[By Maulana Yusuf Ludhianvi (rahimahullah)]
Criticism on ‘Sunnah’:
The practices of Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) have been divided by the Ulama into two categories viz. Sunnan-e-Huda (those aspects relating to Deen which are essential to follow) and Sunnan-e-A`diya (personal habits which do not constitute a Shar`i command), although these acts are not compulsory to follow, taking heed of them is indeed a means of great fortune. If we find ourselves unable to imitate Rasulullaah (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) we should realize that the reason is not because his lifestyle is unworthy of following, but it is due to the deficiency of our capabilities.
Rasulullaah (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) is the beloved leader of the Ummah. Every act of the beloved is beneficial. Hence to adopt his way is a declaration of true love. Rasulullaah (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) is the embodiment of all virtue, having been protected from all evil by Allah.
Consequently imitating his example can be regarded as a means of achieving great virtue and a protection from evil. Imaam Ghazaali (rahmatullah alayh) states:
“Actual good fortune lies in following Rasulullaah (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) in every movement. Accordingly all actions are of two types; firstly, worship such as Salaah, fasting, Hajj, Zakaat, etc. Secondly, habits like eating, drinking, sleeping etc. It is essential for Muslims to follow Rasulullaah (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) in both types of acts….” [Tableegh-e-Deen, page 39]
Subsequently to deriving the Shar`i and logical proofs for following the Sunnah in general habits, Imaam Ghazaali (rahimahullah) states:
“Whatever we have mentioned was for encouraging the adoption of the Sunnah in general habits. Concerning those acts connected to worship, and whose rewards have been mentioned abundantly, the disregarding of such acts without a valid excuse can be due only to hidden disbelief or open stupidity.” [Page 42]
Contrary to this, Maududi has mocked the Sunnah of our Nabi (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam). He states that most pious people have the misconception that regarding the following of Nabi (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) and the Salf-e-Saaliheen is as follows:
“Just like the clothes they wore, we must wear, we must eat the type of food they ate, just as they conducted themselves in their personal lives we must imitate them precisely in the same way.”
According to Maududi, this type of imitation is incorrect, the correct way according to him is:
“This method of following which has been thrust upon the minds of religious Muslims for centuries is in reality completely contrary to the spirit of Islam. Islam never taught us to be living replicas of the past, nor to stage a drama of ancient civilization.” [Tafheemaat, page 209/210]
Undoubtedly to benefit from the technologies of modern times is not sinful. By remaining within lslaamic limits, it is permissible to adopt new ways of conducting our social relations. But to express the dress and manners of our beloved Nabi (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) in such despicable words as “ancient relics” and “a drama of ancient civilization” is not only contrary to the expression of love, but is also removed from the necessities of showing honour to the noble Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam).
This Philosophy of Maududi is also strange:
“Islam does not give us a form, Instead it gives us a spirit. Due to changes in time and place, all the different forms which will be created till Qiyaamah, should be filled with the very same spirit.”
In other words, according to Maududi, the Islamic form is unnecessary . He could create any form he chooses, but by filling it with an Islamic spirit he could make it acceptable to Islam. I fail to see in which factory this Islamic spirit is made. Based on this logic, Maududi has also created two categories of the cinema – Islamic and un-Islamic.
If the Islamic spirit is blown into the cinema, it becomes Islamic. This is the understanding of Islam and the value of the Sunnah in his view.
Fourthly, because he only believes in the Islamic spirit, the Islamic form is an innovation in his opinion.
According to this philosophy, Rasulullaah’s (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) external Sunnah becomes a Bid`ah (innovation). He writes:
“I regard the terms ‘uswah’ (example), ‘Sunnah’, ‘Bid`ah’ (innovation) etc. as misunderstood, in fact they are distortions of Deen. Your belief of maintaining a long beard like Rasulullah’s (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) means that you regard it as a Sunnah which the Messengers came to establish. I not only regard this definition of Sunnah as incorrect, but I perceive this to be a form of Bid`ah and a form of changing the Deen, having disastrous consequences in the past and in the future as well.” [Rasaail Wa Masaa`il page 307]
Maududi has committed two errors here. One is that he has rejected the keeping of beard as Sunnah, by naming it a habit, whereas Rasulullaah (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) has proclaimed it an unanimous Sunnah of all Messengers. The Ummah has been given clear instructions to follow it. That is, to oppose the way of the kuffaar. Hence to regard it as a Sunnan-e-Adiyah (habit) and to aver that to refer to it as a Sunnat of the Deen is audacious.
The second mistake made by Maududi is that he avers Rasulullaah (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) has commanded the lengthening of the beard, but he did not specify any length. Hence according to him the beard has no prescribed length, whereas this is incorrect because Rasulullaah (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) has commanded the lengthening of the beard but never gave a command of clipping it. Rasulullaah (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) permitted the Sahaabah to maintain the beard at a length of one fist. If a shorter beard had been permissible he would have allowed it. Consequently none of the jurists have permitted clipping the beard shorter than one-fist length.
Maududi not only rejects this unanimous Sunnah, but mocks it by calling it a distortion. Can a person who is so daring regarding the rejection of the Sunnah be worthy of being given the status of an Aalim?