The hadith followers in their earnest attempt to advocate the legality of following the hadith and sunna of the prophet, play on a corrupted interpretation of the Quranic command to “obey God and obey the Messenger”. They claim that obeying God is to obey the Quran while as obeying the Messenger is to obey his hadith (personal sayings) and his sunnah (methods). They add that if obeying the Messenger was the same thing as obeying God’s Quran, then God would have only said Obey God. Thus to their understanding, God’s inclusion of “obey the Messenger” implies that the Messenger has his own set of religious teachings outside of the Quran that we must obey.
With the guidance of the Quran, the error in this claim can easily be exposed. In the light of the Quran it can easily be seen that to “obey the Messenger” is to obey the message he delivered (the Quran) and nothing else.
1- The necessity to say “obey the Messenger”:
The inclusion of the phrase “obey the Messenger” after “Obey God” serves a number of important causes:
A- Who among the companions of the Prophet ever heard any of God’s revelations directly from God? No one! Consequently, they cannot obey God except through Muhammad’s delivery of the Quran. This once again makes it necessary for God to command people to obey the messenger since he is the one who delivers to them God’s message. Moreover, the messenger did not just deliver the Quran and vanish! The prophet spent all his years from the time he first received the revelation till his death inviting all people to believe in and follow the Quran. Hence it is necessary for God to say to all humans to obey the messenger who is inviting them to follow the Quran.
B- The Quran was revealed to Muhammad in order that he would deliver it to a community which was primarily composed of idol worshippers but also some followers of the previous scripture like the Jews and the Christians (Nasara). Once again, and for the benefit of the followers of the scripture that we understand the neccessity of the phrase “obey the Messener”. To make this clear, let us assume that the command in the Quran did not contain the phrase “obey the Messenger” but was only a command to “Obey God”. Immediately, the Jews and the Christians (Nasara) would say : But we already obey God, God has sent us the scripture and we obey it!” Hence, the phrase “obey the messenger” which is enclosed in the message he (Muhammad) delivered to them (Quran) endorses the Quran itself as being the last revelation form God to all humans. The Quran was revealed to mankind so as to supercede all previous scripture:
“Then we revealed to you (O Muhammad) this scripture, truthfully, confirming previous scriptures, and SUPERSEDING them.” 5:48
2- The duty of the Messenger:
“And obey God and obey the messenger and be cautious; but if you turn back, then know that the SOLE DUTY of the messenger is the deliverance (of the message)” 5:92
“And obey God and obey the messenger, but if you turn back, then upon Our messenger is the SOLE DUTY of the clear delivery (of the message)” 64:12
Now, if we look at these Ayaat, we notice that God has clearly pointed out the ONLY duty of the Messenger, i.e. that he must DELIVER the message (Quran).
The word Messenger is derived from the word Message. A Messenger delivers a Message. If there were no message there would not be a messenger. To Obey the Messenger would thus mean to obey the message he is delivering.
3- Is it obey “Muhammad” or “obey the Messenger”?
God is the most efficient in expressing any meaning. All Quranic words are chosen by God to convey a precise meaning.
We never read anywhere in the Quran words like “Obey God and obey Muhammad” or obey Jesus, or Moses……….always the word messenger……..this is to emphasise once again that what is to be obeyed is the “message” of God and not the personal words or views of the messenger.
As mentioned earlier, the word Messenger is derived from the word Message. If there were no message there would not be a messenger. To Obey the Messenger would thus mean to obey the message he is delivering.
4- The only “message” revealed to Muhammad was the Quran:
In reply to this Quranic truth, the proponents of hadith claim that they have no problem with the fact that the only duty of Muhammad was to deliver the message, but they quickly add that the hadith and sunna of Muhammad are part of the “message” and were inspiration from God! They base such claim on a corrupted interpretion of 53:3-4. As a matter of fact, they claim that besides the hadith of Muhammad (which they claim was inspired) they claim that Muhammad received additional revelation directly from God outside the Quran which they call the ‘Hadith Al-Qudsy’ or the ‘sacred hadith’!
For more info on the corruption of 53:3-4, please see:
The corruption of 53:3-4
With the guidance of the Quran we can quickly establish that Muhammad did not receive ANY revelation from God other than the Quran. Yes the prophet was inspired by God in certain personal matter, an example of that is found in 66:3 where God inspired the prophet regarding the truth of a domestic issue. However, this was mere inspiration from God and not revelation. The difference between inspiration and revelation is that God inspires all humans (note how God inspired the mother of Moses). God also inspires the animals (example of that is in 16:68 where God tells us how He inspires the bees). This is different from revelation which is specificaly an inspired scripture which contains religious laws and prohibitions.
Note here that hadith followers uphold the hadith and sunna as the second source of Islamic law besides the Quran, and by doing so they elevate the hadith to the status of revelation.
We are told in the Quran that the prophet did not receive any revelation from God other than the Quran:
“Say (Muhammad): What thing is ‘Akbar Shahada’ (greatest testimony)? Say: God is a Witness between me and you; this QURAN has been revealed to me by inspiration that with it I may warn you and all whom it reaches (BALAGHA)” 6:19
This testimony which God describes as “Akbar Shahada” “Greatest Testimony” commands Muhammad to testify that He received the Quran from God. This testimony speaks of only one revelation received by Muhammad from God which is the Quran. If Muhammad truly received other revelation from God other than the Quran, would we not find any mention of it in the Quran? Would God hide the fact that He gave Muhammad revelation outside the Quran and then command us to obey it?
Moreover, to insist that every word uttered by the prophet was even inspiration (let alone revelation) is once again to show ignorance with the Quran. We are given in the Quran six different cases where the prophet committed errors for which he was reprimanded by God.
