Islam verses Culture

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Islam verses Culture
10/04/01 at 11:50:35

I have somethings that I am trying to figure out.

In my studies of Islam, I am very careful to check the sources, strengths, validity of hadith, and to read many transliterations of the Qu'ran to find my answers (I don't read arabic well at all)

Last weekend I heard a speech by Imam Shabir Ally (from Toronto), and he started discussing culture and Islam (example dressing in traditional clothing rather than just complying with what is necessary re: jilbab verses loose, opaque, covering clothing)and also about how trying to do things "Sunnah" but moving into the 21st century to.  For example
He mentioned about Miswak, and how many still have it sent for them (more so with people living in the west) and how what the Prophet (PBUH) meant was that we must keep our bodies, mouths clean and at the time of the Prophet (PBUH) miswak was the best source available to do this, but now we have toothpaste/brushes to do this sort of thing.  He also mentioned about eating on the floor verses eating at a on.

Of course this was a very short speech, and frankly I would have liked to learn more on this subject and I would like to know if there is any other sources (reliable) ones of this nature on the web.  So if any of you could relay me to reliable sources on this issue it would be greatly appreciated:)

Re: Islam verses Culture
10/25/01 at 16:01:18

wa alaykum as salaam wa rahmatAllah,

Hmm.  I think the reason this issue is the source of so much controversy has to do with the nature of the word "sunnah".  It has different meanings, depending on how and in what context it is used.

Linguistically, it means a path or a way.

In the science of hadeeth, it means all the narrations that come from Rasulullah [saw]; his actions, sayings, what he tacitly approved of, and also descriptions of his character and physical atributes.

In the science of fiqh, it has the same meaning mandoob or mustahaab does - it is a type of hukm sharii', an action which is recommended and good (and which will earn reward if committed) but not required (meaning, one will not be punished for choosing not to do it.)  For example, performing extra prayers is a sunnah, in this sense.

In terms of usul ul fiqh, sunnah is a source of sharia along with the Qur'an.  From it, one extracts rulings.

So.. if someone came up to me and said, "doing this is sunnah", I'd think -- what the heck does that mean :)  Because again, it has different implications depending on how it is used.   

And see, it's for this same reason that the concept of bi`aa [usually understood as that which is *not* sunnah] is so controversial :)

Example:  Is riding a car (which Rasulullah [saw] never did) a bidaa?  This is where 'urf [custom, culture] comes into the picture.  This is where our understanding of the word sunnah comes into play.

It's not as simple as some make it out to be :)  But learning this stuff is necessary to really understand how the sharia works.

I personally have not come across *anything* on the web that discusses these things scholarly and in a way that I would take seriously.  I think it's really something that needs to be learned from a teacher, who has studied the texts from scholars who knew what they were talking about.

wAllahu a'lam.

wasalaamu alaykum.

Re: Islam verses Culture
10/26/01 at 05:35:43
Assalamalaikum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh

This is also something that I think about sometimes and have come to the conclusion (and this is not from any scholarly studies )that it's the niyyah that matters. If any action(s) is done according to the sole intention of following the prophet, who was the best of manners and habits, then inshaAllah you will be amply rewarded for it.
This doesn't mean to say you should abandon ur car for a camel :) but if something does not inconvenience you then I feel it should be adopted. We all brush our teeth twice a day (I hope ;)) but what's the harm in keeping a miswak and using it just before wudu? And some of the sunnah just helps to reinforce some other sunnah.. For instance, our prophet (saws) has said to eat in moderation (one third of stomach), sitting on the floor certainly helps in that coz when ur sitting on the floor you lean towards the food..this puts some pressure on the stomach and you feel full much earlier as opposed to sittin on the table where there will be no such thing.
Also, I feel that doing everyday things in the manner of the prophet (saws) sort of makes us more humble. It reminds us of the utter simplicity and humbleness in which our prophet (saws) lived.

My dad loves to tell us the conversion story of a Frenchman who started investigating Islam after he saw a gathering of muslims partaking food. He (the convert) said that if a group of 500 French had to eat together they would need at least a 100 tables, 500 forks, knives, spoons,  plates, glasses, napkins....while the muslims needed no such thing...they sat on the ground sharing plates eating with thier hands.

these are just a few thoughts coming to my mind right now....

wassalam alaikum

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