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Forgotten Sunnahs

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

اللَّهُمَّ صلّ على مُحَمِّد وعلى آل مُحَمَّد

As mentioned by a hadith, “Yahya related to me from Malik that he heard that the Messenger of Allah SAW, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "I have left two matters with you. As long as you hold to them, you will not go the wrong way. They are the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Prophet.” (Muwatta Malik, Book 46, Hadith 3)

The Book of Allah, the Qur’an, is very crucial and beneficial as it guides us both in this transient world and the hereafter as it carries knowledge and lessons of both duniawi (worldly life) and ukhrawi (afterlife). Moreover, sunnah (traditions and practices of the Prophet SAW equitably plays a significant and advantageous role in both this ephemeral world and in the afterlife.

Therefore, we should utilise the inheritance left by the Prophet SAW. Apart from reading the Qur’an that is meant to educate us and guide us in this life as well as the next, we should strive for the blessings and rewards in the small aspects of circadian life by performing sunnah as well, especially since the genuineness of emulating these Prophetic etiquettes embellishes our worship and keeps us in remembrance of God as well as His Messenger SAW,

إن شاء الله

With this, I would like to share some simple everyday practices of the beloved Prophet SAW that are either often disregarded or unbeknownst by many. Similar to numerous subtleties in life, these practices carry great reward with minimum effort.

Primarily, the use of a tooth-stick (siwak, miswak). As narrated by Abu Hurairah, the Prophet SAW said, "Had I not thought it difficult for my Ummah, I would have commanded them to use the Miswak (tooth-stick) before every Salat." (Riyad as-Salihin, Book 8, Hadith 206)

Prominent times to use the siwak:

  1. Start of wudhu’: it can be adjusted just before or after the sunnah of washing the hands and before the sunnah of rinsing the mouth.

  2. Before beginning prayer (obligatory or supererogatory)

  3. When reciting Qur’an, zikr or learning sacred knowledge

  4. When going to sleep as well as when waking up

  5. Before meeting people

Rewards of using the siwak are not limited to strengthening our gums and increasing the eloquence of our speech – It also sharpens our memory, improves our eyesight, increases our intelligence as well as the barakah in our wealth.

Another forgotten sunnah that is often neglected or unbeknownst by many which I will be sharing is eating with three fingers as well as licking them after finishing the food. Ka’b bin Malik (May Allah be pleased with him) reported, “I saw the Messenger of Allah SAW eating with three fingers (i.e the thumb, the index finger and the middle finger) and licking them after having finished the food.” (Riyad as-Salihin, Book 2, Hadith 22)

The benefit of eating with three fingers is that the morsel will be less, and one will not eat more. Eating with more than three fingers is a sign of greed and is bad manners as it is unnecessary for more than three to gather up a morsel. However, if such food is eaten where it is difficult to use only three fingers then there is no harm in using more. (Fath al-Bari)

Among the wisdom of licking one’s fingers after eating is mentioned by Imam Badr al-Din al-’Aini who cited a hadith from Abu Hurairah RA, where the Prophet SAW said:

إِذَا أَكَلَ أَحَدُكُمْ فَلْيَلْعَقْ أَصَابِعَهُ، فَإِنَّهُ لَا يَدْرِي فِي أَيَّتِهِنَّ الْبَرَكَةُ

“When anyone of you eats food, he should lick his fingers, for he does not know in what part of the food sticking to his fingers the blessing lies.” (Sahih Muslim, Book 36, Hadith 181)

Moreover, he explained the order of which one should lick his fingers; where he should start with his middle finger, then his index and lastly his thumb. This is in accordance with the actions of the Prophet SAW, as narrated by Imam al-Thabarani:

رَأَيْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَأْكُلُ بِأَصَابِعِهِ الثَّلَاثِ: بِالْإِبْهَامِ، وَالَّتِي تَلِيهَا، وَالْوُسْطَى، ثُمَّ رَأَيْتُهُ يَلْعَقُ أَصَابِعَهُ الثَّلَاثَ قَبْلَ أَنْ يَمْسَحَهَا، وَيَلْعَقُ الْوُسْطَى، ثُمَّ الَّتِي تَلِيهَا، ثُمَّ الْإِبْهَامَ

“I saw the Prophet PBUH eat with three fingers, the thumb, index and middle finger. Then, I saw he cleaned them. The Prophet PBUH licked the middle finger, then after it (index finger) and the thumb.” (Imam Al-Thabarani)

"By nature, humans need time to disconnect from the world and rebalance ourselves. Prayer gives us those small pockets of time throughout the day. It’s a grounding force, and once it becomes a habit, not being able to carry it out leaves a void. So no matter where you are in the world, make time and space for prayers. Get creative, the entire earth has been made a mosque and the options are endless :-)" - Sabreena H.
"Places I've Prayed" Illustration by Sabreena H. (@sabzxs)

Another sunnah that is often overlooked is the night prayer (Tahajjud). Tahajjud provides spiritual nourishment. It additionally helps gain relief from worries of the dunya and gets us closer to Allah SWT by softening our hearts and humbles us in front of Allah SWT. Moreover, it enables us to grant control of our nafs (desires) and furthermore, removes our sins.

“Be vigilant in standing up [in prayer] at night, for it was the practice of the pious before you. It is a means of gaining proximity to Allah Ta’ala, expiation for transgressions and a barrier from sins.” (Tirmidhi).

Furthermore, it is a time when our prayers are answered, إِنْ شَاءَ ٱللَّٰهُ.

“The Dua made at Tahajjud is like an arrow that does not miss its target.” (Imam Ash-Shafi’i)

The etiquettes of sneezing is another sunnah that is often neglected or unbeknownst by many. Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet SAW said, “When one of you sneezes he should say: ‘Alhamdulillah (praise be to Allah),’ and his brother or his companion should say to him: ‘Yarhamuk-Allah (may Allah have mercy on you).’ When he says this he should reply: ‘Yahdikum-ullah wa yuslihu balakum (may Allah guide you and render sound your state of affairs).”‘ (Sunan Ibn Majah, Book 33, Hadith 59)

The following is an overview of the etiquettes of sneezing:

Person #1 (sneezes) and says: Alhamdulillah (Arabic: الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ)

Translation: All praises and thanks are to Allah.

Person #2: Yarhamukallah (Arabic: يَرْحَمُكَ اللَّهُ)

Translation: May Allah have mercy upon you.

Person #1: Yahdeekumul-lahu wa yuslihu balakum (Arabic: يَهْدِيكُمُ اللَّهُ وَيُصْلِحُ بَالَكُمْ)

Translation: May Allah guide you and set your affairs in order.

Lastly, the sunnah that I would like to share which is commonly forgotten is the recitation of a short dua in the morning. Many might have forgotten to recite the following short dua in the morning;

اَلْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ الَّذي أَحْيَانَا بَعْدَ مَا أَمَاتَنَا وَإِلَيْهِ النُّشُورُ

Alhamdu Lillahil-Lathee Ahyana BaAAda Ma Amatana Wa-Ilayhin-Nushoor.

English translation: All praise is for Allah who gave us life after having taken it from us and unto Him is the resurrection.

The entire day can begin with so much barakah when we praise Allah SWT.

This dua is a beautiful reminder of our purpose in life and it’s also a gratitude call to Allah SWT. What better way to start our day than that?

In a nutshell, I hope that this list of forgotten sunnahs may benefit you. This list is however non-exhaustive; there are various other sunnahs that can be implemented in our daily lives. I’d just thought I’d share these few with you!

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