It is reported that Imam Malik ibn Anas (rahimahullah), the imam of Darul Hijrah (Madinah) of his time, said:
"The sunnah is like the ark of Nuh (AS). Whoever goes on it is saved and whoever leaves it will drown." [Taareekh Baghdad: 3850]
What does it mean to say that the sunnah is like the ark of Nuh (Noah peace be upon him)? We should first look at the definition of this word, "sunnah."
Linguistically, sunnah means "the path/way that is to be followed." According to the scholars of Aqeedah, sunnah means, " the guidance of the prophet, Islaam, the sharia of Muhammad."
The sunnah is what every muslim is required to follow. It is the guidance of Muhammad ibn Abdullah (sala Allahu alayhi wassalam). It is what corresponds with the book of Allah. It is among the sources of this great deen. We have the book of Allah, the Quran and second, the sunnah of His final prophet and messenger. Where can a person go without these two sources? True success lies in following the Quran and sunnah and being attached to these two. If we abandon the sunnah then we have also abandoned the Quran.
Allah azza wa jall says, "Say, obey Allah and obey the Messenger . Then if they turn away, Allah does not love the disbelievers." [Surah 3: 32]
Allah also says, " And obey Allah and obey the Messenger and be cautious; but if you turn back, then know that obligated on our messengers is only the clear delivery (of the message of Islam, Quran and sunnah)." [Surah 5:92]
The sunnah has its role in Islam. In fact, the sunnah is what explains the Quran for us. This is why we find many verses in the Quran where Allah is telling us to obey ALLAH and the MESSENGER. The sunnah is our guiding light. It is what brings us from the darknesses of ignorance , guiding us to worshipping the Almighty upon insight and knowledge.
Oh Muslim! Know that we are living in a strange era where the sunnah is looked down upon by people. A strange time is upon us in which those who follow the sunnah are seen as radicals, extremists and show-offs. Do not listen to these false claims and ignore the barking of the dogs. All they wish to see you is drown in the ocean of ignorance and falsehood as they are. However, be wise and intelligent and stick to the anchor of this great ship of the sunnah.
Indeed, Allah's Messenger prophesied these tricky years we are living and advised us greatly.
"For surely, he lives from amongst you shall see much differing, so it is upon you to be upon my sunnah and the sunnah of the rightly-guided caliphs. Bite on to it with your back molar teeth..." [Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi from the hadith of Irbadh ibn Saariyyah, saheeh by al Albani]
So there you have it. What are we to do in such miserable times where the sunnah is abandoned and people differ with one another regarding the religion? We are to follow the sunnah of our beloved and those who followed him in righteousness. We are to follow the path of those who follow the sunnah even if we must go through a dark, scary forest. The tests are plenty but the fruits are sweet. We must ask Allah for firmness and steadfastness.
Remember those before you who were thrown in prisons for defending this great aspect of Islam, the sunnah. Remember the likes of Sufyan ath-Thawree, Imam Ahmad, Ibn Taymiyyah, and the rest. Remember your brethren who were killed for preserving what may seem to us a small act of the sunnah but was a great deal to people at the time.
Be proud of who you are my brother and sister. Realize the end is for the believers even though the tyrants and aggressors may detest it. The sunnah of Allah is what will be the final decree to come to pass and no creation can prevent this.
Those who convey the Message of Allah and fear Him, and fear none but Allah, and sufficient is Allah as a Reckoner.