[11] The Probativeness of the Sunna
by GF Haddad


3. It is impossible to understand the laws and ordinances of Islam from the Qur'an alone, rather, it is necessary to have recourse to the Sunna

The Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him -- said: "Whoever speaks about the Qur'an without knowledge, let him take from now his seat in the Fire."1

Another version states: "Whoever is asked about knowledge and conceals it shall come on the Day of Resurrection wearing a bridle of fire, and whoever says something about the Qur'an without knowledge, shall come on the Day of Resurrection wearing a bridle of fire."2

The Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him -- also said: "Beware of narrating something about me except what you know for sure, for whoever deliberately lies about me, let him take from now his seat in the Fire; and whoever says something about the Qur'an on the basis of his own opinion, let him take from now his seat in the Fire."3

Another version has: "Whoever says something about the Qur'an on the basis of his own opinion and happens to be correct, he is nevertheless wrong."4 Meaning: in relation to the ruling on the conditions necessary for explaining Allah's book.5

The Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him -- said: "What I most fear for my Community is three things: the scholar's lapse, the hypocrite who disputes about the Qur'an, and [the riches of] the world that shall be opened up for you."6

Another version states: "What I most fear for my Community is the silver-tongued hypocrite."7

4. Sunna-based practice is Qur'an-based

The Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him -- said: "Faithful responsibility (al- amana) alighted at the root of men's hearts. Then the Qur'an alighted, whereupon they learnt from the Qur'an and they learnt from the Sunna."8

5. The Umma in its entirety and without exception has been ordered to accept his words, obey his commands and prohibitions, and follow his Sunna

The Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him -- said: "Whoever obeys me certainly obeys Allah. Whoever disobeys me certainly disobeys Allah. Whoever obeys my leader (amiri), certainly obeys me. Whoever disobeys my leader, certainly disobeys me."9

Another version states: "Do you not know that whoever obeys me certainly obeys Allah, and part of obedience to Allah is obedience to me?" They said: "Yes! We bear witness to this." The Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him -- replied: "Then know that part of obedience to me is that you obey your leaders (umara')." One version has: "Your imams."10

6. Whoever obeys him and holds fast to his Sunna obeys Allah ( and follows guidance, such being deserving of Paradise and huge reward

The Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him -- said: "All of my Community shall enter Paradise except those who refuse." They said: "O Messenger of Allah! Who could refuse?" He replied: "Whoever obeys me enters Paradise and whoever disobeys me has refused."11

He also said: "Verily this Qur'an is difficult and felt as a burden to anyone that hates it, but it is made easy to anyone that follows it. Verily my sayings are difficult and felt as a burden to anyone that hates them, but they are made easy to anyone that follows them. Whoever hears my saying and preserves it, putting it into practice, shall come forth together with the Qur'an on the Day of Resurrection. Whoever dismisses my sayings dismisses the Qur'an, and whoever dismisses the Qur'an has lost this world and the next."12

He also said: "Whoever eats wholesome food, puts a Sunna into practice, and saves people his wrongdoings, shall certainly enter Paradise." They said: "O Messenger of Allah, today this is found in abundance among people." He replied: "It shall be found in the centuries after me."13

He also said: "Whoever gives life to one of my Sunnas which was eliminated after my time will receive the reward of all those who practice it without their reward being diminished. And whoever innovates an innovation of misguidance that pleases not Allah nor His Prophet,14 then upon his head rests the sin of whoever puts it into practice without their sins being diminished."15 It was said that the meaning of "one of my Sunnas" here is one of the rulings of the Law which the Prophet -- Allah bless and greet him -- brought concerning the obligations of prayer, zakat, etc.16

He also said: "Whoever gives life to my Sunna certainly loves me: and whoever loves me is with me in Paradise."17

He also said: "The keeper of my Sunna at the time my Community has lapsed into corruption will receive the reward of a hundred martyrs."18

He also said: "Islam began as a stranger and shall again be considered a stranger. Therefore, blessings and glad tidings to the strangers! those who set aright what people have corrupted of my Sunna after me."19



1Narrated from Ibn `Abbas by al-Tirmidhi (hasan sahih), Ahmad with two chains, al-Nasa'i in al-Sunan al-Kubra (5:30), Ibn Abi Shayba in his Musannaf (6:136), al-Quda`i in Musnad al-Shihab (1:327), and al-Bayhaqi in Shu`ab al-Iman (2:423).

2Narrated from Ibn `Abbas by Abu Ya`la in his Musnad (4:458) with a weak chain according to Shaykh Husayn Asad, however, al-Haythami declared all its narrators trustworthy in Majma` al-Zawa'id (1:163).

3Narrated from Ibn `Abbas by al-Tirmidhi (hasan), Ahmad, al-Nasa'i in al-Sunan al-Kubra (5:31), al-Bayhaqi in Shu`ab al-Iman (2:423), .

4Narrated with weak chains from Jundub ibn `Abd Allah by al-Tirmidhi (gharib), Abu Dawud, al-Nasa'i in al-Sunan al-Kubra (5:31 #8026), Abu Ya`la in his Musnad (3:90) and Mafarid (p. 42), al-Tabarani in al-Kabir (2:163), al-Bayhaqi in Shu`ab al-Iman (2:423) and others. Al-Tirmidhi, Ibn Abi Hatim, al-Bayhaqi, Ibn `Adi, and others mentioned that the chain of this hadith had been questioned by some of the imams of hadith. However, its contents was heeded by the Companions and Successors as shown by the numerous narrations to that effect adduced by Ibn Kathir at the beginning of his Tafsir (1:6). Cf. al-Qurtubi, Tafsir (1:32).

5As stated in `Awn al-Ma`bud in commentary of this hadith.

6Narrated from Mu`adh by al-Tabarani in al-Kabir (20:138) and Tammam al-Razi in al-Fawa'id (2:219). Something similar is narrated by al-Bayhaqi in Shu`ab al- Iman (7:281) and al-Madkhal (p. 443) and Ibn al-A`rabi in al-Zuhd (p. 49) with a weak chain from Ibn `Umar as stated by al-Haythami in Majma` al-Zawa'id (7:203).

7Narrated from `Umar ibn al-Khattab and `Imran ibn Husayn by Ahmad in his Musnad, Ibn Hibban in his Sahih (1:282), al-Bazzar in his Musnad (1:434), al- Bayhaqi in Shu`ab al-Iman (2:284), and al-Tabarani in al-Kabir (18:237) with a fair chain as stated by al-Maqdisi in al-Mukhtara (1:344) and as indicated by al-Mundhiri in al-Targhib (1997 ed. 1:75) and al-Haythami in Majma` al-Zawa'id (1:187).

8Narrated as part of a longer hadith from Hudhayfa by Bukhari in two places, Muslim, al-Tirmidhi (hasan sahih), Ibn Majah, and Ahmad.

9Narrated from Abu Hurayra by Bukhari, Muslim, al-Nasa'i, Ahmad, and Ibn Majah. The latter has the words "the imam" instead of "the amir."

10Narrated from Ibn `Umar by Ahmad with a sound chain, Abu Ya`la, and al- Tabarani. Cf. Ibn Hajar in Fath al-Bari (1959 ed. 13:91): "This hadith shows the obligatoriness of obeying those who govern, on condition tha they do not command disobedience to Allah."

11Narrated from Abu Hurayra by Bukhari and Ahmad.

12Narrated from al-Hakam ibn `Umayr al-Thumali by al-Khatib in al-Jami` li Akhlaq al-Rawi (1983 ed. 2:189), al-Qurtubi in his Tafsir (18:17), Abu Nu`aym, Abu al-Shaykh, and al-Daylami.

13Narrated with weak chains from Abu Sa`id al-Khudri by al-Tirmidhi (gharib), al-Tabarani in al-Awsat, al-Hakim (1990 ed. 4:117) who declared it sahih, al- Bayhaqi in Shu`ab al-Iman, (5:54), al-Lalika'i in Sharh Usul I`tiqad Ahl al- Sunna (1:54), and others. All their chains contain Abu Bishr, who is unknown.

14Man ibtada`a bid`ata dalalatin la turdillaha wa rasulah.

15A sound hadith narrated from `Amr ibn `Awf ibn Zayd al-Muzani by al-Tirmidhi (hasan), Ibn Majah in his Sunan, `Abd ibn Humayd in his Musnad (p. 120), al- Baghawi in Sharh al-Sunna (1:233), al-Bayhaqi in al-I`tiqad (p. 231), and Ibn `Abd al-Barr in al-Tamhid (24:328). The latter also narrates it from Jarir ibn `Abd Allah.

16Al-Sindi in his commentary on Ibn Majah's Sunan, Muqaddima.

17Narrated from Anas by al-Tirmidhi (hasan gharib) as part of a longer hadith, al-Tabarani in al-Awsat, Muhammad ibn Nasr al-Marwazi in Ta`zim Qadr al-Salat (2:661), and al-Lalika'i in Sharh Usul al-I`tiqad (1:53). Al-Munawi declared al- Tirmidhi's chain very weak in Fayd al-Qadir but said that the hadith itself was fair (hasan) due to its numerous corroborating narrations.

18Narrated by al-Mundhiri in al-Targhib (1:87=1997 ed. 1:41) and al-Hakim. Ibn `Adi in al-Kamil (2:327) indicated that the narration was fair (hasan). Al- Mundhiri said: "Al-Bayhaqi narrated it through al-Hasan ibn Qutayba, and al- Tabarani from Ibn Hurayra with an unexceptionable chain, except that he said 'the reward of one martyr.'"

19Narrated from `Amr ibn `Awf ibn Zayd by al-Tirmidhi (hasan sahih), al-Quda`i in Musnad al-Shihab (2:138), al-Tabarani in al-Kabir (17:16), Abu Nu`aym in Hilya al-Awliya' (1985 ed. 2:10), and al-Khatib in al-Jami` li Akhlaq al-Rawi (1983 ed. 1:112). The hadith is also narrated, without mention of the Sunna: from Abu Hurayra and Ibn `Umar by Muslim; from Abu Hurayra, Anas, and Ibn Mas`ud by Ibn Majah; from Ibn Mas`ud by al-Tirmidhi (hasan sahih gharib) and al-Darimi; and from Ibn Mas`ud and `Abd al-Rahman ibn Sanna by Ahmad. Some versions continue thus: They asked: "Who are the strangers?" The Prophet ( replied: "Those far away from their families and countrymen." One version in Muslim and Ahmad states: "Islam shall coil back between the Two Mosques the way a snake coils back into its hole."

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