Chapter 1, Hadith & Seerah, The Authority of Sunnah / Sunday, August 17th, 2008

The second term used by the Holy Quran in respect of the prophets is the’ ittiba’, i.e. to follow:

Say, if you love Allah, follow mc and Allah will love you and forgive you your sins (3:31)

Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered Prophet whom they find written down with them in the Torah and the Evangile… (7:157)

Believe, then, in Allah and His Messenger, the unlettered Prophet, who believes in Allah and His words, and follow him so that you may be on the right path. (7:157)

Allah has surely relented towards the Prophet and the Emigrants and the Helpers who followed him in an hour of difficulty (9:117)

O Prophet, sufficient to you is Allah and those who followed you of the believers (8:64)

(The believers say:) Our Lord, we have come to believe in what You revealed, and followed the Messenger. So, write us among those who bear witness. (3:53)

Say, “This is my way. I call to Allah with sure knowledge, land whoever follows me.” (12:108)

The closest of the people to Ibrahim are those who follow him. (3:68)

And We set in the hearts of those who followed him (Jesus) tenderness and mercy (57:27)

And warn the people of the day when the punishment comes on them and those who did evil shall say , “Our Lord, defer us to a near term, and we shall respond to Your call and shall follow the messengers”. (14:44)

And We did not appoint the Qiblah on which you were earlier, but that We might kno’ev the people who follow the Messenger, as distinct from those who turn back on their heels (2:143)

He said, ‘My people, follow the messengers’. (36:20)

(Moses said:) And your Lord is the ‘Rahman’ (the All-Merciful). So, follow me and obey my command. (20:90)

So, they (the disbelievers) said, ‘Shall we follow a single human being from among us? Then, indeed we should be in error and insanity’. (54:24)

All these verses, with different styles and connotations, lay a strong emphasis on the necessity of ‘following the prophets’, and indicate that whoever believes in a prophet is bound to ‘follow’ him. The reason is obvious. The prophets are sent to the pcople to set a practical example of what they teach and preach. Their message is not confined to their oral teachings. Their acts are equally important in any effort to discover, learn and follow the right way of living. The Holy Quran is quite explicit on this point when it was said in Surah al – Ahzab:

There is surely a good example for you in the Messenger of Allah, for the one who hopes (to meet) Allah and the Hereafter, and remembers Allah abundantly.” (33:21)

It is an established fact that mere theoretical education cannot be sufficient for reforming a people. The natural way of reformation is to set a practical example which people may follow. Mere reading of books cannot make a person perfect in a science or art, unless he is simultaneously trained by a senior scholar or a skillful artist of that field. If somebody studies the books of medical science, but does not work under the supervision of an experienced doctor, he despite his thorough study, cannot claim to serve as a doctor nor can such a person be allowed to play with the lives of the patients.

If somebody studies books of law, he cannot claim to be a lawyer unless he acquires a practical training from a senior lawyer and remains for a considerable time under his juniorship.

Even a plain enthusiast who wants to cook a good meal cannot do so perfectly by merely studying the books written on the subject, although all the ingredients required for cooking the food are mentioned in the book and even the minute details of the process are fully described. But a person who has never cooked that meal before cannot prepare it just right and perfect with the sole help of a cook – book unless he is practically trained by some expert. That expert sets a practical example for him and he, by following the example, gradually learns how to cook that good meal. It clearly shows that human beings are always in need of a practical example in order to learn an important subject. The same is true in the matter of religious teaching and training. That is why Allah did not choose to send the divine books only. He always sent a messenger with the book. There are many prophets who came without a new divine book. But there is no divine book sent down without a prophet. The disbelievers of Makkah, too, demanded many times that the Book should be revealed to them without the mediation of the Holy Prophet. But the demand was rejected and the Book was sent through the Holy Prophet

The reason is obvious. Humanity did not need a divine book only. It also needed a teacher who could teach them the contents of the Book. It also needed an instructor who could train them and could set a practical example for them without which they could not benefit from the Book in their practical life. It was for this reason that the Holy Prophet, was sent with a clear direction to all human beings that they are bound to obey and follow him and to learn the details of Allah’s pleasure through the practical example set before them by him. It was also clarified in the foregoing verse of the Holy Book that the ‘obedience of the Messenger’ is actually the ‘obedience of Allah’ and that the latter cannot be carried out except through the former, because whatever the Holy Prophet says or does in the capacity of a prophet is based on the revelation received by him from Allah. Thus, his sayings and Ws acts both, even though they are not contained in the Holy Quran, are inspired or confirmed by the divine

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