When we take on the Sunna, and reject flawed patterns of behaviour which have been shaped and guided by the ego and by fantasies of self-imagining, we declare to our Creator that we accept and revere the profound revelation of human flourishing exampled by the Best of Creation. Every act of the Sunna which we may successfully emulate declares that our role model is the man who had no ego, and to whom Allah had given a definitive victory over the forces of darkness.
Modernity holds out lifestyle options centred on the self, and on the lower, agitated possibilities of the human condition. Every word of every magazine now breathes the message of the nafs: explore yourself, free yourself, be yourself. Buy a Porsche to express your identity; dress in a Cacharel suit to make a statement about yourself; be seen in the right places. The result, of course, is a society which pursues happiness with great technical brilliance but which puzzles over spiralling rates of suicide, drug abuse, failed relationships, and ever more aberrant forms of self-mutilation. It is a society in denial, a society in pain.
By taking on the Sunna, a human being accepts a deep and total reorientation. For the Sunna is not one lifestyle option among many, simply an exotic addition to the standard menu. The Sunna tears up the existing menu by defying its assumptions. By living in the Prophetic pattern one pursues a paradigm of excellence that demonstrably brings serenity and fulfillment, and hence silences the babble of the style magazines. Living in credit, knowing one’s neighbours, and holding the event of the Mi‘raj constantly in view, confers membership of Adam’s family of khalifas. Living in debt, chasing mirages, and serving the nafs, renders the human being a definitive failure. We can be higher than the angels, or lower than the animals.
The Sunna, as the uniquely efficient vehicle of human improvement and illumination, hence embraces every aspect of man. Outward serenity is impossible without inward peace; and inward peace, conversely, is impossible when the body is behaving abusively.
Source: Seeing with Both Eyes by Shaykh Abdal-Hakim Murad