The Quran is the last divine book, which was revealed from Allah as a declaration and guidance to mankind. It is an explanation of all things and means for men to be rightly guided. In many verses of the Quran, it is commanded to obey the Prophet of Allah . This is quite a significant point because understanding the Quran fully can only be possible by following the Sunnah of the Prophet .
Importance of following the Sunnah
- Publish date:26/03/2010
The Sunnah is the explanation of the Quran, based upon the collected true Hadeeths of the Prophet Muhammad and their interpretation by great scholars in later times.
It's worth dwelling upon a point here. The Sunnah is not a concept that can be dealt with separately from the Quran. In the Quran, it has been mentioned that the Prophet removes heavy burdens, makes rules, teaches society the open and hidden meanings of the Quran. As a matter of fact, when we look at the practices of Sunnah, we see that the Prophet of Allah gave his companions information about numerous subjects. This information was then interpreted by scholars of the time, continued to be practiced in their daily lives and has passed on to us from generations to generation.
Allah has informed mankind in the chapter ‘Al- `Imraan’ that the Prophet had the task of teaching the Quran and purifying mankind.
Allah Says (what means): "Certainly did Allah confer [great] favor upon the believers when He sent among them a Messenger from themselves, reciting to them His verses and purifying them and teaching them the Book and wisdom, although they had been before in manifest error." [Quran 3: 164]
It would be useful to give close attention to the phrase "teaching the Book and the wisdom", because it is not possible to understand the Quran fully and practice its commands without following the Sunnah of the Prophet . Our religion is whole only with the Quran and the Sunnah. At the time when the Quran was revealed, the people around the Prophet learned and practiced the commands of our religion as required by looking at the example of the Prophet .
Indeed, the Prophet was an important example with His life, in which he practiced the commands of the religion for us to understand the Quran. We perform the ritual prayers and other acts of worship as a clear example for understanding the commands of the religion. As is well known in Islam, performing five prayers a day is an obligation, and there are verses giving general information about how to perform ablution (wash), and how to perform the prayers. We can understand how exactly we should perform prayers only by looking at Sunnah. There is no detailed information in the verses about the way of performing the prayers, the content of prayer, the manner by which men and women should perform the prayer, the degree of importance of the prayers, the details of ablution, what nullifies ablution; we can learn such details only by looking at Sunnah of the Prophet .
As another example, we can mention the suggestions of the Prophet about Friday prayer. Beside the subjects such as speaking that which is best, cleanness, foods, modesty, there are verses in the Quran about obligations such as fasting, ablution and hajj (pilgrimage). However, there is no detailed information about those acts of worship in the verses. We learn the details about how to perform these acts of worship from the interpretations of the scholars about the words and habits of the Prophet .
Since the era of our Prophet Muslims have established their worship in compliance with the Sunnah. Acts of worship like praying five times a day, fasting, giving charity and sacrificing have not changed since then as they are performed according to the Sunnah.
For this reason, debating upon the acts of worship, which have been practiced for hundreds of years without change, and speculating about subjects like time of the prayers, the number of the Rak’ahs (units) are unnecessary. All of them are obligatory acts of worship, whose details are described in the Sunnah. As a matter of fact, when we look at the Quran, we see many verses in the Quran about following the Messenger .
In a verse, for example, Allah commands us to obey the Messenger as follows (which means): "Indeed, We have sent you as a witness and a bringer of good tidings and a warner that you [people] may believe in Allah and His Messenger and honor him and respect him [i.e. the Prophet ] and exalt Him [i.e. Allah] morning and afternoon.Indeed, those who pledge allegiance to you, [O Muhammad ] – they are actually pledging allegiance to Allah. The hand of Allah is over their hands. So he who breaks his word only breaks it to the detriment of himself. And he who fulfills that which he has promised Allah – He will give him a great reward.” [Quran 48: 8-10]
Allah also Says (what means): "He who obeys the Messenger has obeyed Allah; but those who turn away – We have not sent you over them as a guardian."[Quran 4: 80]
The point these verses emphasize is the concept of "obeying the Messenger". This point shows us that following the Messenger i.e. following his commands and rules, is a form of worship that Allah brought as an obligation. When we look at these verses, we again see that our Prophet has the authority to enjoin and forbid things.
For example, the verse (which means): “And whatever the Messenger has given you – take; and what he has forbidden you –refrain from. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is severe in penalty." [Quran 59: 7] shows that the Prophet may forbid certain things for his people, apart from those things that are forbidden in the Quran. Besides, it is again informed in the aforementioned verses that the believers took the matters that they did not understand to the Prophet and he judged for them.
Conduct, on the other hand, such as opposing the Messenger's being a judge, or disrespecting his judgments is described in the verses as "transgression".
The certainty of the judgment of our Prophet and the need for obeying his judgment is stressed in another verse as follows (which means): "It is not for a believing man or a believing woman, when Allah and His Messenger  have decided a matter, that they should [thereafter] have any choice about their affair. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger  has certainly strayed into clear error." [Quran 33: 36]
As previously seen, Allah commands in His verses strict obedience to His Prophet . For this reason, Islam can only be lived through practicing the Sunnah along with the Quran. The explanations made in the verses related to this subject are certain. Therefore, putting forward a claim of turning away from the Sunnah of the Prophet is completely opposite to the essence of the Quran.
Imaam Maalik, one of the greatest Muslim scholars, compared the Sunnah of the Prophet to the ark of Noah and said: 'The Sunnah of the Prophet Mohammad is like the Ark of Noah. Whoever embarks upon it reaches salvation and whoever refuses it, is drowned.'
True salvation will be realized only when the Sunnah is understood by everybody and prevails in the society.