Has Allah rendered it fard in His Book to follow the sunnah of the Messenger of Allah?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Allah gave the Prophet such a rank in terms of His religion, fard and book that He stated that He made him a flag for his religion, rendered obedience to him fard and prohibited opposing him. He expressed the superiority of the Prophet by uniting belief in His Prophet with belief in Himself. As a matter of fact, Allah states the following:

“…So believe in Allah and His messengers. Say not "Trinity" : desist: it will be better for you: for Allah is one Allah: Glory be to Him: (far exalted is He) above having a son….”1

Allah also states the following:

Only those are believers, who believe in Allah and His Messenger: when they are with him on a matter requiring collective action, they do not depart until they have asked for his leave...2

In the verses above, Allah attributes full belief to belief in Allah first and His Prophet after that. The other deeds are also based on it. If a person believes in Allah but does not believe in His Prophet, his belief cannot be full unless he also believes in the Prophet.

The Messenger of Allah introduced this principle related to anybody he tested in terms of belief. Malik (b. Anas) [d. 179] reported us from Hilal b. Usama, who reported from Ata b. Yasar from Amr b. al-Hakam the following:

“I took a female slave to the Prophet and said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! I want to free a slave. Can I free her?’ The Prophet asked the female slave, ‘Where is Allah?’ She said, ‘He is in the heavens.’ Then, the Prophet asked, ‘Who am I?’ She said, ‘You are the Messenger of Allah.’ Thereupon, the Prophet said to me, ‘Free her.’”3

Allah rendered it fard for people to follow the revelation He sent down and the Sunnah of the Prophet. Allah states the following in His book:

Our Lord! send amongst them a Messenger of their own, who shall rehearse Thy Signs to them and instruct them in scripture and wisdom, and sanctify them: For Thou art the Exalted in Might, the Wise.”4

Allah Almighty also states the following:

A similar (favor have ye already received) in that We have sent among you a Messenger of your own, rehearsing to you Our Signs, and sanctifying you, and instructing you in Scripture and Wisdom, and in new knowledge.5

Allah Almighty also states the following:

Allah did confer a great favor on the believers when He sent among them a messenger from among themselves, rehearsing unto them the Signs of Allah, sanctifying them, and instructing them in Scripture and Wisdom, while, before that, they had been in manifest error.6

Allah Almighty also states the following:

It is He Who has sent amongst the Unlettered a messenger from among themselves, to rehearse to them His Signs, to sanctify them, and to instruct them in Scripture and Wisdom,- although they had been, before, in manifest error.7

Allah states the following:

…But solemnly rehearse Allah´s favors on you, and the fact that He sent down to you the Book and Wisdom, for your instruction.8

Allah states the following:

…For Allah hath sent down to thee the Book and wisdom and taught thee what thou Knewest not (before): And great is the Grace of Allah unto thee.9

Allah Almighty states the following:

And recite what is rehearsed to you in your homes, of the Signs of Allah and His Wisdom: for Allah understands the finest mysteries and is well-acquainted (with them).10

Allah mentions the Book, that is, the Quran, in the verses above. He also mentions Wisdom (Hikmah). I heard someone who knows the science of the Quran say, “Wisdom is the sunnah of the Prophet.” Allah knows but it is as he says. For, the Quran is mentioned and Wisdom is mentioned immediately after it. Allah states that it is His grace that the Book and Wisdom are taught to people. Accordingly, Allah knows but it can be said that Wisdom mentioned in the verses can only be the sunnah of the Prophet because Wisdom is mentioned together with the Book of Allah. Allah rendered obedience to the Prophet fard. He states that it is necessary for people to obey his commands. Accordingly, it cannot be said, “it is fard" for something that does not exist in the Book of Allah and the sunnah of the Prophet. For, we have stated that Allah mentions belief in the Prophet together with belief in Himself.

The sunnah of the Prophet explains the meaning that Allah wants. It is an evidence showing the universality and specificity of the decrees of the Quran. Besides, He mentions Wisdom together with His Book, immediately after it. Allah did not do such a thing for anyone except His Prophet.

ALLAH RENDERED IT FARD TO OBEY THE PROPHET ALONG WITH OBEDIENCE TO HIMSELF

Allah states the following:

It is not fitting for a Believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah and His Messenger to have any option about their decision: if any one disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he is indeed on a clearly wrong Path.11

Allah also states the following:

O ye who believe! Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger, and those charged with authority among you. If ye differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger, if ye do believe in Allah and the Last Day.12

Some scholars say what is meant by “ulul-amr (those charged with authority)” are the commanders of the military units that the Prophet sent. Allah knows best but that is what was said to us. Allah knows but it seems true because the Arabs living around Makkah did not accept a person’s being amir and they did not like obeying a person as an amir. When they obeyed and submitted to the Prophet, they did not regard it appropriate to submit to anybody else like that. They were ordered to obey ulul-amr appointed by the Prophet; however, this obedience is not absolute obedience; it is conditioned obedience in some affairs in favor of and against them. Therefore, Allah states “If ye differ in anything among yourselves …”. Allah knows but it means when they and those whom they are ordered to obey differ in anything. Allah knows but the phrase “refer it to Allah and His Messenger” means obey the command of Allah and the Prophet regarding the issue; if you do not know, ask the Prophet when you see him or somebody who met the Prophet among you.

That is an indisputable fard because the following is stated in the Quran:

It is not fitting for a Believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah and His Messenger to have any option about their decision.13

Those who disagree about something after the Prophet have to refer to the decree of Allah first and the decree of the Prophet after that. If they cannot find a clear decree about the issue they disagree in the Book and the Sunnah, they need to compare it to one of them. I mentioned some other verses regarding the issue in my book.14

Allah states the following:

All who obey Allah and the messenger are in the company of those on whom is the Grace of Allah,- of the prophets (who teach), the sincere (lovers of Truth), the witnesses (who testify), and the Righteous (who do good): Ah! what a beautiful fellowship.15

Allah also states the following:

O ye who believe! Obey Allah and His Messenger…16

QURANIC VERSES THAT ORDER OBEDIENCE TO THE PROPHET

Allah Almighty states the following:

Verily those who plight their fealty to thee do no less than plight their fealty to Allah: the Hand of Allah is over their hands: then anyone who violates his oath, does so to the harm of his own soul, and anyone who fulfils what he has covenanted with Allah,- Allah will soon grant him a great Reward.17

Allah also states the following:

He who obeys the Messenger, obeys Allah.”18

Allah tells people in the verses above that paying allegiance to the Prophet means paying allegiance to Allah and that obedience to the Prophet means obedience to Him. Allah also states the following:

But no, by the Lord, they can have no (real) Faith, until they make thee judge in all disputes between them, and find in their souls no resistance against Thy decisions, but accept them with the fullest conviction.19

According to the news that reached us, the verse above was sent down about a person who had a dispute with Zubayr about some land. The Prophet decided in favor of Zubayr about the issue. This decision is included in the sunnah of the Prophet and there is no Quranic decree about it.

Allah knows but the Quran indicates this issue because if that decision was based on a clear Quranic decree, they would not be believers since they did not submit to such a clear Quranic decree; they would reject the Quranic decree since they did not accept it with full submission.  

Allah Almighty states the following:

Deem not the summons of the Messenger among yourselves like the summons of one of you to another: Allah doth know those of you who slip away under shelter of some excuse: then let those beware who withstand the Messenger´s order, lest some trial befall them, or a grievous penalty be inflicted on them.20

Allah states the following:

When they are summoned to Allah and His messenger, in order that He may judge between them, behold some of them decline (to come). But if the right is on their side, they come to him with all submission. Is it that there is a disease in their hearts? or do they doubt, or are they in fear, that Allah and His Messenger will deal unjustly with them? Nay, it is they themselves who do wrong. The answer of the Believers, when summoned to Allah and His Messenger, in order that He may judge between them, is no other than this: they say, "We hear and we obey": it is such as these that will attain felicity. It is such as obey Allah and His Messenger, and fear Allah and do right, that will win (in the end),21

Allah informs people about the following in the verse above: If they are summoned to the Prophet to be judged, it means they are summoned to Allah's decree because the one that judges between them is the Prophet. When they accept the judgment of the Prophet, they accept it by obeying Allah’s decree. Allah also informs them that the decree of the Prophet means the decree of Allah because Allah rendered it fard for people to obey the decree of the Prophet, that He made the Prophet attain bliss by making him immaculate and successful, that He witnesses that he guides people to the straight path and obeys His command. Thus, Allah made it obligatory for His slaves to obey the Prophet and informed them that obedience to him meant obedience to Allah, strengthening this fard.  To sum up, Allah informs people that He regarded obedience to the Prophet as obedience to Him. Then, Allah Almighty states that it is also fard for the Prophet to obey His commands.

THAT IT IS FARD FOR THE PROPHET TO OBEY WHAT IS REVEALED TO HIM AND THAT HE IS A GUIDE FOR THE STRAIGHT PATH

Allah Almighty states the following:

O Prophet! Fear Allah, and hearken not to the Unbelievers and the Hypocrites: verily Allah is full of Knowledge and Wisdom. But follow that which comes to thee by inspiration from thy Lord: for Allah is well acquainted with (all) that ye do.22

Allah

Follow what thou art taught by inspiration from thy Lord: there is no god but He: and turn aside from those who join gods with Allah.23

Allah also states the following:

Then We put thee on the (right) Way of Religion: so follow thou that (Way), and follow not the desires of those who know not.24

Allah states that He favored His Prophet by defending him from people as it exists in His pre-eternal knowledge:

O Messenger! Proclaim the (message) which hath been sent to thee from thy Lord. If thou didst not, thou wouldst not have fulfilled and proclaimed His mission. And Allah will defend thee from men (who mean mischief)...25

Allah Almighty witnesses that the Prophet obeyed His commands fully and that he was a guide for both himself and those who followed him and states the following:

And thus have We, by Our Command, sent inspiration to thee: thou knewest not (before) what was Revelation, and what was Faith; but We have made the (Qur´an) a Light, wherewith We guide such of Our servants as We will; and verily thou dost guide (men) to the Straight Way.26

Allah also states the following:

But for the Grace of Allah to thee and his Mercy, a party of them would certainly have plotted to lead thee astray. But (in fact) they will only Lead their own souls astray, and to thee they can do no harm in the least. For Allah hath sent down to thee the Book and wisdom and taught thee what thou Knewest not (before): And great is the Grace of Allah unto thee.27

With those verses, Allah states that He rendered it fard for the Prophet to obey His command and He witnessed that he proclaimed the revelations he received and that he himself acted in accordance with them. We witness that the Prophet fulfilled his duty of proclamation by believing in Allah, trying to be close to Him and approving His speech (the Quran).  

Abdulaziz (b. Muhammad) reported us the following from the Prophet through Muttalib's freed slave Amr b. Abi Amr from Muttalib b. Hantab:

I have definitely conveyed to you all of the orders that Allah gave me; I have not skipped anything. I have definitely conveyed to you all of the prohibitions that Allah told me; I have not skipped anything.28

Shafii states the following: Allah states that He favored His Prophet by defending him from the people who wanted to deviate him and that they could never harm him as it exists in His pre-eternal knowledge and according to His definite decree that cannot be changed.  

Allah witnesses that the Prophet guided people to the true path, which is "the path of Allah", that he fulfilled his duty of messengership and that obeyed His commands. I stated through the verses I mentioned above that Allah rendered it fard for us to obey the Prophet and that He supported the Prophet. In all of them, Allah’s evidence that it is necessary to submit to the decree of the Prophet and to obey his commands exists.

Shafii states the following: If the Prophet imposed a sunnah related to the issues about which there was no decree of Allah, he imposed it with the authority he received from Allah. Allah informs us about it in the following verse:  

…and verily thou dost guide (men) to the Straight Way, The Way of Allah …29

The Prophet imposed sunnah related to the issues about which there were decrees of Allah as well as the issues about which there were no definite decrees. Allah made it obligatory for us to follow every sunnah that the Prophet imposed and stated that following the sunnah of the Prophet meant obedience to Allah and that it was an unforgivable sin to insist on not following the Prophet. According to what is understood from the issues I have mentioned and the following hadith of the Prophet, Allah did not leave people free to follow the sunnah of the Prophet or not.  

Sufyan (b. Uyayna) [d. 198] reported us the following from the Prophet through Umar b. Ubeydillah's freed slave Salim Abun-Nadr from Ubaydullah b. Ebi Rafi' and from his father (Abu Rafi'):

Let me not find one of you reclining on his couch when he hears something regarding me which I have commanded or forbidden and saying: We do not know. What we find in Allah's Book we follow.30

Sufyan (b. Uyayna) said, “Muhammad b. al Munkadir reported this hadith from the Prophet as mursal.” The word "erika" mentioned in the hadith (Arabic text) means sofa/couch or armchair.

The sunnahs of the Prophet that express decrees together with the Book of Allah are divided into two:

a) The Prophet followed a decree about which there was a clear judgment in the way that Allah sent it down.

b) The Prophet stated what Allah meant on behalf of Him about a decree that was not clear. What is the fard expressed by that ambiguous decree like in terms of being general and specific? How will the slaves fulfill it? The Prophet clarified those issues. The Prophet followed the Book of Allah in both cases.

