The Sunna as Evidence
The Probativeness of the Sunna
(Hujjiyya al-Sunna)
by Dr. G.F. Haddad ©


[6]
4. Proofs From The Noble Qur'an For the
Probativeness of the Sunna (Continued)

b) Verses that indicate that the Prophet elucidates the Book and explains its wisdom in a manner that carries authority on Allah's part

The second type of verses denoting the probativeness of the Sunna are the verses that indicate that the Prophet elucidates the Book and explains its wisdom in a manner that carries authority on Allah's part. Among these verses are those that state that the Prophet is teaching the Community the Book (al-kitab) and the Wisdom (al-hikma). The latter is, as al-Shafi'i and others said, the Sunna. Should we concede that it also means the Book, then the Prophet's teaching of Wisdom to the Community means its explanation, the exposition of its generalities, and the elucidation of its difficulties. All this dictates the probativeness of his explanation of the Book as contained in his sayings, his actions, and his tacit approval and disapproval. That is, his Sunna.

- Allah -- Almighty and Exalted -- said: {And We have revealed unto you the Remembrance that you may explain to mankind that which has been revealed for them, and that haply they may reflect} (16:44).

- And He said: {And we have revealed the Scripture unto you only that you may explain unto them that wherein they differ, and (as) a guidance and a mercy for a people who believe} (16:64).

- And He said: {Even as We have sent unto you a messenger from among you, who recites unto you Our revelations and cause you to grow, and teach you the Scripture and wisdom, and teach you that which you knew not} (2:151).

- And He said: {Allah verily has shown grace to the believers by sending unto them a messenger of their own who recites unto them His revelations, and causes them to grow, and teaches them the Scripture and wisdom; although before (he came to them ) they were in flagrant error} (3:164).

- And He said: {He it is Who has sent among the unlettered ones a messenger of their own, to recite unto them His revelations and to make them grow, and to teach them the Scripture and Wisdom, though heretofore they were indeed in error manifest} (62:2).

- And He said: {Remember Allah's grace upon you and that which He has revealed unto you of the Scripture and of wisdom, whereby He does exhort you} (2:231).

- And He said: {Allah reveals unto you the Scripture and wisdom, and teaches you that which you knew not. The grace of Allah toward you has been infinite} (4:113).

- And He said: {And bear in mind that which is recited in your houses of the revelations of Allah and wisdom. Lo! Allah is Subtle, Aware} (33:34).

Al-Shafi'i said in commentary of these verses:

Allah -- Almighty and Exalted -- mentioned the Book, and that is the Qur'an; He also mentioned wisdom. I have heard those whose opinion I trust among the people of knowledge of the Qur'an say that "wisdom" means the Sunna of Allah's Messenger . This supports what Allah -- Almighty and Exalted -- said - and Allah knows best - because the Qur'an is a reminder (dhikr) and wisdom follows it, and Allah mentioned that He lavished favor on His creatures by teaching them the Book and wisdom. It is therefore impermissible - and Allah knows best - to say that wisdom here is anything other than the Sunna of Allah's Messenger . That is because it is coupled (maqruna) with the Book, and that Allah has made obedience to His Prophet a strict obligation, imposing upon people the absolute duty to follow his commands. Thus it is not permissible to say about anything that it is a strict obligation (fard) except about Allah's Book and the Sunna of His Messenger due to what we just said, namely, that Allah has coupled belief in His Messenger with belief in Him.1

Al-Shafi'i means to show that wisdom is the Sunna because in all these verses Allah -- Almighty and Exalted -- has joined it to the Book. This dictates differentiation (mughayara), so wisdom cannot denote the Book. However, it cannot be anything other than either the Book or the Sunna, because Allah has lavished His favor upon us by teaching them to us. Favor cannot consist in other than what is right, true, and in conformity with what is with Him. Wisdom must therefore be obligatorily followed just like the Book, especially since Allah has coupled it with the Book. But He has not enjoined upon us such obligation throughout His Book except with regard to two things: following His Book and following the Sunna of His Prophet . It follows that wisdom refers specifically to the Sunna.

