Understanding The Prophet's Life


From Issue: 499 [Read full issue]

Realistic Method

The Sunnah of the Prophet, peace be upon him, does not regard people as if they were winged angels, but as human beings who eat food and live in the markets, who have their dispositions and passions, their necessities and their needs - just as they also have elevated spiritual aspirations and are elevated by them to the host of heaven. They were created from clay and moulded mud, but also there is in them a breath from the spirit of God. Little wonder then that a human being ascends and descends, that he makes progress and he stumbles, that he is guided and goes astray, that he stands firm and he deviates, that he disobeys God and he repents.

The Sunnah makes allowance for the reality of the human being and it relents from him when he lapses into disobedience. It does not close the door in the face of repentance. Rather, it opens it wide before him so that he can knock on that door, repentant and remorseful before his Lord. As in the hadith: "God spreads out His hands through the night so that He may accept repentance for the offences of the day; and He spreads out His hands through the day so that He may accept repentance for the offences of the night - until the sun rises in the west." [Muslim]

The Sunnah makes allowance for the different conditions of human beings, and the differences between them, whether innate or acquired. In consideration of such differences the Messenger would answer a single question from a number of persons with multiple answers - so he did not apply to an old man a ruling on the matter appropriate to a youth; or to someone in conditions of necessity a ruling appropriate to one in abundance and enjoying freedom of action. Similarly, he considered the customs of peoples and their diversity: so he let the Abyssinians play with their spears in his mosque on the day of Eid; and he let Aishah watch them from behind his shoulder. In the same way he urged the girls to come and play with her, as a concession to her being young. So too he made lawful entertainments at weddings, and at celebrations for the return of someone long absent, and other such occasions, as a concession to the need of human beings for amusement and recreations.

Many examples of the Sunnah inform us of the realism of this divine Prophetic pattern.

Compiled From:
"Approaching the Sunnah: Comprehension & Controversy" - Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, pp. 6-8