An appeal to act upon the Sunnah
Sayyiduna Abul Hasan Ali b. Husain al-‘Ukbari رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْه, a respected Hanbali jurist, passed away in the blessed month of Ramadan while praying salah. He was an exceptionally pious, god-fearing, and devout scholar of Islam. He once saw the Shafi’i jurist, Sayyiduna Hibatulla al-Tabari رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْه in a dream and asked: “How did Allah عَزَّوَجَلّ deal with you?” He replied: “Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ forgave me.” When Sayyiduna Abul Hasan asked the reason, he replied, “Because of the Sunnah,” (Siyar A’lam al-Nubala, vol. 13, p. 270, Raqm 3788).
True love for the Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم has many hallmarks. One of these is to live according to the Sunnah of the final Prophet of Allah, our master Muhammad صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم. In reality, a true devotee constantly strives to learn about and apply the Sunnah. No doubt, to observe the teachings and practices of the Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم is a sure way to reap countless blessings. Neglecting his Sunnah is of course a cause of immense loss.
The blessings of acting upon the Sunnah
Observing the Sunnah:
* Is a sign of complete love for the Holy Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم, (Mirqat-ul-Mafatih, vol. 1, p. 422, under Hadith 175).
* Leads to Paradise, (Tirmizi, vol. 4, p. 233, Hadith 175).
* Grants one the company of the Holy Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم in Paradise, (Tirmizi, vol. 4, p. 309, Hadith 2687; Mishkat al-Masabih, vol. 1, p. 55, Hadith 175).
* Leads to being under the shade of the Divine Throne on the Day of Judgement, (Sharh Zurqaani Alal Muwatta, vol. 4, p. 469, under Hadith 1841).
The one who acts upon the Sunnah at a time when innovation, ignorance, and sin are prevalent will gain the reward of 100 martyrs, (Mirqat al-Mafatih, vol. 1, p. 422, under Hadith 176).
The Holy Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم supplicated for mercy three times for those who act upon the Sunnah and teach it, and he صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم declared them to be his heirs, (Jami’ Bayan al-‘ilm-wa-fadlihi, p. 66, Hadith 201).
The adverse impacts of neglecting the Sunnah
Bear in mind that neglecting the precious, prophetic model is not without adverse effects. It has been related that those people who neglect emphasised Sunnahs will incur the curse of Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ and His Messenger صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم, (Mustadrak, vol. 3, p. 375, Hadith 3995, al-Hadiqah al-Nadiyah, p. 443).
One report states that such folks will be deprived of the intercession of al-Mustafa صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم, (Bahar-e-Shari’at, part 4, p. 662)— may Allah Almighty protect us.
Moreover, habitually abandoning the Sunnah renders one a transgressing sinner (Malfuzaat A’la Hadrat, p. 288), and may lead to misguidance, (Muslim, p. 257, Hadith 1488; Bahar-e-Shari’at, part 4, p. 662), or even worse, a bad death, (Mirat al-Manajih, vol. 2, p. 78)—may Allah Almighty grant us death with faith and longing to meet Him عَزَّوَجَلَّ.
Neglecting the Sunnah is one thing while deriding it a far greater delinquency. It is utter blasphemy to consider any Sunnah as inferior, and doing so affords anathematisation, (Mirqat al-Mafatih, vol. 1, p. 311, Taht al-Hadith 109).
The zeal of the pious predecessors in adhering to the Sunnah of al-Mustafa
The paragons of submission to the Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم and the most god-fearing souls to tread this earth, after the prophets, are the Companions. Yet, their zeal and unwavering commitment to the Sunnah was not only driven by fear but by burning love for Allah Almighty and His Messenger صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم that coursed through every atom of their being and compelled them to observe the Sunnah of their Beloved صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم without compromise.
On one occasion, Sayyiduna Ali رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ got onto his ride and recited the relevant supplications. He then began to smile. Surprised, those around him asked the reason. He replied, “I have seen the Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم doing this, so I have done the same,” (Tirmizi, vol. 5, p. 278, Hadith 3457).
Whenever somebody would visit Sayyiduna Abdullah b. ‘Umar رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ and notify him of their plan to travel, he رَضِىَ اللّٰهُ عَـنْهُ would remark: “Wait! I will bid you farewell the same way the Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم would bid us farewell,” (Tirmizi, vol. 5, p. 277, Hadith 3454).
Sayyiduna Salama b. al-Akwa’ رَضِىَ الـلّٰـهُ عَـنْهُ performed salah near a particular pillar in Masjid Nabawi. When asked why he carefully chose to pray in that particular place, he explained, “I saw the Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم, with great meticulousness, offering salah by this pillar,” (Musnad Ahmad, vol. 5, p. 550, Hadith 16516).
Then come the generations of the followers of the Companions and the Ahl al-Bayt; and their commitment to the Sunnah is also remarkable. Sayyiduna Abu Bakr al-Shibli رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْه was in need of his miswak at the time of wudu. Unable to find it but wanting to act upon the Sunnah of using a miswak in wudu, he purchased a replacement for one dinar (one gold coin). When someone asked how he could spend such a large amount of money to obtain a mere miswak, he replied: “If Allah Almighty asks me on the Day of Judgement as to why I left the Sunnah [of the miswak]) of His Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم, what answer shall I give?” (Lawaqih al-Anwaar al-Qudsiyyah, p. 38, summarised).
In another heart-warming incident, the founder of Jami’a Ashrafiyyah Mubarakpur (India), Hafiz-e-Millat Allama Abd-ul-Aziz رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْه once injured his right foot. When the time came to treat the wound, he initially removed the sock on his left foot, and then the right. Somebody requested the reason behind removing the left sock first, as the injury was on his right foot. This great follower of the Holy Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم explained that, “It is Sunnah to remove the sock of the left foot first,” (Nayki ki Dawat, p. 213, summarised).
Sayyiduna Mujaddid Alf Thani رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْه would declare to those in his company: “This era is distant from the prophetic era and full of corruption and discord. The darkness of innovation and transgression has further enveloped it. Without the radiance of the Sunnah, there is no road to salvation in such darkness, (Zubda tul-Maqamaat, p. 281, slightly amended).
There are numerous Sunnahs of our Beloved Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم that you can adopt with only a slight concerted effort and a little focus. For example, washing both hands up to the wrists before and after eating, dining while sitting on the floor in any of the three Sunnah postures, using the right hand for eating and drinking water, and sitting down when having a drink. Likewise, greeting fellow believers, even if you do not know them, while travelling to and from home, work, school, college, and madrasa; utilizing two hands to shake the hands of others as opposed to one; and sleeping on your right side. When performing other deeds in accordance with the Sunnah, make the intention of doing so to follow the practices of the Messenger of Allah صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم. We ask Allah عَزَّوَجَلَّ to let the sweet zephyrs of the Sunnah to move our hearts and limbs.
اٰمِیْن بِجَاہِ النَّبِیِّ الْاَمِیْن صَلَّی اللہ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلہٖ وَسَلَّم
 A short stick usually taken from the Salvadora Persica or “toothbrush tree.” Its sticks are traditionally used as natural toothbrushes. Although common across Middle Eastern and African cultures, it holds a special place in Islam as it was adopted by our master Muhammad صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم.