Thursday, April 25, 2013

Obey God and obey the messenger


There are two interpretations of understanding of the phrase in the Quran “Obey God and obey the Messenger”. The majority of the Muslims understand the phrase obey God to mean obey what is being commanded by God in the Quran and obey the Messenger is obeying what is commanded by the Prophet according to his Sunnah. So apart from the Quran as a book of faith there are other books they believe in. Those books these Muslims believe in will depend on which sect he belongs to, as the Sunni and the Shias have their own authentic hadiths collected by their Muslims scholars. Thus they believe not only God gives command but the Prophet also can make his own command.

The other understanding of the phrase “Obey God and obey the Messenger” interpret it to mean obey God is to mean obey the messenger as he obeys the command of God as laid down in the Quran. This group believes that there is no command of God other than the Quran and the messenger is not allowed to issue command other than God. To them believing that the Prophet had his own power to issue command is tantamount to putting partner to God if the Prophet did so. 

Obey God (commands in the Quran) and obey the Messenger (the Sunnah or the Hadiths of the Prophet)

This group believes that they are being told in the Qur'an to obey the Sunnah of the Prophet (Pbuh). They claimed that the Sunnah through the authentic hadith is indivisible from the Qur'an, for it is the living interpretation of the Qur'an by Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh),

They claimed that the Qur'an cannot be understood and implemented in one's life without the Sunnah. It is claimed for example, in the Qur'an Allah tells believers to be affectionate toward each other, speak good words, and behaves modestly. Commanding the right, forbidding the wrong, communicating the moral values of Islam to all humanity is set out as obligatory duties (fara'id). Cleanliness has been made obligatory. However, such matters are explained in the Qur'an in certain ways but the details to actually implement all these commands in their lives is by means of the practices of the Prophet (Pbuh) as stated in the Sunnah.

In the Qur'an, Allah reveals: 

You have an excellent model in the Messenger of Allah, for all who put their hope in Allah and the Last Day and remember Allah much. (Surat 33:21)

The Prophet is a role model. The followers who believe look at his Sunnah and learn how to implement its precepts and practices in their lives. Indeed, as soon as one looks at the Sunnah, one can see that the Prophet instructed his community in all matters and showed them how to act befitting a Muslim's honor.

Refutation on the Sunnah

On the other hand the promulgators who believe that the Prophet perform and executed his duties only based on the information from the Quran is conclusive enough for them to worship God in this world and to seek God’s pleasure in the hereafter by following the examples of the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) and of other obedient personalities as depicted in the Quran. 

The emphasis is that in the Quran there is no word “Sunnah” of the Prophet to support Prophet Muhammad’s actions beyond the fold of the Quran but there is the word “God’s Sunnah” or “Sunattullah” which refer not only to Prophet Muhammad actions but to all actions by the other messengers who follow the course of God as stated below:

(Such has been) the course of Allah (Sunnatullah) with respect to those who have gone before; and you shall not find any change in the course of Allah (Sunnatullah). (Surah 33:62)

This is evidence that all the messengers of God since earlier times followed the same creed and deed in worshipping God and the Prophet Muhammad is not exceptional or surpassing and thus obey God and obey the messenger in the Quran is not restricted only to Muhammad the messenger but all the examples done by the other messengers of God.

This is legitimate because there are also commands in the Quran to follow the examples of Abraham and other messengers in the following verses:

There is for you an excellent example (to follow) in Abraham and those with him, when they said……..(Surah 60:4-6)

So We have taught thee the inspired (Message), "Follow the ways of Abraham the True in Faith, and he joined not gods with Allah." (Surah 16:123)

Say: "Allah speaketh the Truth: follow the religion of Abraham, the sane in faith; he was not of the Pagans." (Surah 3:95)

Those were the (prophets) who received Allah's guidance: Copy the guidance they received; Say: "No reward for this do I ask of you: This is no less than a message for the nations." (Surah 6:90)

So the only source one can find to follow the religion of Abraham and the examples of the other prophets is in the Quran. The Quran has all the details for salvation and the ways to worship Allah shown by the Prophet Muhammad and the other messengers and is made easy with every detail as confirmed by the following verses:

There is not an animal (that lives) on the earth or a being that flies on its wings, but (forms part of) communities like you. Nothing have we omitted from the Book, and they (all) shall be gathered to their Lord in the end. (Surah 6:38)

Say: "Shall I seek for judge other than Allah? - when He it is Who hath sent unto you the Book, explained in detail." They know full well, to whom We have given the Book, that it hath been sent down from thy Lord in truth. Never be then of those who doubt. (Surah 6:114)

And We have indeed made the Qur'an easy to understand and remember: then is there any that will receive admonition? (Surah 54:32)

Thus the Sunnah by Bokhari and others is highly questionable as the sources of the actions of the Prophet as most of it contradicts the message of the Quran and is against the true actions of the Prophet as written out in the Quran. A clear example is the capital punishment of stoning to death of the adulterers was not God’s command. The stoning to death is Biblical law while Prophet Muhammad applied the Quranic law of lashing as law of Equality (Alqisas) which is life-saving as stated in the following verses:

The woman and the man guilty of fornication flog each of them with a hundred stripes: Let not compassion move you in their case, in a matter prescribed by Allah, if ye believe in Allah and the Last Day: and let a party of the Believers witness their punishment. (Surah 24:2)

In the Law of Equality there is (saving of) Life to you, o ye men of understanding; that ye may restrain yourselves. (Surah 2:179)

The claim of danger in abandoning the Sunnah by hadith promulgators

"The loss of the religion starts with the abandonment of the Sunnah. Just as a rope breaks fiber by fiber, so does religion vanish with one by one abandoning the Sunnah." (al-Darimi)

Present day too, some people reject the Sunnah of the Prophet (Pbuh). "We read the Qur'an," they say, "and interpret it for ourselves without the need for any clarification by the Prophet." They turn their backs on the Sunnah, the practical application and implementation of the Qur'an.

The fact is that these people who have abandoned the Sunnah in fact ignore the Qur'an's commandments. That is because the Sunnah is an explanation of the Qur'an and more importantly, the Qur'an orders Muslims to follow it. Allah has not only made obeying the Qur'an obligatory, but also obeying the Prophet.

For this reason, Islam can only be practiced together with the Sunnah and Muslims can only apply the Qur'an into real life with its help. The Sunnah, on the other hand, is the belief of the Ahl al-Sunnah, which is the totality of the Prophet's authentic hadiths and their subsequent interpretations by the great Islamic scholars.

The “Sunnah” inspired by other than God is the source of manipulation and dereliction of the Quran

On the other hand those who take the Quran to be the only source of guidance believe that any diligent and intelligent person who examine the message of the Quran and submit and implement God’s command claimed they are following the real action of the Prophet and the actions of other messengers as depicted in the Quran. A good example can be seen that the Prophet never washes his pair of ears during his ablution as there is no inspiration as shown in the verse commanding ablution:

O ye who believe! When ye prepare for prayer, wash your faces, and your hands (and arms) to the elbows; Rub your heads (with water); and (wash) your feet to the ankles. If ye are in a state of ceremonial impurity, bathe your whole body. But if ye are ill…..(Surah 5:6)

Similarly in the establishment of the obligatory salat or prayer the Prophet obey the command of God saying all his salat at middle tone while most Muslims disobeyed the Prophet and do it at laud and silent in their prayers. By obeying God, the Prophet also made the following verse of the Quran as compulsory in his salat but most Muslims did not follow his example and so disobeyed him and in turn disobeyed God:

Say: "Call upon Allah, or call upon Rahman: by whatever name ye call upon Him, (it is well): for to Him belong the Most Beautiful Names. Neither speaks thy Prayer (Salat) aloud, nor speaks it in a low tone, but seek a middle course between." And say (in your salat): "Praise be to Allah, who begets no son, and has no partner in (His) dominion: Nor (needs) He any to protect Him from humiliation: yea, magnify Him for His greatness and glory!" (Surah 17:110-111)

The above examples clearly showed that the “sunnah” is the cause the Muslims to abandon the Quran as they either reject the Quran or manipulated the meaning that it becomes deviated from the true message of God. The following verses demonstrate the followers of the Prophet did not follow his action based on the Quran they tend to follow other books:
Then the Messenger will say: "O my Lord! Truly my people took this Qur'an for just foolish nonsense." (Surah 25:30)

Others they keep away from it (the Quran), and themselves they keep away; but they only destroy their own souls, and they perceive it not. (Surah 6:26)

But thy people reject this (Quran), though it is the truth. Say: "Not mine is the responsibility for arranging your affairs; for every message is a limit of time, and soon shall ye know it." (Surah 6:66)

God had sent the Quran to the Prophet and explained the contents with God’s words in detail and the claim that it is not sufficient enough presents no excuse as the Prophet will be among those who witnesses that the Quran is enough for man’s salvation:

One day We shall raise from all Peoples a witness against them, from amongst themselves: and We shall bring thee as a witness against these (people): and We have sent down to thee the Book explaining all things, a Guide, a Mercy, and Glad Tidings to Muslims. (Surah 16:89)

We have explained in detail in this Qur'an, for the benefit of mankind, every kind of similitude: but man is, in most things, contentious. (Surah 18:54)

The claim that obeying the Prophet means complying with the Sunnah

The vital importance of the Prophet to believers is emphasized, as follows, in the Quranic verses addressed to him: One who has taken a vow of allegiance to the Prophet has taken it to Allah the Lord also tells us that:

"Whoever obeys the Messenger has obeyed Allah." (Surat 4: 80)

It can be seen from this verse just how important such obedience is. All Muslims are obliged to obey him due to his nature as a role model and his identity as a rule-maker. The Qur'an reveals that complying with the Prophet's commands and rules is just as obligatory as is complying with the verses in the Book of Allah. Indeed, in another verse, the Lord tells us this with regard to the Prophet's power of forbidding and commanding:

(The believers are) those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered Prophet, whom they find written down with them in the Torah and the Gospel, commanding them to do right and forbidding them to do wrong, making good things lawful for them and bad things forbidden for them, relieving them of their heavy loads and the chains that were around them. Those who believe in him honor and help him, and follow the Light that has been sent down with him are the successful. (Surat 7:157)

In another verse the Lord states:

You should accept whatever the Messenger gives you and abandon whatever he tells you to abandon. Have taqwa of Allah... (Surat 59:7)

These verses show that in addition to what the Qur'an prohibits, the Prophet can prohibit other things to his community. Therefore, the Prophet states in one hadith: "Avoid that which I forbid you to do and do that which I command you to do to the best of your capacity." (Sahih Muslim, book 30, hadith no. 5818)

The genuine meaning obeying the Messenger is obeying the messenger who obey the commands of God in the Quran  

The responsibility of the Prophet commanding what is right and forbidding what is wrong were all clearly laid down in the Quran. This becomes distinguishable if the Surah 7:157 above is read with the verse following it which specified that it is the words of God in the Quran that the Prophet is obeying:

Say: "O men! I am sent unto you all, as the Messenger of Allah, to Whom belongeth the dominion of the heavens and the earth: there is no god but He: it is He That giveth both life and death. So believe in Allah and His Messenger, the Unlettered Prophet, who believeth in Allah and His words: follow him that (so) ye may be guided." (Surah 7:158)

Again in the Surah 59:7 the claim that the Prophet is given a “blank cheque” to add prohibition in addition to that of God in the Quran is preposterous. The verse should be read in full to understand the real meaning and that the verse is not related to everything but related with the distribution of the spoils of war:

What Allah has bestowed on His Messenger (and taken away) from the people of the townships, belongs to Allah, to His Messenger and to kindred and orphans, the needy and the wayfarer; In order that it may not (merely) make a circuit between the wealthy among you. So take what the Messenger assigns to you, and deny yourselves that which he withholds from you. And fear Allah; for Allah is strict in Punishment. (Surah 59:7)

Proof that the Prophet is not given the freedom to make prohibition other than that of God’s in the Quran is stated in the following verse where he was reprimanded:

O Prophet! Why holdest thou to be forbidden that which Allah has made lawful to thee? Thou seekest to please thy consorts. But Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Surah 66:1)

But say not - for any false thing that your tongues may put forth, "This is lawful, and this is forbidden," so as to ascribe false things to Allah. For those who ascribe false things to Allah will never prosper. (Surah 16:116)

Role of the Prophets and the Messengers to support the sunnah

Looking at human history reveals that life began with the prophets. This is a true statement, for no religion can be comprehended and implemented in the absence of a messenger. For that reason, a messenger has been sent as a guide to every community.

As with the other prophets, Allah sent Prophet Muhammad with the perfect religion and the straight path. He has also made him a prophet for everyone until the Day of Judgment. Obeying, respecting, and loving him, in addition to imitating his lifestyle and abiding by his Sunnah, are responsibilities that all Muslims must try to fulfill.

