Importance of Sunnah, Hadith & Scholars

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Articles in this Series :

 –  Introduction to ‘Hadith: The Integral Part of Islam’
- Article 1: What are Hadeeth and Sunnah?
- Article 2: Is Quran the only form of Revelation to Mohammad (SAS)?
- Article 3:  Role of Prophet Muhammad (SAS)
- Article 4: Importance of Sunnah, Hadith & Scholars
Article 5: Referring to Messenger (SAS), on the issue of Hadiths
- Article 6: Reply to common arguments of Hadith Rejecters (Part1)
- Article 7: Reply to common arguments of Hadith Rejecters (Part2) 
- Conclusion & References 


Article 4 : Importance of Sunnah, Hadith & Scholars


We see numerous ayaat in Qur’an where Allah clearly mentions the importance of Authentic Sunnah & Hadiths and the scholars who rely on them. However in this article we will see some of the most important of those which will help us establish a clear picture for our series, “Hadith: The Integral part of Islam”.

There are many ayaat which clearly command to “obey messenger”. These ayaat are direct, clear and can be understood even by a lay man without any complications. One of those is as below:

And establish the Prayer and give zakah, and obey the Messenger so that you may be shown mercy.
[Translation of Qur’an 24:56]

However as a general observation, people who ignore/sideline hadiths love to complicate things. So as their argument they say, “Messenger only followed Qur’an, so obeying Qur’an only (which was revealed by Allah) is obeying Messenger”. So in short they say, “Obey Allah to obey Messenger”. However Allah mentions in Qur’an:

He who obeys the Messenger, obeys Allah. But if any turn away, We have not sent thee to watch over their (evil deeds).
[Translation of Qur’an 4:80]

And any unbiased person would understand the difference between, “Obey Allah to obey Messenger” and “He who obeys the Messenger, obeys Allah” (Exactly opposite)However as many misunderstand, this is not to say that Messenger (SAS) made laws or gave commands by himself. This only confirms the ayah: “He does not speak on his own, out of his own desire. That is but a Revelation that is revealed to him.” (Translation of Qur’an 53:3-4). This issue has been also discussed in detail in Article 2 of this series – ‘Is Qur’an the only form of Revelation to Mohammad (SAS)?’. Also the actions, approvals and character are part of this revelation as explained in Article 1 – ‘What are Hadiths and Sunnah?’

Some other Importance of Sunnah and Hadiths as listed by Dr. Bilal Philips in his usool-ul-Hadith are as Revelation, Tafseer, Laws, Moral Ideal, and their role in Preservation of Islam.

1. Revelation: The Prophet’s sayings and actions were primarily based on revelation from Allah (One True God) and, as such, must be considered a fundamental source of guidance along with Qur’an. Allah in the Qur’an said concerning the Prophet (SAS) –

He does not speak on his own, out of his own desire; That is but a Revelation that is revealed to him.
[Translation of Qur’an 53:3-4]

Therefore, the Hadeeth represents a personal source of divine guidance which Allah granted His Prophet (pbuh) which was similar in its nature to the Qur’an itself. The Prophet (pbuh) reiterated this point in one of his recorded statements, “Indeed, I was given the Qur’an and something similar to it along with it.” [Sunan Abu Dawud] (Also see Article 2 of this series – ‘Is Qur’an the only form of Revelation to Mohammad (SAS)?’ for details)

2. Tafseer: The preservation of the Qur’an was not restricted to protecting its wording from change. Was that the case, its meanings could be manipulated according to human desires, while maintaining its wording. However, Allah also protected its essential meanings from change by entrusting the explanation of the meanings of Qur’an to the Prophet (SAS) himself. Allah states the following in the Qur’an regarding its interpretation:

(We sent them) with Clear Signs and Books of dark prophecies; and We have sent down unto thee [Muhammad (pbuh)] the Message; that thou mayest explain clearly to men what is sent for them, and that they may give thought.
[Translation of Qur’an 16:44]

Therefore, if one is to understand the meanings of Qur’an, he or she must consider what the Prophet (SAS) said or did regarding it. E.g. in the Qur’an, Allah instructs the believers to offer salaah (formal prayers) and pay zakaah (obligatory charity) in Chapter 2, verse 43. However, in order to obey these instructions correctly, one must study the methodology of the Prophet (SAS) in this regard. Among his many clarifications concerning Salaah and zakaah, he instructed his followers saying “Pray as you saw me pray,”[ Sahih Al-Bukhari, vol. 1, no. 604.] and he specified that surplus wealth, unused for a year, should be given as zakaah.

