Following the Sunnah is as Easy as…

By Hafsa Ahsan

Did you know that whenever you smile at or greet someone who visits your home you are following the Sunnah? Did you know you are also following it when you cook something nice and send some of it to your neighbour? Yes, some of the Sunnah practices are as easy as that.

It is quite a sorry state of affairs that the Sunnah practices in general are regarded as something very difficult to follow. And from that misconception arises another very gross conclusion – there is no need to follow these traditions. On the contrary, there are many practices which are quite simple to implement in one’s practical life, and some of those are as follows:

The Right Side

One of the main Sunnah practices to implement is to do everything from the right side first, for instance, eating and drinking with the right hand, putting on clothes from the right side first, stepping out of the washroom with the right foot forward first, walking into the mosque with the right foot first, sleeping on the right side, etc.

Narrated by Aisha (rta): “The Prophet (sa) used to love to start doing things from the right side whenever possible in performing ablution, putting on his shoes and combing his hair.” (Bukhari)

The interesting scientific benefit of sleeping on the right side is that it avoids undue pressure on the heart, which is on the left side. In fact, doing everything with the right hand has the scientific logic that since the heart is on the left side, doing things with the left hand will put pressure on the heart.

Eating habits

Sunnah practices while eating involve taking smaller portions, smaller bites, chewing properly, not reclining while eating and not criticizing any food.

Narrated by Abu Juhaifa (rta): “Allah’s Apostle (sa) said: ’I do not take my meals while leaning (against something).’” (Bukhari)

Narrated by Abu Hurairah (rta): “The Prophet (sa) never criticized any food (he was invited to), but he used to eat it if he liked the food, and leave it if he disliked it.” (Bukhari)

Scientific evidence shows that eating while reclining leads to the food not being digested properly. Similarly, taking smaller bites and chewing thoroughly helps in digestion.

Saying ‘Bismillah’ before doing anything

This is one of the easiest practices one can follow. Saying ‘Bismillah’ ensures that one does not do something which would bring about Allah’s (swt) displeasure. Moreover, one actually is rewarded for doing that particular task.

Narrated by Wahb Ibn Kaisan Abi Nuaim (rta): “A meal was brought to Allah’s Apostle (swt), while his step-son Umar Ibn Abi Salamah was with him. Allah’s Apostle (swt) said to him: “Mention the Name of Allah and eat of the dish which is nearer to you.’” (Bukhari)

Good intentions

Making intention pure before embarking on any task ensures reward for that task. For instance, if you’re cooking with the intention of fulfilling your rights towards your family members, or visiting an old relative purely for Allah’s (swt) pleasure, there is no reason why you won’t be amply rewarded.

Narrated by Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (rta): “I heard Allah’s Apostle (sa) saying: ‘The reward of deeds depends upon the intentions, and every person will get the reward according to what he has intended. So whoever emigrated for worldly benefits or for a woman to marry, his emigration was for what he emigrated for.” (Bukhari)

Drinking habits

Sunnah drinking habits include having a drink while sitting, drinking water in three breaths, not drinking directly from the water jug and not breathing into the water vessel.

Narrated by Abu Hurairah (rta): “The Prophet (sa) forbade the drinking of water directly from the mouth of a water skin.” (Bukhari)

Before going to sleep

Narrated by Jabir (rta): “Allah’s Apostle (sa) said: ‘Extinguish the lamps, when you go to bed; close your doors; tie the mouths of your water skins and cover the food and drinks.’ I think he added, ‘…even with a stick you place across the container.’” (Bukhari)

So there you have it. Following the Sunnah practices requires only some degree of effort initially, but the rewards are numerous. All you need to do is to remind yourself that not only are these practices beneficial for you in your everyday life (as has been proven by modern science), but following them will also earn you rewards in this world as well as in the Hereafter. So make a firm resolve to start these very basic practices from today.

Happy Valentine’s Day?

