22
May
07

WHAT IS MEANT BY OBEY THE MESSENGER (PROPHET)?


Traditionalist Islamists nursing their ambition to provide evidence against the Islam preached in the Quran, refer to ayats that ordain to “Obey God and His messenger”, and set forth such arguments as: “We are told to obey the prescriptions of God and the Prophet”. In the said ayats, the Prophet is referred to only with the noun rasul (messenger).

52 – Those who obey God and His messenger and fear God and observe Him, these are triumphant ones.
24 The Light, 52

132 – You shall obey God and His messenger, that you may obtain mercy.
3 The Family of Imran, 132

To heed the messenger means obeying God whose orders the messenger transmitted. He is the herald of God who has brought His messages to humanity. Complying with these messages connotes conformity with God and His messenger as well as with the Quran, the message transmitted. The word resul means the carrier of a message. In other words, the message is not issued by the Prophet, but by God. It is preached thereby that man can attain God only through His messenger. The person to whom allegiance is due is God’s messenger, not God directly. God establishes His link with us through His prophet (messenger).

80 – He who obeys the messenger obeys God.
4 The Women, 80

Men heed God’s words through the mediation of the Prophet. The Quran was revealed to men through him. The message was not transmitted to each individual separately. There have been innumerable people who refused to obey the Prophet’s message claiming that it was he that spoke and not God. Yet, it is stated in the Quran that the message transmitted through him was God’s message. Obeying God and His messenger should not be interpreted as two separate authorities, since the source is one – that is God.

114 – Say: “Shall I seek for a judge other than God? When He it is Who sent unto you the Book, explained in detail.”
6 The Cattle, 114

  • USE OF MUHAMMAD’S NAME IN THE QURAN
  • THE PROPHET WARNED HIS PEOPLE BY REFERRING TO THE QURAN
  • ABRAHAM’S HADITHS?
  • CONFORMING TO THE VERSES OF THE QURAN IS CONFORMING TO HIS MESSENGER
  • THE PROPHET MAY HAVE ERRED
  • THE QURAN HAS NO COUNTERPART
  • THE QURAN AS THE SOURCE OF WISDOM
  • THE MESSENGER AND COMMANDER
  • OBEDIENCE TO GOD=OBEDIENCE TO THE QURAN=OBEDIENCE TO THE MESSENGER

    USE OF MUHAMMAD’S NAME IN THE QURAN

    Three verses out of the four in which the Prophet’s name is mentioned and the fact that he is but a messenger have been stressed.

    144 – Muhammad is but a messenger.
    3 The Family of Imran, 144

    40 – Muhammad is not the father of any man among you. He is the messenger of God and the seal of the prophets.
    33 The Parties, 40

    29 – Muhammad is God’s messenger.
    48 Victory, 29

    In the only verse in which Muhammad’s name is mentioned without stressing his function as a messenger coupled with belief in the Quran is made imperative in the following:

    But those who believe and work deeds of righteousness, and believe in that what was sent down to Muhammad is the truth from their Lord- He will remove from them their sins and improve their condition.
    47 Muhammad, 2

    The name Ahmad (praised) is derived from the same root as Muhammad and is one of the Prophet’s names mentioned in the following verse, with due emphasis on his capacity as messenger.

    6 – And remember, Jesus, the Son of Mary, said: “O children of Israel! I am the messenger of God sent to you, confirming the Torah before me, and giving glad tidings of the messenger to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad (praised).”
    61 The Column, 6

    Nowhere in the Quran do we come across a statement like: “Obey God and Muhammad.” “Obey God and his messenger” is the expression used. So, obedience to the Prophet results from his being the transmitter of the message. The emphasis of the Prophet’s mission as messenger has been made in all the verses except one in which the wording is: ‘Believe what is sent down to Muhammad.’

    THE PROPHET WARNED HIS PEOPLE BY REFERRING TO THE QURAN

    The Prophet always referred to the Quran when he wanted to warn his community. When there had been an interruption in the verses being revealed and the Prophet was asked to invent something, the fact that this was not possible is plain from the verses below:

    45 – Say: “I do but warn you according to revelation.”
    21 The Prophets, 45

    203 – And when you do not bring a verse to them, they say “Why do not you invent one?” Say: “I follow only what my Lord reveals to me.” These are enlightenments from your Lord and guidance and mercy for people who believe.
    7 The Purgatory, 203

    God mentions often the fact that He sent down and revealed the Quran. Muhammad’s mission had been merely to convey the message, that which was revealed to him. Had the Prophet not carried out this mission, he would have failed to perform his duty as a messenger. The duty of the envoy was to transmit the message revealed unto him, and obedience to the messenger would be obedience to what God had sent down.

    67 – O messenger! Deliver what is sent down to you from your Lord. For if you do not, you will not have delivered His message.
    5 The Feast, 67

    19 – This Quran has been revealed to me that I may warn you…
    6 The Cattle, 19

    ABRAHAM’S HADITHS?

