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The Authority of the Sunnah in the

Quran:
Analytical Study of Classical Tafasir

By
Ahmad Eldridge Cleaver
1

A Dissertation for the MA in Islamic Studies


SOAS, University of London

The Authority of the Sunnah in the Quran:


Analytical Study of Classical Tafasir
Table of Contents
Abstract
Methodology for Analysis of the Authority of the Sunnah of Muhammad
Chapter 1 Contemporary Discussions of the Authority of the Sunnah
Chapter 2 The Sunnah in the Quran
Chapter 3 Obedience to God and Obedience to Muhammad
Authority of Muhammad to Clarify the Quranic Legal Rulings
Muhammad and the Quranic Etiquette for Muslim Women
Economic Authority of Muhammad
Authority of Muhammad over Wealth Acquired through Conflict
Chapter 4 The Judicial Role of Muhammad
Authority of Muhammad to Consecrate Marriages
Authority of Muhammad to Give Legal Rulings to Ahlu Kitaab
Asmat Muhammad and Ijtihad
Chapter 5 Legal Terminologies and Muhammad in the Quran
Conclusion

The Authority of the Sunnah in the Quran:


Analytical Study of Classical Tafasir
Abstract
This paper was a Dissertation that formed part of the academic work that earned the MA
in Islamic Studies at SOAS, the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University
of London. The study discusses the status that the Quran attributes to the Sunnah of
Muhammad. The approach for analyzing the subject will depart from the Tafasir or works
of Qur'anic commentary of Classical Islamic scholars and their exegesis of ayat that
mention Muhammad. The study is organized into themes and concepts that include the
Quranic injunctions to obey God and the Messenger, the judicial role of Muhammad and
legal terminology in the ayat where Muhammad is mentioned. The research highlights
the existence of indicators in the Quranic text to the legal authority that is given to the
Sunnah of Muhammad. The Qur'anic interpretations of these legal implications by a
diverse collection of twelve Mufasirun are examined. The scholars selected span from the
3rd/9th Century to the 8th/14th Century. The intention is to offer a focused perspective of the
perception, place and role of the Sunnah in the eyes of Classical Islamic scholarship.
Answers are sought to questions regarding what is the significance of the Sunnah of
Muhammad in Islamic law and thought. The answers presented are the ones found
according to how Muhammads Sunnah is presented in the scriptural Quranic text.

Ahmad Eldridge Cleaver


MA Islamic Studies, Centre of Islamic Studies, Department of the Near
and Middle East, Faculty of Languages and Cultures, SOAS-School of
Oriental & African Studies, University of London

Transliteration Guide

as in

Th

kh

dh

Sh

.d

gh

as in

as in

Introduction
The Quran is the first source of authority in Islam.1 Within the Quranic text are
found numerous ayat conveying at times rules at other places broad guidelines that are
religious, spiritual, moral, legal, social and political.2 Often the wording is in the form of
a direct dialogue with Muhammad (Q. 2:80, 2:97, 2:135, 3:154, 8:38, 17:110).







"They say, 'The Fire will only touch us for a few days.' Say to them: 'Have
you received a promise from God--- for God never breaks His promise---or are
you saying things about Him of which you have no real knowledge?'
(Al-Baqarah 2:80)
Since the Quran is the first source of the religion of Islam, in it are
guidelines and indications of what is authority in Islam. So then we can ask of the Quran
some questions, read its text and examine what scholars have explained in their Tafasir.
The first question we will ask is; can any indicators be found in the Quran to
Muhammads Sunnah? What is mentioned of the Sunnah of Muhammad within the
Quranic text? Does the Qur'an attribute any significant importance to the Sunnah of
Muhammad? Is the Sunnah a source of authority in Islam?
The role of Muhammad, as described in the Quran, holds fundamental
importance in this work. Is adherence to the Sunnah described in the Quran? And what
importance is the Sunnah given in its text? How are Muhammad and his prophesy
presented in terms of the authority which he wields? Was the Sunnah perceived to be
entitled any legal authority by the Classical Mufasirun? Did they recognize a relationship
between his Sunnah and authority in the Islamic Shariah? Does the Quran contribute to
the authority of the Sunnah? Did the Classical scholars of Tafsir view Muhammads
Sunnah as a source of law in Islam? This examination of Classical Tafasir seeks to answer
the above questions.
Originally the term Sunnah; linguistically means a way of conduct, an act or a
custom, also a well beaten path, and an established consistent practice, a manner or a
methodology for doing something.3 (Q.17:77, 35:43) That is the meaning which the term
carries when it is employed in the Quran eighteen times according to G. H. A. Junyboll
1

Abdel Haleem, M. A. S., The Qur'an: a New Translation, p. 9, Hallaq, Wael B, Law and the Quran,
Encyclopaedia of the Quran, Kamali, M. H, Principles of Islamic jurisprudence, p.16, Suyuti, Itqan fi
ulum al Quran p.8.
2
Bell, R. Introduction to the Quran p.xi, 215-40, Draz, M. A., Introduction to the Qur'an. p.127, Kamali
p.18.
3
Albani, Mu.hammad Na.sir al-Din, al-.Hadith .hujjah bi-nafsihi, p.13, Azami, M. M, Studies in .Hadith
methodology and literature, p.3, Kamali, M. H, p.58, Ibn Salah al Shahrazuri, Introduction to Science of
Hadith, p.35, Juynboll, G.H.A. " Sunna." Encyclopaedia of the Qurn.
5

and sixteen according to Muhammad Siddiqi and M. M. Azami.4







"Such was Our way (Sunnah) with the Messengers We sent before you, and
you will find no change in Our ways." (Al-Isra 17:77)








"They became more arrogant in the land and intensified their plotting of evil--their plotting of evil only rebounds on those who plot. Do they expect anything
but what happened (Sunnah) to earlier people? You will never find any change
in God's practice (Sunnah); you will never find any deviation there.
(Fatir 35:43)
However, in the terminology of Islamic studies the word Sunnah specifically
came to designate the words, actions, tacit approval, the way and consistent practices of
the Prophet Muhammad.5 The term Hadith signifies the written documentation by which
Muslim scholars have attempted to compile and preserve the Sunnah during the early
centuries of Islam.6 While amongst some Muslims, a minority, Hadith is referred to as a
synonym for Sunnah.7
The methodology employed to investigate the answers to the above mentioned
questions regarding how the Sunnah is presented in the Quran is by analytical study of
the Classical Tafasir of thirty-five ayat of the Qur'an. These thirty-five ayat were selected
because they mention Muhammad, his Sunnah or his authority practice is referred to. To
examine their meanings we will embark on a discovery of Quranic commentary of the
Classical Islamic Era. Within its pages we will unfold the status and the role of the
Sunnah. I will define and limit the Classical period of Islam as from the 3rd/9th century to
the 8th/14th century. However, this study's limits do not include Shia or Zahiriya Tafasir
neither does this paper investigate ilim al rijjal; the reliability and the biographies of the
narrators in the Hadith cited by the Mufasirun.
My intention is to discover how classical Mufasirun perceived the significance of
the Sunnah of Muhammad. The intention is to answer the questions mentioned above by
an analytical study of the exegesis of twelve classical Mufasirun of ayat in the Quran
4

Juynboll, G.H.A. " Sunna." Encyclopaedia of the Qurn, Azami, M. M, p.3, Siddiqi, M. Z, .Hadith
literature : its origin, development and special features, p.2.
5
Abdel Haleem, M. A. S, Understanding the Qur'an, p.6, Philips, B, Usool al-Hadeeth : The Methodology
of Hadith Evaluation, p. 3, Robson, J. "Hadth." Encyclopaedia of Islam, Goitein, S. D, Studies in Islamic
history and institutions, p.25.
6
Albani, Mu.hammad Na.sir al-Din, p.13, Abdel Haleem, M. A. S, Quran and Hadith The Cambridge
companion to classical Islamic theology, Siddiqi, M. Z, p.2.
7
Siddiqi, M. Z, p.2.

that mention Muhammad. The study is organized into chapters and subchapters according
to themes and concepts to effectively highlight the relevant details to be found in the
Classical works of Tafsir.
In Chapter 1 is a brief overview of contemporary discussions on the authority of
the Sunnah in Islam. An outline of how the Sunnah is defined and some trends amongst
both contemporary Muslim scholars and Western scholars is offered. In contemporary
scholastic terminology non-Muslim specialists and experts in the study of Islam are
referred to as Islamicists, whereas they were more commonly known in the past as
Orientalists.
Chapter 2 introduces the Sunnah in the Quran.
Chapter 3 analyzes the Qur'anic theme of obedience to God and obedience to
Muhammad. This section examines the reasons why the Quran often communicates an
injunction to Obey God and obey the Messenger.
Chapter 4 examines the judicial role of Muhammad in the text.
Chapter 5 is an analysis of legal terminologies in ayat where Muhammad is
mentioned.
The paper then ends with the Conclusion.

Methodology for Analysis of the Authority of the Sunnah of Muhammad


The methodology employed is an analysis of the Quranic exegesis written by
twelve Classical scholars. Thirty-five ayat in the Quran that refer to Muhammad have
been selected. In the Tafasir discussion is made of if authority is invested in Muhammad
and in his established practice, his Sunnah or not. Relevant discussions have been
researched to deduce the presence or absence in the Quran of indicators to the authority
of the Sunnah as a source of law. Moreover, elaboration has been investigated so as to
define the place of the Sunnah and its relevance in the Islamic religion.
The pages of Tafasir include lengthy commentary on asbab al nuzul, the
occurrences for revelation, Arabic linguistics, grammar, morphology, Hadith, Athar,
sayings of the Sahaba, Tabien, Tabi al-Tabien and rational discourses on the meanings of
the scriptural text. A focused strategy to uncover if these scholars recognize any legal
implications in the Quran that are relevant to the question; is the Sunnah of Muhammad
a source of authority in Islam?
The Classical works of Tafasir from the 3rd/9th century to the 8th/14th have been
investigated and from each century I have chosen the works of two scholars to study and
analyze. The Mufasirun I have chosen form a quite diverse group, a broad cross-section
of the methodologies of Classical Islamic scholarship. They include four scholars who are
adherents to the Shafi mathab, three scholars from the Maliki law school, two Hanafi,
two Hanbali and one scholar, Ibn Jarir Al Tabari (d. 310/922), who founded the Jaririyya
mathab which is no longer followed.8 There are four Mufasirun from the area of modern
day Iraq, three from Iran, two Syrians, two from Andalusia - the name used for the
Islamic empire's area of Spain and one Algerian.
One of the twelve scholars is Ibn Taymiyyah (d. 728/1328). Although he does not
have a complete work specifically of Tafsir, a seven volume work has been recently
published that compiles a great deal of his own written work of Qur'anic exegesis. The
text is entitled al-Tafsir al-Kabir and within its pages is a considerable storehouse of his
prolific writing that delves deeply into Tafsir and is organized by subjects.9
So that a wide breadth of Classical Sunni understandings of Islam are examined,
the Tafasir of scholars who were Rationalist or Ahlu Ray, Mutazilite, Ashari, Sufi as
well as scholars who were strictly orthodox in their aqidah, system of beliefs, have been
selected. Each of these classical scholars are specialists in either Islamic Jurisprudence,
Hadith, and/or experts in Arabic linguistics and realistically many of them had profound
levels of expertise not only in their specialty but in other fields of Islamic sciences as
well.
The thirty-five ayat mentioning Muhammad are listed in Table 1 below. All of the
Mufasirun included in my research are then listed in Table 2.

Table 1

Quranic Ayat referring to Muhammads Sunnah

Dhahabi, Mu.hammad .Husayn., al-Tafsir wa-al-Mufasirun, v1 p.208-10, 217, 221, 247-51, 432, 438-43,
482, v2 p.37-38, 438, 459.
9

Ibn Taymiyyah, Ahmad ibn `Abd al-.Halim, al-Tafsir al-kabir, edited and compiled by`Abd al-Ra.hman `Umayrah

Sura Name

Ayat

Sura Period

'li `Imrn

3:32, 132

Medina

An-Nisa'

4:13-14, 59, 64-65, 69, 80,


105

Medina

Al-M'idah

5:42-43, 48-49, 92

Medina

Al-'A`rf

7:157

Mecca

Al-'Anfl

8:1, 20, 46

Medina

Al-Tawbah

9:71

Medina

An-Nr

24:51-52, 54, 56

Medina

Al-'Azb

33:21, 33, 36, 71

Mecca

Muammad

47:33

Medina

Al-Fat

48:10, 17

Medina

Al-ujurt

49:14

Medina

Al-Mujdila

58:13

Medina

Al-ashr

59:7

Medina

At-Taghbun

64:12

Medina

Table 2
Name
10

Selected Mufasirun10
Mathab

Tafsir

Origin

Specialty

Belief

Methodology

Dhahabi, Mu.hammad .Husayn, al-Tafsir wa-al-Mufasirun, Suyu.ti, Jalal al-Din, Tabaqat al-Mufasirun.