Next installment: c) Verses that indicate the obligatoriness of obeying the Prophet in absolute terms in whatever he orders and whatever he prohibits

NOTES

1Al-Shafi`i, al-Risala (p. 78).

[7] The Probativeness of the Sunna

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

c) Verses that indicate the obligatoriness of obeying the Prophet 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 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 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 preferenceÖ. 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 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 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 is given in the following hadith:

The Prophet 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 to get away from the fire (fararna ila Rasulillahi min al-nar)!" When the Prophet 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 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 beliefÖ. 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 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).

[8] The Probativeness of the Sunna

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

d) Verses that indicate the obligatoriness of obeying and imitating the Prophet in absolute terms in whatever he orders and whatever he prohibits as the necessary condition for being loved by Allah.

- Allah Almighty and Exalted said: {Say, (O Muhammad, to mankind): If you love Allah, follow me; Allah will love you and forgive you your sins. Allah is Forgiving, Merciful} (3:31). Some people came and said: "Messenger of Allah, verily we love Allah!" whereupon Allah revealed {Say: If you love Allah...}.1 Al-Hasan said: "Thereafter, the mark of their love for Him was their adherence to the Sunna."2

- And He said: {Verily in the messenger of Allah you have a good example for him who looks unto Allah and the last Day, and remembers Allah much} (33:21). Al-Qadi `Iyad quoted al-Hakim al-Tirmidhi and other commentators as saying: "Following the examplarity of the Messenger means taking him as one's leader, following his Sunna, and not contravening him whether in speech or in deed."3

- And He said: {The Prophet is closer to the believers than their selves, and his wives are (as) their mothers} (33:6).

- And He said: {Say: If your fathers, and your sons, and your brethren, and your wives, and your tribe, and the wealth you have acquired, and merchandise for which you fear that there will be no sale, and dwellings you desire are dearer to you than Allah and His messenger and striving in His way: then wait till Allah brings His command to pass. Allah guides not wrong doing folk} (9:24).

- And He said: {And lo! you are of a tremendous nature. And you will see and they will see which of you is the demented. Lo! your Lord is best aware of him who strays from his way, and He is best aware of those who walk aright} (68:4-7).

- And He said: {And ordain for us in, this world that which is good, and in the Hereafter (that which is good), Lo! We have turned unto You. He said: I smite with My punishment whom I will, and My mercy embraces all things, therefore I shall ordain It for those who ward off (evil) and pay the poor due, and those who believe Our revelations; Those who follow the messenger, the Prophet who can neither read nor write, whom they will find described in the Torah and the Gospel (which are) with them. He will enjoin on them that which is right and forbid them that which is wrong. He will make lawful for them all good things and prohibit for them only the foul; and he will relieve them of their burden and the fetters that they used to wear. Then those who believe in him, and honor him and help him, and follow the light which is sent down with him: they are the successful} (7:156-157).

- And He said: {And when you said unto him on whom Allah has conferred favor and you have conferred favor: Keep your wife to yourself, and fear Allah. And you did hide in your mind that which Allah was to bring to light, and you did fear mankind whereas Allah had a better right that you should fear Him. So when Zayd had performed the necessary formality (of divorce) from her, We gave her unto you in marriage, so that (henceforth) there may be no sin for believers in respect of wives of their adopted sons, when the latter have performed the necessary formality (of release) from them. The commandment of Allah must be fulfilled} (33:37).

NOTES

1Narrated from al-Hasan and Ibn al-Jurayj by al-Tabari in his Tafsir (3:232) and al-Qurtubi in his (4:60).

2Narrated by al-Lalika'i in Sharh Usul I`tiqad Ahl al-Sunna (1:70).

3In al-Qadi `Iyad, al-Shifa' (2:7).



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