Undoubtedly one of the most manipulated Quranic verses! The hadith followers use this Quranic command ‘obey Allah and obey the Messenger’ to advocate the legality of following the hadith as a source of religious jurisdiction. They claim that obeying Allah 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 as obeying Allah’s Quran, then Allah would have only said “Obey Allah”. Thus to their understanding, Allah’s inclusion of “obey the Messenger” implies that the Messenger had his own set of religious teachings independent of the Quran and which 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- WHY DOES THE QURAN SAY ‘OBEY THE MESSENGER’?
The inclusion of the phrase “obey the Messenger” after “Obey Allah” serves a number of important purposes:
A- Who among the companions of the Prophet ever heard any of Allah’s revelations directly from Allah? No one! Consequently, they cannot obey Allah except through Muhammad’s delivery of the Quran. The Quran came out of Muhammad’s mouth. This makes it necessary for Allah to command people to obey the messenger since he is the one who delivers to them Allah’s message. Moreover, the messenger did not just deliver the Quran and vanish! The prophet spent all his years from the time he received the first revelation till his death inviting all people to believe in the Quran and to follow it. Hence it is necessary for Allah to command all humans to obey the messenger who is inviting them to accept the message (Quran).
B- The Quran was revealed to Muhammad in order that he would deliver it to a community which was primarily composed of idol worshipers and 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 necessity of the phrase “obey the Messenger”. 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 Allah”. Immediately, the Jews and the Christians (Nasara) would say: “But we already obey Allah! Allah has sent us the scripture and we obey it”. Hence, the Quranic command to “obey the messenger” endorses the new message (Quran) which is delivered to all mankind by the prophet Muhammad. The Quran is the final revelation form Allah to all humans (33:40). 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 Allah 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 Allah 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 Quranic words, we note that Allah has clearly pointed out the only duty of the Messenger, and that is to deliver the message (Quran).
The word Messenger is derived from the word Message. A Messenger delivers a Message. If there was no message there would be no messenger. To Obey the Messenger would thus mean to obey the message he is delivering.
3- IS IT OBEY “MUHAMMAD” OR “OBEY THE MESSENGER”?
Allah is the most efficient in expressing any meaning. All Quranic words are chosen by Allah to convey a precise meaning.
We never read anywhere in the Quran words like “Obey Allah and obey Muhammad” or obey Jesus, or Moses. The words used are always “obey the messenger”. This is to emphasize that it is the “message” of Allah that is to be obeyed and not the personal words or views of the messenger.
As mentioned earlier, the word Messenger is derived from the word Message. If there was no message there would be no messenger. To Obey the Messenger means to obey the message he delivered.
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 inspired by Allah! They base such claim on a corrupted interpretation 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 Allah outside the Quran which they call the “Hadith Al-Qudsy” or the “sacred hadith”!
With the guidance of the Quran we can quickly establish (below) that Muhammad did not receive any revelation from Allah other than the Quran. Yes the prophet was inspired by Allah in certain personal matters, an example of such inspiration is found in 66:3 where Allah inspired the prophet regarding the truth of a domestic issue. However, this was inspiration from Allah and not revelation. The difference between inspiration and revelation is that Allah inspires all humans (note how Allah inspired the mother of Moses). Allah also inspires the animals (example of that is in 16:68 where Allah tells us how He inspires the bees). This is different from revelation which is specifically an inspired scripture which contains religious laws and prohibitions.
Note here that the 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 revealed scripture.
We are told in the Quran that the prophet did not receive any revelation from Allah other than the Quran:
“Say (Muhammad): What thing is “Akbar Shahada” (greatest testimony)? Say: Allah 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 Allah describes as “Akbar Shahada” (the Greatest Testimony) commands Muhammad to testify that He received the Quran from Allah. This testimony speaks of only one revelation received by Muhammad from Allah which is the Quran. If Muhammad truly received other revelations from Allah (other than the Quran), would we not find any mention of it in the Quran? Would Allah hide the fact that He gave Muhammad a revelation independent of 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 Allah. Some of these errors were actually quite serious, such as when Muhammad prohibited something which was made lawful by Allah. Prohibiting what Allah makes lawful is a great sin as 6:150 confirms.
The question here is how can someone who’s every word is inspired by Allah commit ANY errors? Could Allah be inspiring mistakes to His prophet!!!
5- ALLAH 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 Allah’s promise to preserve the Quran. We do not read anywhere else in the Quran that Allah would preserve the personal sayings of the messenger. As a matter of fact, Allah did not preserve His Own previous scripture (Torah and Injeel), why would He preserve the personal words of any of His servants? Is Allah elevating His servant to be a legislating Allah besides Him when Allah tells us that the SOLE duty of the messenger is to deliver His message?
But this is not all, we are told in the Quran that anything which is not from Allah would ultimately contain many contradictions and corruptions:
“If it were from other than Allah, they would have found in it numerous contradictions.” 4:82
Despite these clear words, the followers of hadith claim that a number of their hadith books, such as the collections of Bukhari and Muslim, to be fully authentic (Sahih) and without corruption! Do they not believe Allah’s words in 15:9 and 4:82?