System
Ibn Jarir AlTabari
(d. 310)

Shafi then
Jaririyyah
Mujtahid

Jami alBayan an
tawil alQuran

Tabaristan,
Khurasan,
-Iran-

Muhaddith

Orthodox

Hadith, Athar,
linguistic, legal
implications

Al-Jassas
(d. 370)

Hanafi

Ahkam alQuran

Baghdad, Iraq

Jurist

Orthodox

Rationalist, Legal
implications

Al-Mawardi
(d. 450)

Shafi

al-Nukat wa
'l-uyn

Basra, Iraq

Jurist

Orthodox

Legal implications

Al-Wahidi
(d.468)

Shafi

Asbb alnuzl

Naysabur,
Khurasan,
-Iran-

Arabic
linguist

Orthodox

Occurrences of
revelation &
Linguistic

AlZamakshari
(d. 538)

Hanafi

Al-Kashshaf

Transoxiana,
Khurasan,
-Iran-

Arabic
linguist

Mutazilite

Grammatical,
syntax, philological,
morphology

Ibn Al-Furs
(d. 597)

Maliki

Ahkam alQuran

Andalusia

Jurist

Orthodox

Legal implications

Al-Razi
(d. 606)

Shafi

Maft h alghayb

Theology,
Philosophy

Ashari
Philosopher

Kalam = Dialectic
philosophy

Al-Qurtubi
(d. 671)

Maliki

Al-Jami Li
Ahkam alQuran

Khurasan,
-IranKhurasan,
-IranAndalusia

Jurist,
Muhaddith

Orthodox

Legal implications

Ibn Kathir
(d. 774)

Shafi

Damascus,
Syria

Muhaddith,
Jurist,

Orthodox

Hadith, legal
implications

Ibn
Taymiyyah
(d. 728)

Hanbali
Mujtahid

Tafsir AlAzim AlQuran


Compiled
recently from
his writings

Harran, Iraq,
Damascus,
Syria

Jurist,
Muhaddith,
Theology

Orthodox

Hadith, legal
implications

Al-Thalabi
(d. 875)

Maliki

Al-Jawahir alHisan

Algeria

Jurist

Sufi

legal implications

Ibn Adil
(d. 880 +)

Hanbali

Al-Lebab

Damascus,
Syria

Jurist,
Muhaddith

Orthodox

Hadith, Legal
implications

Chapter 1 Contemporary Discussions of the Authority of the Sunnah


Among the majority of contemporary Muslims scholars the Sunnah of
Muhammad is seen as a source of law next in authority to the Quran.11 Some
11

Albani, Mu.hammad Na.sir al-Din, p.25, Brown, Jonathan, The canonization of al-Bukhari and Muslim,

10

contemporary scholars perceive that part of the reason this is the majoritys view has its
roots with the efforts of Muhammad b. Idris Al-Shafi (d. 204/820). He is one of the early
scholars who were known to be especially active in teaching the view that Muhammads
Sunnah is revelation secondary only to the Quran.12 The influence of his al-Risalah, the
first written work on usul al-Fiqh, was important in popularizing and spreading the
concept that the Sunnah of Muhammad is revelation. However, amongst the Muslim
scholars who preceded al-Shafi are a large number of Hadith scholars who taught that the
Sunnah was both way, revelation, and a source of law.13 The views of the Sunnah to
these early scholars from the tabiun and the tabi tabiun represent the views of the
teachers of al-Shafi.14 Therefore, although one can not disregard the influence of alRisalah, it can be argued that its articulation of the authority of Muhammads Sunnah was
a teaching passed down to al-Shafi from the generations of Muslim scholarship that
preceded him. By researching carefully into the legacy of the Hadith scholarship of
Muhammad b. Shihab al-Zuhri (d. 124/742), al-Amash (d. 148/765) , Shuba b. al-Hajjaj
(d. 160/776) Sufyan al-Thawri (d. 161/778) and Malik b. Anas (d. 179/795) it can be
uncovered that al-Shafi only expressed how the Sunnah was a legal authority in the eyes
of the teachers before him, like Malik whom he was a direct student of.15
Strict adherence to deducing law based mainly only on the two sources of the
Quran and the Sunnah has been a point of disagreement amongst Fiqh scholars. Many
Hanafis, Rationalists and Mutazilites distinguish strictly and completely between Hadith
ahad and Hadith mutawatir.16 They accept as a proof for evidence in ahkam, legal rulings
or aqidah, Hadith only if they are mutawatir with multiple narrators in every stage of the
Isnad, the chain of transmission.17 This then eliminates a vast number of Hadith that
scholars from the other side of this methodological disagreement, especially many of the
scholars of Hadith claim are important in documenting the Sunnah, the ahkam and
aqidah.18
Classical Salafi Islam or Traditionalist Salifis are what Scott C. Lucas and other
scholars describe as the other side of this contemporary Muslim discussion of the
authority of the Sunnah.19 They comprise a minority of scholars who hold to the
methodology that every Hadith that is authentic in its Isnad and its matin is an acceptable
proof and authorized to be employed as evidence for both ahkam and aqidah.20 In their
p.72, Azami, M. M, p.5, Kamali, M. H, p.61, Hallaq, Wael B, A history of Islamic legal theories, p.11,
Philips, B, p.4.
12
Hallaq, Wael B, p.18, 20-21, Kamali, M. H, p. 62-63, 78, 85, Lucas, Scott C, Constructive critics,
.Hadith literature, and the articulation of Sunni Islam, p. 12.
13
Lucas, Scott C, p. 368-9.
14
Ibid, p. 368-9.
15
Ibid, p. 155-6, p. 368-9.
16
Al-Abbaad, Abdul Muhsin, The Methodology of Islamic Law Made Easy, Eng. Trans. Philips. B, p.130,
AlBani, p.49, Kamali, M. H, p. 96-96.
17
Hallaq, Wael B, p.18, Kamali, M. H, p.96-97.
18
AlBani, p.62-64, Kamali, M. H, p.105.
19
Brown, Jonathan, p.305-6, Butrus Abu-Manneh, Salafiyya and the Rise of the Khlidiyya in Baghdad,
p.350, Kamali, p.493, Lucas, Scott C, Constructive critics, p.41-2, Lucas, Scott C, Legal Principles of
Muhammad B. Ismail Al-Bukhari & their Relationship to Classical Salafi Islam, p.290-1, Itzchak
Weismann, Between S f Reformism and Modernist Rationalism: A Reappraisal of the Origins of the
Salafiyya , p.211, Wiktorowicz, Quintan, The Salafi Movement in Jordan, p.219.
20
Al-Bani, p.49-50,67-68, Lucas, Scott C, Legal Principles of Muhammad B. Ismail Al-Bukhari, p.295,
Philips, B, Usool al-Hadeeth, p.93, Ibn Salah al Shahrazuri, p.58,65.
11

assessment, refusing to accept a Sunnah that is documented in a Hadith ahad is to neglect


a perfectly acceptable and authentic Hadith. Ibn Taymiyyah, Ahmad b. Hanbal and other
Hanbali jurists similarly held that Hadith Ahad when confirmed with supporting evidence
was an acceptable proof and legitimate documentation of the authentic Sunnah.21
So inside the range of contemporary Sunni Muslim scholarship, all basically
accept Muhammads Sunnah as an authority in Islam but to different degrees and extents.
For a large portion of scholars how much authority is given to any particular Sunnah
differs according to the grades of the Hadith that document it, whereas a minority of
scholars accept any authentic Hadith as a legitimate proof.
Many Islamicists have researched the authenticity of Hadith and came to the
conclusion that the Hadith were fabricated in mass. Joseph Schacht wrote extensively on
Fiqh literature including Maliks al-Muwatta, both Shafis al-Risalah and al-Um as well
as other Islamic legal works.22 Schachts writings on Islamic law were founded on his
thesis that the vast majority of Hadith were merely invented in the 1st /7th Century. In
Schachts own words, Muhammad had little reason to change the existing customary
law. His aim as a Prophet was not to create a new system of lawhis authority was not
legal but for the believers religiousthe evidence of legal traditions carries us back to
about the year 100 A.H. only.23 Then to Schacht, the idea that the Sunnah carries legal
authority in Islam was only a theory innovated a century after Muhammad by jurists
seeking to produce evidence in support of their legal opinions.24 Schachts thesis remains
a fundamental part of research done by western scholars on Islam and has continued to
influence major trends and new thinkers.25 His research methodology focused far more on
Fiqh literature than on the books of Hadith, Hadith criticism or the biographies of Hadith.
Consequently, Schacht's comparatively limited investigation of the sciences of the
tarjim, the biographies of the narrators of the Hadith and the verification of the chains of
transmission of the Hadith were one of the main reasons that led him to his conclusions.26
Ignaz Goldziher saw Hadith as merely a record of the development of ideas in the
Muslim community that were fabricated centuries after Muhammad.27 Juynboll took on a
similar methodology with some modifications and further developed the earlier theories
of Hadith fabrication coupling them with detailed visual representations of Isnads that
interlinked and were depicted in imaginative artistic diagrams.28
21

Kamali, M. H, p.105, Matroudi, Abdul Hakim I., The Hanbali school of law and Ibn Taymiyyah, p.47, 60.
Schacht, Joseph, The origins of Muhammadan jurisprudence, p.77, 2533, 260, 294, 311, 315, Robson,
James, Muslim Tradition: The Question of Authenticity, p. 15-16.
23
Schacht, Joseph, Introduction to Islamic law, p.50, & The origins of Muhammadan jurisprudence, p.5.
24
Melchert, Christopher, Reviewed work: On Schacht's "Origins of Muhammadan Jurisprudence" by M.
Mustafa al-Azami, p.363-7
25
Anderson, Norman, Sir, Islamic law in the modern world, p.11-12, Calson, N. J, A History of Islamic
Law, p.64-65, Forte, David F, Studies in Islamic law : classical and contemporary application, p.64-65,
Layish, Aharon , Notes on Joseph Schacht's Contribution to the Study of Islamic Law, p.133, Fazlur
Rahman, Islamic methodology in history, p.10 Talmon, Rafael, Schacht's Theory in the Light of Recent
Discoveries concerning and the Origins of Arabic Grammar, p.46-9.
26
Azami, M. M., p.117, Calson, N. J, A History of Islamic Law, p.64-65, Lucas, Scott C, Constructive
critics, .Hadith literature, p.95-7, Harald Motzki, The Musannaf
of Abd al-Razzq al-Sann as a Source

of Authentic Ah dth of the First Century A. H.,in Hadith : origins and developments / edited by Harald
Motzki, p.287-8.
27
Goldziher, Ignz, Muslim Studies, v2 p.19.
28
Juynboll, G. H. A., Muslim tradition: studies in chronology, provenance and authorship of early Hadith,
22

12

There are also conflicting trends and opinions western literature regarding the
authenticity of Hadith and thus the relevance of the Sunnah. Some scholars categorically
disagreed with the thesis that Schacht and others promoted. Harald Motzki for instance,
studied Isnad via older and newly recovered books of Hadith such as the Musannaf of alRazzaq al-Sanani and disagreed with Schachts and Goldzihers sharply skeptical and
quite negative perceptions of the Isnad.29 In fact, there has been a host of writers of
commendable literature by Islamicists who have employed scientific methods of research
to critically investigate and analyze Hadith literature. This new wave of Islamicists has
contributed to the discussion around the authority of the Sunnah. For instance, Hallaqs
work on legal theory provided sound evidence of the role that the Sunnah of Muhammad
played in Islamic law.30 Nadia Abbot shared her excellent research that gives a much
more accurate presentation of the Isnad and how the transmission of Hadith from
Muhammad was verified and confirmed by early Muslim scholars using an exacting
methodology.31 Moreover S. D. Goitein and S. G. Vesey-Fitzgerald are two other
Islamicists whose scholarly works have made strides towards a more effective analysis of
what role the Sunnah occupies in Islam.32
When unbiased, balanced modern scientific research is used to investigate the
actual Hadith literature itself, then accurate conclusions can be arrived at. Such is what
can be found in the work of Motzki, Hallaq, Abbot and others. Whereas Schacht,
Goldziher and Juynboll wrote as if their conclusions were arrived at before they began
their research. They passed judgments upon the authenticity of the Hadith with little
investigation of its Matin, the text of the Hadith, or the methodology for the
authentication of the Isnad, the chain of transmission of the Hadith, its meaning, purpose,
its texts or sources. This study concentrates on the beginning of Islam, the first source,
the Qur'anic text, so as to shed light upon what is said within it of the Sunnah's authority.
In the next chapter we begin to look at the Sunnah in the Qur'an.

