Al-hamdulillaah, the above aayah is very clear (especially to those who claim that obeying and following the Sunnah is voluntary). We, Muslims should love Allaah more than anyone else. If we claim this love, we must follow the guidance of the Prophet Muhammad , so that Allaah may love us and forgive our sins.
We must obey Muhammad and love him more than ourselves. Allaah says concerning the love that we are required to have for Him and Muhammad which means:
"Say: If it be your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your mates, your kindred, the wealth you have gained, the commerce in which you fear decline, or the dwellings in which you delight – are dearer to you than Allaah or His Messenger and striving in His cause – then wait until Allaah brings about His decision. And Allaah guides not the rebellious." (Surah Taubah 9:24)
"The Prophet has a higher claim on the believers than [they have on] their own selves." (Surah Al-Ahzaab33: 6)
There should be nothing in our lives dearer to us than Allaah and the Prophet Muhammad . Anis reported that Rasoolullaah said (which means):
"Whoever possesses three qualities will taste the sweetness of Imaan.
1. That Allaah and His Messenger are dearer to him than anything else.
2. To love a person only for Allaah sake.
3. And To hate to revert to disbelief, after Allaah had saved him from it, as he would hate to be thrown into the fire." (Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim)
And Anis reported that the Prophet said (which means):
"None of you will have faith until he has more love for me than for his parents, his children, and all humanity." (Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim)
When we love somebody, we desire to obey and follow him. We do not hesitate to implement his wishes. For us Muslims, our love for Allaah and His Messenger Muhammad must surpass any other love; we must obey Allaah and His Messenger Muhammad more than anyone else.
Allaah has told us (what means):
"Allaah knows best with whom to place His Message." (Surah Al-An'aam 6:124)
We know that Allaah chose Muhammad for the purpose of carrying the Message. This is why it is incumbent to direct our highest love and obedience toward him.
There are numerous texts in the Qur‘aan and the Sunnah expressing the obligation to obey Allaah and His Messenger .
Al-Irbaadh bin Saariyah reported that Allaah’s Messenger gave the Companions (Sahaabah) an exhortation one-day after the Fajr Prayer which caused their eyes to shed tears and their hearts to quiver. So a man said, "This sounds like a final exhortation, so counsel us, O Allaah’s Messenger ." He said (which means),
"I counsel you to fear and revere Allaah, and to listen and obey (your Muslim ruler) – even if an Ethiopian slave becomes your leader. Those who will live (after me) will see much dissension (among the Muslims); so adhere to my Sunnah and the Sunnah (way) of the rightly guided successors after me; cling to that with your teeth. Beware of novelties (in the Deen), for every novelty is an innovation, and every innovation is a deviation (from the true guidance)." (At-Tirmidthee – authentic)
We can see how much dissension exists today among the Muslim Ummah. This has obviously, been caused by straying away from the Qur’ aan and Sunnah. Many Muslims have been very negligent of the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad . Muslims seem to think that they have an option when it comes to obeying Muhammad . They mistakenly estimate obedience to him as being admirable and rewardable, but as being optional only. They say, "We will simply follow the Qur’ aan and leave the hadeeth of the Prophet Muhammad . However it is obvious from the Qur’ aan that we must obey Muhammad .
"It is not fit for a believer, man or woman, when Allaah and His Messenger have decreed a matter, that they should have any option in their decision. And whoever disobeys Allaah and His Messenger has indeed strayed in a clear deviation." (Surah Al-Ahzaab 33:36)
Allaah is telling us that we have no right to disobey the decisions of Allaah and the Prophet Muhammad . We can not neglect to obey the Prophet Muhammad , because Allaah is telling us to obey the Prophet Muhammad as well as Allaah.
"Whatever of good reaches you, is from Allaah, but whatever evil befalls you, is from yourself. And We have sent you (Muhammad) as a Messenger to humanity, and Allaah is sufficient as a witness. He who obeys the Messenger, has indeed obeyed Allaah, but he who turns away, then We have not sent you as a watcher over them." (Surah An-Nis4: 79-80)
And whoever obeys Allaah and His Messenger will be admitted to Gardens under which river flow, to abide therein and that will be the great success. And whosoever disobeys Allaah and His Messenger, and transgress His Limits, He will cast him into the Fire, to abide therein, and he shall have a disgraceful torment. (4:13-14)
From these aayaat, we can see that if we obey Allaah and His Messenger Muhammad , we will be admitted to Paradise; but if we turn away and refuse to obey, then Allaah says that He does not like the disbelievers, and the place for such people is the Hell-fire. Furthermore:
"Indeed in the Messenger of Allaah you have a excellent example (to follow) for him who hopes in (the meeting with) Allaah and the Last Day and remembers Allaah much." (33:21)
"Whatsoever the Messenger gives you, take it; and whatsoever he forbids you, abstain (from it). And fear Allaah; verily, Allaah is severe in punishment." (59:7)
"Let those who oppose the Messenger’s order beware of a fitnah (trial) to befall them, or a painful torment to be inflicted upon them." (24:63)
In these aayaat, Allaah gives clear warnings about disobeying what Muhammad has commanded us. There is no better example for us than the Prophet Muhammad . We must take what he has given us, and abstain from what He has forbidden us. Also:
"Nor does he speak of (his own) desire. It is no less than revelation sent down to him." (53:3-4)
As the aayaat above indicates, He did not speak of his own desires, but he spoke what was revealed to him by Allaah. Muhammad did not come up with his own laws and regulations; anything that Muhammad had commanded us to do in Islaam came from Allaah . Allaah says (what means):
"And similarly, We sent not a warner before you (Muhammad) to any town but the luxurious ones among them said, ‘We found our Fathers following a certain way and religion, and we will indeed follow their footsteps. (The warner) said, ‘Even if I bring you better guidance than that which you found your fathers following?" (43:23-24)
Many people of the Muslim Ummah today do things because they have seen their ancestors doing them. The above translation of the aayaat emphasizes that we cannot follow something just because our ancestors did it. We need to base our actions on what we have in the Qur’ aan and Sunnah, because the best and true guidance comes from the Qur’ aan and the Sunnah.
