaari]
Comments:
It is recommended that one keep in mind, for general purposes, the definition used by the scholars of Hadeeth, mentioned before, as well as remember that rulings derived from the Sunnah may vary in their implication and weight as do the rulings derived from the Quran such that some of them are obliga­tionsand prohibitions while others are just recommendations (Mustahabb) or dislikes (Makrooh). All, however, must be revered and applied. Anas may Allaah be pleased with himnarrated that the Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention )said:"Whoever avoids fol­lowing my Sunnah does not belong to me.”[Bukhaari] Also, Talhah Ibn Auf may Allaah have mercy upon himstated that once he was praying"behind Ibn ‘Abbaas may Allaah be pleased with himin a funeral prayer, when he recited Al-Faatihah, the opening chapter of the Quran, then said:‘I have recited this chapter for you to know that this is the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam ( may Allaah exalt his mention )."' [Bukhaari]
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