By Editorial Staff
The Sunnah acquires a high standing as it represents the practical manifestation of the Qur’an and the whole religion.
Almighty Allah has inspired His Messenger (peace be upon him) with two kinds of revelation: the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Both of them, thus, constituted the basic foundation of the Islamic religion.
The Qur’an is the book revealed to Prophet Muhammad in word and meaning without any intervention of Prophet Muhammad whose mission was to convey it to people as taken from Jibril (the angel of revelation, peace be upon him).
However, the Sunnah refers to everything that is said, done or admitted by the Prophet (peace be upon him). The Sunnah comes subsequent to the Qur’an in the degree and maintains the second source of religion in the broad meaning of the word. The Sunnah acquires high standing as it represents the practical manifestation of the Qur’an and the whole religion. The Sunnah serves to expound the Qur’an’s ambiguous texts, particularize its general orders, and specifies its commonalities. For example, the Qur’an gave a command of performing prayer but it did not define the times, the how, the conditions, the nullifiers nor the pillars of the prayer. It is the Sunnah that undertook this job in light of the Prophet’s saying, “Offer prayer the same as you saw me do.” (Al-Bukhari) The same thing is applicable to the orders of the Qur’an to offer fasting, pay out Zakah (obligatory charity), perform Hajj (pilgrimage), implant the penalties, etc.
God (Glory be to Him) has stressed the obligation of showing complete obedience and submission to the Prophet Muhammad (the Sunnah giver) in many verses of the Qur’an. It reads,
And whatsoever the Messenger (Muhammad PBUH) gives you, take it, and whatsoever he forbids you, abstain (from it) , and fear Allah. Verily, Allah is Severe in punishment. (Al-Hashr 59:7)
It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decreed a matter that they should have any option in their decision. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he has indeed strayed in a plain error. (Al-Ahzab 33:36)
But no, by your Lord, they can have no Faith, until they make you (O Muhammad SAW) judge in all disputes between them, and find in themselves no resistance against your decisions, and accept (them) with full submission. (An-Nisa’ 4:65)
And from the hadith we quote the Prophet’s saying, “So, hold fast to my Sunnah and the examples of the Rightly- Guided Caliphs who will come after me. Adhere to them and hold to it fast. Beware of invented things (in religion) because every bid`ah (innovation in religion) is a misguidance”. (Abu Dawud and At- Tirmidhi)
Sunnah being a separate source of religion is common for the whole components of Islam with no exception. Nothing in Islam is restricted to the Qur’an alone without the Sunnah. Some may think that the sunnah, being inferior to the Qur’an, is put aside from specific issues which involve high significance such as the issues of faith and the unseen world. Yet, this is all a mistake. The Sunnah is an independent source of legislation that partakes with the Qur’an in defining the Islam’s fundamentals and details with no authoritative-based discrimination.
Both the Qur’an and the Sunnah lay down the bases of Islamic creed, legislations, morals, values, punishments, and worships. There is no distinction between the texts of the Qur’an and Sunnah on the level of authoritative and legislative indication. In other words, the scholars of Islam lay no preference to a text depending on its being from the Qur’an or the Sunnah but they look at its authenticity and purport, which if proved perfect they take it and implement its ruling with no attention to the source. So, both the Qur’an and Sunnah acquire a high religious status forming the religion of Islam, especially if we took into consideration the following Qur’anic verses in which Allah points to Prophet Muhammad,
By the star when it descends, Your companion (Muhammad PBUH) has neither gone astray nor has erred. Nor does he speak from [his own] inclination. It is only an Inspiration that is inspired. He has been taught (this Quran) by one mighty in power [Jibril (Gabriel)]. (An-Najm 53:1-5)
These verses back up the authoritative power of the Sunnah, by maintaining that it is from God the Almighty, who also revealed the Qur’an. There are some people who claim that the Glorious Qur’an is enough in illustrating the matters of religion especially that its authenticity is agreed upon by all Muslims whereas the Sunnah contains weak and inauthentic narrations. These allegations have been predicted by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who said as narrated by Miqdam ibn Ma`dikarib Al-Kindi that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: “Soon there will come a time that a man will be reclining on his pillow, and when one of my hadiths is narrated he will say: ‘The Book of Allah is (sufficient) between us and you. Whatever it states is permissible, we will take as permissible, and whatever it states is forbidden, we will take as forbidden.’ Verily, whatever the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) has forbidden is like that which Allah has forbidden.” (At-Tirmidhi)
The authenticity or inauthenticity of hadiths does not influence the authority of the Sunnah simply because the scholars of hadith have laid down amazingly accurate stipulations and criteria for testing and measuring the degree of the authenticity of the hadiths narrated from the Prophet (peace be upon him).
The existence of some weak or fabricated hadiths, as maintained by the scholars of hadith, is indeed a landmark indication of the veracity of the Sunnah and its standing as independent source of Islam. The conditions put by those scholars are so strict that nothing can be attributed to the Prophet unless it has been proved authentic by both the requirements of the texts and the chain of narrators.
Yet, even in the Qur’an there are certain styles of recitation that were rejected by the scholars of Tafsir (exegesis of the Qur’an), deemed as irregular styles and denied. This is related to the criteria of narration in Islam as well.
Those who raise doubts over the Sunnah are so wicked that they want to doubt the Qur’an as well but at a later time. There malicious and false proofs can be used for questioning the Qur’an to pull down the whole entity of Islam through the gate of the Sunnah. However, the Sunnah for Muslims shares the same status of its giver, namely the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) from God (Glory be to Him). We believe in both the Qur’an and the Sunnah just as we believe in the coming of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). We, as Muslims, accept what the scholars of Islam verified as soundly attributed to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and refuse what they refused. As Muslims, we believe that the Sunnah is a complementary to the Qur’an, that explains its verses, clarifies it rulings and illustrates its pieces of wisdom. This is our faith and this is the correct way of the mainstream Muslims.
Islamic law is not meant to cut off the hands of the thief but to prevent robbery in the first place. Islamic law aims to achieve justice between people.
One of the matters leveled against Islam is the claim that hudud [ legal punishments ] distort the image of Islam but the fact is that hudud in Islam are limited and restricted. For instance, there is penalty for robbery which is cutting off the hand, penalty for fornication which is lashing or stoning to death and the penalty for killing which is retaliation. And the penalty for alcohol which is either 40 or 80 lashes according to the difference of opinions among the companions and so forth.
The issue of hudud is not introduced exclusively in Islam as they are also found in the Torah because the Jews administer the legal penalty of stoning the fornicator. They also administer lashing and observe such penalties. When Jesus (peace be upon him) came and the Jews wanted to stone the fornicator, he said: “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” and thus he reminded them of the conditions they have ignored which is the person who administers the legal punishment must be free from committing these sins and guilt. Consequently, they failed to find the person who is free from committing this sin to administer the legal penalty on the sinner. If we contemplated this situation, we will find that Jesus (peace be upon him) has implicitly approved the legal penalties. He did not say that the legal penalty was cruel or improper; however, he said implement the legal penalty after observing its conditions.
Although hudud are punishment, they have very strict conditions. Therefore, the wise who contemplates these hudud would figure out the wisdom behind. First: they warn against committing these sins and maintain that preserving people’s souls, intellects, religion and properties are highly considered matter and one of the objectives of Islamic law. Legal penalties deter people from committing such sins that are regarded as enormities. Robbery for example is a serious matter because there is a legal penalty for this sin which is cutting off the hands. The second wisdom is that it warns people against committing these sins as Allah says in the Quran,
By that Allah threatens His servants. O My servants, then fear Me. (Az-Zumar 39: 16)
It prevents the sin before being committed which means that it prevents corruption in the community. The third wisdom, which is the least among them:
And We made it a deterrent punishment for those who were present. (Al-Baqarah 2:66)
This means that if the punishment is implemented only once, it would be deterrent for all people who will fear this punishment afterwards. When we discuss hudud, we will find that Allah the Almighty has set a number of unusual conditions. The first condition, the believer is commanded when committing an enormity to conceal the matter and commanded other Muslims to cover his/her sin.