I do not know that scholars disagree that there are three kinds of sunnahs. They agreed unanimously on two of those sunnahs. These two kinds of sunnah, which are agreed on unanimously, combine with each other in a sense and differ in a sense:

a) Allah expresses a decree in the Quran clearly and the Prophet expressed it in the same way.
b) Allah expresses a decree in the Quran ambiguously and the Prophet explained it in accordance with what Allah meant.

Scholars did not disagree on these two kinds of sunnahs.

The third type of the sunnah is related to the issues about which there are no decrees in the Quran. Some scholars state the following about this type of sunnah:

Since Allah rendered obedience to the Prophet fard and made him successful related to the issues that were in accordance with His consent as it exists in His pre-eternal knowledge, He gave the Prophet authority to impose sunnah related to the issues about which there are no decrees in the Quran. Other scholars state the following:

The Prophet imposed sunnah related to the issues about which there are decrees in general, not in detail, in the Quran. As a matter of fact, he explained the numbers of rak’ahs of prayers and how to perform prayers based on the general decree that prayer is fard. The sunnahs related to buying and selling and other legal issues are like that too because Allah states the following in the Quran:

…Eat not up your property among yourselves in vanities…31

Allah hath permitted trade and forbidden usury.32

The Prophet explained what Allah rendered halal and haram on behalf of him just like he explained prayer. According to some scholars, a message came to the Prophet from Allah. Therefore, his sunnah became definite with the command of Allah.

According to some other scholars, every sunnah that the Prophet imposed was inspired into his heart. His sunnah is the “Wisdom” inspired into his heart by Allah. That is, what is inspired into his heart constitutes his sunnah.

Abdulaziz (b. Muhammad) reported the following from the Prophet through Amr b. Abi Amr from Muttalib:

Jibril inspired into my heart that nobody would die until his sustenance is completed. Therefore, ask for good sustenance.33

What Allah inspired into the heart of the Prophet constituted his sunnah. That is also the Wisdom mentioned by Allah. What is sent down to the Prophet as the Quran constitutes the Book of Allah. Each of them came as parts of the boons of Allah in the way He wished and like other boons. These boons combine in one boon and become different in some deeds that are not the same. We ask Allah for success and protection from mistakes.  

No matter what the case is, Allah rendered it fard in His Book for us to obey the Prophet; He did not give anybody any excuses to oppose the Prophet related to a known deed. Besides, Allah states that all people are in need of Him related to the issues of their religion; He showed people what He meant in His Book through the sunnah of the Prophet, displaying His evidence. Thus, those who understand what we say should know that the decree of Allah and the decree of the Prophet are not different things whether the sunnah of the Prophet explains a decree rendered fard by a verse or a decree that is not included in the Quran. The latter is also binding in any case.  

Footnotes:

1 an-Nisa 4:171

2 an-Nur 24:62

3 Muslim, al-Masajid 33

4 al-Baqara 2:129

5 al-Baqara 2:151

6 Aal-i Imran 3:164

7 al-Jumua 62:2

8 al-Baqara 2:231

9 an-Nisa 4:113

10 al-Ahzab 33:34

11 al-Ahzab 33:36

12 an-Nisa 4:59

13 al-Ahzab 33:36

14 Just like I explained in the issues of "Qibla", "Adl" and "Mithl", I mentioned other verses in my book too. (see ar-Risala 104-132)

15 an-Nisa 4:69

16 al-Anfal 8:20

17 al-Fath 48:10

18 an-Nisa 4:80

19 an-Nisa 4:65

20 an-Nur 24:63

21 an-Nur 24:48-52

22 al-Ahzab 3:1-2

23 al-An’am 6:106

24 al-Jasiya 45:18

25 al-Maida 5:67

26 ash-Shura 42:52

27 an-Nisa 4:113

28 We could not find the exact hadith in the sources we have. For similar hadiths, see al-Hakim, XI/4; al-Haythami, IV/71.

29 ash-Shura 42:52-53

30 Abu Dawud, as-Sunna 5, al-Imara 33; at-Tirmidhi, al-Ilm 10; Ibn Majah, al-Muqaddima 2; Ahmad b. Hanbal, II/367, IV/131,132.

31 an-Nisa 4:29

32 al-Baqara 2:275

33 We could not find the exact hadith in the sources we have. For similar hadiths, see Ibn Majah, at-Tijarah 2; al-Hakim, al-Mustadrak II/4.

Author: 

Muhammed b. Idris (Imam Shafi)

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