Vol 5 - Issue 4 Happy valentine's day

Up until my late teens, Valentine’s Day was a stranger to me – I had never witnessed it, never heard of it. Growing up under the Soviet regime, I was ‘programmed’ to know only the Soviet holidays, see only the Soviet cartoons and learn history solely from the Soviet perspective. Although this locked-in environment of communism had disadvantages, through years I’ve come to appreciate its strictness and sober moral norms, as they saved a good portion of my childhood innocence.

I came to know Valentine’s Day through the several times I went for studies to America. Coming from a country which had just shaken off the chains of the communist regime, I found America with its pompous culture of exaggerated celebrations quite alien. I felt somewhat lost in the dating culture tension of high school life and the many high school dances, to which only ‘couples’ were welcomed. “Sweethearts Dance” for celebrating Valentine’s Day was pretty much about showing off your ‘special person’ to the rest of the school. All the talks of celebrating the beauty of love faded into the background in the wake of this plain and straight-forward propaganda of teenage dating culture.

Later, during the years at university, I learned yet new angles of what Valentine’s Day meant for common Americans. Living in Minneapolis with its “The Mall of America” (the biggest shopping mall in the country), I clearly saw how businesses were cashing in on people’s romantic feelings. Sasha, my exchange student friend from Russia, who worked at “The Mall”, admitted that the holiday seasons were a nightmare for her. Were it Easter, Christmas or Valentine’s Day, the whole mall was transformed into a money sucking machine, mesmerizing the unaware customers with Christmas trees, eggs, bunnies, hearts and the music of the season into opening their wallets for the sake of… spending money, of course! If for customers the red hearts and love songs added a pleasant touch to their Valentine’s Day’s shopping spree, to Sasha such daily diets created a clear aversion.

My American roommate Sarah, a graduate student of sociology, quite shocked me with her perception of what Valentine’s Day could be about. One day, as we were sitting and talking in our living-room, she showed me some booklets on ‘safe’ sex and said that she would mail them as a Valentine’s Day gift to her niece, who had just entered her teens. “Nobody else is going to tell her about this anyway, so I thought I should help her out,” was Sarah’s rationale. I couldn’t believe my own ears! I learned that Valentine’s Day was also about promoting the responsibility-free and commitment-free partnerships.

However, I was hard hit by the reality of this partnership culture through my other roommate Cathy, a Ph.D. student of geophysics. Cathy was a very bright student, but she had some psychological issues and was on daily anti-depressant drugs. For most of the January university vacation, I was out of the country, so I was unaware of what was going on in her life. One evening, just a few days after I returned, Cathy came to me with a bottle of medicine in her hand and asked me to count, how many pills were left. After I counted them, she realized that about thirty pills were missing. She told me that her boy-friend had left her and she felt so depressed that she just kept on taking these pills in an attempt to calm down her emotions. Thank God I had a driver’s license and could drive her in her own car to the nearest emergency room, where she was transferred to the psychiatric ward for a few days. Doctors had diagnosed her as attempting to commit suicide. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I was not ready to buy into talks of spreading love in humanity, because with my own eyes I had seen the reality of the dating culture this celebration stood for.

May be my angle on Valentine’s Day is quite unusual, but it is the one that I have come to experience. So whenever I hear ‘Happy Valentine’s Day!’ I feel like the statement should end with a question mark.

Khalid Ibn Waleed (rta)

Vol 5 - Issue 4 Khalid Ibn Walid rtaBorn into a noble family of Quraish, Khalid Ibn Waleed (rta) was a lively, courageous and bright child. As the son of the Banu Makhzoom chief Waleed Ibn Mughairah, Khalid (rta) was brought up to be a warrior ready to defend his people. In his youth, Khalid (rta) stood out from among his peers with his unique gift of foresight and planning. Having mastered horseback riding, sword fighting and other military arts, he became known in Arabia as one of the best military leaders of his time.

Before accepting Islam, Khalid (rta) actively took part in battles against Muslims. He saw the Prophet’s (sa) call to Islam and worship of one Allah (swt) as a threat to the heritage and religion of his forefathers.

