[7] The Probativeness of the Sunna
by GF Haddad

4. Proofs From The Noble Qur'an For the Probativeness of the Sunna (Continued)

c) Verses that indicate the obligatoriness of obeying the Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him -- in absolute terms in whatever he orders and whatever he prohibits

The third type of verses denoting the probativeness of the Sunna are the verses that indicate the obligatoriness of obeying the Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him -- in absolute terms in whatever he orders and prohibits, the fact that to obey him is to obey Allah, and the warning against contravening him or changing his Sunna.

- Allah Almighty and Exalted said: {And obey Allah and the messenger, that you may find mercy} (3:132).

- And He said: {Say: Obey Allah and the messenger. But if they turn away, Lo! Allah loves not the disbelievers (in His guidance)} (3:32).

- And He said: {O you who believe! Obey Allah and His messenger, and turn not away from him when you hear (him speak).? Be not as those who say, We hear, and they hear not} (8:20-21).

- And He said: {And obey Allah and His messenger, and dispute not one with another lest ye falter and your strength depart from you; but be steadfast! Lo! Allah is with the steadfast} (8:46).

- And He said: {Obey Allah and obey the messenger, and beware! But if you turn away, then know that the duty of Our messenger is only plain conveyance (of the message)} (5:92).

- And He said: {O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the messenger, and render not your actions vain} (47:33).

- And He said: {Obey Allah and obey His messenger; but if you turn away, then the duty of Our messenger is only to convey (the message) plainly} (64:12).

- And He said: {O you who believe! Obey Allah, and obey the messenger and those of you who are in authority; and if you have a dispute concerning any matter, refer it to Allah and the messenger if you are (in truth) believers in Allah and the Last Day. That is better and more seemly in the end} (4:59).

Al-Qadi 'Iyad narrated from 'Ata' ibn Abi Rabah, as did al-Tabari, Ibn 'Abd al-Barr, al-Bayhaqi and others from Mujahid, Qatada, and Maymun ibn Mahran: "Referring it to Allah Almighty and Exalted means to go back to His Book, while referring it to the Messenger -- Allah bless and greet him -- means to go back to him in his lifetime, and to his Sunna after his death."1

Al-Shafi'i said:

Some of the people of knowledge said that {those of you who are in authority} refers to the commanders of the military detachments of Allah's Messengers, and Allah knows best. This is what was narrated to us, and it seems that this is what He said, and Allah knows best. For none of the Arabs that were around Mecca were familiar with authority and they used to reject with contempt any notion of submitting to each other's authority. When they professed obedience to Allah's Messenger, they did not consider that such obedience could go to anyone other than him. Therefore, they were ordered to obey those in authority whom Allah's Messenger had placed in authority, not with unconditional obedience, but with obedience respecting what stood for or against them. Then He said {and if you have a dispute concerning any matter, refer it to Allah} meaning if you differ about something. This is, if Allah wills, identical with what He said concerning those in authority except that He states {and if you have a dispute} meaning - Allah knows best - they and their leaders in authority whom they were ordered to obey. {Refer it to Allah and the messenger} meaning - Allah knows best - refer it to what Allah and the Messenger said if you know of it. If you do not know of it, then ask the Messenger about it when you contact him or whoever is in touch with him. For that is the strict obligation about which there is no question because of His saying {And it becomes not a believing man or a believing woman, when Allah and His messenger have decided and affair (for them), that they should (after that) claim any say in their affair} (33:36). Whoever is disputing something after the time of Allah's Messenger e, has to refer the matter to Allah's judgment, then to His Messenger's judgment. If there is no extant judgment in them or in one of them textually on the matter under dispute, then they have to refer it to one of them analogically.2

The hadith master Ibn Hajar said:

Al-Bukhari alludes to his preference for the explanation of this verse to mean obedience to those in positions of leadership, as opposed to those who said that the verse was revealed in reference to the ulamas. This is also al-Tabari's preference.... Ibn 'Uyayna said: "I asked Zayd ibn Aslam about it at a time when no-one in Madina could explain the Qur'an like him other than Muhammad ibn Ka'b. He said: 'Read what precedes it and you will know.' I read {Lo! Allah commands you that you restore deposits to their owners, and, if you judge between mankind, that you judge justly. Lo! comely is this which Allah admonishes you. Lo! Allah is ever Hearer, Seer} (4:58). Then he said: 'This verse refers to those who govern (al-wulah).'"