Chapter 2 The Sunnah in the Quran


Now we will begin to turn to what can be found in the Quran that refers to the
Sunnah of Muhammad. Note that what we endeavor to discover is can any indication of
the authority of the Sunnah be found in the Quran?
First, it must be said that many of the ayat in the Quranic text are general and
give to the reader guidelines, principles or directs the reader with a language of broad
themes. One does not always find conveyed the specifics of how to exactly implement
some of its injunctions. Thus, there are a countless number of tenets and legal rulings in
the Shariah law that comes from specific legal implications that are deduced from Hadith
p.10.
29
Harald Motzki, p.287-8.
30
31

Abbott, Nabia, Studies in Arabic literary papyri, v2 p.2, 64.


Vesey-Fitzgerald, S. G, The alleged debt of Islamic to Roman law, p.87, Goitein, S. D., Studies in
Islamic history and institutions, p.129,131.
32

13

and not mentioned in the Quran.33 For instance, the Islamic prohibitions against a
Muslim man being simultaneously married to a woman and her maternal aunt, human
consumption of the meat of predators and taking ransom for prisoners of war were only
transmitted via the Sunnah and not by the Quran.34
Another important example of how the Quranic text often relies on general
language can be found in no other than the fundamental daily ritual of worship in Islam,
Salat. The Qur'anic description of Salat, offers Muslims a picture that is less than a
complete illustration of how it is to be performed. Salat is mentioned 67 times in the
Quran.35 We are told it is an act of worship that contains standing in prayer (Q. 22:26,
37:165), bowing, (Q. 9:112, 39:9) prostration, (Q. 3:111, 9:112, 22:26, 39:9, 48:27) the
glorification of God, (Q. 18:28, 24:58) with submission to the Creator (Q. 23:2).
Likewise, the performance of Salat is stated to be at fixed times (Q. 4:103), yet
the details given of the times of Salat are not very precise. The text defines the times as at
early dawn and in another place at morning (Q. 17:78, 33:42). While other ayat say when
the day begins to decline (Q. 30:18) in the afternoon (Q. 33:42) at the rising and setting of
the sun (Q. 50:39) and at the two ends of the day (Q. 11:114). However, these
descriptions in the Qur'an consist of slightly vague images and are in need of some
specification in order to form a complete framework giving directions, instructions and
details for the daily ritual of prayer for the life of the individual Muslim, the family and
the community.36
So we can understand that a need exists to fill in the gaps, per say, or to give
further elaboration, to clarify exactly what was meant in the Quranic text. For certainly,
these accounts of the times and modes of Salat do not form a completely clear definition
with sufficient detail. Therefore further elaboration was of course necessary.
Consequently, Salat, the five times a day Muslim prayer was given ample clarity,
illustration and demonstration in the Sunnah.37 The numbers of Hadith that narrate the
specific details of the Salat are nearly countless.38 It is as if by design, what has not been
stated and detailed in the Quran is then a subject that can be found, defined and reported
upon in the Sunnah of Muhammad.39
The role of the Sunnah in the previous example is essential. We can find many
other examples where the unspecified areas and general language in the Qur'an have
been clarified by the Sunnah.40 By studying the Tafasir of thirty-five Quranic ayat we
will examine if the Classical Mufasirun saw the Sunnah as a source for rules, laws and
beliefs as well as if they sought more detailed explanations of the Quran in the Sunnah.
The Quran unfolds a presentation to its reader of Muhammad, a model practitioner of the
religious way of life of Islam.41 His words and deeds are proclaimed to be necessary
contributions towards understanding Islam and thus his station is raised to a very high
33

Al-Shatibi, Ibrahim M. M, Muwafaqat, v4 p.320.


Al-Shatibi, Ibrahim M. M, v4 p.323.
35
Monnot, G. "S alt." Encyclopaedia of Islam.
36
Albani, Mu.hammad Na.sir al-Din, p.25, Robson, James, Muslim Tradition: The Question of Authenticity,
p.1.
37
Mu.hammad ibn Jarir al-.Tabari, Jami` al-bayan `an ta'wil aya al-Qur'an : Tafsir al-.Tabari, v7 p.6078.
38
Bukhari, Mu.hammad ibn Isma'il, .Sa.hi.h al-Bukhari, v1, p.211-279, 297-331,393-459, Muslim b.
al-.Hajjaj, al-Qushayri, .Sa.hi.h Muslim, p.206-283, Monnot, G. "S alt." Encyclopaedia of Islam.
39
Al-Shatibi, Ibrahim M. M., p.325, Al-Juyni, Abd al Malik b. Abd Allah, Matin al Waraqat, p.11-12.
40
Albani, Mu.hammad Na.sir al-Din, p.25, 28.
41
Azami, M. M, p.6.
34

14

status in the text.42 I introduce the Sunnah in the Quran by highlighting that the text
conveys an association between Muhammads words and the revelation of the Qur'an.43













Your companion (Muhammad) has not strayed; nor is he deluded;
nor does he speak from his own desire. The Qur'an is nothing less than
a revelation that is sent to him." (Al-Najm 53: 2-4)

Chapter 3 Obedience to God and Muhammad


How does the Quran present Muhammad in relation to God and in relation to
Muslims? Out of the thirty-five ayat researched, twenty-one of them couple the
imperative verb obey with God and Muhammad. Although the wording of the ayat
vary, one of the fundamental concepts that is consistently conveyed in these ayat is Ai`
Allha wa ai` ar-Rasl "Obey God and obey the Messenger. (Q. 3:32, 3:132, 4:14,
4:59, 4:64, 4:69, 4:80, 5:92, 8:1, 8:20, 8:46, 24:52, 24:54, 33:33, 33:36, 33:71, 47:33,
48:17, 49:14, 58:13, 64:12)
Fakhr Al-Din Muh ammad b. Umar b. al-Husayn Al-Razi (d. 606/1209) employs
a philosophical and rationalist methodology in his Tafsir. He was a Shafi scholar, whose
42
43

Ibid.
Ibn Kathir, Isma`il ibn `Umar, Tafsir al-Qur'an al-`a.zim, v9 p.306-7.

15

belief system was that of the Ash'ari sect.44 He was described as an excellent preacher
with a strong voice, a big build and a long beard who would bring his listeners to tears
when giving religious talks.45 His Tafsir stands out because of his format of using
arguments, counter-arguments, sub-arguments and his opinions more so than using
Hadith or Athar of the Sahaba or Tabien. His work is one of the most wellrespected
Tafasir bi'l Ra'y, dialectic theology and rationality. Part of the reason for it being admired
is how the author eloquently links ayat in the Qur'an to Astronomy, Medicine, Math and
Philosophy while still including in his exegesis a large amount of Ahkam, Arabic
grammar and Balagha, Arabic eloquence.46 Al-Razi was a student of the master linguist
and Mufasir Al-Zamakshari.47
Al-Razi elaborates upon the concept of obedience to Muhammad. He questions
why is the obedience to Muhammad tied in the same sentences to obedience to God? In
the Qur'anic methodology of reasoning, it is as if, for example; if one could ever imagine
disregarding Muhammads directions, to participate in jihad was permissible; then the
Quran adds to the command for jihad to defend the Muslims; it is actually an act of
obedience to God as well as obedience to Muhammad.48 (Q. 8:20) When the Quranic
text expresses obedience the term used is not his name, Muhammad. Rather he is
designated by the title, the Messenger - Ar-Rasl.
By the command to obedience, Ai`, what is meant is that according to Muslim
belief, God is in the words of the Quran, directly giving Muslims an injunction and an
order, a directive and a command to submit to and to adhere to the teachings of God in
the Quran and the teachings of Muhammad in the Sunnah. To obey Muhammad means
to adhere to his Sunnah.49 The command is a duality, but according to the beliefs of
Muslims, the Quran extends directly from one, from God. Even though there are two
lawgivers, but actually the authority of the second, Muhammad, is not completely
independent. Muhammad's authority stems from him being the Messenger. So he conveys
the message, and its laws from the source, the highest and most absolute authority in
Islam, from God.
The Qur'anic command for obedience consistently repeats itself;






"Ai` Allha wa ai` Ar-Rasl
Obey God, and obey the Messenger"

This explicit, direct command with an imperative verb often comes in an ayah
immediately following Ayat Ahkam, Qur'anic verses of Islamic legal rulings. Such an
arrangement acts as an encouragement and a confirmation for the believers to adhere to
44

Dhahabi, v2 p.37-38.
Ibid.
46
Ibid.
47
Dhahabi, v1 p.429-435.
48
Ibid, al-Razi, al-Fakhr al-Din Mu.hammad ibn `Umar, Tafsir al-kabir wa-Mafati.h al-ghayb, v5 p.530.
49
Ibn `Adil v6 p.441-51, Mawardi v1 p.400-1, Razi v3 p.370, Tabari v3 p.2393, Thalabi v1 p.360-1,
Qurtubi v5 p.259-61.
45

16

the laws reported. From among the occurrences where this is evident are the Quranic
prohibitions against alcohol, gambling, lending money with usury, the prohibition against
apostasy, the decree for jihad as well as the rules for the gathering and the distribution of
both charity as well as wealth acquired through conflict or through peace treaties.
The Hukum prohibiting alcohol and gambling is found in an ayah that conveys an
unequivocal legal ruling of prohibition:50




"With intoxicants and gambling, Satan seeks only to incite enmity and hatred
among you, and to stop you remembering God and prayer. Will you not give
them up?" (Al-Ma'idah 5:91)
This ayah is then immediately followed by Q. 5:92 that first begins with 'Ai`
Allha wa ai` Ar-Rasl:









"Obey God, and obey the Messenger, and always be on your guard: if you pay
no heed, bear in mind that the sole duty of Our Messenger is to deliver the
message clearly." (Al-Ma'idah 5:92)
Zamakshari interprets this ayah to be more of a warning about the harmful
consequences of alcohol and of the non-adherence to the Hukum against its consumption
and not directed solely to a failure to obey God and Muhammad.51 In other words, the
idea of obedience to God and to Muhammad here is just to confirm the seriousness of the
Islamic law's prohibition of intoxicants.
Another quite explicit Hukum forbids usury in Q. 3:130 and the following ayat
opens with 'Ai` Allha wa Ar-Rasl. (Q. 3:132) This Hukum exemplifies one of the
aspects in the Quranic methods of reasoning in that it employs contrasts to convince the
reader of the wisdom and benefit in following its rules. In addition, the Quranic text
intertwines eschatological warnings of punishment to non-adherence. There is one ayah
sits between the Hukum and the ayah commanding obedience; Zamakshari mentions that
this ayah was called by Imam Abu Hanifa; the most frightening ayah in the entire Quran.
The reason is that the believers are warned of being punished in the hellfire that has been
especially prepared for non-believers.52 (Q. 3:131)
50

`Umar ibn `Ali ibn `Adil al-Dimashqi al-.Hanbali, al-Lubab fi `ulum al-Kitab, v7 p.509, Razi, v3 p.659,
Tabari, v4 p.3005, Mu.hammad ibn A.hmad al-An.sari al-Qur.tubi, Mukhtar tafsir al-Qur.tubi : al-jami` lia.hkam al-Qur'an, v6 p.293.
51
Ma.hmud ibn `Umar al-Zamakshari, al-Kashshaf `an .haqaiq ghawami.d al-tanzil wa-`uyun al-aqawil fi
wujuh al-tawil, v1, p.642.
52
Zamakshari, v1, p.463.
17

Ibn Taymiyyah similarly writes that the fires of hell were designed for nonbelievers and this ayat and many others warn believers to beware or they will be punished
with the same flames which were prepared for the non-believers as well.53 The use of
contrast juxtaposes images of the hellfire in the afterlife against the command for
obedience coupled with portraits of a destination colored with eternal divine mercy.
(Q. 3:132)



.



"Beware of the Fire prepared for those who disbelieve. And obey God
and the Messenger so that you may be given mercy."
('li `Imrn 3:131-2)

Apostasy
Apostasy from Islam is categorically prohibited and among the ayat
interpreted to deduce this Hukum are Q.47:25, 32. 54 These ayat similar to what we have
seen in the ayat mentioned above are coupled with a command for obedience to God and
obedience to Muhammad:

O you who believe, obey God, and obey the Messenger and do not let your
deeds go to waste. (Muhammad 47:33)
Many of the Classical Mufasirun reported that the Sahaba used to have
confidence that all of their good deeds after they converted to Islam would be
automatically accepted by God until this ayah was revealed.55 At which point many of
them began to fear that the greater sins could nullify a Muslims good deeds. A number of
the classical scholars interpreted from this ayat the Hukum of wajub, compulsory
religious obligation, to the adherence to Gods commands in the Quran and to
Muhammads Sunnah.56 This ayah is referred to by Al-Razi in the context of the Hukum
that forbids apostasy. Apostasy is described by many Classical scholars as a sin that
nullifies any rewards from previous good deeds.57 Here apostasy is being contrasted
against adherence to the command of obedience to God and to Muhammad. The former
wipes away any record of good deeds while the later is seen as the heights of good deeds
and the door opening to the straightway rich with good works. The Qur'anic method of
reasoning systematically returns to the uses of such contrasts in this way seeking to prove
53

Ibn Taymiyyah, v5, p.339.


Ibn Kathir, v4 p.2606-7, Tabari, v9, p.7459.
55
Ibn `Adil v17 p.468-9, Ibn Kathir v4 p.2606, Qurtubi v16 p.254, Zamakshari v3 p.538.
56
Ibn `Adil v17 p.468-9, Mawardi v4 p.53, Razi v14 p.71-2, Tabari v9 p.7459, Qurtubi v16 p.254.
57
Ibn Kathir v4 p.2606-7, Razi v14 p.71-2, Tabari v9 p.7459.
54

18

its point.
Al-Razi cites Q. 49:2 in his Tafsir of Q. 47:33 as supporting evidence that to
disobey Muhammad is in fact a greater sin that erases a persons good deeds:58







"O you who believe, do not raise your voices above the Prophet's, do not raise
your voice when speaking to him as you do to one another, or your good deeds
may be cancelled out without you knowing." (Al-Hujurat 49:2)
Five of the scholars here examined interpreted the ayah as contrasting
following the Sunnah against leaving the religion of Islam, or converting to another faith.
The legal implication of following Muhammad's Sunnah is found in how the ayah forbids
raising ones voice above Muhammad's. The legal ruling these Classical scholars have
deduced here is that to apostatize from Islam is equivalent to the act of rejecting
Muhammad's Sunnah; the consequence of which results in all of ones good deeds being
lost. Tabari, Ibn Kathir, Qurtubi, Ibn Adil and Al-Razi thus construct from this ayah the
Hukum that following the Sunnah is obligatory upon Muslims.59
Muh ammad b. Jarr b. Yazd Al-Tabari (d. 310) from Tabaristan, Khurasan of
contemporary Iran wrote the oldest surviving Tafsir that still remains intact as well as
important historical texts that preserve quite hard to find details of the first centuries of
Islamic history.60 He inherited a good deal of money from his father and supported
himself humbly, travelling to Baghdad, Basra, Wasit, Kufa, Damascus, Palestine and
Egypt to study.61 He devoted his life to learning and had not even married before he died.
Tabari was a Muhaddith and a Faqih.
Tabari's methodology in his Tafsir is that he first details the interpretation of the
ayah and then narrates Hadith from the Sahaba that support and prove its meaning.62 Then
he continues by narrating athar from the Tabieen and the Tabi al-tabien. Initially he was a
Shafi scholar and then developed his own school of law, the Jaririyya mathab that has not
survived. His Aqida was orthodox and within his Tafsir he highlights ayat where he
interprets refutations of the Mutazilaite, Qadiriyah, R'ay - the rationalists, as well as
Tafasir relying solely on the Arabic language.63 Whereas Tabari, himself does elaborate in
his Tafsir using Arabic grammar and cites Arabic poetry to weigh conflicting Hadith and
athar. These linguistic skills are exercised so as deduce the most accurate meaning when
relevant to Ahkam and Tafsir.64
Tabari goes to great lengths to outline Ijmah amongst the schools of law and their
differences of opinions related to Ahkam. The main source of Tafsir in his methodology
was the Hadith, the Sahaba; the documented sayings of Muhammad and the early
Muslims; also known as the salaf. When he cites legal rulings he always gives the Isnad
58

Razi v14 p.71-72.


Ibn `Adil v17 p.468-9, Ibn Kathir v4 p.2606, Razi v14 p.72, Tabari v9 p.7459, Qurtubi v16 p.254.
60
Dhahabi v.1 p.208.
61
Ibid.
62
Ibidd p.210.
63
Ibid p.220-2.
64
Ibid p.217.
59

19

and chooses the best opinion, in his eyes by comparing the legal implications in the
Qur'an and in the Hadith he narrates.

Jihad
The decree of jihad is shown in different places within the Quranic text and one
is Q. 8:45. This injunction is followed by an ayah that commands obedience:

"Wa 'Ai` Allha Wa Raslahu Wa L Tanza` Fatafshal Wa Tadhhaba


Rukum
Obey God and His Messenger, and do not quarrel with one another,
or you may lose heart and your spirit may desert you." (Al-'Anfl 8:46)
Muhammad's role during conflicts is described in some detail by Umar b. Ali b.
Adil Al-Dimashqi (d. 880+/1475+). Ibn Adil was a Hanbali jurist, a Syrian, educated in
Damascus and Egypt where he died. He wrote a commentary on a Hanbali Fiqh book
authored by the grandfather of Ibn Taymiyyah as well as his Tafsir on ayat al Ahkam.65
He interprets from this ayah that Muhammad had the authority to lead Muslims into
battle and moreover, that their obedience to him was a prerequisite for victory.66
Five centuries earlier, Tabari writes that the sabab al nuzul, the occurrence for
revelation, of this ayah was when the companions left Muhammad during the Battle of
Uhud.67 Others wrote that the ayah was revealed during the Battle of Bader.68 Whether the
ayat was revealed during the first or the latter, the Quranic text connects victory on the
battlefield with obedience to God and obedience to Muhammad.69 A metaphor is used
with Rukum, your power, strength, victory or spirit.70
Mah md b. Umar Zamakshari wrote what is often called the most
comprehensive Tafsir elaborating on the linguistic style, Balagha, rhetoric, Arabic
grammar, morphology and philogy of the Qur'an.71 His work highlights Ijaz of the Qur'an,
the miraculous nature of the Qur'an, in the sense of the linguistic miracle of the Qur'anic
language. He held that the Qur'anic Arabic can only be from a divine source and
compared it repetitively with traditional Arabic poetry, highlighting the multi-levels of
meaning of the Qur'anic text.72
Zamakshari was from Transoxiana, Khurasan, in Iran, a Hanafi scholar, a
renowned master-specialist in Arabic linguistics and one of the teachers of Al-Razi. He
65

Ibn Adil v1 p.3, http://www.altafsir.com.


Ibn Adil, v9 p.535.
67
Tabari, v5 p.3865.
68
Qurtubi, v8 p.24.
69
Ibn Adil, v9 p.533-4.
70
Abdel Haleem, Muhammad, Arabic Eng Dict Quranic p. 388, Tha`alibi, `Abd al-Ra.hman, al-Jawahir
al-.hisan fi tafsir al-Qur'an, v22 p.22, Qurtubi, v8 p.24.
71
Dhahabi, v1 p.429-435.
72
Ibid.
66

20

followed the Mu'tazilite theology. He also wrote works in lexicography, a thesaurus of the
Arabic language, an Arabic-Persian dictionary, a dictionary of over 3,400 Arabic proverbs
and a Classical Arabic dictionary of rare words and expressions found in the Hadith of
Muhammad.73
All of Zamakshari, Al-Razi and Ibn Adil add that this Qur'anic Arabic expression
is multi-layered in meaning and that Rukum can also convey the sense of your country,
i.e. that by not obeying God and Muhammad ones country could become weak, lose
respect or never to be feared by anyone.74 Such an interpretation of the Qur'anic Arabic
word Rukum, has a potentially broad reach to be employed in critique on the state of
affairs in contemporary Muslim countries. In terms of obedience, many of the Mufasirun
stressed that no victory or assistance can come from God unless the Muslim fighter was
sincere in both obeying the commands and avoiding the prohibitions of God in the
Quran and in Muhammad's Sunnah. 75 Likewise to quarrel or dispute about the authority
of Muhammad or even of the legitimacy of his Sunnah was interpreted as a potential
cause of weakness and defeat. This is contrasted against the Quranic command of
obedience coupled with the promise of victory by divine assistance
Ibn Kathir (d. 774/1373) unique amongst the Mufasirun, writes an elaborate
testimony of the importance of obedience in his Tafsir of this ayah. He invokes a long list
of nations who were defeated by early Muslims when many Sahaba, the companions of
Muhammad, were still alive. To him it was the Sahabas' and early Muslims' pure
devotion to obeying God and adhering to Muhammads Sunnah which brought a special
blessing upon the Muslim armies. According to Ibn Kathir, this blessing was one of the
main reasons behind the defeat of the legions of fighters opposing the early Muslims in
Egypt, Iran, the Turks, the Berbers, the Ethiopians, the Sudanese and the Slavs.76 Perhaps
Ibn Kathir was writing to awaken the memory of the Muslim past glory after the Mongol
invasions had defeated and demolished much of the capitol of his homeland Damascus.
His full name was Isml b. Umar b. Kathr who flourished and died in
Damascus. He was a Shafi scholar and one of the most renowned students of Ibn
Taymiyyah.77 Through his scholarly accomplishments, Ibn Kathir earned the respect of
many, as a teacher in the Islamic schools and large Mosques of Damascus. His Tafsir is a
used as a standard text studied in Islamic universities internationally. However, his most
famous work is al-Bidya wa 'l-nihya, a detailed narration of Islamic history from the
Sirah of Muhammad to the Mamluk period.78 He also authored valuable works on the
sciences of Hadith especially his biographical histories of the narrators of Hadith. It is
worthy to note that he married the daughter of Jaml Dn al-Mizz (d. 742/1342) and
73

Ibid, "al- Zamak_h_s_h_ar , Abu l- Ksim Mah md b . Umar." Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second
Edition. Ed. by: P. Bearman , Th. Bianquis , C.E. Bosworth , E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill, 2009.
Zamakshari's Arabic Thesaurus is Ass al-balg_h_a, the dictionary of Arabic proverbs is Mustaks fi
amthl al 'Arab and the Hadith dictionary is called al-Fik f g_h_arb al-h adt_h_.
74
Ibn Adil, v9 p.533, Razi, v4 p.550, Zamakshari, v2 p.162.
75
Ibn `Adil v9 p.533-4, Ibn Kathir v2 p.1245-7, Mawardi, `Ali ibn Mu.hammad, al-Nukat wa-al-`uyun, v2
p.106-7, Razi v4 p.550, Tabari v5 p.3865-6.
76
Ibn Kathir v2 p.1245-6.
77
Dhahabi, v1 p.242-247.
78
Laoust, H. "Ibn Kat_h_r , Imd al-Dn Isml b. Umar b. Kat_h_r." Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second
Edition. Edited by: P. Bearman , Th. Bianquis , C.E. Bosworth , E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill,
2009.
21

became the son-in-law of arguably the most famous Muhaddith in Syria.79


Obedience to Muhammad who Conveys Ahkam
Obedience to Muhammad is a fundamental Quranic concept because he teaches
and demonstrates many Ahkam, the legal rulings of Islam. This concept is found in the
following ayah:80




















Laqad Kna Lakum F Rasli Allhi 'Uswatun asanatun
The Messenger of God is an excellent model for those of you who put
your hope in God and the Last Day and remember God often. "
(Al-'Azb 33:21)
The significant term here is 'Uswatun and means an exemplar, a model.81 Classical
scholars have inferred from this ayah and others that Muhammads life example, his
words and deeds are a source of law for all aspects of life.82 Moreover, this principle can
be found taught internationally, that the foundation of a Muslims life should be based on
the example demonstrated by Muhammad. This basic and fundamental principle in the
Islamic faith is often expressed by referring to this ayah.
However, two varying trends of juristic opinions have been described by the
scholars. The first group of scholars held that it was wajib to follow the example set by
Muhammad unless there was additional evidence in the sources of Islam that denote a
specific Sunnah as being only mustahab, praiseworthy or highly recommended.83
Whereas the second group of scholars deduce that the ruling of following Muhammads
Sunnah was mustahab, to be heeded and patterned after, yet not as an obligation unless
additional evidence denoted wajub, a compulsory obligation.84
Three Fiqh scholars, jurists, Al-Jassas, (d. 370/981), Qurtubi (d. 671/1273) and
Mawardi (d. 450/1058) differentiated between Muhammad's temporal or worldly affairs
and his religious Sunnah. They agreed that in amal, worldly affairs, that giving
precedence to Muhammads Sunnah was only mustahab, while in religious affairs it was
wajib.85
Ah mad b. Al Ab Bakr al-Rz Al-Jassas a Hanafi jurist, wrote the most
important Tafsir that specifically expresses the legal opinions of the Hanafi School of law.
79

Ibid.
Ibn Kathir v3 p.2234.
81
Abdel Haleem, Muhammad, Arabic Eng Dict Quranic p. 29, Ibn al-Furs al-Gharna.ti, `Abd al-Mun`im
ibn Mu.hammad, A.hkam al-Qur'an, v3 p.423, Mawardi v3 p.314, Tabari v8 p.6632, Zamakshari v3 p.256.
82
Ibn al-Furs v3 p.423, Ibn Kathir v3 p.2234, Ja.s.sa.s, A.hmad ibn `Ali, A.hkam al-Qur'an., v3 p.355,
Mawardi v3 p.314-5, Tabari v8 p.6632-5, Qurtubi v14 p.155-6, Zamakshari v3 p.256-7.
83
Ja.s.sa.s v3 p.355-6, Mawardi v3 p.314-5.
84
Ja.s.sa.s v3 p.355-6, Mawardi v3 p.314-5, Qurtubi v14 p.155-6.
85
Mawardi v3 p.314-5, Qurtubi v14 p.155-6.
80

22

His methodology was that of Ahlu al Ray, the rationalists and didactic theologians.86 He
studied in Baghdad, in Tabarani and Nishapur of old Iran.87 His work of Tafsir is focused
almost entirely on Ahkam. Often he compares the opinions of the different schools of law
and emphasizes the reasoning behind the Hanafi position. It could be called a Tafsir of
comparative Fiqh, however, the preference for the Hanafi mathab opinions leaves the
reader with less than a fully balanced presentation.88
Al-Jassas presented the opinion that the Hukum for following Muhammads amal,
temporal worldly action, only conveys the Hukum of mustahab.89 This he deduces from
the legal implication of the expression Lakum, for those of you." (Q. 33:21)









"The Messenger of God is an excellent model for those of you"
Al-Jassas deduces this not to be a general obligation, a command for Muslims, but
a mustahab directive to gain rewards for doing it and not to be blameworthy for
discarding it.90 What was necessary for a command from Muhammad to be obligatory
according to Al-Jassas was that it must contain an unequivocal imperative verb and no
less.91 Other scholars such as Ibn Kathir, Ibn Furs and Ibn Adil mentioned that opinion
but disagreed with it.92 So here we can see the two trends of juristic opinions. Al-Jassas
that following Muhammad's Sunnah in 'amal is only mustahab. Whereas on the other
side, Ibn Kathir, Ibn Furs and Ibn Adil that adherence to Muhammad's Sunnah in 'amal
was wajib.
Another one of the three Fiqh scholars mentioned above is Muh ammad b. Ah mad
b. Ab Bakr b. Faraj al-Ans r al-hazradj al-Andalus , most commonly called alQurtubi (d. 656/1259). He was a Maliki jurist, a Muhaddith and known to be an expert in
the Arabic language.93 He travelled to study and spent years outside of his homeland
Andalusia until his death in Egypt. He was known for his asceticism, his consistently
reminding others of the life after death and his simple appearance wearing one garment
and a small head cap.94 His Tafsir focuses on the ayat al-Ahkam with emphasis on Hadith
as the preferred source of interpretation. However, Qurtubi also employs linguistics to
deduce legal implications; citing Arabic poetry to elaborate on the meaning of rare
Qur'anic Arabic vocabulary.95 His belief system was orthodox and refutations of the
86

Spies, O. "al- J_as s s , Ah mad b. Al Ab Bakr al-Rz." Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition.
Edited by: P. Bearman , Th. Bianquis , C.E. Bosworth , E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill, 2009.
87
Dhahabi, v2 p438-9.
88
Ibid, p. 438-443.
89
Ibid, v2 p438-9.
90
Ja.s.sa.s v3 p.355-6.
91
Ja.s.sa.s v3 p.356.
92
Ibn `Adil v7 p.509-10, Ibn al-Furs v3 p.423, Ibn Kathir v3 p.2234.
93
Arnaldez, R. "al- Kurt u b , Ab Abd Allh Muh ammad b. Ah mad b. Ab Bakr b. Farad_j_ al-Ans r alh_azrad_j_ al-Andalus." Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second Edition. Edited by: P. Bearman , Th. Bianquis ,
C.E. Bosworth , E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill, 2009.
94
Dhahabi, v2 p.459.
95
Ibid.
23

Mutazilite, Qadiriyah and Shia Aqida can be found in his Tafsir.96 The work can be also
approached as a Tafsir of comparative Fiqh as he cites in a detailed presentation the
differences of opinions of the Islamic schools of law. His text has a balanced spirit, as he
expresses openly his agreement with some legal opinions that contradict the Maliki
mathab positions while citing the views of others.
That Muhammad conveys and delivers the legal rulings of Islam, its commands
and prohibitions is also his boundary. Meaning that the Quran depicts him as only a
deliverer and not one to be held accountable if people adhere, submit, accept the Quran
and his Sunnah or if they reject or disregard it. The responsibility is not his nor the blame
according to the Quranic text.97 (Q. 5:92, 64:12)









"Obey God, and obey the Messenger, and always be on your guard: if
you pay no heed, bear in mind that the sole duty of Our Messenger is to
deliver the message clearly." (Al-Ma'idah 5:92)





"So obey God, and obey the Messenger. If you turn away, remember
that Our Messenger's duty is only to make plain his message."
(At-Taghabun 64:12)
In the eyes of a traditional Muhadith Mufasir like Ibn Kathir, the lions share of
the authentic sources for Tafsir is drawn from the Hadith. This is of course his
methodology. Q. 64:12 for Ibn Kathir relates to revelation in a most simple and clear way.
From God the message, the revelation is sent, from Muhammad it is delivered and for
humanity is to submit to the message from the Messenger.98 These are the main points Ibn
Kathir finds as relevant and important in this ayah.
Special emphasis is placed by some scholars on the view that this ayah exonerates
Muhammad from one and all who neglect his message and also implies a stern warning
of eschatological punishment to the non-believers.99 The Quranic implication is that God
will punish those who reject the message delivered by Muhammad, including its Shariah
laws commands and prohibitions.100(Q. 5:92, 64:12) This exegesis is deduced from the
existence of a threat being expressed in the Quranic text. When there is a threat of
punishment in the Qur'an, it conveys that the injunction or belief expressed or
commanded is then to be interpreted as wajib.101 An important aspect of Tafsir is to be
96

Ibid, p. 460.
Tabari v10 p.8059, Zamakshari v4 p.115.
98
Ibn Kathir, v4 p.2859.
99
Ibn `Adil v19 p.134, Ibn Kathir, v4 p.2859, Razi v18 p.26, Zamakshari, v3 p.342.
100
Ibn `Adil v7 p.509-10, Razi v3 p.658, Tabari v4 p.3008, Qurtubi v6 p.293.
101
Thalabi, v3 p.342, Razi v18 p.26, Tabari v10 p.8059.
97

24

seen in Ibn Kathir's writing here and that is how Mufasirun explain the Quranic method
of reasoning. This type of Qur'anic logic ties adherence to Islamic spiritual beliefs and the
Shariah laws to promised rewards. The benefits enumerated that come from obeying the
legal rulings in the Qur'an again and again are woven into eschatological rewards in the
afterlife.
Authority of Muhammad to Clarify Legal Rulings in the Qur'an
Related to the obedience of Muhammad and his role in conveying the message is
his clarification of the Quranic legal rulings.102 By Muhammad's daily demonstration and
explanations of the Ahkam in the Quran, his Sunnah parallels or accompanies the
Quran. Three ayat in the Qur'an explicitly express this by a command to the listener or
the reader to obey God and Muhammad. (Q. 5:92, 24.54, 64:12) The relative portions of
the three ayat are quite similar and all of these ayat begin with the command to obey God
and to obey Muhammad.









"Obey God, obey the Messenger, and always be on your guard: if you pay no
heed, bear in mind that the sole duty of Our Messenger is to deliver the message
clearly." (Al-Ma'idah 5:92)






"Say: 'Obey God and obey the Messenger. If you turn away, know that he is
responsible for the duty placed on him and you are responsible for the duty
placed upon you. If you obey him, you will be rightly guided, but the
Messenger's duty is only to deliver the message clearly." (An-Nur 24:54)






`

"So obey God, and obey the Messenger. If you turn away, remember
that Our Messenger's duty is only to make plain his message."
(At-Taghabun 64:12)

Tabari explains the essential role of the Sunnah with the example of the Salat.
Indeed, as there is no other way of learning its correct performance except via
102

25

Thalabi, v1 p.369, Razi v3 p.396.

Muhammads demonstration and instructions in his Sunnah.103 Thus legal authority, the
conveying and the explaining of the message of Islam and its Ahkam are found in
Muhammad's Sunnah.104 Al-Shatibi (d.790/1388) elucidates that this is a general principal
of the Islamic Shariah: what is not explicitly evident in the Quran by design is to be
explained and elaborated upon by Muhammads Sunnah.105
Ibn Taymiyyahs prolific writing is replete with scholastic proclamations and
refutations deduced from his exegesis of the Quran and the Sunnah.106 He builds upon
the meaning of these two ayat a quite detailed refutation of some of the Sufi leaders of his
day and time. (Q. 24:54, 64:12) He criticizes their claims to teach their followers high
secrets of spiritual perception as heedless innovations in religion and a rejection of the
Hukum in these ayat.107 The crux of his argument is that the delivery of the clear spiritual
message of Islam, the complete teachings of Islam, was a strict divine obligation upon
Muhammad by God. Thus any "secrets" are to be found within the Qur'an and in
Muhammad's Sunnah and not in a later developed doctrine designed by the Sufi spiritual
leaders Ibn Taymiyyah argues.108
Ahmad b. 'Abd al-Halm b. 'Abd as-Salm b. Taymiya al-Harrn (d. 728/1328)
was born in Harran of present day Iraq.109 He was born into a time of war and hostility
with the onslaught of the Mongol invasions in Iraq and Syria. His family immigrated to
Damascus, Syria when the Mongols took Iraq.110 He was the third generation of highly
revered Hanbali Fiqh scholars and began his erudite education in his home. His life was
devoted to study, teaching, preaching and fighting the Mongol invasion in Syria.111 By the
end of his life he had never married and died a single elderly man. His legacy continues
to be most well-renown for his uncompromising religious call for Muslims to return to a
sincere adherence to the sources of Islam; to the Qur'an and to the Sunnah. This was his
methodology and view; to focus upon seeking to purify the religious practices of Muslims
from newly invented religious acts and sectarian belief systems. Ibn Taymiyya's main
theme was to promote modeling Islamic practice upon the example of Muhammad and
the Sahaba.112 His efforts in preaching and writing were also the main reasons he was
arrested and imprisoned several times in Syria and Egypt.113
His written works are over 600 in number.114 His methodology was most similar to
that of a Muhaddith, in adherence to the principle that any religious act had to first have a
precedent found in either the Qur'an or in the Sunnah. His Aqidah was orthodox and
much of his written works were refutation of the belief systems of the Ashairi,
Mutazilites, Qadiriya, Shia and the Christian Trinitarian belief.115 However, there are also
volumes upon volumes of his Fatawa that have been compiled from his written replies to
103

Tabari, v7 p.6078.
Ibn Kathir, v3 p.2007, Razi v18 p.26, Qurtubi v18 p.140.
105
Al-Shatibi, Ibrahim M. M., al- Muwafaqat, v4 p.320.
106
Matroudi, Abdul Hakim I, p.7, 18-20.
107
Ibn Taymiyyah v2 p.81-2.
108
Ibid, v2 p.81-2.
109
Al-Zarkaly, Khair al-Din b. Mahmoud, al 'Alam, v1p.144.
110
Ibid.
111
George Makdisi, IBN TAYMIYAH, www.muslimphilosophy.com/it/itya.htm.
112
Al-Zarkaly, v1p.144.
113
Al-Zarkaly, v1p.144.
114
Laoust, Henri. Ibn Taymiyya. The Encyclopaedia of Islam, new ed. Leiden, 1960.
115
http://arabic.islamicweb.com/Books/taimiya.asp.
104