    Kashif Ahmad Shahzade has the following to say about the obedience to God and His envoy. “What is meant by this is obedience to the Quran, the message that God has sent.” He continues to say that the Prophet’s lifestyle must set an example for us, but the only valid source about this is the information provided in the Quran. Shahzade indicates in Sura The Tried, 4:

    4 – There is for you an excellent example in Abraham and those with him.
    60 The Tried, 4

    and argues that by the said verse must be understood the adoption of the morals and manners of Abraham” (Kashif Ahmadzade, The Authority of Quran). If one may be permitted to make an analogy between the Prophet and Abraham in terms of their abiding by their respective customs and traditions, we must learn the customs and manners of Abraham’s people and try to unearth Abraham’s hadiths as well. The gist of the matter lies in the adoption of the manners of the Prophet as described in the Quran. Efforts to persuade the Prophet to fabricate things on behalf of God, in addition to the contents of the Quran, existed dukring the Prophet’s lifetime. The Prophet did his best to forestall this. Yet, after his decease and the era of the four caliphs, the efforts of concocting hadiths got the upper hand.

    73 – They had almost led you away from what has been revealed to you, that you may invent things about Us besides these revealed.
    17 The Children of Israel, 73

    The Quran is God’s Book. However, men heard it from the mouth of His messenger Muhammad. The following verses will make this clearer:

    1 – A declaration of immunity from God and His messenger to those idolaters with whom you have a treaty.
    9 Repentance, 1

    3 – And an announcement from God and His messenger, to the people on the day of the great pilgrimage.
    9 Repentance, 3

    CONFORMING TO THE VERSES OF THE QURAN IS CONFORMING TO HIS MESSENGER

    The announcement of God and His messenger make up the Quranic verses. The same reading may be observed in other sections of the Quran. From the beginning of Sura The Women up until Verse 13, the questions of inheritance etc. are taken up, while Verses 13 and 14 run as follows:

    13 – These are the limits set by God. And those who follow the commandments of God and the messenger will be admitted to gardens with streams of water running by, wherein they abide forever. This is the greatest triumph.
    4 The Women, 13

    14 – Those who disobey God and the messenger and transgress His limits will be admitted to a fire and abide there forever and shall have a humiliating punishment.
    4 The Women, 14

    Up until the 13th verse, God’s commandments are expressed, while in the 13th and 14th verses to obey them is to obey both God and His messenger. An image of a partnership between God and Muhammad is created. The Prophet thus assumed the character of someone who had the authority to transmit or rescind those decreed by God. Certain traditionalists being aware of the contradiction reverted to a new argument that was still more terrifying, According to this argument, the hadith books in circulation were also part of the revelation. It is useless to disprove this claim since our readers have also witnessed the clash of the hadiths with the text of the Quran, let alone their conflicting character. According to the verse below the Quran is the only source that is to be obeyed. And it is again the Quran that infidels would like to see altered:

    15 – When Our clear signs are recited to them, those who do not hope to meet Us say “Bring a Quran other than this, or change it.” Say “It is not for me to change it of my will. I follow only what is revealed to me.”
    10 Jonah, 15

    THE PROPHET MAY HAVE ERRED

    The Prophet abides by what the Quran announces. In daily life a prophet may well err in certain things. Exposition of the errors committed by the Prophet in the Quran belies in fact the claim that the Prophet’s word was also a revelation to be obeyed.

    37 – But you hid in your heart that which God was about to make manifest; you did fear the people but it is more fitting that you should fear God.
    33 The Parties, 37

    43 – May God forgive you. Why did you give them permission before you could distinguish those who are truthful from the liars?
    9 Repentance, 43

    1-He frowned and turned away
    2- Because there came to him the blind man
    3- How do you know? He may purify himself.
    4- Or He may take heed, and benefit from the message.
    5- As to one who regards himself as self-sufficient,
    6– You gave him your attention
    7– Though it is not your concern if he should not grow.
    8– As for him, who comes to you striving,
    9– And is also fearful
    10- You ignored him.
    80 He Frowned, 1-10

    In the above instances, we observe the criticisms leveled against the Prophet. The justification of an abused claim according to which whatever was uttered by the Prophet outside the context of the Quran should be considered refuted. His lifestyle also has been made into a source of abuse. Even his manners before he became a prophet were made part of his cult. Yet, his pre-prophetic life was far from being exemplary (sunna) as the Quran suggests:

    7 – He found you astray and guided you.
    93 Early Hours of Morning, 7

    52 – We have revealed to you the Quran by Our command. You did not know what the scripture was before, nor faith.
    42 Consultation, 52

    We read in the verses that the Prophet, before he received the visit of Gabriel who conveyed the revelation to him, was not on the right path and had no faith. Under the circumstances, how can one consider his past manners to be exemplary (sunna) for believers. The following verses caution those who assign the books of hadiths the reverence due to God’s own words.

    79 – Then woe to those who write the Book with their own hands, and then say: “This is from God,” to traffic with it for a miserable price!
    2 The Cow, 79

    THE QURAN HAS NO COUNTERPART

    88 – Say: “If all the humans and jinns come together in order to produce a Quran like this, they would surely fail, no matter how much assistance they lent one another.”
    17 The Children of Israel, 88

    While God announces that the Quran has no counterpart, the sectarian Islamists find similarity between the hadiths and the Quran (see Abu Davud Kitabý Sunen). Had this been so, one is inclined to ask the reason why the Prophet had been reluctant to see his sayings recorded.