The subtlety of repeating the verb for the Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him -- in {Obey Allah, and obey the messenger} but not for {and those of you who are in authority} - although the one being obeyed in reality is Allah Almighty and Exalted - is the fact that the sources by which one knows in what legal responsibility consists are the Qur'an and the Sunna. It is as if Allah Almighty and Exalted were saying: "Obey Allah in whatever He textually stipulates for you in the Qur'an and obey the Messenger in whatever he elucidates from the Qur'an for you and textually stipulates for you in the Sunna." Or: "Obey Allah in all He commands you in the revelation instituted for worship-through-recitation, and obey the Messenger in all he commands you in the revelation that is other than the Qur'an."

One of the most remarkable answers was that given by one of the Successors to one of the Umayyad princes when the latter asked him: "Did not Allah Almighty and Exalted order you all to obey us when He said {and those of you who are in authority}?" whereupon the former replied: "Was not obedience taken back from you whensoever you contravene right when He said {and if you have a dispute concerning any matter, refer it to Allah and the messenger if you are (in truth) believers in Allah and the Last Day}?" Al-Tibi said: "He repeated the verb in {and obey the messenger} as a sign that the Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him -- is obeyed independently, but he did not repeat it for {and those of you who are in authority} as a sign that some among them do not have to be obeyed. Then He expounded this by saying {and if you have a dispute concerning any matter}, as if saying: if they do not act according to right, then do not obey them, and refer whatever you differed about to the judgment of Allah and His Messenger."3

An example of a dispute with those in authority in which the matter was referred to the Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him -- is given in the following hadith:

The Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him -- sent a military detachment under the command of one of the Companions after ordering those who were with him to obey him faithfully. In the course of the expedition the commander became angry with them. He lit a fire and ordered them to enter it. They refused, saying: "We have fled to Allah's Messenger -- Allah bless and greet him -- to get away from the fire (fararna ila Rasulillahi min al-nar)!" When the Prophet - - Allah bless and greet him -- heard about the incident he said: "Had they entered it they would not have come out of it until the Day of Resurrection. Obedience is only in good matters."4

Similarly the Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him -- said: "No obedience is due to any creature in disobedience of Allah"5 and "Whoever of your rulers and governors commands you to sin, then neither hear nor obey him."6

Ibn al-Qayyim said:

Allah ordered that whatever the believers are in dispute about, be referred to Allah and His Messenger if they are in truth believers. He told them that that was better for them in this life and more seemly in the hereafter. This comprises several issues. First, It tells us that the people of belief may find themselves in dispute over certain rulings but this does not expel them from the fold of belief.... Secondly, The phrase {and if you have a dispute concerning any matter} uses an indefinite object (matter) in the protasis of a conditional sentence to include generally all that the believers dispute over, whether great or small, manifest or hidden. Now if there were not in Allah's Book and His Messenger the sufficient exposition of the ruling of what they are disputing over, He would not have commanded that they refer back to them. For it is precluded that Allah Almighty and Exalted command them to refer to an arbiter at a time of dispute when that arbiter does not possess the means to settle the dispute. Thirdly, the scholars have reached consensus that referring to Allah Almighty and Exalted means referring to His Book, while referring to the Messenger -- Allah bless and greet him -- mean referring to him in person during his lifetime and to his Sunna after his death. Fourthly, Allah has made this reference one of the obligations and necessary conditions of belief. If this reference is denied, then belief is negated by virtue of the essential correlation that made one the obligation and necessary condition of the other. Then He told them that such a reference was a great good for them and that its consequence in the next world was the very best.7

- Allah Almighty and Exalted said: {We sent no messenger save that he should be obeyed by Allah's leave. And if, when they had wronged themselves, they had but come unto you and asked forgiveness of Allah and the Messenger had asked forgiveness for them, they would have found Allah Forgiving, Merciful} (4:64).

- And He said: {Whoso obeys Allah and the messenger, they are with those unto whom Allah has shown favor, of the Prophets and the saints and the martyrs and the righteous. The best of company are they!} (4:69).

- And He said: {O you who believe! Guard your duty to Allah, and speak words straight to the point; He will adjust your works for you and will forgive you your sins. Whosoever obeys Allah and His messenger, he verily has gained a signal victory} (33:70-71).

- And He said: {And whatsoever the messenger gives you, take it. And whatsoever he forbidds, abstain (from it)} (59:7).

- And He said: {Lo! those who swear allegiance unto you (Muhammad), swear allegiance only unto Allah. The Hand of Allah is above their hands. So whosoever breaks his oath, breaks it only to his soul's hurt; while whosoever keeps his covenant with Allah, on him will He bestow immense reward} (48:10).

- And He said: {Whatever of good befalls you (O man) it is from Allah, and whatever of ill befalls you it is from yourself. We have sent you (O Muhammad) as a messenger unto mankind and Allah is sufficient as witness. Whoso obeys the messenger obeys Allah, and whoso turns away: We have not sent you as a warder over them} (4:79:80). Concerning this verse al-Shafi'i said: "He has informed them that their allegiance to His Messenger was allegiance to Him, and that their obedience to him was obedience to Him."

- And He said: {These are the limits (imposed by) Allah. Whoso obeys Allah and His messenger, He will make him enter Gardens underneath which rivers flow, where such will dwell for ever. That will be the great success. And whoso disobeys Allah and His messenger and transgresses His limits, He will make him enter Fire, where such will dwell for ever; his will be a shameful doom} (4:13- 14).

- And He said: {Make not the calling of the messenger among you as your calling one of another. Allah knows those of you who steal away, hiding themselves. And let those who conspire to evade orders beware lest grief or painful punishment befall them} (24:63).

- And He said: {That is because they opposed Allah and His messenger. Whoso opposes Allah and His messenger, (for him) lo! Allah is severe in punishment} (8:13).

- And He said: {Lo! Allah has cursed the disbelievers, and has prepared for them a flaming fire, Wherein they will abide for ever. They will find (then) no protecting friend nor helper. On the day when their faces are turned over in the fire, they say: Oh, would that we had obeyed Allah and had obeyed His messenger!} (33:64-66).

- And He said: {Lo! those who disbelieve and turn from the way of Allah and oppose the messenger after the guidance has been manifested unto them, they hurt Allah not a jot, and He will make their actions fruitless} (47:32).

NOTES

1Al-Tabari, Tafsir (5:151, 25:78); al-Qurtubi, Tafsir (5:260-261); al-Lalika'i, I'tiqad Ahl al-Sunna (1:73); al-Nahhas, Ma'ani al-Qur'an (2:123); al-Bayhaqi, al-I'tiqad (p. 227-228), al-Madkhal (p. 184); al-Bukhari, Khalq Af'al al-'Ibad (p. 61); Ibn 'Abd al-Barr, al-Tamhid (4:264), Bayan Fadl al-'Ilm (1:765-766, 2:910, 2:1177, 2:1189); Ibn al-Jawzi, Zad al-Masir (2:117); al-Suyuti, al-Durr al-Manthur (2:579).

2Al-Shafi'i, al-Risala (p. 79-81).

3Ibn Hajar, Fath al-Bari (1959 ed. 13:111).

4Narrated from 'Ali by Bukhari and Muslim.

5Narrated from 'Ali, Ibn Mas'ud, and 'Imran ibn Husayn by Ahmad with four sound chains.

6Narrated with a fair chain from Abu Sa'id al-Khudri by Ibn Majah and Ahmad.

7Ibn al-Qayyim, I'lam al-Muwaqqi'in (1:54).

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