However, if he openly publicizes his sin, God forbid, and he was seen by everyone and no one was able to conceal his sin or he was motivated by his conscience to confess his sin, it is permissible for him to retract and the judge accepts his retraction. Based on this, Islamic law is not keen on administering the legal penalty and does not regard administering the legal penalty as the core of Islamic law.
Islamic law is not meant to cut off the hands of the thief but to prevent robbery in the first place. Islamic law aims to achieve justice between people, so that no person is required to steal and in this case, only the immoral will be stealing. Islamic law has come to preserve the authority but not to cut off hands. Such a matter distorts the image of Islam because these are not the conditions imposed by Islamic law. Therefore, we have to contemplate what is narrated from the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his honorable companions in order to be able to realize the true image of Islam and know what we are calling for. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Ward off legal hudud with suspicions” which means that suspicions fend off legal penalties.
Furthermore, these penalties were not meant to be administered as they are considered an opportunity for him to repent.
Ma`iz Al-Aslamy approached the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) and said: “O Messenger of Allah, I have committed adultery”. But the Prophet turned away from him pretending he has not heard him. Then, Ma`iz came from the other side and repeated his words: “O Messenger of Allah, I have committed adultery”. And the Prophet (peace be upon him) kept turning away from him and when the Prophet saw his persistence, he told him: “You may have kissed or embraced or so and so but without committing adultery” Afterwards, the Prophet moved away, but Ma`iz once again came to him and said: “O Messenger of Allah, I have committed adultery”. The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked him: “Are you insane? and asked others about his mental stability. Consequently, a group of people came from his tribe and the Prophet asked them: Is he insane? They answered, “He has the soundest mind among us,” and there was no escape from administering the penalty upon him. Then, they took him to administer the penalty upon him as prescribed in Islamic law and when they were about to stone him, he said: “I did not do it”. He then went out of the hole and wanted to flee but they seized him and killed him. Our master `Umar went to the Prophet and said: “O Messenger of Allah, have you seen what this miserable has done? The Prophet asked “Who are you talking about?” ‘Umar answered: “Ma`iz”, the Prophet said: “If his repentance is distributed among all the people of Madinah, it would have been enough for them all”. Then, `Umar said: “He was saying that he has not committed adultery”. Then the Prophet said: “And what have you done to him”? `Umar answered: we have killed him. The Prophet said: “You should have pardoned him?” (Ibn Majah)
Scholars deduced from this situation that a sinner may retract in his confession after trial and after being sentenced even if he was lying. These are the images of both Islam and Christianity and these are the conditions that most of the people do not know. More importantly, this is the way which the companions and their successors lived.
Source: Taken with modifications from the Egyptian House of Fatwa (Dar-alifta.org)
The Qur’an has been conveyed to the Prophet (peace be upon him) in word and meaning.
By Editorial Staff
The Messengers of Allah (Glory be to Him) are the most chosen ones whom Allah has entrusted with the mission of conveying His revelation to people. Those Prophets (peace be upon them) are by no means divine. They derive their authority from the divine mission with which they are entrusted as well as the lasting revelation that descended down to them with the purpose of regulating people’s life, maintaining their beliefs, and organizing the relationship between them and God. So, the Messengers of Allah are purely human while their messages are purely divine.
Our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the last of the Prophets (peace be upon them all) who received the Qur’an, the last divine scripture. However, the Qur’an is not everything that he received from God because there are other forms of revelation that came from God to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). These types of revelation include the Qudsi hadith and the Prophetic hadith. In this article, I will shed light on the main differences between the three types of revelation: the Qur’an, the Qudsi hadith and the hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in order to remove any related confusion.