    1 – O Prophet! Why do you prohibit yourself what God has made lawful for you, just to please your wives?
    66 Prohibition, 1

    While according to this verse the Prophet cannot make things lawful or unlawful even for himself, the intervention of other people having like intentions can hardly be reconciled with the Quran. This is the error committed by the traditionalist interpretation that chooses to act according to a given verse of the Quran taken out of context and fails to conceive the Quran as a whole.

    THE QURAN AS THE SOURCE OF WISDOM

    151 – Such as the sending of a messenger from among you, to recite Our revelations to you, and cleanse you, and teach you the Book and the wisdom, and what you did not known.
    2 The Cow, 151

    It is alleged that the word ‘wisdom’ includes the sunna and the hadiths, which is utterly preposterous. Wisdom is attributable to the Quran:

    1 – These are the verses of the Book of Wisdom.
    10 Jonah, 1

    2 – By the Quran full of Wisdom.
    36 Yasin, 2

    4 – And verily it is in the mother of the book in our presence. Honorable and full of wisdom.
    43 Vanity, 4

    Moreover, the Sura Isra after enumerating what is lawful and unlawful and the prohibitions is followed by the following verse:

    139 – These are among the wisdom your Lord has revealed to you.
    17 The Children of Israel, 39

    Wisdom attributed to God’s revelations mentioned up until the 39th verse of Sura The Children of Israel stated that one should not set up any other God (22nd verse); that one should serve none but Him and do good to parents (23rd verse); the manner that one should behave toward one’s parents (24th verse); and the fact that God knows what is in our mind (25th verse), and give to the near of kin his due and to the needy and the wayfarer, and squander not wastefully (26th verse)…

    The Quran is the book of reference in which both sunna and wisdom can be found. The limits of God as set in the Quran are wisdom, which also implies obedience to His messenger, the Prophet. The Quran revealed to Mohammad was communicated to us by his mouth. Most of the verses begin with the imperative ‘say,’ addressed to him. To obey the message is to obey God and His messenger at the same time. If God’s revelation is not complete, what would the function of the Quran be? Why should God leave His message incomplete to be completed by other sources? Had God intended to give us additional injunctions, He would certainly have increased the thickness of the Book. In fact, it is mentioned in the Quran that the Book contains all the details necessary to be known. To give an example of such details, please note that the Quran enjoins the man who finds himself in a difficulty, to eat, without trespassing the limits, the meat of animals slaughtered in the name of other divinities, and the meat of the dead animal, pork etc., a very exceptional case surely. Given this fact how can we presume that God left loopholes in His book? Whatever He has not enjoined His creatures, He has left to the discretion of His servants.

    THE MESSENGER AND COMMANDER

    59 – O you who believe! Obey God and obey His messenger and those charged with authority among you. If you differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to God and His messenger, if you do believe in God and the Last Day. That is best and the most suitable for final determination.
    4 The Women, 59

    Man is a gregarious being. In the shared life of communities men are obliged to formulate common principles to stick to and in certain cases are forced to adopt critical decisions, like in the case of a declaration of war or the signing of a peace treaty. The messenger (the Prophet) used to make critical decisions as the head of the community which the community could not help but obey. After his death, the persons of authority charged with the governing of the community were expected to be shown reverence and be obeyed. However, in no way did this obedience allow the addition of new precepts to those of God’s laid out in the Quran. We read in the Quran that everything has been made clear in it, and every detail has been explained and that religion was tantamount to what the Quran propounded. Had the obedience foreseen in the Quran included the interpolation of new principles making certain things lawful and others unlawful, we would have the following illogical picture: among the edible items is the prohibition of the consumption of pork, blood, the flesh of dead animals and animals slaughtered in the name of any entity other than God. Had obedience to the Prophet also included imposition of new religious principles, items such as mussels, shrimp and the flesh of donkeys would have been banned and carried the same effect as those laid down in the Quran. Yet, this is exactly what the sectarians argue. Yavuz Sultan Selim, who had taken over the title of ‘caliph,’ might well have added to the list of prohibitions the flesh of chicken, veal and bonito, then what would have happened? This mentality may be carried even further as a person of authority may one day crop up claiming that he is entitled to abrogate certain things laid down in the Quran and to add others instead.

    OBEDIENCE TO GOD=OBEDIENCE TO THE QURAN=OBEDIENCE TO THE MESSENGER

    Every Muslim having faith in the Islam preached in the Quran knows that he is to obey Muhammad, God’s messenger. The only source that the Prophet has bequeathed to us is the Quran. All other books, including the hadith books, are full of slanders. The authorities that claim that God, the Quran and the Prophet must be severed from each other are on the wrong path. Given the fact that we cannot possibly establish contact, the issuer of the message, and the transmitter of it, the only thing that remains for us is the Quran.

    51 – It is not sufficient for them that We have revealed the Book to you which is read out to them.
    29 The Spider, 51

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    2 Responses to “WHAT IS MEANT BY OBEY THE MESSENGER (PROPHET)?”


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