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. (Surah 4:65)

As this verse makes crystal clear, the Prophet's Sunnah is an absolute and immaculate source of commands, because it is the way of "interpreting, explaining, and applying the Qur'an." Therefore, no believer has the right to
make interpretations (ta'wil) or be disobedient with regard to the Sunnah, the application of the Qur'an. When Allah and His Messenger have decided something, no believing man or woman has a choice about [following or not following] it. Anyone who disobeys Allah and His Messenger is clearly misguided. (Surat 33:36)

In another verse, the Lord reveals:

The believers' reply, when they are summoned to Allah and His Messenger so that he can judge between them, is to say, "We hear and we obey." They are ones who are successful. (Surah 24: 51)

Judging is based on the guidance of God’s Book not the sunnah

Messengers make decisions based on their books and will not deviate from what has been sent down as revelation written in those books. All the messengers from various creeds were to apply their books to make judgment and the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) is no exception that he is to judge by the book which is sent down to him The Quran and not by his so-called “sunnah”. It is made clear in the Quran that for making judgment the books of God must be the reference:

It was We who revealed the Law (Taurat): therein was guidance and light. By its standard have been judged the Jews, by the prophets who bowed (as in Islam) to Allah's will, by the rabbis and the doctors of law: for to them was entrusted the protection of Allah's book, and they were witnesses thereto: therefore fear not men, but fear me, and sell not my signs for a miserable price. If any do fail to judge by (the light of) what Allah hath revealed, they are (no better than) Unbelievers.(Surah 5:44)

And in their footsteps We sent Jesus the son of Mary, confirming the Law that had come before him: We sent him the Gospel (Injil): therein was guidance and light, and confirmation of the Law that had come before him: a guidance and an admonition to those who fear Allah.   Let the people of the Gospel judge by what Allah hath revealed therein. If any do fail to judge by (the light of) what Allah hath revealed, they are (no better than) those who rebel. (Surah 5:46-47)

To thee (Muhammad) We sent the Scripture (Quran) in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety: so judge between them by what Allah hath revealed, and follow not their vain desires, diverging from the Truth that hath come to thee. To each among you have we prescribed a law and an open way. (Surah 5:48)

Now then, for that (reason), call (them to the Faith), and stand steadfast as thou (Muhammad) art commanded nor follow thou their vain desires; but say: "I believe in the Book which Allah has sent down; and I am commanded to judge justly between you…. (Surah 42:15)

It can be seen that the Prophet follow exactly what has been revealed to him in the Quran and that he is to submit only to the laws as laid out in it and to discard applying what is beyond the guideline given in the Quran. Muhammad did not make his own interpretation but replicate God explanation as has been inscribed in the Quran and the following are some examples he follows the words of God from the Quran:

The Prophet will say it is not him but God Who gives the best explanation (tafseer) of His book and accomplished it in detail:

And no question do they bring to thee but We reveal to thee the truth and the best explanation (tafseer) thereof. (Surah 25:33)

Thus do We explain (nufassilu) the signs in detail: that the way of the sinners may be shown up. (Surah 6:55)

But when the children among you come of age, let them (also) ask for permission, as do those senior to them (in age): Thus does Allah make clear  (yubaiinu) His Signs to you: for Allah is full of knowledge and wisdom.
(Surah 24:59)

All have been explained by God in the Quran and the Prophet need not add or deduct what has been inspired to him. He followed those guidelines as he was commanded to the very word.

The claim that the Prophet received other inspiration besides the Quran

Each verse in the Qur'an that deals with obeying the Prophet states that doing so is obligatory for all believers. That is why the Prophet's practices are impeccable and are under the protection of Allah. To put it another way, everything in the Sunnah is, in essence, based upon revelation.

Nor does he speak from whim. It is nothing but Revelation revealed.
(Surah 53: 3-4)

The Prophet gives the following glad tidings to those who comply with the Sunnah:

"Whoever gives life to my Sunnah certainly loves me, and whoever loves me is with me in Paradise." (al-Tirmidhi)

While the Prophet imparts the above glad tidings to those who adhere by the Sunnah, in the Qur'an, the Lord warns the terrible consequences that result from rebelling against the Prophet:

As for those who disobey Allah and His Messenger and overstep His limits, We will admit them into a Fire, remaining in it timelessly, forever. They will have a humiliating punishment. (Surah 4:14)

Evidences is against whatever is said by the Prophet is revelation

All the Prophets and the Messengers of God are human beings and being humans they are bound to make mistakes and being sinful. Similarly Muhammad as a man made mistakes and this is out of his own doings. He was asked to make amend and seek God’s forgiveness and surely the mistakes he made were not inspiration is thus proof that not all he speaks were inspiration. The following evidences of his mistakes cannot be inspiration from God:

He made his own prohibition

O Prophet! Why holdest thou to be forbidden that which Allah has made lawful to thee? Thou seekest to please thy consorts. But Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Surah 66:1)
He refused God’s command to marry the wife of his son in law Zayd being ashamed of ridiculed by his community

And (remember, O Muhammad), when you said to the one on whom Allah bestowed favor and you bestowed favor, "Keep your wife and fear Allah," while you concealed within yourself that which Allah is to disclose. And you feared the people, while Allah has more right that you fear Him. So when Zayd had no longer any need for her, We married her to you in order that there not be upon the believers any discomfort concerning the wives of their adopted sons when they no longer have need of them. And ever is the command of Allah accomplished. (Surah 33:37)

He snubbed a blind man

(The Prophet) frowned and turned away, because there came to him the blind man (interrupting). But what could tell thee but that perchance he might grow (in spiritual understanding)? Or that he might receive admonition, and the teaching might profit him? As to one who regards Himself as self-sufficient (rich), to him dost thou attend; though it is no blame to thee if he grow not (in spiritual understanding). But as to him who came to thee striving earnestly, And with fear (in his heart), of him was thou unmindful. (Surah 80:1-10)

Good is from God but bad is from yourself

Whatever good, (O Muhammad) happens to thee, is from Allah; but whatever evil happens to thee, is from thy (own) soul and We have sent thee as a messenger to (instruct) mankind. And enough is Allah for a witness.

Therefore he was told to ask forgiveness of his sin

Know, therefore, that there is no god but Allah, and ask forgiveness for thy sin and for the men and women who believe: for Allah knows how ye move about and how ye dwell in your homes. (Surah 47:19)

The claim that without the sunnah there is no Islam

Those who are unable to understand the Sunnah's importance and who criticize it, despite what has been related above, are acting directly against the Prophet.

The Prophet's words and behavior, described as "conforming to sublime morality" by Allah in the Qur'an and by Aisha (ra) in her words that "the Prophet's (Pbuh) nature was the Qur'an," constitute a role model for all human beings. Just as one cannot attain true virtue without taking him as a role model, neither can one attain happiness in this world and the Hereafter without doing so. Those who abandon the Sunnah will lose a highly auspicious reward and be deprived of his intercession on the Day of Judgment.

Muslims can only understand and discharge their duties as Allah's servants by studying the Prophet's practices. The first source of information for this is the great hadith compilations of Muslim, al-Bukhari, and other classical-era hadith scholars. The vast collections of his words, deeds, and personal attributes, particularly those displayed during his prophethood, were collected with great care by narrators or reporters whom all Sunni scholars consider reliable.

The Quran is enough for guidance toward righteousness in this world and salvation in the hereafter

God has notified the believers that the Quran is fully detailed and there is no need to rely on other books of faith for salvation. He has given all the details and He admonishes those who resort to books other than His own by the following verses:

Allah has revealed (from time to time) the most beautiful Hadith in the form of a Book, consistent with itself, (yet) repeating (its teaching in various aspects): the skins of those who fear their Lord tremble thereat; then their skins and their hearts do soften to the celebration of Allah's praises. Such is the guidance of Allah: He guides therewith whom He pleases, but such as Allah leaves to stray, can have none to guide. (Surah 39:23)

And is it not enough for them that we have sent down to thee the Book which is rehearsed to them? Verily, in it is Mercy and a Reminder to those who believe. (Surah 29:51)

Consequently God will be the Watcher on how one deal with the guidance in worshipping Him and He will question the premises of our basis as stated below:

What is the matter with you? How judge ye? Will ye not then receive admonition? Or have ye an authority manifest? Then bring ye your Book (of authority) if ye be truthful! (Surah 37:154-157)

What is the matter with you? How do you judge? Or have ye a book through which ye learn that ye shall have, through it whatever ye choose? Or have ye Covenants with Us to oath, reaching to the Day of Judgment, (providing) that ye shall have whatever ye shall demand? Ask thou of them, which of them will stand surety for that! (Surah 68:36-41)

Thus it is the Arabic word “Quran” which mean “Reading” that when one read and continuing reading one will get the full explanation of Allah’s Book and will enable one to follow and obey the Prophet who explain God’s Book not by his “sunnah” but by the words and actions depicted in the Quran as stated in the following verse:

And this Quran is not such as could be forged by those besides Allah, but it is a verification of that which is before it and a clear explanation of the book (The Quran), there is no doubt in it, from the Lord of the worlds. (Surah 10:37)

As to those who hold fast by the Book and establish regular prayer, never shall We suffer the reward of the righteous to perish. (Surah 7:170)

And We have explained to man, in this Qur'an, every kind of similitude: yet the greater part of men refuse (to receive it) except with ingratitude! (Surah 17:89)