Some of the sayings of Muhammad the Prophet, found in Hadith but not in the Quran, are as practical and wise as the sayings of the other messengers of God, as found in the Bible. But I think Muslims do Muhammad the messenger of God, and ourselves, a disservice when we emphasize that Muslims follow the Sunnah of the Prophet, especially in light of verses like these…
“The messenger believes in what has been revealed to him from his Lord, as do the people of faith. Each one believes in Allah, His angels, His books, and His messengers. They say, ‘We make no distinction between one and another of His messengers.’ And they say, ‘We hear, and we follow. We seek Your forgiveness Our Lord, and to You is the end of all journeys.’ ” 2:285
“To those who believe in Allah and His messengers, and make no distinction between any of them, we will soon give them their rewards. For Allah is Oft Forgiving, Mercifully Redeeming.” 4:152
But when asked why Muslims follow the Sunnah, the following verses are referenced.
“You indeed have in the Messenger of Allah, an excellent example of conduct, for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day, and who engages much in the praise of Allah.” 33:21
The believers, men and women, are protectors one of another. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong. They observe salat, pay zakat, and obey Allah and His messenger. On them Allah will pour His mercy, for Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise. 9:71
It is true, Muhammad the Prophet is an excellent example of conduct. But notice that Allah did not emphasis Muhammad, and did not even use his name in either of these verses. Allah did not say in these verses, or any other verse, to do the things Muhammad the Prophet did, or follow the things he said (i.e. follow the Sunnah), although sometimes it might be a good idea.
But if you interpret “obey Allah and His messenger” as obey the Quran and Sunnah of Muhammad, then not only are you unnecessarily assigning yourself an impossible feat seeing how you cannot do some of the things he did, you are also unnecessarily setting yourself up to be a hypocrite because you will not do some of the things he did, although you could if you wanted to. But worse of all you are assigning yourself to hell. Consider the following verse…
“Unless I proclaim what I receive from Allah and His messages. For any who disobey Allah and His messenger, for them is hell. They will dwell therein forever.” 72:23
And further, believers who interpret 72:23 as advice to follow the sunnah of Muhammad are the same believers who say that some things like Sunnah prayers, and Sunnah fasting are optional. But if verse 72:23 states that disobeying His messenger will result in hell, and it does, then whatever “obey His messenger” means is obviously mandatory, Then how can some Sunnahs be optional?
Here is how I interpret theses verses.
When I read 9:71, “Obey Allah and His messenger”, I think obey the words of Allah and Muhammad the Prophet found in the Quran. For after all, obeying the words of the Quran is in fact obeying both Allah and Muhammad the Prophet, because all the words found in the Quran came from Allah, and out of the mouth of Muhammad the Prophet.
And when I hear “excellent example of conduct” in 33:21, I do not hear advice to simply consider what the messenger Muhammad and the other messengers of God did, but I hear “what would the Messengers do, if they were you”.
What do you think? Post a comment.