The question here is how can someone who’s every word is inspired by God commit ANY errors? Could God be inspiring mistakes to His prophet!!!
5- God promises to preserve the Quran and nothing else:
“Absolutely, we have revealed the ‘Zhikr’ (Quran), and, absolutely, we will preserve it.” 15:9
These words proclaim God’s promise to preserve the Quran. We do not read anywhere else in the Quran that God would preserve the personal sayings of the messenger. In actual fact, God did not preserve His Own previous scripture (Torah and Injeel), why would He preserve the human words of one of His servants? Is God elevating His servant to be a legislating god besides Him when God tells us that the SOLE duty of the messenger is to deliver His message?
But that is not all, we are told in the Quran that anything which is not from God would ultimately contain many contradictions and corruptions:
“If it were from other than God, they would have found in it numerous contradictions.” 4:82
Despite these clear ayat, the followers of hadith have made claims that their cherished hadith books (primarily Bukhari and Muslim) are fully authentic (Sahih) and without corruption!
Do they not believe God’s words in 15:9 and 4:82?
6- The command to follow the Quran and nothing else:
In the Quran God commands all believers to follow the Quran Alone, this command is found in numerous verses, the following are examples:
“These are God’s revelations that We recite to you truthfully. In which Hadith other than God and His revelations do they believe?” 45:6
“Shall I seek other than God as a source of law, when He has revealed to you this book fully detailed?”6:114
This clear command once again confirms that obeying the messenger is confined to obeying the “message” he delivered from God (Quran) and nothing else.
7- Are we commanded to follow the Sunna of Muhammad?
The followers of hadith and Sunna use a corrupted meaning of 33:21 to imply that we should follow the methodology of the messenger and thus we need to follow his Sunna!
To expose the corruption and manipulation in such claim, let us first read 33:21
“The messenger of God has set up a good example for those among you who seek God and the Last Day, and constantly think about God.” 33:21
From these words we note that God is very specific in describing the capacity in which the prophet has set a good example. The good example lies in his constant thinking of God and how he sought God and the last day.
Sadly, the worshippers of hadith and Sunna have reduced this glorious ayat so as to imply that we should eat as the prophet ate, sleep as he did and even enter the toilet with the same foot which he used!!! …. this is among many other ridiculous do’s and do not’s that fill the books of hadith.
To make the issue undisputable, God has told us in the Quran that the only Sunna is the Sunna of God. No where in the Quran is there any mention of the Sunna of Muhammad!!!!
“You will find that the Sunna of Allah is the only Sunna” (33:62….35:43…..48:23)
8- Was the messenger authorised by God to issue any teachings besides the Quran?
God asserts to all believers that prophet Muhammad was commanded not to teach any other teachings, otherwise he would incur severe punishment from God:
“It (the Quran) is a revelation from the Lord of the universe. Had he (Muhammad) uttered any other teachings, We would have grabbed him by the right, and We would have severed his Wateen (Major artery of the heart), none of you could have helped him.”69:43-47
Those who insist that the prophet left us a second source of religious law (hadith) are either accusing the prophet of disobeying God’s commands in 69:43-47, or do not really understand the Quran.
9- The instructions left by the prophet
In accordance to 6:114, 69:43-47 and many other clear cut ayat, prophet Muhammad himself commanded his people not to write his own hadith, this is documented in Muslim and other books:
“Do not write down anything of me except the Quran. Whoever writes other than that should delete it” (Ahmed, Vol. 1, page 171…..also Sahih Muslim)
For the first 200 years after the death of the prophet, and in accordance with his instructions, the writing of his hadith was forbidden. The first one to document a comprehensive collection of hadith was Al-Bukhari (Note that Al-Bukhari was born in the year 194 After Hijrah).
Even if we were to follow the hadith (which we are not), how accurate can a collection of sayings documented two centuries after the death of the prophet be?
The peculiar matter here is that the followers of hadith do not wish to obey the Quran nor do they want to obey the instructions left by the prophet! In their blind and stubborn adherence to the tales told by the likes of such narrators as Abu Huraira and others they make an astonishingly ridiculous claim. They claim that the prophet issued these instructions (not to write his hadith) only in the first period of revelation and only because he was worried that his hadith would be mixed up with the Quran! They add that these instructions were cancelled in his later years! Well, if that was the case, why did they wait two whole centuries before documenting the hadith? Did it take two centuries to prepare a copy of the Quran that did not have hadith mixed with it!!!
Moreover, by saying this ridiculous claim (that the prophet was afraid that his hadith would be mixed up with the Quran) they once again show their ignorance with the Quran. In Sura 75 we are assured that God would secure the safe collection of the Quran:
“It is WE who will collect it into Quran.” 75:17
This promise from God about the safe collection of the Quran, plus the promise in 15:9 for the preservation of the Quran reduces the claim of the hadith followers (that the prophet was worried that his words would get mixed up with the Quran) to utter nonesense. It is either they do not believe God or they do not believe the prophet’s trust in God’s ability!
10- Did the prophet really follow other than the Quran?
The answer to this question is decisively dealt with in the Quran. We read:
“Then we revealed to you this scripture, truthfully, confirming previous scriptures, and superseding them. You shall rule among them in accordance with God’s revelations, and do not follow their wishes if they differ from the truth that came to you” 5:48
God’s command to the prophet to follow what was revelaed to him (Quran) is loud and clear. The importance of this command is emphasised as the same words “You shall rule among them in accordance with God’s revelations” are repeated in ayat 49.
If we are to follow the prophet we must thus follow what he was commanded to follow, and that is the Holy Quran.