Reflection No. 286 on Q 33:21 – The Sunnah of the Prophet (s)
Laqad kāna lakum fī rashūlillāhi uswatun hasanah
Surely in the Messenger of Allah there is an excellent example for you
(Sūratul Ahzāb, no.33, Āyat 21)
This verse tells believers that the Holy Prophet (s) is a role model for believers. His way of doing things, or his Sunnah, must be followed by those who wish to please God and attain success in the world and the Hereafter.
The uprising of Imam Husayn (a) was for the preservation of the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (s). He wanted to make sure that people did not deviate from his way. Many of his words and writings reflect this:
• In his letter to the people of Basra, Imam wrote: I invite you to the Book of God and the Sunnah of the Prophet. Indeed the Sunnah of the Prophet has been left to perish and heresy has come to life.
• In his will to Muhammad al Hanafiyyah he wrote: My uprising against Yazid is not for the sake of sedition and corruption, or for amusement and egoism, rather it is for the sake of reform in the nation of my grandfather, the Holy Prophet (s).
• In his first sermon on the plains of Karbala, Imam said: Do you not see that truth is no longer acted upon and falsehood is no longer refrained from?
The Sunnah of the Prophet are his word, his actions, and even his silence when something took place in his presence. According to the Kalimah that we recite, we believe there is no god but Allah and that the Prophet Muhammad is His messenger through whom God revealed His message and guidance for human beings. Believing in the message the Prophet brought is part of the creed of a believer. Following the Sunnah of the Prophet is obedience to that creed.
Imam Ali (a) says in Nahjul Balāgha: Tread the course of the Prophet for it is the most distinguished course. Follow the Sunnah of the Prophet for it is the most right of all behaviors. (Sermon 110)
The Sunnah of the Prophet is a practical example for believers on how to lead life. All his actions are examples for us, exemplary ways to attain nobility and perfection on earth. That is why Allah says in the Quran, whoever follows Allah and His Messenger has won a mighty victory (Q 33:71). In one Hadith the Holy Prophet (s) tells us of how much he likes some actions and he wants them to be a Sunnah for all times to come. He says: Five [habits] I will not leave until I die; Eating on the ground with the slaves, climbing on the donkey without a saddle, milking the goat with my own hands, wearing wool, and greeting children, so that these may remain the Sunnah after me (Bihārul Anwār, v. 76, p.67). These habits show humility and the message of the Prophet is that believers should practice what is considered humble in their times and circumstances.
Recite this verse to remind you of the importance of following and upholding the way of the Prophet (s). Find out about the practices of the Prophet and follow his practical examples. That is true submission to God. It is what Imam Husayn (a) gave his life for.
Āyatullāh Nāsir Makārim Shirāzī (ed.), Tafsīr-e Namūneh;