The prophetic authority in worldly affairs

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To substantiate this proposition, a particular tradition of the Holy Prophet (SallAllahu alaihe wasallam) is often quoted, though out of context, in which he said to his companions:

“You know more about your worldly affairs.”

Before I quoted this tradition in its full context, the very concept upon which this proposition is based needs examination. In fact, this view is based on a serious misconception about the whole structure of Islamic order.

The misconception is that Islam, like some other religions, is restricted only to some doctrines and some rituals. It has no concern with the day-to-day affairs of the human life. After observing the prescribed doctrines and rituals, everybody is free to run his life in whatever way he likes, not hindered in any manner by the divine imperatives. That is why the advocates of this view confine the Prophetic authority to some doctrines and rituals only

But the misconception, however fashionable it may seems to be, is a misconception. It is an established fact that Islam, unlike some other religions which can coincide and co-exit with the secular concept of life, is not merely a set of doctrines and rituals. It is a complete way of life which deals with the political, economic and social problems as well as with theological issues.

The Holy Qur’aan says:

“Those who believe, respond to the call of Allah and His Messenger when he calls you for what gives you life.” (8 :24)

It means that Allah and His Messenger call people towards life. How is it imagined that the affairs of life are totally out of the jurisdiction of Allah and His Messenger? Nobody who has studied the Holy Qur’aan can endorse that its teachings are limited to worship and rituals. There are specific injunctions in the Holy Qur’aan about sale, purchase loans, mortgage, partnership, penal law; inheritance, matrimonial relations, political affairs, problems of war and peace and other aspects of international relations. If the Islamic teachings were limited to the doctrinal and ritual matters, there is no reason why such injunctions are mentioned in the Holy Qur’aan.

Likewise, the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (Sall Allahu alaihe wasallam) deals with the economic, social, political and legal problems in such detail that voluminous books have been written to compile them. How can it be envisaged that the Holy Prophet (Sall Allahu alaihe wasallam) entered this field in such detailed manner without having any authority or jurisdiction?
The injunctions of the Holy Qur’aan and the Sunnah in this field are so absolute, imperative, and of mandatory nature that they cannot be imagined to be personal advises lacking any legal force.

A large number of verses from the Holy Qur’aan enjoin the obedience of Allah and the Messenger upon the believers. This ‘obedience’ has nowhere been limited to some particular field. It is an all-embracing obedience which requires total submission from the believers, having no exception whatsoever.

It is true that in this field, which is termed in the Islamic law as `Mu’amalat’, the Holy Qur’aan and the Sunnah have mostly given some broad principles, and left most of the details open to be settled according to ever?changing needs, but in strict conformity with the principles laid down by them. Thus the field not occupied by the Holy Qur’aan and the Sunnah is a wider field where the requirement of expediency can well play their role. But it does not mean that the Qur’aan and the Sunnah have no concern with this vital branch of human life which has always been the basic cause of unrest in the history of humanity, and in which the so-called `rational views’ mostly conflicting with each other, have always fallen prey to satanic desires leading the world to disaster.

Anyhow, the fallacy of this narrow viewpoint about Islam which excludes all the practical spheres of life from its pale, rather, to be more correct, makes them devoid of its guidance, cannot sustain before the overwhelming argument which stand to rule it out totally.
Justice Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani