Islam is built upon five pillars;
1. To testify that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah,
2. Establishing salaah [five daily prayers],
3. Giving the Zakkah [obligatory Charity],
4. Fasting in the month of Ramadhan
5. And performing Hajj.
This is known to everyone who says that he is a Muslim. The level of compliance is what varies from one person to another. Again, the most important of all these pillars is the Shahadatain [To testify that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah]. It is the pillar upon which every other-pillar is built. Without the firm understanding and observance of this pillar every other one will not be accepted from anyone even if they are observed in the best manner possible. Unfortunately today, this pillar is the most ignored among Muslims. It is frequently mentioned on the tongue but rarely acted upon with the limbs. People sit down to chant thousands of la iIIaha ilia Llahu and do a lot of Assalatu on the Prophet but hardly act upon the meaning of their chants or actually act contrary to it.
First pillar obviously contains two parts if we carefully look at it: 'There is no deity worthy of worship except Allaah' and 'Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah'. Of this two, the first part seems to be more known to the people while little or no importance is paid to the second. It is this second part that we are looking at because it is even more ignored than the first part.
Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah
When we say that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allaah, it has its own meanings and implications. People have limited this statement to just saying Sallah Llahu alayhi wasallam [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] and celebrating his birthday in the month of Rabiu' al-Awwal and beyond. Some of them have even gone as far as saying that following his way of life [Sunnah] is a matter of choice and we don't necessarily have to do so. Some of them say that the instruction that is contained in the Qur'an is enough for them and following the ways of the Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] is a form of extremism. Are these correct?
Proof of the importance of the Sunnah
1. What the Prophet said is what Allaah says
A lot of people don't know that the word of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) upon this religion, especially his command is similar to what Allaah has commanded. Allaah Himself confirms this in the Qur'an in which all Muslims believe in. Allaah says;
In this verse Allaah makes it clear that the word of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) is like His [Allaah's] own word. Therefore, there is no sense in trying to distinguish between the Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet.
2. Obedience to the Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] is obedience to Allaah
"He who obeys the Messenger has indeed obeyed Allaah ..." [Q 4:80]
Allaah describes obedience to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) as being a part of obedience to Him. Then He made a connection between obedience to Him and obedience to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him): "
O you who believe! Obey Allaah and obey the Messenger ..."[Q 4:59]
3. Allaah warns us not to go against the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)
Allaah states that whoever disobeys him will be doomed to eternal Hell. Allaah says
"... And let those who oppose the Messenger's commandment beware, lest some fitnah (trial, affliction, etc.) befall them or a painful torment be inflicted on them." [Q 24:63]
In a related verse Allaah says;
"And whatever the Messenger gives vou,take it; and whatsoever he forbids you, abstain [from it]. And fear Allaah; verily Allaah is severe in punishment"[Q 59:7]
4."They cannot believe, until..."
Allaah has made obedience to His Prophet [peace a religious duty; resisting or opposing it is a sign of hypocrisy:
"But no, by your Lord, they can have no Faith, until they make you [Muhammad] judge in all disputes between them, and find in themselves no resistance against your decisions, and accept (them) with full submission. " [Q 4:65]
5. Respond to that which gives you life
Allaah commands His slaves to respond to Him and His Messenger:
"O you who believe! Answer Allaah (by obeying Him) and (His) Messenger when he calls you to that which will give you life ..." [Q 8:24]
6. Allaah also commands His slaves to refer all disputes to him
“. . .(And) if you differ in anything amongst yourselves, refer it to Allaah and His Messenger . . ." [Q 4:59]
The Sunnah itself indicates the importance of the Sunnah. For example:
(a) Al-Tirmidhl reported from Abu Raafi' and others that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:
"I do not want to see anyone of you reclining on his couch and, when he hears of my instructions or prohibitions, saying 'I don't accept it; we didn't find any such thing in the Book of Allaah.’” Abu 'Eesaa said: This is a saheeh hasan [authentic] hadeeth. (Sunan al-Tirmidhi).
AI-'Irbaad ibn Saariyah, [RA], reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said:
"Would any of you think, reclining on his couch, that Allaah would only describe what is forbidden in the Qur'aan? I tell you, by Allaah, that I have warned and commanded and prohibited things that are as important as what is in the Qur'aan, if not more so." (Reported by Abu Dawud,).
(b) Abu Dawud also reported from al-'Irbaad ibn Saariyah, [RA]' that "the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) led us in prayer one day, then he turned to us and exhorted us strongly ... (He said),
'Pay attention to my sunnah (way) and the way of the Rightly-guided Khaleefahs after me, adhere to it and hold fast to it.’” (Saheeh Abi Dawud).
(3) The scholars' consensus (ijmaa') affirming the importance of the Sunnah.
AI-Shaafi'i, may Allaah have mercy on him, said:
"I do not know of anyone among the Companions and Taabi'een who narrated a report from the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) without accepting it, adhering to it and affirming that this was Sunnah. Those who came after the Taabi'een, and those whom we met did likewise: they all accepted the reports and took them to be Sunnah, praising those who followed them and criticizing those who went against them. Whoever deviated from this path would be regarded by us as having deviated from the way of the Companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and the scholars who followed them, and would be considered as one of the ignorant".
(4) Common sense indicates the importance of the Sunnah.
The fact that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) is the Messenger of Allaah indicates that we must believe everything he said and obey every command he gave. It goes without saying that he has told us things and given instructions in addition to what is in the Qur'aan. It is futile to make a distinction between the Sunnah and the Qur'aan when it comes to adhering to it and responding to it. It is obligatory to believe in What He told us, and to obey his instructions.
The ruling concerning those who deny the importance of the Sunnah is that they are kaafirs, because they deny and reject a well-known and undeniable part of the religion.'
We can see from all that have been narrated from the Qur'an, Sunnah and from the righteous predecessors that Islam cannot be practiced except by following the way of the Prophet [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him]. Anything short of this is the invitation of perdition upon the one who has this kind of belief.
We ask Allaah to show us the truth and help us to follow it, and to show us falsehood and help us to avoid it. May Allaah bless our Prophet Muhammad.
This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited