Sunlight – Avoid or Bask in?

QUESTION

Here is something that has confused me for some time. One hadith advising us to avoid direct sunlight and other advice not to avoid sunshine as it is our bath. Could you please elaborate on how one should look at these two hadith and act on the sunnah in the proper manner.
Jazaakumullah

Avoid direct sunlight

Rasulullaah (SAW) advised people to avoid sitting in direct sunlight because it spoils the clothing, causes a person to smell with perspiration and also causes suppressed illness to surface [Mustadrak 8264, from Hadhrat Abdullaah bin Abbaas (RA)]

Hadhrat Umar Ibn Khattaab (Radhiyallahu anhu), wrote a letter to all his governors in distant lands in which he ordered the Muslims with two essential acts:

1. Do not avoid sunshine. Sunshine is our bath.

2. Do not mount your horses like the Ajam (kuffaar).

ANSWER

The hadith discouraging sunlight applies to excessive exposure. Sitting and sleeping in sunlight for prolonged periods are harmful. Even western experts have warned of the deceases prolonged sun-tanning can cause.

The type of exposing the body to sunlight as is the practice of western kuffaar on beaches where they lag in the sun for tanning purposes is harmful.

On the other hand, hadhrat Umar Radhiallahu Anhu’s advice relates to everyday work and activity. His advice was for the Sahabah who had settled in fertile lands where the way of life was comfortable, unlike the difficult harsh conditions of Makkah and Madinah. He was cautioning the Sahabah of becoming accustomed to the easy and comfortable way of life of the Ajam.

They were primarily on Jihaad campaigns which required a robust lifestyle. Addiction of the comforts of the Ajam lifestyle would impact negatively on their Jihaad campaigns in rough weather conditions. His advice was simply to maintain the rugged lifestyle of the desert which was their home.

[Answered by Hazrat Maulana Ahmad Sadeq Desai]

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