3. Laws: One of the primary duties of the Prophet (SAS) was to judge between people in their disputes. Since his judgments were all based on revelation, as stated earlier, they must be considered a primary source of principles by which judgments are carried out in an Islamic State. Allah also addressed this responsibility in the Qur’an saying:

It is not fitting for a Believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah and His Messenger to have any option about their decision: if any one disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he is indeed on a clearly wrong Path.
[Translation of Qur’an 33:36]

 Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.
[Translation of Qur’an 9:29]

But no, by the Lord, they can have no (real) Faith, until they make thee (Prophet Muhammad [SAS]) judge in all disputes between them, and find in their souls no resistance against Thy decisions, but accept them with the fullest conviction.
[Translation of Qur’an 4:65]

Thus Hadiths are essential for the smooth running of the law courts in an Islamic State.

4. Moral Ideal: Since the Prophet (pbuh) was guided by revelation in his personal life, his character and social interactions became prime examples of moral conduct for Muslims until the Last Day. Attention was drawn to this fact in the following verse of Qur’an:

Surely there is for all of you a good example in the way of Allah’s Messenger.
[Translation Qur’an 33:21]

Consequently, the daily life of the Prophet (SAS) as recorded in hadith represents an ideal code of good conduct. Also as examples are given to reflect and Qur’an is for all generations till Qiyamah, it becomes necessary to refer to authentic Hadiths.

5. Preservation of Islam: The science of narration, collection and criticism of hadith was unknown to the world prior to the era of the Prophet (pbuh). In fact, it was due in part to the absence of such a reliable science that the messages of the former prophets became lost or distorted in the generations that followed them. Therefore, it may be said that it is largely due to the science ofhadith that the final message of Islam has been preserved in it is original purity for all times. This is alluded to in the Qur’anic verse:

“Indeed, I have revealed the Reminder, I will, indeed, protect it.”
[Translation Qur’an 15: 90]



O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger, and those of you  who are in authority. (And) if you differ in anything amongst yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger, if you believe in Allah and in the Last Day. That is better and more suitable for final determination.
Translation of Qur’an 4:59]

This ayah not only makes it compulsory for Muslims to refer to Allah (through Qur’an) and His messenger (SAS) (through Authentic Hadiths) in case we defer, but also makes it compulsory to obey the authority as long as they don’t go against any ruling of Qur’an and Hadiths (as explained in many Authentic Hadiths and also by literature expert Shaikh Navid Aziz; as the word ‘atiul’ has not been used for Authorities). Refering to Allah is being done in this article and we’ll inshallah refer Mesenger (SAS) regarding issue of Hadiths in next article.

The ‘Authority’ mentioned in this ayah refers to people having excellent knowledge or those having political power or those with both of them. Similarly it is mentioned in Qur’an:

And it is not (proper) for the believers to go out to fight (Jihad ) all together. Of every troop of them, a party only should go forth, that they (who are left behind) may get instructions in religion, and that they may warn their people when they return to them, so that they may beware (of evil).
Translation of Qur’an 9:122]

This ayah allows people to take knowledge from the trusted people. Such knowledge is recorded in Hadiths and was made known and preserved only through Usool-ul-Hadith. The next ayah is: 

And the foremost to embrace Islam of the Muhajirun (those who migrated from Makkah to Al-Madinah) and the Ansar (the citizens of Al-Madinah who helped and gave aid to the Muhajirun)and also those who followed them in righteousness. Allah is well-pleased with them as they are well-pleased with Him. He has prepared for them Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise), to dwell therein forever. That is the supreme success.
[Translation of Qur’an 9:100]

Here Allah, without any ambiguity refers to those who followed Muhajirun and Ansar exactly in faith and adds that He is well pleased with them too. This refers to the fact that their biography is very important along with those of Muhajirun and Ansar.

Thus in conclusion we could say that if you love Allah there is no option but to follow the authentic tradition of Muhammad (SAS), also justified in below ayah:

Say: “If ye do love Allah, Follow me: Allah will love you and forgive you your sins: For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” Say: “Obey Allah and His Messenger.: But if they turn back, Allah loveth not those who reject Faith.
[Translation of Qur’an 3:31-32]


Next Article in the Series
Refering to Messenger (SAS) on the issue of Hadiths