After migrating to Madinah, Muslims had to fight numerous battles to defend their faith. Khalid (rta) was in the rows of the Quraish chiefs during the battle of Badr and Uhud. In the battle of Uhud, Khalid (rta) dealt a crucial blow to the Muslim army from the rear, thus winning the battle for the Quraish. After this battle, Khalid (rta) was selected to be the commander general of the Quraish army.

When the Quraish arrived at the borders of Madinah for the third time, they were faced with an unexpected problem – a deep and wide trench surrounded the city preventing them from entering it. Khalid (rta) felt helpless against such a wise self-defense. His army spent one month on the borders of the city. Finally, Khalid (rta) was forced to withdraw his army and head back for Makkah with humiliation.

Soon after this victory, the Prophet (sa) and his companions set out for Makkah for Umrah barely armed, hoping that this would indicate their peaceful intentions to the Quraish. When Khalid (rta) heard about their approach, he led some of his men to a place called Hudaibiyah, intending to provoke Muslims to fight. No matter how hard he tried, Muslims remained peaceful. Finally, the Prophet (sa) ended up signing a ten-year peace treaty with Quraish – the treaty of Hudaibiyah.

Meanwhile, Allah (swt) was softening Khalid’s (rta) heart towards Islam. Seeing how well Muslims treated each other, and how dedicated they were to promote Islam, Khalid (rta) felt attracted towards the religion they were spreading. At Hudaibiyah, he had planned to attack Muslims during Zuhr prayer. However, Khalid (rta) felt that some strange force held him back. During Asr prayer, he made his second attempt, but again unsuccessfully. Khalid (rta) then realized that some unseen power was protecting the Prophet (sa) and his companions.

However, it was quite some time, before Khalid (rta) fully opened his heart to Islam. The following year when the Prophet (sa) and his companions came to Makkah for Umrah, Khalid (rta) left the city and came back only when Muslims had left. Upon his return, he found a letter from his brother Al-Waleed (rta). Al-Waleed (rta) had embraced Islam and encouraged Khalid (rta) to do the same. Khalid (rta) decided to go and meet the Prophet (sa). Upon his arrival in Madinah, he took the pledge of allegiance to Islam by swearing on the palm of the Prophet (sa).

The first battle Khalid (rta) participated in as a Muslim took place in Mutah, Jordan, where the Mujahideen fought against the Roman army. Khalid (rta) went to Mutah as an ordinary soldier. However, due to very severe battlefield conditions in which three Muslim generals lost their lives one after another, Khalid (rta) was selected to be the fourth commander. He accepted this honorable position and fought so fiercely that he broke nine swords on the very first day. Thanks to his excellent military skills and experience, Khalid (rta) managed to avoid total defeat and found a way to bring the army back to Madinah with minimum losses. It was after this battle that the Prophet (sa) gave to Khalid (rta) the name of Saifullah (the sword of Allah).


After the conquest of Makkah, Khalid (rta) kept very close to the Prophet (sa) and fought many battles against the enemies of Islam. Khalid (rta) was also among those one hundred thousand Muslims, who went on the farewell pilgrimage with the Prophet (sa).

After the Prophet’s (sa) death, many Arab tribes rebelled against the Islamic State. Seeing this, Khalid (rta) led eleven brigades to subdue the rebels. His most fierce fight was against Musaylimah Al-Kadhab (the liar) – a false prophet. Khalid’s (rta) battle against Musaylimah was especially important, because this false prophet had already defeated Muslims in two battles. However, under the wise command of Khalid (rta), the Mujahideen won the decisive battle.

When the rebels of Arabia were controlled, Khalid (rta) received orders from Abu Bakr (rta) to spread Islam to the neighboring areas. Khalid’s (rta) first direction was towards the Persian Empire. Upon arriving at the Persian Gulf, Khalid (rta) sent a message to a Persian ruler Hurmuz, asking him to accept the religion of Allah (swt) or to pay taxes to the Islamic State. After receiving Hurmuz’s refusal, Khalid (rta) once again showed his excellent skills of mastering the battlefield – he killed Hurmuz in a duel fight, which disheartened his soldiers and inspired the Mujahideen, leading them to a glorious victory.

Khalid’s (rta) next mission was to take his army from the Persian Gulf to Yarmuk on the northern border of the Islamic State, where Abu Bakr (rta) requested him to help the other Mujahideen in the war against Romans. In Yarmuk, Khalid (rta) studied the situation and asked the other commanders to permit him to lead the whole Muslim army on the first day of the battle. Before the battle, the Roman commander came to Khalid (rta) with an offer of money, clothes and food for the whole army, if they left the battlefield. Khalid’s (rta) response to this humiliating offer was that it was not poverty that had brought them to the battlefield but their wish to drink the delicious blood of Romans. Fired by the spirit of Jihad, Khalid (rta) led the Mujahideen into the battle, making Romans suffer losses of one hundred and twenty thousand men on the first day of fighting.

During the heat of the battle against the Romans, Abu Ubaidah Ibn Al-Jarrah (rta) received news from Madinah about Abu Bakr’s (rta) death. Umar Ibn Al-Khattab (rta), the second Caliph, had given the command of the Muslim army to Abu Ubaidah Ibn Al-Jarrah (rta). Upon hearing this, without any hesitation, Khalid (rta) handed over the command into the hands of Abu Ubaidah (rta) and continued to fight under him, bringing the message of Islam to all parts of Syria, Palestine and Jordan.

It had always been the most earnest wish of Khalid (rta) to face his death in the battlefield as a true soldier of Islam. However, it was the will of Allah (swt) that he spent his last days in his own bed. Before death, Khalid (rta) requested that all his property go to the Islamic State which turned out to be only his horse and weapons. Khalid Ibn Waleed (rta) died in the 21st year AH in Homs, where he was also buried.

Dear Haadia

HaadiaQuestion: I am a single girl in late twenties. Circumstances indicate that I may never get married. I want to know what should be my purpose in life? Can you quote any example from the Islamic history of any such females and their mission in life?

Answer: Dear sister, never be disheartened with the will of Allah (swt) and never give up on His mercy, for we have absolutely no clue what He has destined for us. The mother of the believers, Aisha bint Abu Bakr (rta), got married to the Prophet (sa) when she was 6 years old, whereas Fatimah bint Muhammad (rta) got married when she was 18 years old, which might have been considered late during that time (1400 years back). So there is no right time, except the time that Allah (swt) has willed for us.

Regarding your purpose in life, unfortunately, we, females, have been conditioned to believe that marriage is the be-all and end-all of our existence. Although the Sunnah stresses that marriage completes half of ones Eman, Allah (swt) says in Quran: “And I (Allah) created not the jinn and mankind except that they should worship me.” (Adh-Dhariyat 51:56) So irrespective of who we are, the sole purpose of our life is worshipping Allah (swt).

How do we worship Allah (swt)? The answer is simple – by living our life according to His Deen (Islam). Whatever you are doing right now, see to it that it is done with the intention of seeking Allah’s (swt) pleasure. Whether you are pursuing education, looking after your parents or working for your living, do it with all sincerity and right intention.

To discover your purpose in life, ask yourself what it is that you wish to do. Do you want to pursue further education? Are you interested in a particular hobby? Probe yourself and you will discover that there is a lot you might want to achieve – and this will boost your self-esteem a great deal.

If you are disheartened because you have a lot of time and you don’t know what to do with it, then do think about serving the community. Join a philanthropic organization, volunteer for different causes, take up some specialized courses which match your interests, start giving tuitions to your neighbourhood children or set up a home business. The possibilities are endless.

One great example from Islamic history is that of Maryam (as). She was not married, yet we know from the Quran that such was her stature that Allah (swt) sent her food through angels. She had to face great trials and tribulations as a single mother – but she did so with great fortitude.

So, dear sister, don’t believe for one second that just because you are not married yet, you have no purpose in life at all. There is a purpose out there, waiting for you to discover it.

May Allah (swt) help us all in our pursuit of happiness in this world and the hereafter, Ameen.