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Authority of Hadith in the Light of Qur’an

Waqar Akbar Cheema

1. Introduction

Since the beginning the Muslim Ummah has unanimously believed in Hadith as an established secondary source of the Islamic Law after Qur’an. Infact it has always been recognized only another kind of revelation i.e. it is called وحي غير متلو i.e. Revelation that is not recited.

In recent past some pseudo-scholars have come up with a heretic view of Hadith rejection. What are their motives and what are the consequences, is a separate topic of interest itself. In this session we find some of the evidences for the Authority of Hadith from Qur’an, the primary source of the Islamic Law and belief system.

2. Hadith Source referred to in the Holy Qur’an

2.1 Proof 1

Allah Almighty says in the Holy Qur’an;

وَمَا جَعَلْنَا الْقِبْلَةَ الَّتِي كُنْتَ عَلَيْهَا إِلَّا لِنَعْلَمَ مَنْ يَتَّبِعُ الرَّسُولَ مِمَّنْ يَنْقَلِبُ عَلَى عَقِبَيْهِ

“And We did not prescribe the Qiblah which you used to observe except to know the one who follows the Messenger as distinct from the one who turns on his heels.” (Qur’an 2:143)

We know that initially during the stay at Makkah and during first one and a half years at Medina the Muslims used to pray facing Baitul Maqdas (i.e. Jerusalem) and later it was ordained to pray facing the Ka’ba as categorically told in Qur’an 2:144. But once this order of change was given the Jews and the hypocrites at Medina objected to the idea. This verse gives a response to the objection. The point of interest for us here is that the appointment of the previous Qibla has been attributed to Allah himself even though it has never been mentioned in the Qur’an. Obviously it was Holy Prophet (ﷺ) who used to teach the people to face Baitul Maqdas prior to the change without referring to Qur’an yet we find the same to be attributed to Allah. The verse reads;

We did not prescribe the Qiblah …” and not,

The Prophet did not prescribe the Qiblah …”

This is solid evidence that the earlier order was given by the Holy Prophet (ﷺ) on the authority of a revelation which did not form a part of the Qur’an. This is what Hadith is, only another kind of revelation!

2.2 Proof 2

أُحِلَّ لَكُمْ لَيْلَةَ الصِّيَامِ الرَّفَثُ إِلَى نِسَائِكُمْ هُنَّ لِبَاسٌ لَكُمْ وَأَنْتُمْ لِبَاسٌ لَهُنَّ عَلِمَ اللَّهُ أَنَّكُمْ كُنْتُمْ تَخْتَانُونَ أَنْفُسَكُمْ فَتَابَ عَلَيْكُمْ وَعَفَا عَنْكُمْ فَالْآَنَ بَاشِرُوهُنَّ وَابْتَغُوا مَا كَتَبَ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ وَكُلُوا وَاشْرَبُوا حَتَّى يَتَبَيَّنَ لَكُمُ الْخَيْطُ الْأَبْيَضُ مِنَ الْخَيْطِ الْأَسْوَدِ مِنَ الْفَجْرِ ثُمَّ أَتِمُّوا الصِّيَامَ إِلَى اللَّيْلِ

“It is made lawful for you, in the nights of fasts, to have sex with your women. They are apparel for you, and you are apparel for them. Allah knows that you have been betraying yourselves, so He relented towards you and pardoned you. So now you can have sexual intimacy with them and seek what Allah has destined for you and eat and drink until the white thread of the dawn becomes distinct from the black thread; then complete the fast up to the night.” (Qur’an 2:187)

1- The words ‘relented towards you and pardoned you’ show that prior to the revelation of this verse having sexual intimacy with ones wife during the nights of Ramadan was a sin.

2- And the words ‘now you can have sexual intimacy with them’ show that with the revelation of this verse alone has it become lawful.

All these points imply that the earlier prohibition was indeed from Allah yet we do not find that in the Qur’an. Who was then the authority to prohibit it before this command if not the Holy Prophet (ﷺ)? If he was the one, and surely he was, then is it not an evident proof in favor of Hadith, the words of the Prophet, as a source of Law?