26

questions sent to him.116 His writings of Qur'anic exegesis have mostly been extracted
from his prolific writing on Fatawa. The influence of Ibn Taymiyya's writing is still
strong in contemporary Muslim society where a diverse array of various groups,
organizations and the religious institutions of Saudi Arabia hold him to be a forerunner of
a common Islamic methodology. One of the famous scholars who was given the title,
Sheikh of Islam, during his lifetime. The methodology that he promoted gained him a
great deal of respect and many enemies.117
Muhammad and the Quranic Etiquette for Muslim Women
Quranic etiquette regarding Muslim women is a multi-faceted doctrine including
many Ahkam. One of these legal rulings is confirmed and given great emphasis by being
coupled in an ayah with a command to obey God and Muhammad. (Q. 33:33) There is a
consensus among these Mufasirun on the meaning and significance of this ayah. The
Classical scholars expressed that the Hukum communicated in Q. 33:33 is that it is wajib
for Muslim women to stay in the safety and security of their homes as much as possible,
with the exception of going out for necessities.118 Although the language of this Quranic
injunction is directed specifically to the wives of Muhammad, the Hukum is interpreted to
be a general one that includes all Muslim women and is worded in such a manner so as to
honor Muhammads wives.119
The earliest of these Tafasir, that of Tabari, relates that prior to the revelation of
this ayah, Muhammad had already began to give guidelines and etiquette instructions for
Muslim women. Muhammad directed Muslim women to dress modestly and not to mix
freely with men as was commonly accepted in pre-Islamic Arabia.120 Thereafter, his
practice, his Sunnah was given legal authority by the revelation of a Quranic injunction.
For the ayah conveys a quite specific prohibition that forbids the previously accepted
norms of ancient, pre-Islamic cross-gender socializing:


Wa Qarna F Buytikunna Wa L Tabarrajna Tabarruja Al-Jhilyati Al'l.
116

www.fatwa-online.com.
On the Origins of Wahhbism, Michael Cook: Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Third Series, Vol. 2,
No. 2 (Jul., 1992) : Cambridge University Press, P. 200-1, Between S f Reformism and Modernist
Rationalism: A Reappraisal of the Origins of the Salafiyya from the Damascene Angle, Itzchak Weismann :
Die Welt des Islams, New Series, Vol. 41, Issue 2 (Jul., 2001): BRILL p.207, Salafiyya and the Rise of the
Khlidiyya in Baghdad in the Early Nineteenth Century, Butrus Abu-Manneh : Die Welt des Islams, New
Series, Vol. 43, Issue 3, Transformations of the Naqshbandiyya, 17th-20th Century (2003): BRILL p.350.
118
Ibn `Adil v15 p.546-7, Ibn Kathir v3 p.2243, Ja.s.sa.s v3 p.360, Mawardi v3 p.322-3, Razi v6 p.783,
Tabari v8 p.6658, Thalabi v2 p.573-4, Qurtubi v14 p.179, Zamakshari v3 p.260.
119
Ibn Kathir v3 p.2244-6, Ja.s.sa.s v3 p.360, Tabari v8 p.6663, Thalabi v2 p.573-4, Qurtubi v14 p.179.
120
Tabari v8 p.6656.
117

27

And stay at home, and do not flaunt your finery as they used to in the pagan
past (Q. 33:33)
Tabarruja literally means for a woman to adorn herself with clothing that is
enticing, alluring and is intended to arouse lustful reactions from men.121 The term
communicates a legal implication that is very specific. The ayah effectively bars
flirtatious conversations, cross-gender intermingling and free mixing between nonmahrams, men and woman. By non-mahrams is meant a man and women who are not
related to one another and could legally get married to each other. The legal implication
of the ayah prohibits the non-mahrams from mixing together when they are alone
whether in public or private.
The term Tabarruja also referred to a type of walk or a strut that ancient Arabian
women employed to grab a mans attention. This Tabarruja was a way to attract a man, a
way of walking with a sway by moving their bodies in an alluring fashion. This was
specifically included in the definition for Tabarruja given by six scholars:- Tabari, AlJassas, Al-Mawardi, Al-Razi, Qurtubi and Ibn Kathir.122
One of the reasons behind this Hukum is to prevent women from being harassed
or lured into pre-marital sex.123 So here is a case of when the Quran is legislating into
legal authority the actual and practical Sunnah of Muhammad.124 And once again the
Hukum is followed by the call to obey God and to obey Muhammad.
The first section of the ayah ends with three commands to perform the Salat, give
Zakat, the prescribed alms, and to obey God and to obey Muhammad. Each of these
imperative verbs is in the feminine plural form to directly address Muslim women. This
Qur'anic etiquette for Muslim women is firstly, a defensive technique, a way of
minimizing the social contact between men and women. Secondly, the goal of it is to
reduce the causes of flaring the sexual appetites in Muslim society. The intention would
seem to be that the Shariah law is to form a barrier, an obstacle in the way of extramarital sexual affairs. Thirdly, this Qur'anic injunction promotes the concept of modesty.
Modesty is contrasted against a woman flaunting her natural beauty in a flirtatious
fashion. The etiquette of Muslim females is an aspect of the Islamic religion that is
recognized internationally. Its root and earliest beginning was to be found in the Sunnah
of Muhammad before it was revealed in the Qur'an.
From the six scholars who most effectively elaborated the meaning of this ayah is
Al b. Muh ammad b. Habb al- Mward (d. 450/1058) a Shafi jurist educated in the
Iraqi cities of Basra and Baghdad.125 He was described as a dignified gentleman who
spoke in a polite and honest manner. His most renown work is Ahkam al-Sultaniya which
outlines the principles of Islamic public law. Throughout his life he was appointed quite a
few times to prominent government positions such as judge, head of diplomatic missions
121

Abdel Haleem, Muhammad, Arabic Eng Dict Quranic p. 85.


Ibn Kathir v3 p.2244-5, Ja.s.sa.s v3 p.360, Mawardi v3 p.322-3, Razi v6 p.783, Tabari v8 p.6658,
Qurtubi v14 p.179-80.
123
Mawardi v3 p.322-4.
124
Tabari v8 p.6656-8, Qurtubi v14 p.179.
125
Brockelmann, C. "al- Mward Abu 'l-Hasan Al b. Muh ammad b. Habb." Encyclopaedia of Islam,
Second Edition. Edited by: P. Bearman , Th. Bianquis , C.E. Bosworth , E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs.
Brill, 2009.
122

28

and director of Islamic schools. These posts coupled with his vast knowledge of the
Islamic Shariah earned him the title of Qadi al-Qudat, or the supreme judge of judges.126
His Tafsir focuses on the exegesis of ayat al-Ahkam.

Economic Authority of Muhammad


Quranic injunctions establish three types of economic authority for Muhammad.
He is given the authority to gather and to distribute charity, enemy property attained
peacefully and wealth attained through conflict.127 (Q. 58:13, 59:7, 8:41) There are
differences of opinions amongst scholars regarding what exact method of distributing
these three types of economic resources was commanded in these ayat. Many of them
wrote that Q. 59:7 was abrogated by Q. 8:41. However, the Tafasir of the greatest clarity
in explaining these legal implications were provided by the jurists, Fiqh scholars, whose
works focus on Ayat al Ahkam; Qurtubi, Al Jassas and Ibn Furus.128 Each of theses jurists
were in consensus that these ayat are all complimentary and none of them were mansukh,
abrogated. Their consensus is that Q. 58:13 provides a Hukum for charity, Q. 59:7 for
enemy property attained peacefully while Q. 8:41 conveys the Hukum of Khums, the
division of economic resources attained through conflict.129
Muhammad's authority over charity and its distribution was expressed in an ayah
that made giving him a donation for charity wajib when the Sahaba had personal
discussions with him.130 (Q. 58:12) Soon thereafter, this ayah was abrogated by one that
only encouraged donating charity to Muhammad thus reducing the Hukum from wajib to
mustahab. The text then finally comes to a completion by commanding obedience to God
and to Muhammad:

"Were you afraid to give charity before consulting the Prophet? Since you did
not give charity and God has relented towards you, you should at least observe
your prayers, pay the prescribed alms (Zakt) and obey God and His
Messenger: God is well aware of your actions." (Al-Mujadilah 58:13)
Many of the Mufasirun agreed that the Hukum of the ayat then transferred giving
charitable donations to Muhammad from being wajib to being only mustahab, praise126

Ibid.
Ibn `Adil v9 p.446-8, Ibn al-Furs v3 p.74-5, Ibn Kathir v2 p.1201-2, Ja.s.sa.s, v3 p.44, Razi v4 p.510,
Tabari v5 p.3765, Thalabi v2 p.2-3, Qurtubi v7 p.360-2, Zamakshari v2 p.140-1.
128
Ibn al-Furs v3 p.74-5 p.536, Ja.s.sa.s v3 p.44-6, Qurtubi v7 p.360-2.
129
Abdel Haleem, Muhammad, Arabic Eng Dict Quranic p. 287, Ibn `Adil v9 p.443-5, Ja.s.sa.s v3 p.44-6,
Razi v4 p.508, Tabari, v5 p.3757-59.
130
Ibn `Adil v18 p.539, Ibn al-Furs v3 p.536, Ibn Kathir v4 p.2799, Mawardi v4 p.203, Razi v15 p.274,
Tabari v10 p.7945-6.
127

29

worthy or highly recommended.131 It represented a Quranic allowance due to the poverty


of many Sahaba while it also contributed to the education of the early community. This
temporary wajub was seen as a training period to both raise the understanding of the
importance of giving charity as well as to confirm that the Qur'an is the source of
Muhammads economic authority.132

Property Obtained Peacefully


The term 'Af'a is used to designate property that previously belonged to nonMuslims which Muslims attained through peaceful means such as a treaty.133 (Q. 59:7)
The sabab al nuzul of this ayah is enlightening and helps to illuminate the legal
implication of this second type of economic authority. A treaty was made with a Jewish
tribe called Bani Nadir in Medina. However, they reportedly broke the treaty and
Muhammad and the Sahaba went to the nearby village of Bani Nadir on a military
campaign. The village was surrounded, put under siege and then its inhabitants quickly
negotiated to abandon Medina peacefully and leave their property behind.134 At which
time the Sahaba began asking Muhammad for Bani Nadirs property and Q. 59:7 was
revealed:





Whatever gains God has turned over to His Messenger from the inhabitants
of the villages belong to God, the Messenger, kinsfolk, orphans, the needy,
the traveller in need--- this so that they do not just circulate among those of
you who are rich---so accept whatever the Messenger gives you and abstain
from whatever he forbids you Be mindful of God: God is severe in
punishment." (Al-ashr 59:7)
It is quite explicit here that legal authority over these newly acquired pieces of
property was entrusted to Muhammad.135 He was given the right to distribute this
property according to his assessment of the needs of the Muslim community. While at the
same time, general Quranic guidelines were communicated that designated which
members of the society are the most entitled to be given economic assistance. The ayah
of 'Af'a Q. 59:7 is unlike Q. 8:41 the ayah of Khums since
131

Ibn `Adil v18 p.539, Ibn al-Furs v3 p.536, Ibn Kathir v4 p.2799, Mawardi v4 p.203, Razi v15 p.274,
Tabari v10 p.7945-6.
132
Razi v15 p.274.
133
Abdel Haleem, Muhammad, Arabic Eng Dict Quranic p. 728, Bukhari, Mu.hammad ibn Isma`il, Sa.hi.h
al-Bukhari Ibn `Adil, Kitab al-Tafsir p. 866 No. 4885, v18 Ibn `Adil v18 p.569-70, Ja.s.sa.s v3 p.429, Razi
v17 p.282-3, Tabari v10 p.7963.
134
Ibn al-Furs v3 p.540, Ja.s.sa.s v3 p.429, Mawardi v4 p.210, Razi v17 p.286, Tabari v10 p.7963, Thalabi
v3 p.315, Qurtubi v18 p.10-11, Zamakshari v4 p.82.
135
Ibn `Adil, v18 p.576, Ibn al-Furs v3 p.543-4, Ja.s.sa.s v3 p.429-30, Razi v17 p.287, Tabari v10 p.7965-6,
Zamakshari v4 p.82.
30

no specific right in Q. 59:7 is attributed to Muslim fighters.136


It is also noteworthy to analyze the quest for equality and justice that is
represented in this ayah. An influx of new wealth is allocated for distribution to those in
need in the Muslim community; to go to the have nots and not to the haves. 137
Muhammad divided this wealth amongst the Muhajirun, as they were recent, poor
Muslim immigrants to Medina. Shares were also dispersed to three impoverished elderly
Ansar men and a portion of it was used to provide for his families.138
The Mufasirun report that Muhammad never amassed wealth, but always
distributed the economic resources that came to him for the maslaha al-muslimin; the
general benefit of the Muslim community and for his family needs.139 The authority of
Muhammad is linked in the Quran to benefiting the poor and helping the needy gain
access to what is necessary for life and contentment. (Q. 59:7) The economic guidelines
and principles found in the Sunnah are seen as a direct continuity of the economic
authority entrusted to Muhammad. What he practiced is given the status of a religious and
a legal principal that is to be implemented. Muhammad's legacy is one of distributing
these three types of wealth to those in need.
The scholarly differences of opinions regarding the correct distribution of these
resources often stemmed from this ayah. (Q. 59:7) Some scholars interpreted it to mean
wealth gained without hostilities while others deduced that the ayah refers to wealth
acquired through conflict.140 Consequently, there arose a contradiction in the
understanding of the legal implications in Q. 59:7 and 8:41.141 Especially since, those
entitled to financial aid in Q. 59:7 closely resemble those mentioned in Q. 8:41, the
Khums ayah. The striking point of contrast is that in Q. 59:7, the Anfl ayah there is no
share for the Muslim fighter. Thus when Q. 59:7 is studied along with its sabab al nuzul,
regarding Bani Nadir, it lends itself to the interpretation that it conveys the legal ruling
regarding the gathering and distribution of wealth obtained from non-Muslims through
peaceful means.142
Economic Authority of Muhammad over Wealth Acquired through Conflict
Muhammad is given the authority to gather and to distribute wealth acquired
through conflict in a Quranic injunction. This command has two separate stages and
names in Quranic Arabic 'Anfl and Khums (Q. 8:1, 41) The 'Anfl is derived from the
word for extra and signifies additional spoils of war distributed to Muslim fighters.143

136

Ibn `Adil v18 p.569-575, Ja.s.sa.s v3 p.430, Qurtubi v18 p.13-14.


Ibn `Adil v18 p.569-576, Ja.s.sa.s v3 p.430, Tabari v10 p.7966, Thalabi v3 p.315-6, Qurtubi v18 p.15-6,
Zamakshari v4 p.82.
138
These 3 Ansar men were Abu Dujana Simak b. Karasha, Sahl b. Hunaifa and Al Harith b. Sam
Ja.s.sa.s v3 p.430, Thalabi v3 p.315, Qurtubi v18 p.11, Zamakshari v4 p.82.
139
Ibn `Adil v18 p.576, Qurtubi v18 p.12.
140
Ibn `Adil v18 p.575, Ja.s.sa.s v3 p.429-30, Tabari v10 p.7965, Qurtubi v18 p.13-14.
141
Ibn al-Furs v3 p.540-2.
142
Ibn al-Furs v3 p.540-2, Ja.s.sa.s v3 p.429-30, Qurtubi v18 p.13-14.
143
Abdel Haleem, Muhammad, Arabic Eng Dict Quranic p. 957, Ibn `Adil v9 p.443, Ibn al-Furs v3 p.73-4,
Ibn Kathir v 2p.1201-2, Ja.s.sa.s v3 p.44, Mawardi v2 p.80-2, al-Razi v4 p.508, Tabari v5 p.3759, Thalabi
v2 p.2-3, Qurtubi v7 p.360-3, Zamakshari v2 p.140.
137

31






"They ask you (Muhammad) about distributing the battle gains. Say, 'That is a
matter for God and His Messenger, so be mindful of God and make things right
between you. Obey God and His Messenger, if you are true believers."
(Al-Anfal 8:1)
Khums is the standard shares of division set in the Quran for dividing wealth
attained through physical conflict.144 Khums means a fifth and it is a division of these
resources as described in Q. 8:41, forty ayah following the 'Anfl ayah: 145







Know that one-fifth of your battle gains belong to God and the
Messenger, to close relatives and orphans, to the needy and the
travellers, if you believe in God and the revelation. (Al-Anfal 8:41)
There was discussion regarding which exact share is designated by which ayah.
Some Classical scholars such as al-Jassas and al-Thalabi held that the 'Anfl ayah was
mansukh, abrogated by the ayah of Khums.146
On the other hand, some scholars disagreed with this opinion and
interpreted the legal implications in the 'Anfl ayah as a distribution done before and/or
separate from the Khums division and it was completely at the discretion of
Muhammad.147 The Quranic text explicitly places that authority upon Muhammad.
Consequently, as one investigates the Sunnah, within it we can find basic criteria for
selecting the fighters who are truly war torn and in economic need.148 This portion is
taken and handed out to them before the general shares of Khums are divided is the
strongest opinion amongst these Mufasirun.
The sabab al nuzul for Q. 8:1 was at the Battle of Bader, the first battle in the
conflict between the polytheists of Mecca and the nascent Muslim community.149 After
the conclusion of hostilities, the companions began to argue over whom had earned rights
to the valuable items carried by the prisoners of war and found on enemy corpses. Those
144

Ibn `Adil v9 p.443-5, Ja.s.sa.s v3 p.46, al-Razi v4 p.508, Tabari v5 p.3757-9.


Abdel Haleem, Muhammad, Arabic Eng Dict Quranic p. 287,
146
Ibn al-Furs v3 p.33-38, Ja.s.sa.s v3 p.44, al-Razi v4 p.508-10, Tabari v5 p.3757-9, 3766, Thalabi v2 p.23.
147
Ibn `Adil v9 p.443-8, Ibn Kathir v2 p. 1201-5, Ja.s.sa.s v3 p.46, Mawardi v2 p.80-1, Razi v4 p.508-10.
148
Ja.s.sa.s v3 p.44, Tabari v5 p.3766, Zamakshari v2 p.140-2.
149
Ibn `Adil v9 p.443-5, Ibn al-Furs v3 p.73-4, Ibn Kathir v2 p. 1202-4, Mawardi v2 p.81-2, Razi v4 p.50910.
145

32

who were fighting in the front lines declared they had earned more rights than the others
to these battle gains. While the older companions who had stayed in the rear guard around
Muhammad demanded that their role earned them an equal share of the spoils. The
companions of Muhammad argued and their dispute began to become a bit heated.
A majority of ten of our Classical scholars reported Q. 8:1 was revealed after the
end of hostilities of the Battle of Bader. One of the ten is Ali b. Ahmad Al-Wahidi whose
work of tafsir, Asbab al-Nuzul specializes in commentary on the occurrences of
revelation of the ayat in the Qur'an. Al-Wahidi was from Naysabur and a student of AlThalabi. He was a well respected Shafi scholar, a master of Arabic literature and a
grammarian.150 He authored four different works of Tafsir only two of which have been
published. His other two works still remain only in manuscript form.151 In his lifetime his
name was most often remembered for his commentary on the poetry of Al-Mutanabbi.152
Al-Wahidi's Tafsir and the other nine explain that only after Q. 8:1 was revealed
did the divisions of the wealth attained through Battle of Bader begin:153






"They ask you (Muhammad) about distributing the battle gains. Say, 'That is a
matter for God and His Messenger, so be mindful of God and make things right
between you. Obey God and His Messenger, if you are true believers."
(Al-Anfal 8:1)
The division was seen to be a fair one and especially since the Sahaba felt
confident that the authority given to the divider, Muhammad, had just been revealed in
the Quran. A number of the Mufasirun described the adherence to these divisions as an
essential component of reaching complete and perfect faith for a Muslim.154
Who has the authority to divide the wealth gained through hostilities? The answer
was detailed in the Quran. Furthermore, disobeying the authority given to Muhammad in
dividing the wealth is interpreted as being forbidden. The Quran connects this Hukum to
the obedience to God and the Messenger.155(Q. 8:1) These Quranic guidelines provide a
framework for dividing wealth and property obtained via conflict. Adherence to this
established Sunnah is attributed to be an important anchor firmly grounding a Muslims
faith in times of war, when peace has been lost.
One of the ten scholars referred to above is 'Abd Rahman b. Muhammad b.
Mukluf al-Jazairi al-Magribi al-Maliki al-Thalabi (d. 875/1374) who was born in a village
150

Sellheim, R. "al- Wh id al- Matty al- Naysbr al- S_h_fi." Encyclopaedia of Islam, Second
Edition. Edited by: P. Bearman , Th. Bianquis , C.E. Bosworth , E. van Donzel and W.P. Heinrichs. Brill,
2009.
151
Ibid.
152
Ibid.
153
Ibn `Adil v9 p.443, Ibn al-Furs v3 p.73-4, Ibn Kathir v2 p. 1202-4, Mawardi v2 p.80-1, Razi v4 p.508-9,
Tabari v3 p.44-5, Thalabi v2 p.2-3, Qurtubi v7 p.360, `Ali ibn A.hmad al-Wa.hidi al-Nisaburi Wahidi,
Asbab al-nuzul, p.172-3, Zamakshari v2 p.140-1.
154
Ibn `Adil v9 p.448, Razi v4 p.510, Zamakshari v2 p.141-2.
155
Ibn `Adil v9 p.448, Razi v4 p.510, Qurtubi v7 p.364, Zamakshari v2 p.141-2.
33

outside of Algiers.156 He was an Ashairi in belief and this reflects itself clearly in his
Tafsir.157 In his work he refutes the belief system of the Mutazilite sect. Much of the text
can be seen as a compilation or a newer arrangement from some of the earlier works of
Tafasir; including Tabari, Qurtubi and Ibn Atiya.158 He does add important points
regarding Arabic grammar, giving examples from traditional poetry, elaborates his
interpretation with Hadith and gives some details of the different recitations of the
Qur'anic text.159

Chapter 4 Judicial Role of Muhammad


The Quran directs Muslims to settle their disagreements and differences by
returning to Muhammad. (Q. 4:64-65, 4:105, 24:51, 33:36) In several ayat Muhammad is
directly commanded to judge, make decisions and give legal rulings on cases between
disagreeing sides of the Muslim society.



















"We have sent down the scripture to you (Muhammad) with the truth so
that you can judge between people in accordance with what God
has shown you. Do not be an advocate for those who betray trust."
(An-Nisa 4:105)

156

Dhahabi v1 p.248.
Ibid.
158
Ibid, p.249-251.
159
Ibid.
157

34





"When the true believers are summoned to God and His Messenger in
order for him to judge between them, they say, 'We hear and we obey."
These are the ones who will prosper: whoever obeys God and His
Messenger, stands in awe of God and keeps his duty to Him will be
triumphant." (An-Nur 24:51-53)

When God and His Messenger have decided on a matter that concerns
them, it is not fitting for any believing man or woman to claim freedom
of choice in that matter: whoever disobeys God and His Messenger is far
astray . (Al-Ahzab 33:36)
For the first generation of Muslims this was done directly and there were several
occurrences when Muhammad gave legal rulings and judgments between disputing
parties.160 For the generations of Muslims after Muhammad, this is interpreted as seeking
solutions, guidelines and legal rulings from both the Quran and from his Sunnah. To
return or to refer to Muhammad means to refer to his Sunnah. (Q.4:59)161 This is a seen as
a Quranic principle; the Quran and the Sunnah are the primary sources of law for life,
problems and disputes. Adherence to the Qur'an and to the Sunnah is an important
concept in the Quranic method of reasoning. This Islamic way of life is contrasted
against both the rejection of the legal rulings of Muhammad and the seeking of a legal
ruling from other than the Quran and the Sunnah. To pursue a legal solution from other
than the Ahkam in the Quran and in the Sunnah to the Classical Mufasirun was a greater
sin.162 In several ayat refusing to seek a Hukum from Muhammad is juxtaposed against its
opposite; true belief and accepting the Hukum of Muhammad. (Q. 4:64-65, 5:42, 49,
33:36)






















160

Ibn `Adil v6 p.465, Ibn Kathir v1 p.714-5, Mawardi v1 p. 404, Razi v3 p.373, Tabari v3 p.2004, Thalabi
v1 p.363-4, Qurtubi v5 p.267, Wahidi p.121-2, Zamakshari v1 p.537-8.
161
Ibn `Adil v6 p.441-51, Mawardi v1 p.400-1, Razi v3 p.370, Tabari v3 p.2393, Thalabi v1 p.360-1,
Qurtubi v5 p.259-61.
162
Ibn Kathir v1 p.717, Razi v6 p.426, Tabari v3 p.240-1, Qurtubi v5 p.268, Zamakshari v3 p.72.
35

"By your Lord, they will not be true believers until they let you decide between
them in all matters of dispute and find no resistance in their souls to your
decisions, accepting them totally." (An-Nisa 4:65)
In Classical Tafasir, the Muslim who refuses to submit to Muhammads legal
rulings and avoids them is interpreted as being stricken with Nifaq, hypocrisy.163 To obey
the commands and to avoid the prohibitions in the Quran and in the Sunnah is seen as
obligatory in general and especially in regards to disputes.164 One of these Quranic
injunctions which conveys the mandate of adherence to the authority of God and of
Muhammad reads:


