When I came back from hajj, a sister told me of a custom back home where the new haji would strive to not sin in the next 40 days in order to cover the whole lifetime (I’m guessing). This is the first time I’ve actually heard of this, but then, I received and email about the existence of this misconception.
Many times, something (an act of worship) is practiced or just understood by a certain culture and it becomes the norm in that culture without anyone questioning its soundness in the religion. Many times, this practice has been done through generations and to leave the practice would mean disrespecting the cultural tradition, or when the understanding is minimal, it can also mean diverting away from the teachings of the religion.
in Surah Al Maaidah, Allah says,
And when it is said to them, “Come to what Allah has revealed and to the Messenger,” they say, “Sufficient for us is that upon which we found our fathers.” Even though their fathers knew nothing, nor were they guided? [Al Maaidah 5:104]
This is not to say that culture is a completely bad thing. In fact, culture refines and completes a person. But when some part of the culture goes against the deen, then this becomes a test. Will I give preference to the culture or Allah’s command?
In this ayah, the Jahiliyyah Arabs had a practice where they would pick out their camels who gave birth to X number of consecutive females, etc and let them roam free. These camels are then not to be used for anything, and even if these camels harm others, nothing is to be done to them, because they are ‘special’. In this ayah, when these people are called to Allah and His messenger, they basically say,
“I don’t need whatever you’re going to tell me. This is what my forefathers have been doing, this is the way things are done. I’m good.”
Don’t we have this today too? Maybe not in the form of camels, but it comes in other forms. We may not necessarily use the word ‘forefathers’, but it’s understood that that’s how we roll in our culture.
Then, we’re basically saying,
“We’re good. We’re comfortable with our culture in this matter. We don’t need the Quran and Sunnah here.”
As Sh Abu Eesa would say,
Disclaimer: This is taken from my notes of what Sr Aisha Altaf and Sr Taimiyah Zubayr taught in Taleem Quran.