by Huda Shaka`
Why is Sunnah a Source of Legislation?
When Muslims say they only believe in Qur’an, not in Sunnah – or that they only take evidence from the Qur’an not from the Sunnah – it’s a sign that they have probably never read the whole Qur’an or understood the basic principles of Islam.
Why? Check out the verses from the Qur’an below:
يا أيها الذين آمنوا أطيعوا الله وأطيعوا الرسول وأولي الأمر منكم فإن تنازعتم في شيء فردوه إلى الله والرسول إن كنتم تؤمنون بالله واليوم الآخر ذلك خير وأحسن تأويلا
O you who have believed, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you. And if you disagree over anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger, if you should believe in Allah and the Last Day. That is the best [way] and best in result. [4:59]
يا أيها الذين آمنوا أطيعوا الله و رسوله و لا تولوا عنه و أنتم تسمعون
O you who have believed, obey Allah and His Messenger and do not turn from him while you hear [his order]. [8:20]
قل أطيعوا الله وأطيعوا الرسول فإن تولوا فإنما عليه ما حمل وعليكم ما حملتم وإن تطيعوه تهتدوا
وما على الرسول إلا البلاغ المبين
Say, “Obey Allah and obey the Messenger; but if you turn away – then upon him is only that [duty] with which he has been charged, and upon you is that with which you have been charged. And if you obey him, you will be [rightly] guided. And there is not upon the Messenger except the [responsibility for] clear notification.” [24:54]
يا أيها الذين آمنوا أطيعوا الله وأطيعوا الرسول ولا تبطلوا أعمالكم
O you who have believed, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and do not invalidate your deeds. [47:33]
قل أطيعوا الله والرسول فإن تولوا فإن الله لا يحب الكافرين
Say, “Obey Allah and the Messenger.” But if they turn away – then indeed, Allah does not like the disbelievers. [3:32]
وأقيموا الصلاة وآتوا الزكاة وأطيعوا الرسول لعلكم ترحمون
And establish prayer and give zakah, and obey the Messenger so that you may receive mercy. [24:56]
من يطع الرسول فقد أطاع الله ومن تولى فما أرسلناك عليهم حفيظا
He who obeys the Messenger has obeyed Allah; but those who turn away – We have not sent you over them as a guardian. [4:80]
وما آتاكم الرسول فخذوه وما نهاكم عنه فانتهوا واتقوا الله إن الله شديد العقاب…
… And whatever the Messenger has given you – take; and what he has forbidden you – refrain from. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is severe in penalty. [59:7]
فلا وربك لا يؤمنون حتى يحكموك فيما شجر بينهم ثم لا يجدوا في أنفسهم حرجا مما قضيت ويسلموا تسليما
But no, by your Lord, they will not [truly] believe until they make you [O Muhammad] judge concerning that over which they dispute among themselves and then find within themselves no discomfort from what you have judged and submit in [full, willing] submission. [4:65]
Of course, there are many other verses in the Qur’an that refer to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his attributes, but the verses above are the ones I thought most directly address the issue of following the Sunnah.
Some people who do not ‘believe’ in the Sunnah use the excuse that it is not as authentic and certain as the Qur’an. This is another point that will be discussed at length in following posts. However, the point here is: given that a Hadith is established as authentic, it must be considered in legislation.
In addition to the evidence from the Qur’an, there is evidence from the Hadith that supports following the Sunnah. Two that I found particularly relevant are below:
تركت فيكم أمرين لن تضلوا ما تمسكتم بهما: كتاب الله و سنتي
I left among you two things, you will not go astray as long as you hold on to them: the Book of Allah and my Sunnah. [al-Muwatta’ by Imam Malik, page 899]
لا ألقين أحدكم متكئا على أريكته يأتيه الأمر من أمري ، مما أمرت به و نهيت عنه – فيقول: لا أدري ما وجدنا في كتاب الله اتبعناه
I do not [want to] find any of you reclining on his couch and upon hearing one of my commands, which includes a matter I enjoined or forbade, says: “I do not know; whatever we found in the Book of Allah, (only that) we follow”. [al-Resalah by Imam al-Shafi’i, page 89]
Now we come to another question: how is what is legislated in the Sunnah different from that which is in the Qur’an?
Overall, there are three different cases:
1. Some of the ahadith (plural of hadith) concur exactly with the Qur’an, supporting and confirming its verses. Example: the ahadith enjoining prayer and zakah.
2. Some of the ahadith explain and elaborate on the verses of the Qur’an. Example: ahadith on time and way of prayer.
3. Some of the ahadith provide legislation on issues not mentioned in the Qur’an. Example: forbidding a man from marrying a second wife who is the niece of his first wife (while he is still married to his first wife).
Obviously, none of the ahadith contradict the Qur’an.
On a final note, I learned that the three types of ahadith mentioned above are actually referred to in the verses of the Qur’an! How? The verse which states “Obey Allah and the Messenger…”[3:32] refers to type one of ahadith (hadith exactly supporting certain verses). The verb ‘obey’ is mentioned once because the Book of Allah and the ahadith are coming with the exact same message. The verses which state “Obey Allah and obey the Messenger…” (the first four verses of this post) refer to the ahadith that elaborate and explain the verses of the Qur’an (notice that ‘obey’ is mentioned twice). The verses that mention obeying the Prophet without mentioning obeying Allah (like verse 24:56) refer to the third type of ahadith.
Stay tuned for Part III – Prophet Muhammad’s Methodology of Teaching His Companions.
Originally posted at Muslamics.