... Therefore, we want to correct the people's 'aqidah and make them aware of all different kinds of outward and inward shirk and avoid the forbidden, and we want to encourage them to stick to the sunan and the mustahabbaat (recommended deeds), to incite them to avoid the makruhat (disliked deeds). It is not wise to persist in teaching people one of the sunan regardless of how much effort it will take, if the result will be rejecting this sunnah because of their ignorance, then rejecting those who invite them to it by accepting neither his effort nor his justice. The steps of the legislative fundamentals start with teaching the fundamentals of 'aqidah, then doing the obligatory things and avoiding the forbidden ones, then performing the sunan and avoiding the makruhat. Therefore it is like necessities, then commodities, then refinements.
We need to abolish the contradiction between the major concern and the minor concern, and to erase the false concept which claims that giving concern to the major issues leads to ignoring the minor, or vice-versa, or that we need to put together the concerns of the du'at in one order, which gives each concern the priority it deserves.
There is nothing wrong for the da'iyah to study or teach these sunan which people deny, like shortening the clothing halfway the leg, or the posture of rest during the salat, or moving the index finger in tashahhud. But these are issues which are dealt with in the texts of the shar' which a qualified person should have an opinion or 'ijtihad over, under the condition that it won't distract him from other issues. As well as that, the young ones should be trained to apply it on themselves, and on the ones who accept and take it from them at the right times, the right places. They should leave it out, for Allah's sake, when they see that there is a legislative intent in leaving it out. Not because of fearing people's tongues and talk. Justice is not to write in a minor subject more than fourteen research papers, while we neglect the major occurrences and happenings in the Ummah through which the people walk unguided and stumble with their personal opinions, or with their incomplete 'ijithad which lacks the tools of correct 'ijithad. There are those who fall into the opposite error, by giving concern to the major matters, and lessen from the importance of the minor ones.
One of them says for instance, "I am Salafi and when I look at 'Umar's personality I see an 'Umar who spread justice among the people, an 'Umar who used to say, 'If a mule tripped in Iraq I would feel that Allah will ask me about it why didn't you fix the road for it O 'Umar?' But I don't look at 'Umar's personality as the one who shortens his clothing and lengthens his beard as some of these boys look at him!"
Subhanallah! Why do we divide 'Umar's personality into two? 'Umar the just, the mujahid, the bearer of the mule responsibility in Iraq; and 'Umar the holder of the sunnah in his appearance, clothing and action? Far be it from 'Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, because surely he never believed in this dualism or this separation.
Here is the proof - when Uqba ibn 'Amir, may Allah be pleased with him, came to give him the good news about the victory over Ash-Sham, after which he had ridden a whole week from Friday to Friday until he arrived at Madinah, he ('Umar) made takbir and the Muslims were happy with this courageous victory. Then 'Umar looked at the khuff (leather shoes) of 'Uqba and said to him, "How long have you been wearing them?" He replied, "I've been wiping over them the whole week!" Then 'Umar said, "That is the sunnah." [Bayhaqi] And it is authentic as Ibn Taymiyyah in Al-Fatawa and others have said.
Therefore 'Umar's concern, may Allah be pleased with him, with the matter of conquests and subjugating the world to the Islamic rule did not prevent him from investigating a minor matter - minor in some people's opinion - and illustrating the sunnah in it according to his opinion and ijtihad.
When the 'Amir of the Believers was dying on his bed, the anxiety of leadership after him was troubling him, as well as the Companions of the Messenger of Allah for the affair of the leadership in general. But in spite of its importance, it did not prevent 'Umar from researching and understanding minor issues. After he was stabbed, a boy from the Ansar came to see him and show his appreciation. When he was leaving, 'Umar saw the length of his clothing and said, "Bring the boy back to me!" When the boy was brought back to him, he said, "O son of my brother! Pull up your izar, surely it is cleaner for your clothing and has more taqwa to your Lord!" [Bukhari, from the hadith of 'Amr ibn Maymun]
After a few minutes he turned towards his Companions around him and said, "What do you have to say about the issue of inheritance of the grandfather with the brothers?" So they spoke then 'Umar said, "I had an opinion about the grandfather so if you want to follow it then follow it!" Then 'Uthman, may Allah be pleased with him, said, "If we follow your opinion, it is righteous, and if we follow the opinion of the shaykh before you then they are both excellent." [Ad-Darimi from Marwan ibn Al-Hakam]
This is 'Umar, may Allah be pleased with him. To him the major issues are in comfortable harmony with the minor ones, one color does not dominate the other; one taste does not dominate the other, all complete a structure, one thing depends upon the other.
Excerpt from Min Akhlaqi ad-Da'iyah (From the Character of the Islamic Preacher)