"But no, by your Lord, they can have no (real) faith until they make you (Muhammad) judge in all disputes between them, and find in their souls no resistance against your decisions, but accept them with the fullest conviction." (4:65)
"O you who believe! Obey Allaah and obey the Messenger, and those of you who are in authority. If you differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to Allaah and His Messenger if you believe in Allaah and the Last Day. This is better and more suitable for final determination." (4:59)
"Obey Allaah and His Messenger, and do not dispute (with each other), lest you fail and your strength depart; and be patient – surely, Allaah is with those who are patient." (8:46)
It is clear that the way to avoid disputes among ourselves is to refer to what Allaah and Muhammad have commanded us; and we can only do this through the Qur’ aan and the Sunnah.
"And be not as those who divided and differed among themselves after the clear proofs had come to them." (3:105)
We cannot settle for somebody's opinion when a clear proof from the Qur’ aan or the Sunnah is available. Imaam as-Shafi’ee brought the point that, just as we cannot settle for tayammum when water is available for purification, we cannot settle for an individuals saying about a religious matter when there is something about it in the Qur' aan and the Sunnah.
Imaam Abu Haneefah (RH), Imaam Malik (RH), Imaam ash-Shafi’ee (RH), and Imaam Ahmad bin Hanbal (RH), all stressed the importance of referring to the Qur’ aan and the Sunnah in all matters, and to reject all opinions that are in contradiction with the Qur’ aan and Sunnah. No matter who may have given us his opinion, we need to reject it if it is not in accordance with the Qur’ aan and Sunnah.
Imaam Abu Haneefah (RH) said, "It is not permitted for anyone to accept an opinion of mine if he does not know where I got it from." He also said, "We are mortals: we say one thing one day, and take it back the next day." And he said:
"When I say something contradicting the Book of Allaah or what is narrated from the Messenger , then ignore my saying."
Imaam Malik (RH) has proclaimed:
"Truly I am only a mortal. I make mistakes (sometimes) and I am correct (sometimes). Therefore, look into my opinions. All that agrees with the Book and Sunnah, accept it; and all that does not agree with the Book and Sunnah, ignore it."
Imaam ash-Shafi’ee (RH) said:
"For everything I say, if there is something authentic from the Prophet contrary to my saying, then the hadeeth of the Prophet ) comes first, so do not follow my opinion (in such a case)."
Imaam Ahmad bin Hanbal (RH) said:
"Whoever rejects a statement of the Messenger of Allaah is on the brink of destruction."
This is exactly what we expect from these great imaams to say. Allaah says (what means):
"The only saying of the faithful believers, when they are called to Allaah and His Messenger, to judge between them, is that they say, "We hear and we obey." And such are the successful. And whosoever obeys Allaah and His Messenger , fears Allaah, and revers Him -–such are the successful." (24:51-52)
When somebody comes to us with an aayaat from the Qur’ aan or an authentic hadeeth of the Prophet Muhammad , we should not come up with our own interpretations or excuses – rather, we should hear and obey Allaah and His Messenger .
In-shaa-Allaah, we will take the time to study the seerah (biography) of the Messenger of Allaah Muhammad so we can see how he lived his life, and the effort he put into spreading the true religion of Islaam. In-shaa-Allaah, we will also take time to study hadeeth as well. The Sunnah is an integral part of Islaam, because as we have seen, we must obey Muhammad . In order to obey his commands, we need to know what he said.
Abu Hurayrah reported that the Prophet said (which means):
"All of my Ummah will enter Paradise except those that refuse.
Those who were with him (the Sahaabah) said, "And who will refuse?" He said: "Whoever obeys me will enter Paradise and whoever disobeys me will have refused." (Al- Bukhaaree)
Al-hamdulillaah, the hadeeth above is self-explanatory. In-shaa-Allaah we will be among the people who will obey the Prophet Muhammad , and not among those who will refuse.