It is not sinful to perform actions in a lawful, but not Sunnah, way
Fatwa No: 313600

  • Fatwa Date:1-2-2016 - Rabee' Al-Aakhir 22, 1437
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Question

With regard to many actions, there is a halal way to do it and also a Sunnah way to do it; the way the Prophet, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, his family and Companions used to do. I want to know whether it is sinful on a Muslim to just do what he feels like, provided that it is sharia-approved but not in keeping with the Sunnah? I know that it is better to follow the Sunnah, but my query is whether it is permissible to do otherwise or not. For example, in the matter of dress, it is Sunnah to wear thobe/abayas and other Arab attire and so on, but as long as all the criteria relevant to the hijab are met in one's dress, appearance and manners, is it permissible to dress as one likes? And is that also valid for eating, conducting oneself, and so on? Please clarify.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the Worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.

When the sharee'ah declares that certain words or deeds are recommended in a certain way, then the Muslim bears no sin for carrying them out in a different way as long as that certain way is only recommended and not obligatory. The Kuwaiti Encyclopedia of Islamic Jurisprudence reads, "The scholars of Usool Al-Fiqh, excluding the Hanafis, held that the doer of the recommended act is praised and earns a reward for it, while he does not incur blame or punishment for not doing it because it is permissible not to perform recommended acts...

Shaykhul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said, "It is permissible for the Muslim to abstain from performing recommended acts; however, it is not permissible to believe that recommended acts should be abstained from. The knowledge that such actions are recommended is a communal obligation (so that no part of the religion would be lost).

An example of such recommended acts is wearing the qamees for men. Al-Insaaf reads, “It is recommended to wear the qamees...” This is evidenced by the words of Umm Salamah  may  Allaah  be  pleased  with  her who said, “The clothing that the Messenger of Allaah, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, liked best was the qamees.” [Abu Daawood, An-Nasaa'i, and At-Tirmithi]

However, it is permissible for the Muslim man to wear any other lawful type of clothing other than the qamees. For more benefit, please refer to fatwa 296476.

Allaah knows best.

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