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A report which is often misquoted to support the abovementioned fallacious view is as follows from Imam Muslim: The blessed Companion Talha  (r)  says: I passed along with the Prophet  Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã   across some people who were on the tips of the palm-trees. The Prophet  Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã   asked, What are they doing? Some people said, They are fecundating the tree. They insert the male into the female and the tree stands fecundated. The Prophet  Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã   said, I do not think it will be of any use.

The people were informed about what the Prophet  Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã   said. So, they stopped this operation. Then the Prophet  Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã   was informed about their withdrawal. On this, the Prophet  Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã   says, If it is in fact useful to them, let them do it, because I had only made a guess. So, do not cling to me in my guess. But when I tell you something on behalf of Allah, take it firm, because I shall never tell a lie on behalf of Allah. Further, according to Anas  (r) , the Prophet  Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã   has also said on this occasion, You know more about your worldly affairs.

If the ummah was to take the abovementioned hadith literally, Islam, like some other religions would only be restricted to doctrines and rituals, and having no concern with the day-to-day affairs of the human life. Once one has observed the prescribed doctrines and rituals, he is free to run his life in whatever way he likes, not hindered in any manner by the divine imperatives. However, it is an established fact that Islam, unlike some other religions which can coincide and co-exist with the secular concept of life, is not merely a set of doctrines and rituals. Islam is a complete way of life which deals with the political, economics and social problems as well as the theological issues. Allah states in the Holy Quran: O those who believe, respond to the call of Allah and His Messenger when he calls you for what gives you life (8:24).

There are vast fields in our day-to-day worldly affairs which are not directly commented upon by the Quran and Sunnah, where people have been allowed to proceed according to their needs and expedience on the basis of their knowledge and experience. However, for these worldly affairs that are not directly addressed by the Quran and Sunnah, the Muslim must align his decision with existing principles laid down by both, to ensure that they are guided Islamically in the performance of that affair, and most importantly, avoiding the major sin of committing shirk.

For, if Allah and His Messenger  Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã   are to call people towards life, the affairs of life must totally be within the jurisdiction of Allah and His Messenger  Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã  . Otherwise, vital branches of human life will always fall prey to satanic desires leading the people toward disaster.

Furthermore, none who has studied the Quran can endorse that its teachings are limited to worship and rituals only. There are specific injunctions in the Quran about sales, purchase loans, mortgages, partnership, penal laws, inheritance, matrimonial relations, political, social and family affairs, problems of war and peace and other aspects of worldly relations. Likewise, the Sunnah of the Prophet  Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã   also deals with the economic, social, political and legal problems in such details that voluminous books have been written to compile them. The injunctions of the Quran and the Sunnah in this field (worldly affairs) are so absolute, imperative, and of mandatory nature that they cannot be imagined to be personal advices lacking any legal (divine) reference.

Finally, there are numerous verses from the Quran which enjoin the obedience of Allah and the authority of the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) upon the believers, in particular Chapter 4 Aayat 65 which says (meaning): But no, by your Lord! They could not be believers, until they make you (Muhammad) judge in all disputes between them and find in their souls no resistance against your decisions, but accept them fully with submission.

Hence, to accept the fallacy that the Prophets  Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã   authority does not encompass worldly affairs, is to denounce the second source of Islamic Law, the Sunnah. This authority of the Sunnah is based on the revelation the Prophet  Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã   received from Allah. This obedience to the Prophet  Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã   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, neither by limiting its tenure, nor by exempting the worldly affairs from its scope.

The Sunnah As A Decision Factor

One of the biggest calamities that hinders Muslims of today, whether commoners or those considered to be of knowledge, is the lack of knowledge of the Sunnah in deciding matters for themselves or guiding others. As Muslims, the decision making process for our daily lives is made easy for us as we are aided divinely by the Quran and Sunnah (the speech, action or approval of a speech or action by Prophet Muhammad). Anas reported that the Messenger of Allah  Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã   said: I have left with you two things that (if you hold fast the them) you will never be misled after them (as long as you hold fast to them): The Book of Allah and my Sunnah. They will not separate from each other till they meet me on the Hawdh (The pool of Paradise river water that flows outside the gates of Paradise on the Hereafter). [Malik & Al-Hakim] Furthermore, it is clear in the Quran that Allah has directed all Muslims to seek help from Him and the Prophet  Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã  : O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those charged with authority among you; and if you differ in anything among yourselves, them refer it to Allah and the Messenger if you do believe in Allah and the Last Day. That is best and most suitable for final determination. [4:59]

What Path Do We Take?

The Muslims must continue to strive in the footsteps of the Prophets Companions (radiallahu anhum) as they hankered after knowledge in every facet of their lives in what the Prophet said and did. The Prophet  Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã   instructed his followers to make his Sunnah as widely know as possible, taking care that they should not attribute to him anything falsely. He  Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã   asked his followers to acquire knowledge and teach it to others. In his farewell address the Prophet  Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã   declared, Convey to others even if it a single verse from me. Thus the Companions (radiallahu anhum) regarded the knowledge of the Sunnah as a sacred trust which they must convey to others and to practice themselves.

There are numerous examples set by Companions (radiallahu anhum) which show how emphatically they abided by the Sunnah of the Prophet  Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã  , in addition to taking long and arduous journeys to obtain a single hadith. So great was the Companions (radiallahu anhum) attachment and allegiance to the Sunnah and with such intense zeal and devotion did they follow the Prophet, that if they saw someone ignoring or deviating from the Sunnah, they would exhort him to follow it. History has recorded that once Abdullah bin Umar (radiallahu anhumaa), who is well-known for his adherence to the Sunnah, saw his son Bilal stopping his wife from going to the mosque. Umar said, Dont do that because the Messenger of Allah  Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã   has said: Dont stop the slave-girls of Allah from entering the Houses of Allah. Bilal was adamant the he would not allow her even after listening to this saying. Ibn Umar  (r)  was so upset the he swore never to speak to him again until his dying day.

Asking For Evidence

In following the Sunnah, there could be many instances that someone tells us something or performs a certain action, and they say its okay to do it, or its Sunnah, and maybe quote a hadith. In whatever case, or if you have some doubts about their source, it is acceptable to ask the individual for proof. Once Abu Musa  (r)  asked permission to enter upon Umar  (r) , but seeing that he was busy, he went away. Umar then said, Didnt I hear the voice of Abdullah bin Qais? Allow him to come in. He was called in and Umar said to him, What made you do what you did. He replied, We have been instructed (i.e. to leave if not admitted after asking permission three times) thus by the Prophet. Umar said, Bring proof (witness) for this, otherwise I will do so-and-so to you. Then Abdullah bin Qais went to a gathering of the Ansaar who then said, None but the youngest of us will give the witness for it. So Abu Said Al-Khudri  (r)  got up and said, We used to be instructed thus (by the Prophet). Umar said, This tradition of the Prophet remained hidden from me. Business in the market kept me busy. (Al-Bukhari)

Allah has instructed us to hold fast to His Rope, ie, Islam: And hold fast, all of you together to the Rope of Allah and be not divided among yourselves, and remember Allahs favor on you, for you were enemies one to another but He joined your hearts together, so that by His Grace, you became brethren… [3:103]. The Rope of Allah includes the Sunnah of His Messenger  Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã   as evident by the knowledge of the correct performance of salaah. Given the instructions in the Quran that we must pray, there are no instructions on how we should perform the prayer. Without the Sunnah of salaah from the Messenger of Allah  Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã  , Muslims would be in dispute with one another or be divided among ourselves. So, we can not exclude the Sunnah from being knots in the Rope of Islam.

No Question of What the Criterion Is

The actions and deeds of the Prophet  Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã   were divinely inspired. Therefore, the same emphasis that we give to following the Messenger of Allah  Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã   in the correct performance of prayer, should also be given to following his Sunnah in our daily decision making. For the Sunnah are not to be taken as wise saying of sages and philosophers or the verdicts of rulers and leaders. However, one should believe with full conviction that the words and actions of the Prophet  Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã   represent the will of Allah, and thus by following the Sunnah as the Companions did, who were universally regarded as the living embodiment of the Sunnah, we are likewise blessed with Allahs support, guidance and have set to motion an acknowledgment and renewal of our faith in Allahs command: It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decreed a matter that they should have an option in their decision. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he has indeed strayed in a plan error. [33:36] In other words, by not following the Sunnah of the Prophet  Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã  , one does not secure Allahs support, help, inspiration to do good or His protection. He who does not enjoin Divine Guidance (Quran and Sunnah) in his decision-making is seized by Satan, especially if he is aware of Allah instructions and the examples of the Messenger of Allah  Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã  , and instead embodies disunity, hatred, lack of brotherhood, religious differences and sectarian practices.

The Prophet taught the method of worship and prayer. He taught equality of mankind, rightful justice, workers rights and complete obedience to Allah. He explained and showed us the responsibilities an individual has to himself, his parents, his family, his relatives, his neighbours, his friends, other religious sects, the society at large and animals. He taught the method of keeping oneself safe, clean, tidy, healthy, and pious. He taught us the correct ways of carrying out businesses. He taught us of the correct means of earning and spending our money. He taught us to be good and polite with others. He gave details of good manners and decency. He also showed us, from his own examples, how to talk, walk, deal with others, and move about in society. He showed us what our lifestyle at home should be like. He showed us the ways and methods of ruling and governing our society and the world.

In short, the Sunnah of the Prophet  Õáì Çááå Úáíå æÓáã  , is complete. It tells and shows us everything that a Muslim needs to know to make rightfully guided decisions in our daily life, and eliminate the need to associate oneself with any other sources of secular guidance. The Sunnah is one of the preserved sources of Islamic knowledge, which must be studied, and more importantly implemented in the daily lives of Muslims. And finally, we are told of the punishment one would get in the next world if he refuses to follow this guidance: And whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger will be admitted to Gardens under which rivers flow (in Paradise), to abide therein, and that will be the great success. And whosoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger and transgress His Limits, He will cast him into the Fire, to abide therein, and he shall have a disgraceful torment.[4:13-14]

(Complied from: The Authority and Authenticity of Hadith as a Source of Islamic Law by Justice Muhammad Taqi Usmani; The Hadith is Proof Itself in Belief and Laws Shaykh Nasir Ad-Din al-Albani; The Way of the Prophet Shaykh Muhammad Sadiq; An Introduction to the Sunnah Suhaib Hasan, The Study of Al-Quran – Al Quran Society; A Treasury of Hadith  Dr Mazhar U Kazi)

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