2.3 Proof 3

We read in the Holy Qur’an;

مَا قَطَعْتُمْ مِنْ لِينَةٍ أَوْ تَرَكْتُمُوهَا قَائِمَةً عَلَى أُصُولِهَا فَبِإِذْنِ اللَّهِ وَلِيُخْزِيَ الْفَاسِقِينَ

“Whatever palm-trees you have cut down, or have left them standing on their roots, it was with Allah‘s permission, and so that He might disgrace the transgressors.” (Qur’an 59:5)

The verse was revealed about an event during the siege of the treacherous Banu Nadair, a Jewish tribe of Medina. It is clearly mentioned that Muslims cut down trees with Allah’s permission. Where is the leave to cut down trees during a battle given in the Qur’an? How was the leave of Allah, not found in the Qur’an, conveyed if not through a revelation that does not form a part of the Qur’an? Obviously the only reasonable answer is that Allah conveyed the leave through ‘un-recited revelation’ and it was Holy Prophet (ﷺ) who gave the command to cut down trees in his words during the siege. Such a command given by the Prophet (ﷺ) is what is knows as Hadith. And the companions who carried out the command followed Hadith knowing fully that it was from Allah.

There are more examples on these lines.

3. Obeying the Prophet means obeying Sunnah/Hadith

There are 11 verses in the Holy Qur’an which have the words; ‘Obey Allah and [His] Messenger’

Allah Almighty says;

وَأَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَالرَّسُولَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ

“Obey Allah and the Messenger, so that you may be blessed.” (Qur’an 3:132)

وَأَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ مُؤْمِنِينَ

“And obey Allah and His Messenger, if you are believers.” (Qur’an 8:1)

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا أَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ وَلَا تُبْطِلُوا أَعْمَالَكُمْ

“O you who believe, obey Allah and obey the Messenger, and do not nullify your deeds.” (Qur’an 47:33)

Other verses are 4:59, 5:92, 8:20, 8:46, 24:54, 58:13 and 64:12.

Every single verse of the Holy Qur’an which speaks of the ‘Obedience to Allah’ without an exception mentions ‘Obedience to the Messenger’ as well.

Why is the Obedience to the Messenger mentioned separately if it has no implication other than obeying Allah’s commands in the Qur’an?

Same is true for all the verses in which there is a warning for not being obedient to Allah.

وَمَنْ يَعْصِ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ وَيَتَعَدَّ حُدُودَهُ يُدْخِلْهُ نَارًا خَالِدًا فِيهَا وَلَهُ عَذَابٌ مُهِينٌ

“Whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger and transgresses the limits set by Him, He shall admit him to the Fire, where he will remain forever. For him there is a humiliating punishment.” (Qur’an 4:14)

Other verses are 8:13, 9:63, 33:36 and 72:23.

Thus we find that in all the verses that deal with the positive and negative aspects of obedience mention ‘Obedience to the Messenger (ﷺ)’ along with ‘Obedience to Allah’ separately.

There is not a single verse in the Holy Qur’an wherein ‘Obedience to Allah’ is mentioned without that of the Messenger. On the other hand there are certain verses in which only ‘Obedience to the Messenger’ has been mentioned. Same is the case with the verses warning about disobedience. Following are a couple of examples;

وَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآَتُوا الزَّكَاةَ وَأَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ

“Establish Salah and pay Zakah and obey the messenger, so that you may be favored with mercy.” (Qur’an 24:56)

يَوْمَئِذٍ يَوَدُّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا وَعَصَوُا الرَّسُولَ لَوْ تُسَوَّى بِهِمُ الْأَرْضُ وَلَا يَكْتُمُونَ اللَّهَ حَدِيثًا

“On that Day, those who have disbelieved and disobeyed the Messenger shall wish that the earth were leveled with them. They shall not (be able to) conceal anything from Allah.” (Qur’an 4:42)

Also see 4:115

The reason for attaching this much importance to the obedience to the Messenger (ﷺ) is that obedience to Allah is simply not possible without following the Prophet (ﷺ) i.e. it is not possible to follow Qur’an without Hadith. And as to the verses that mention only ‘Obedience to the Messenger’ or warn against disobedience to him, it is because whatever the Messenger (ﷺ) says is from Allah and obedience to him is in reality obedience to Allah. Qur’an itself says;

مَنْ يُطِعِ الرَّسُولَ فَقَدْ أَطَاعَ اللَّهَ

“Whoever obeys the Messenger obeys Allah” (Qur’an 4:80)

The summary is that Obedience to the Messenger, so often mentioned separately, always mentioned along with Obedience to Allah and sometimes mentioned alone as well ,establishes the fact that the words and deeds of the Prophet (ﷺ) (i.e. Hadith) are also a source of guidance and are required to be followed along with the Holy Qur’an. Had it only been about following the Qur’an there was no need to add ‘Obedience to the Messenger’ after ‘Obedience to Allah’ in all these instances. Verily the Book of Allah is free from pointless verbosity!

4. Jibra’il and the Holy Prophet (ﷺ); a comparison

Qur’an is the Last and Final revelation of Almighty Allah to mankind. It came through Jibra’il (Archangel Gabriel) first to the Holy Prophet (ﷺ) and then through him to the whole world.

The task of Jibra’il (AS) was to simply bring down the words of Allah (i.e. Qur’an) and recite them to the Prophet (ﷺ) while this alone was not the task of the Holy Prophet (ﷺ). He was not only to recite the verses but also to teach the Book of Allah. We read in the Qur’an;

لَقَدْ مَنَّ اللَّهُ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ إِذْ بَعَثَ فِيهِمْ رَسُولًا مِنْ أَنْفُسِهِمْ يَتْلُو عَلَيْهِمْ آَيَاتِهِ وَيُزَكِّيهِمْ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ

“Allah has surely conferred favor on the believers when He raised in their midst a messenger from among themselves who recites to them His verses and makes them pure and teaches them the Book and the Wisdom.” (Qur’an 3:164)

The verse implies that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) has the final word in interpretation of the Book [i.e. Qur’an] as he has come to teach the Book and not merely to recite its verses.

If the task of the Holy Prophet (ﷺ) was similar to that of Angel Jibra’il why is it that Allah so often mentions the Obedience to the Prophet along with Obedience to Himself while there is no injunction about Obedience to Jibra’il?

Had the Prophet’s (ﷺ) task been the same as that of Jibra’il (AS) there would have been no mention of obedience to him just as there is no mention of obedience to Jibr’ail.

This is a strong notion in support of Hadith along with Qur’an as a source of Law in the House of Islam!

May ALLAH make us have faith in all the articles and fundamentals of His Deen!

Published : March 31, 2013                 Last modified : October 18th, 2014

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4 comments

  1. Ameen.. thank you for the insightful article,

  2. AoA Brother,
    First of all Jazak’Allah Kheir on your wonderful article. I, myself am a firm believer of Authority of Hadith AlHamduLillah, and believe it is one of the basic foundation of our Deen. This book “Authority of Sunnah” by Shaykh Mufti Taqi Usmani, will really come in handy in clarifying doubts on this subject.

    The real reason that i write to you is to point out that what you have mentioned as point#2 is not a valid point to be given in this argument. Jews, the Ummat-e-Muslimah before us, had in their Shariah that when they used to fast during the day, and at night when they slept, their fast for next day used to begin, so it was forbidden for them to have sex with their wives at nights (if they had slept earlier), as they were in state of fast. So, the pious companions (RA) of Prophet (SAW) thought that the same rule will carry forward, as it was in previous Shariah, but at the same time our fast was different from that of Jews, as we had Sehri in ours from where our fast starts (which was not for Jews). So, there was a little confusion over the matter, as they used to go to their wives at nights, because they were not in state of fast, but still there remains a little doubt in their hearts, as to what they were doing is correct or not. Allah in this Ayat (2:187) clarifies that confusion once and for all.

    Hope that clarifies. You can reach me on my e-mail if there is any confusion regarding the matter. Jazak’Allah Kheir.

    • Wa alaikum assalam

      Wa iyyaka brother

      1- In a quick look I didn’t find any evidence that it was so in the shariah of the Jews. Can you please share the evidence?

      2- Even if it was, the next thing whether that ruling was upheld explicitly by the Prophet (saaw) or the companions just “assumed” it like that? If there is no proof for the later the former actually proves the thesis i.e. the Prophet (saaw) ordered something not mentioned in the Qur’an. Moreover, if it was just a “thought” of the companions and not an instruction why would the Qur’an say “so He relented towards you and pardoned you”?

      Kindly share if you have authentic references on this.

      Barak’Allahu feek

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