The Qur’an is the Book of Allah that He (Glory be to Him) has revealed to Prophet Muhammad and conveyed by Jibril (peace be upon him) from Allah to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). It is the very words that Muslims recite in the Prayers, schools or elsewhere. God says,
Indeed, this Qur’an guides to that which is most suitable and gives good tidings to the believers who do righteous deeds that they will have a great reward. (Al-Israa’ 17:9)
Say, “Whoever is an enemy to Gabriel – it is [none but] he who has brought the Qur’an down upon your heart, [O Muhammad], by permission of Allah , confirming that which was before it and as guidance and good tidings for the believers.” (Al-Baqarah 2:97)
The Qur’an has been transmitted to the Prophet (peace be upon him) in word and meaning in the sense that the articulation, the words, the coinage, the division of verses, the classification and order of chapters, the very vowels and constants, the styles of recitations, etc. are utterly divine, without any interference from anyone, even the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself. The job of the Prophet (peace be upon him) was to convey, interpret implement the Qur’an among all people. The companions of the Prophet wrote the Qur’an down from the tongue of the Prophet and memorized it, taught it to people who memorized it and learnt its exegesis. Then, generations circulated the Qur’an by memory and writing until it reached us today. Therefore, every word we read now from the Qur’an is from the speech of Allah (Glory be to Him). Almighty Allah says,
Indeed, upon Us is its collection [in your heart] and [to make possible] its recitation. So when We have recited it [through Gabriel], then follow its recitation. (Al-Muddaththir 75:17-18)
This (the Qur’an) is a revelation from the Lord of the worlds. And if he (Muhammad) had made up about Us some [false] sayings, We surely should have seized him by his right hand, And then certainly should have cut off his life artery (Aorta). (Al-Haqqah 69:43-46)
- Scholars are agreed that it is not permissible to narrate the Qur’an by meaning, but one must stick to the very words taken from the Prophet (peace be upon him).
- Reciting the Qur’an is a ritual act for which a Muslim is rewarded abundantly and generously by Allah. God says,
Indeed, those who recite the Book of Allah and establish prayer and spend [in His cause] out of what We have provided them, secretly and publicly, [can] expect a profit that will never perish. That He may give them in full their rewards and increase for them of His bounty. Indeed, He is Forgiving and Appreciative. (Fatir 35:29-30)
- Almighty God has challenged the Arabs as well as the whole humanity since the coming of Prophet Muhammad till the end of time to bring about a book like the Qur’an in its eloquence, teachings, legislation, articulation, values and morals. This challenge is also presented to the Jinn as well to bring a similar book but all have failed. The challenge was down to even one chapter like one of the chapters of the Qur’an, even the smallest one of it but failure remained until today, which proves the divinity of the book of Qur’an. Almighty Allah says,
And if you (Arab pagans, Jews, and Christians) are in doubt concerning that which We have sent down (i.e. the Quran) to Our slave (Muhammad Peace be upon him ), then produce a Surah (chapter) of the like thereof and call your witnesses (supporters and helpers) besides Allah, if you are truthful. (Al-Baqarah 2:23)
- The Qur’an has been revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) occasionally and not all at once, in coincidence with the incidents that happened at the time of the Prophet, in response to the questions of people, as an explanation of the legislation of Islam, in defense of the Prophet against the accusations of his enemy, etc. Almighty Allah says,
And those who disbelieve say, “Why was the Qur’an not revealed to him all at once?” Thus [it is] that We may strengthen thereby your heart. And We have spaced it distinctly. (Al-Furqan 25:32)
- It is required before reciting the Qur’an to be ritually pure from the major and minor impurities because the Qur’an must be kept above any kinds of impurities. God says,
That (Book of Allah) none should touch but the purified. (Al-Waqi`ah 56:79)
The Qudsi Hadith
The Qudsi or divine hadith is the revelation of Allah upon the Prophet (peace be upon him) but its wording is from the Prophet Muhammad, differing from the Qur’an. That is to say that Allah has inspired the Prophet with specific information belonging to Allah and then the Prophet transferred this information to people in his own words. Thereupon, the Qudsi hadiths neither hit the high status of the Qur’an nor they take the peculiarities of the Qur’an such as purity, reward or inimitability.
An example of the divine hadith is the following hadith narrated by Abu Dharr from Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) as saying that Allah, the Exalted and Glorious, said:
“My servants, I have made oppression unlawful for Me and unlawful for you, so do not commit oppression against one another. My servants, all of you are liable to err except one whom I guide on the right path, so seek right guidance from Me so that I should direct you to the right path. O My servants, all of you are hungry (needy) except one whom I feed, so beg food from Me, so that I may give that to you. O My servants, all of you are naked (need clothes) except one whom I provide garments, so beg clothes from Me, so that I should clothe you. O My servants, you commit error night and day and I am there to pardon your sins, so beg pardon from Me so that I should grant you pardon…” (Muslim)
The Prophetic Hadith
According to the scholars of hadith, the Prophetic hadith refers to what has been narrated from the Prophet (peace be upon him) of his sayings, actions, approvals, or innate or moral characters. It is less in status than the Qudsi hadith being its word and meaning from the Prophet (peace be upon him). It is similar to the Qudsi hadith in terms of the lack of their inimitability, the stipulation of purity, etc. However, the hadiths of the Prophet (peace be upon him) are not a personal output of the Prophet but rather an inspired revelation from God the Almighty who says,
Your companion (Muhammad) has neither gone astray nor has erred. Nor does he speak from [his own] inclination. It is not but a revelation revealed. (An-Najm 53:2-4)
The below table illustrates the main differences between the three types of revelation in a simple way.
|Recitation in the Prayer
|Conveyed by Jibril
|Transferred by Tawatur (recurrent narration)
The reason the Qur’an has showed matchless eloquence in substance and style is because it is the absolute truth; it is from the Speech of God.
The first audiences of the Qur’an were the desert-dwellers of Arabia, who were proud of their language skills. Their material possessions were meager, but their language was far in advance of their culture. They earned their livelihood by trading and took many trips abroad to buy and sell goods. Their long journeys across the desert provided them the time to ponder about nature, and the order of the nature of things. They were very meticulous in their choice of words, and very specific in their speech. They adored oratory and diction, and effective communication. They were skillful in the articulation of finer thoughts, and quite adroit in their expression of ideas. Words were their wares, and eloquence was their fetish and forte. Communicating finer thoughts in the finest form was their obsession. Composing poetry and prose was their passion. They vied each other in their ability to be fluent and eloquent. They produced elegant literature of high quality, even though the subjects they chose were mostly petty and profane. They squandered their skills in embellishing the tales of their tryst, their amorous exploits and adventures, the exaggerated and boastful accounts of their valor in warfare, and the virtues of their wine and women. Their written literature was scanty, but they had a prolific memory and committed thousands of quotes, anecdotes and poems to memory. Their literature was passed along to subsequent generations by oral traditions. So proud were they of their diction and eloquence that they declared themselves to be the masters of the language, and others to be deprived of the faculty of speech. Compared to theirs, other languages were merely the crude communications of inarticulate mute men. They referred to all non-Arabs as ‘`Ajams’, those suffering from a speech impediment.
When the Arabs first heard the Qur’an, they were awe-struck by its eloquence and listened in amazement. Never before in their life had they heard such a stunning and stately sermon. Their instincts convinced them that such a noble and impressive discourse could only be a divine diction, not a human creation. It was far more sublime and solemn than all their literature put together. The Qur’an proclaimed that it was not a man-made composition, and challenged its audience to present any composition that matches its style and elegance. It declared that humans would fail to produce a single composition to match its caliber, even if they joined hands and converged and coordinated their efforts. It threw the gauntlet,
And if you are in doubt about what We have sent down upon Our slave [Muhammad], then produce a Surah the like thereof and call upon your witnesses other than Allah, if you should be truthful. (Al-Baqarah 2:23)
The expert composers of Arabia heard the dare, but could not come up with an answer. Compared to the Qur’an their literary endeavors appeared clumsy and childish. They felt like they were inexperienced novices. The distinguished and prolific poets seemed immature. The enthusiastic orators found themselves at a loss for words. They were humbled and humiliated by the words of the Qur’an. The masters of the Arabic language failed to find any flaw or lapse in the language of the Qur’an. They acknowledged defeat and expressed their inability to match it. Many were so mesmerized by its message that they embraced Islam right there and then. The internal evidence of the Qur’an is enough to dispel doubts. When one reads it, it becomes clear that no man could have written it.
Man is the subject of the Qur’an. It narrates the story of man as an integral whole, and it describes all the stages of man’s journey to his ultimate destination, his birth, life, death, resurrection, the judgment of his deeds and depending upon the judgment, heaven or hell. In this temporal and physical world, the observation and experience of man is restricted to his birth, the trials and tribulations of his life and his death. His five senses do not enable him to perceive an existence beyond the confines of this physical world. The eyes do not see light emanating from the other world, and the ears do not detect sounds from the other side. The hands cannot feel, the nose cannot smell, and the tongue cannot taste anything that is not of this world. The mind therefore fails to perceive the presence of the world beyond.
The great beyond lies past the borders of death. Resurrection, the judgment of deeds, and heaven and hell are events scheduled to take place there. Fluently and poignantly, and with an aura of confidence, the Qur’an describes these events in detail. It narrates with the knowledge of certainty. It discusses the events of the other world with the same ease and eloquence as the events of this world. Ever since it was first revealed its diction and eloquence remain unsurpassed, not only in Arabic but also in all languages of the world. The challenge still stands. Man will never be able to match its literary quality.
The difference between the Qur’an and the work of the poets, writers and philosophers is not only that of degree or quality, but also that of character and class. It did not stoop down to the earthy model of distortion and dishonesty. Rather, it aggrandized and sanitized the standards of literature, and introduced it to a new height. It imposed a tougher requirement for literary standard and demanded absolute honesty and accuracy. It refused to espouse fiction and the art of fictionalizing facts, and spurned exaggeration. It did not win by using the ways and means of the other literary works.
The literary giants know the rules of grammar and diction. Yet, they cannot comply with the rule laid down by the Qur’an. They are handicapped because their expertise is of no avail without falsehood and fiction. If exaggeration was to be edited out of their work, they would not be left with much of their work. They cannot imagine poetry without a degree of lies and embellishment. Thus the Qur’an unfettered the facts and liberated the truth from the clutches of its captors – the poets, the writers and the philosophers of the past, present and the future. It exposed their craftiness. When it comes to matters pertaining to this world, they do know the facts but do not always choose to be honest and accurate. However, when it comes to matters past the grave, they are actually the charlatans relying on guesses and conjectures.
And most of them follow not except assumption. Indeed, assumption avails not against the truth at all. Indeed, Allah is Knowing of what they do. (Yunus 10:36)
And if you obey most of those upon the earth, they will mislead you from the way of Allah. They follow not except assumption, and they are not but falsifying. (Al-An`am 6:116)
The Qur’an defied the accepted norms of literature and achieved eloquence and eminence without resorting to exaggeration of any sort. Because of that, every literary classic created in any period of history and in any language of the world, would fall in a class lower than that of the Qur’an. It has a unique character all its own. It lays down facts plainly, and meticulously adheres to accurate narration. Even when it quotes a parable, the comparison is never misleading and it does not twist or bend the truth. The words and phrases it uses bring out the unadulterated truth. It is sworn to tell nothing but the truth. Precision is its priority, and all of its text can be accepted literally. Scientific treatise should be that exact. Its adherence to accuracy when it comes to matters pertaining to this world infuses faith and confidence into its believers. They become convinced that the events scheduled to occur beyond death are also depicted with the same accuracy and precision, and without exaggeration. The reason the Qur’an has remained matchless in substance and style is because it is the absolute truth. About itself, it says:
These are the verses of Allah which We recite to you, [O Muhammad], in truth. And indeed, you are from among the messengers. (Al-Baqarah 2:252)
He has sent down upon you, [O Muhammad], the Book in truth, confirming what was before it. And He revealed the Torah and the Gospel. (Aal-`Imran 3:3)
Source: Taken with modifications from islamreligion.com