6- THE COMMAND TO FOLLOW THE QURAN AND NOTHING ELSE
In the Quran Allah commands all believers to follow the Quran alone. This command is found in numerous verses, the following are examples:
“Shall I seek other than Allah as a source of law, when He has revealed to you this book fully detailed?” 6:114
The clear command in 6:114 confirms that believers should follow the Quran as the only source of law.
Another very clear command is found in the following Quranic verse:
“Follow what has been sent down to you from your Lord (Quran); do not follow other masters beside Him.” 7:3
These words are crystal clear, we must follow the Quran and no other sources. The word “Him” refers to Allah, which makes the matter also clear that we should follow no other than Allah and what has been revealed by Allah (Quran).
7- ARE WE COMMANDED TO FOLLOW THE SUNNA OF MUHAMMAD?
The followers of hadith and Sunna use a twisted 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 Allah has set up a good example for those among you who seek Allah and the Last Day, and constantly think about Allah.” 33:21
From these words we note that Allah 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 Allah and how he sought Allah and the last day.
Sadly, the followers 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 type of hadith is only one among many other ridiculous do’s and do not’s that fill the books of hadith.
To make the issue undisputable, Allah asserts in the Quran that the only Sunna is the Sunna of Allah. 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- ARE WE COMMANDED TO FOLLOW THE HADITH OF MUHAMMAD?
A number of Quranic verses make it very clear that the only Hadith authorized by Allah is the Quran itself:
“These are Allah’s revelations (Quran) that We recite to you truthfully. In which Hadith other than Allah and His revelations do they believe?” 45:6
“Among the people, there are those who uphold baseless Hadith, and thus divert others from the path of Allah without knowledge, and take it in vain. These have incurred a shameful retribution.” 31:6
We also read in the Quran that Allah deliberately allowed the fabricators to spread false Hadith so that a test can be set for all people; will they uphold the Quran as the only source of law (6:114) or will they follow other sources besides the Quran which ultimately exposes them as false believers (45:6 and 31:6)?
“We have permitted the enemies of every prophet – human and jinn devils – to inspire in each other fancy words, in order to deceive. Had your Lord willed, they would not have done it. You shall disregard them and their fabrications.
This is to let the minds of those who do not believe in the Hereafter listen to such fabrications, and accept them, and thus expose their real convictions.” 6:112-113
9- WAS THE MESSENGER AUTHORIZED BY ALLAH TO ISSUE ANY TEACHINGS BESIDES THE QURAN?
Allah also asserts to all believers that prophet Muhammad was commanded not to teach any other teachings, otherwise he would incur severe punishment from Allah:
“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 Allah’s commands in 69:43-47, or do not really understand the Quran.
10- THE INSTRUCTIONS LEFT BY THE PROPHET
In accordance to 6:114, 69:43-47 and many other clear cut Quranic words, prophet Muhammad himself commanded his people not to write his own hadith. This is documented in the very same books of hadith which they call “sahih” (authentic), like Muslim and others:
“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, Book 42, Number 7147)
For the first 200 years after the death of the prophet, and in accordance with his instructions, the writing of his hadith was forbidden. If we consider the volumes of Hadith we have today, and which are labeled as ‘authentic’, we find that the collection of Bukhari was the first to be written. It is also interesting to note that Imam Al-Bukhari was born in the year 194 After Hijrah, which means that we do not have any record of authentic hadith for the first 200 years after the death of the prophet.
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 show any genuine desire to obey the Quran nor for that matter to obey the instructions left by the prophet! To counteract the command left by Muhammad not to write his hadith 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 do we not have a Hadith which states that the prophet had cancelled his earlier command? More important, and if that earlier command was cancelled, why was there a gap of at least 200 years between the first hadith and between the first authentic (sahih) documentation of hadith?
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 Allah would secure the safe collection of the Quran:
“It is We who will collect it into Quran.” 75:17
This promise from Allah 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 nonsense. It is either they do not believe Allah or that they are implying that the prophet had personal doubts in Allah’s ability to keep His promise!
11- DID THE PROPHET FOLLOW ANYTHING OTHER THAN THE QURAN?
The answer to this question is decisively dealt with in the Quran:
“Then we revealed to you this scripture, truthfully, confirming previous scriptures, and superseding them. You shall rule among them in accordance with Allah”s revelations, and do not follow their wishes if they differ from the truth that came to you” 5:48
Allah’s command to the prophet to follow what was revealed to him (Quran) is loud and clear. The importance of this command is emphasized in the words “You shall rule among them in accordance with Allah’s revelations”.
They are then repeated in verse 49 to emphasize their importance.
TO OBEY ALLAH AND OBEY THE MESSENGER, WE MUST FOLLOW THE MESSAGE OF THE MESSENGER. WE MUST FOLLOW THE QURAN, ALL THE QURAN AND NOTHING BUT THE QURAN.