Why are old Arab customs practised today?

Some people ask the question:

On the one hand, this claim is made that Islam has great leniency, ease and convenience and for this reason Islam accepts every type of culture, however if a culture has wrong things, Islam guides us on them, but on the other hand, we see that there are many Islamic laws and narrations about do’s and don’ts of eating, drinking, wearing, sleeping and waking up. Moreover, religious people are also seen focusing more on Mustahab acts. If it is not strictness, then what is it? The entire nation is compelled to live one type of the way of life. Where are the leniency, ease and convenience for which claims are made?

In answer to this question it is humbly stated:

There are two types of deeds in Mustahab acts: First type of deeds are the ones which are related to the matters of everyday life such as clothes, eating, drinking, walking, etc., whereas the second type of deeds are those which are related to acts of worship i.e. Salah, fasts, Hajj, etc. There are different reasons why in both types of Mustahab acts are emphasized. In this article, the first type will be discussed. First type belongs to culture or custom. As far as the custom is concerned, in our religious customs many things belong to the Arab because our Beloved Rasool صَلَّى اللّٰەُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم was born in blessed Arab and adopted the permissible customs of that part. Now though all Muslims are not Arab, there are Arabs, non-Arabs, Asians, Africans, Europeans all. Despite this, they prefer to adopt many things of Arab customs. The details are as follows: There are some customs related to the matters of everyday life which our Beloved Rasool صَلَّى اللّٰەُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم taught us as an Islamic way such as we should drink water after sitting, with right hand, by reciting ‘بِسْمِ اللّٰە’, by seeing it taking three breaths and should praise Allah Almighty after drinking water. It is an Islamic manner of drinking water. When we ponder over it, we realize that in it ‘بِسْمِ اللّٰە’ and ‘اَلْحَمْدُلِلّٰە’ are for Divine Zikr and expressing thanks, whereas drinking water with the right hand also has a religious purpose as Islam has given importance to the right side while performing dignified and esteemed actions. Drinking water after sitting, by seeing and by taking three breathes is for teaching us a manner that is for our ease and convenience. When a person drinks water adopting this manner, everyone realizes that he is a Muslim and he is proud of practising Islam and he is also expressing it by his tongue and by his action as well, that: ‘رَضِیْتُ بِاللّٰەِ رَبًّا وَ بِالْاِسْلَامِ دِیْنًا وَ بِمُحَمَّدٍ نَبِیًّاI am pleased that Allah Almighty is our Lord, Islam is our religion and Muhammad صَلَّى اللّٰەُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم is our Prophet’.

On the same manner of drinking water you can think about eating, wearing, walking, sleeping, etc. In short, there are many matters of everyday life for which we have guidelines directly; besides this, it is also necessary to understand that Shari’ah has not declared it to be compulsory and necessary, but rather made things easy in it. If someone leaves it, he will not be a sinner. However, he will be deprived of the reward. On the other hand, it should also be kept in mind that hundreds of thousands of books have been written in this world on the matters of eating, drinking, wearing, sitting, walking, etc.. Children are taught at homes and schools and this teaching is mentioned very proudly that we are teaching manners to our children and nation. During eating a meal which plate is for what item? Which spoon is for eating which item? How to hold different spoons? How should these things be placed on the dining table? What should be eaten first then in the middle and then at the end? With great enthusiasm and hard work, all these things are taught and shown. But astonishing thing is that I have never heard any liberal has ever objected to these teachings or telling such things as to why so much emphasis is given on such small things and why European manners are being promulgated in Asia. But I do not know what problems the people who are sick of religion and religious manners have with Islamic manners and Sunnahs because they immediately start objecting by saying why small things are being emphasized or focused. Why are the Arab cultural things being promoted here? To this we can only say that:

Jo tha na-khoob ba-tadreej wohi khoob huwa

Kay ghulami mayn badal jata hay qaumon ka zameer

Now, about the same thing I humbly say that as it is said about using earthen plates, having meals while sitting on the floor, wearing a long white dress, etc. that it is the Arab culture. So why are we asked to follow them as we are not Arab? Always remember about all such things as they are not Fard and Wajib so if someone does not act upon them, he is not a sinner at all. Reproaching those who do not act upon them is condemnable, but taunting those who act upon them is more condemnable as those who act upon the Sunnahs of the Beloved Rasool صَلَّى اللّٰەُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم are being taunted due to their actions which is not suitable for any Muslim.

A very beautiful reason why religious people adopt these things is that when a person considers someone to be his favourite, he stops practising many things of his own culture and tries to do the things which his favourite personality does. For example if a Pakistani likes any European or Indian hero or artist or player, he will have his hair style,  will wear the same dress as he does, even he will try to speak like him, he will try to use body language like him, he will start eating and drinking whatever his favourite personality does. So when it comes to preference and love, a person stops following his culture and starts embracing the culture of his favourite personality. Similarly, we can see whenever any favourite personality starts a fashion, his followers also start following his fashion speedily and enthusiastically. In short, when a person becomes people’s favourite, his fans and followers start doing the same thing which their favourite personality does regularly whether the favourite personality belongs to their country or Europe, America and the fans live far away in an unknown area or territory. It is humbly said: Without any comparison, may the favourite personalities of the entire world mentioned above be sacrificed upon the dust of the blessed feet of our Beloved Rasool صَلَّى اللّٰەُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم!

Undoubtedly, the most beloved personage for Muslims is the Beloved Rasool صَلَّى اللّٰەُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم and this love and devotion compels the hearts of devotees of Rasool to adopt the things of the culture of their Beloved Rasool صَلَّى اللّٰەُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم. So they try to wear dresses, eat, walk, sit, stand, talk and even sleep in the same way in which the Beloved Rasool صَلَّى اللّٰەُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم did and this thing is very common in love and devotion. Once Sayyiduna Anas رَضِىَ اللّٰەُ عَنْهُ was eating a meal with the Beloved Rasool صَلَّى اللّٰەُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم. He saw the Beloved Rasool صَلَّى اللّٰەُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم  looking for and eating pieces of bottle gourd. He رَضِىَ اللّٰەُ عَنْهُ said: Since that day I have developed love for bottle-gourd. (Sahih Bukhari, vol. 3, pp. 537, Hadees 5436) What made the bottle-gourd to become beloved after being special though it was a normal vegetable? The reason was that our Beloved Rasool صَلَّى اللّٰەُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم ate it with delight.

In short, we have to act upon the things of everyday life for which our Beloved Rasool صَلَّى اللّٰەُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم either commanded or persuaded us and devotees of Rasool adopt the ways as far as possible which he صَلَّى اللّٰەُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم only practiced. Whereas, in many things they adopt other ways keeping in view their area or era or need or important benefit such as wearing Shalwar, travelling by fast vehicles, consuming wheat, etc. There is no objection or argument over these things, but there is a persuasion for those who act upon them that Muslims have an emotional devotion to the Beloved Rasool صَلَّى اللّٰەُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم which is the real faith, life of faith and soul of faith and the same devotion motivates a person to act upon the Sunnahs of the practices of everyday life. These practices of everyday life are interpreted as ‘Sunnah’ in many places. In other words, it can also be said that these are the blessed acts our Beloved Prophet صَلَّى اللّٰەُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم performed and therefore we adopt them.

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