O you who believe! Obey God and the Messenger and those in authority
among you. If you are in a dispute in any matter, refer it to God and the
Messenger, if you truly believe in God and in the Last Day... (Q. 4:59)
Accepting the Hukum of Muhammad is held to be a fundamental part of Muslim
faith. These Classical scholars of Qur'anic exegesis explain that in Muslim belief, all of
the prophets are sacrosanct, inviolable and sent to humankind by God to be followed and
to be obeyed. Thus the ruling of adherence to the Sunnah is seen in the Tafasir as an
obligatory ruling by the majority of the scholars in this study.166
In this ayah, Q. 4:59, an outline can be found of the basic principles of Islamic
jurisprudence, usul al-Fiqh.167 Obedience to God and returning to God convey that the
Quran is a primary source of law. To obey the Messenger, or return to the Messenger
means to follow and apply the Sunnah of Muhammad as a source of law.168 Those in
authority is given quite a few different yet related interpretations including Islamic
scholars, rulers, people of influence, experts, the companions and first Muslim Caliphs
from the Sahaba, Abu Baker and Omar and even a husband and his influence or authority
in the home.169
Moreover, the majority of the Classical scholars in this study gave preference to
the opinion that the ayah infers that --- those in authority among you, 'l al-'Amri
165

163

Ibn `Adil v6 p.465, Razi v3 p.370-3, Tabari v3 p.2399-2400, Qurtubi v5 p.268-9, Zamakshari v1 p.538.
Ibn `Adil v6 p.441, 447-8, Ibn Kathir v1 p.709-12, Ja.s.sa.s v2 p.213, Mawardi v1 p.400, Razi v3 p.3568, Tabari v3 p.2389-90, Thalabi v1 p.360-1, Qurtubi v5 p.259.
165
Ibn `Adil v6 p.447-8, Ja.s.sa.s v2 p.214, Tabari v3 p.2389.
166
Ibn `Adil v6 p.441-2, Ja.s.sa.s v2 p.211-12, Mawardi v1 p.400, Razi v 3 p.358, Tabari v3 p.2389, Qurtubi
v5 p.259.
167
Ibn `Adil v6 p.447-8, Ibn Kathir v 1p.712, Ja.s.sa.s v2 p.211-12, Razi v3 p.356-7, Qurtubi v5 p.260.
168
Ibn `Adil v6 p.441-51, Mawardi v1 p.400-1, Razi v3 p.370, Tabari v3 p.2393, Thalabi v1 p.360-1,
Qurtubi v5 p.259-61.
169
Ibn `Adil v6 p.442-445, Ibn Kathir v1 p.711, Ja.s.sa.s v2 p.210-11, Mawardi v1 p.400-1, Razi v3 p.3567, Tabari v3 p.2390-3, Qurtubi v5 p.259-60.
164

36

Minkum specifies the Islamic scholars who are specialists competent in deducing Ahkam
from the Quran and Sunnah.170 Thus their Tafasir refer to the third source of law in
Islam, Ijma. Ijma is the consensus of opinion of all of the Muslim scholars at any
particular time who are knowledgeable and competent enough to make legal decisions
and deduce Ahkam since the death of Muhammad. 171
A fourth source of law that scholars disagree upon is interpreted by al-Jassas, alRazi and Ibn Adil as being implied in this ayah and that is Qiyas, analogical reasoning.172
Qiyas is to deduce an Islamic legal ruling that is not explicit in the nusus via making an
analogy between the solution sought and an already established Hukum.173 The other
Classical scholars did not deduce in Q. 4:59 a legal implication for Qiyas.
Ibn Taymiyyah expressed pointed criticism of what he assessed to be the narrow
understanding held of Ijma by many mutakhrin, later scholars.174 His assessment was
that they did not have a well studied grasp of the range and breadth of opinions on legal
issues of the Sahaba and Tabien. As a result, many scholars would unknowingly claim
Ijma as supporting evidence to their Islamic legal opinions when in fact many of their
highly respected predecessors in Islamic scholarship contradicted their opinion.

The Authority of Muhammad to Consecrate Marriages


The judicial role of Muhammad included the authority to consecrate marriages.175
The marital unions that Muhammad authorized represented contradictions in ancient
Arabian society. On at least four different occasions Muhammad consecrated a marriage
between a Muslim male slave and a free woman.176 These nuptials included:

170

Bilal + the sister of Abdur Rahman b. Awf


Abu Ludhiana + Fatima bt. Al Walid b. Atba
Al Miqdad b. Al Aswad + Dabaa bt. Al Zubair
Zaid b. Harith + Zainab bt. Jahsh Al Asdia177

Ibn `Adil v6 p.445, Ibn Kathir v1p.711, Ja.s.sa.s v2 p.211, Qurtubi v5 p.260.
Ibn `Adil v6 p.445-8, Razi v3 p.356-7, Ibn Taymiyyah v1 p. 114-117.
172
Ibn `Adil v6 p.445-8, Ja.s.sa.s v2 p.212 , Razi v3 p. 359.
173
Ja.s.sa.s v2 p.211, Hallaq, History Islamic Legal Theories, p.1, Ibn Rushd p.1, Kamali p.264.
174
Ibn Taymiyyah v1 p. 114-117.
175
Ibn `Adil v15 p.550-1, Ibn Kathir v3 p.2254-5, Razi v6 p.784-5, Tabari v8 p.6665-6666, Qurtubi v14
p.187
176
Ibn `Adil v15 p.550-1, Ibn Kathir v3 p.2253, Tabari v8 p.6666, Qurtubi v14 p.187-8.
177
Qurtubi v14 p.187-8.
171

37

These marital unions speak volumes of the principles of equality and unity taught
by many Classical scholars of Islam.178 However, each of these weddings was at first
greeted with disdain by some of the members from the bride's family, the Muslim
community, the general population of Medina and even the wife to be in the case of
Zainab.179 In fact, some Muslim jurists insist that the principle of Kafaaa, suitability,
requires that honorable lineages are to only marry from those of a comparable social
status.180
However, Qurtubi details both sides of this argument and concludes that
according to the Sunnah of Muhammad that the only Kafaaa that is wajib is religious
suitability. As supporting his evidence he lists five ayat. (Q. 2:221, 28:26-28, 33:36) 181
Qurtubi and six other Mufasirun relate Q. 33:36 to the authority of Muhammad to
consecrate marriages specifically, as well as to the more general obligation of adherence
to the Ahkam in his Sunnah.182 When Muhammad went to ask Zainab bt. Jahsh al-Asdia
to marry Zaid b. Harith, a servant, she at first refused and stated that she was of a nobler
lineage than Zaid.183 The sabab al-nazul for Q. 33:36 was during the conversation
between Muhammad and Zainab after she initially refused.184


































When God and His Messenger have decided on a matter that concerns
them, it is not fitting for any believing man or woman to claim freedom
of choice in that matter: whoever disobeys God and His Messenger is far
astray . (Q. 33:36)
A critically relevant vocabulary item in this ayah is the first verb; Qada, a
transitive verb that means to judge, to issue, to decree or to decide a verdict or a
sentence.185 The Hukum deduced from the ayah is that it is prohibited to contradict the
legal authority, directives and commands of Muhammad during his lifetime. This
authority of Muhammad is then transferred to his Sunnah after his death.186
The Authority of Muhammad to Give Legal Rulings to Ahlu Kitaab

178

Ibn `Adil v15 p.550-1, Razi v6 p.784-5, Qurtubi v14 p.186-8.


Ibn `Adil v15 p.550, Ibn Kathir v3 p.2253, Razi v6 p.784, Tabari v8 p.6665, Qurtubi v14 p.186-7.
180
Qurtubi v14 p.187-8.
181
Qurtubi v13 p.278, v14 p.187-8.
182
Ibn `Adil v15 p.550-1, Ibn Kathir v3 p.2255, Mawardi v3 p.326, Razi v6 p.784-5, Tabari v8 p.6665-6,
Qurtubi v14 p.186-8, Zamakshari v3 p. 262.
183
Ibid.
184
Mawardi v3 p.326, Thalabi v2 p.575, Zamakshari v3 p. 262.
185
Abdel Haleem, Muhammad, Arabic English Dictionary of Quranic Usage p. 763.
186
Ibn `Adil v15 p.55 0-1, Ibn Kathir v3 p.2255, Mawardi v3 p.326, Razi v6 p.784-5, Tabari v8 p.6665-6,
Qurtubi v14 p.186-8, Zamakshari v3 p. 262.
179

38

Another judicial role that Muhammad implemented included on more than one
occasion, the authority to give legal rulings to Ahlu Kitaab, the People of the Book, i.e.
the Jews and the Christians. Moreover Quran describes itself as both confirming the
previous revelations of scripture and as protecting them:







"We sent to you (Muhammad) the Scripture with the truth, confirming the
Scriptures that came before it and with final authority over the past Scriptures.
So judge between them according to what God has sent down. Do not follow
their whims, which deviate from the truth that has come to you. We have
assigned a law and a path to each of you. If God had so willed, He would have
made you one community, but He wanted to test you through that which He has
given you, so race to do good: you will all return to God and He will make clear
to you the matters you differed about." (Al-Ma'idah 5:48)
This theme is oft repeated in the Quranic text. References to the people of the
scripture is one of its methods by which the Qur'an reasons and argues its authenticity.
The text declares again and again that each people have been sent a scripture conveying a
religious way of life; the people to whom was revealed the Torah, the Gospels and the
Quran. The terms employed here are Shir`atan wa Minhjan. Qurtubi, Ibn Kathir,
Thalabi, and Ibn Adil define Shiratan as a synonym for Sunnah, a law, a legislation for a
religious way of life.187 Minhjan means a clear continuous way.188 This bears some light
on how these Classical scholars perceived the Sunnah as a fundamental source of law.
That each of the people to whom scripture was sent to or was revealed to was also given a
law, a Shariah, a way of life. And to Muhammad was sent the Qur'an. His Sunnah is
implementing its way, the Qur'anic way. So the Sunnah represents a law in and of itself, a
clear way showing and elaborating the path of how to live by the Qur'an.
Muhammad issued a legal ruling upon Ahlu Kitaab when some of the
prominent Jews in Medina asked him to judge upon the case of a Jewish woman, from a
highly respected family. She was caught committing adultery.189 After being asked to rule
in this case, Muhammad first responded by inquiring what was written in the Torah
regarding the punishment for adultery.190 Their answer did not include capitol
punishment, so he asked them to bring the Torah which they did. During the discussion
that followed their attempt to conceal the verse of the death penalty in the Torah was
187

Abdel Haleem, Muhammad, Arabic Eng Dict Quranic p. 481, Ibn `Adil v7 p.373, Ibn Kathir v2 p.916-7,
Tabari v4 p.2515, Thalabi v1 p.435, Qurtubi v6 p.211.
188
Ibn `Adil v7 p.373, Ibn Kathir v2 p.917, Mawardi v1 p.470, Razi v3 p.607-8, Tabari v1 p.434, Thalabi
v1 p.434, Qurtubi v6 p211, Zamakshari v1 p618.
189
Bukhari, Kitab al-Hudud, Hadith No. 6841 p.1179, Ibn al-Furs v2 p.433-5 , Ibn Kathir v2 p.904, Ja.s.sa.s
v2 p.439-40, Mawardi v1 p.467, Razi v2 p.610, Tabari v4 p.2878-80, Thalabi v1 p.430-1.
190
Ibn al-Furs v2 p.433-4, Ibn Kathir v2 p.906-7, Tabari v4 p.2878-80, Thalabi v4 p.2879-80, .Sa.hi.h alBukhari , p. 1179 Hadith 7841.
39

uncovered. Consequently, the same penalty in the Quran was known to indeed be a part
of the Judaic law. Muhammad then sentenced both adulterers and they were stoned.191
Ibn Kathir remarks that Muhammad ruled via the Torah in this case so as to
display to the Jews that their efforts to avoid their own Judaic law plus their refusal to
embrace the message of the Quran were both parallel proofs against them. The sabab al
nuzul of this ayah was proof against their rejection of truth, according to the view of this
Classical scholar.192 Some scholars commented that this case was only brought to
Muhammad with the intention of securing a more lenient legal ruling upon one of the
daughters of the elite.193 As it was known, by those who brought the case that the Hukum
in the Torah was Rajim, stoning.
Zamakshari reflects upon the next ayahs Quranic Arabic as a rhetorical
inquisitive that echoes with disdain and utter amazement at how illogical it was for Ahlu
Kitaab to come to Muhammad for a Hukum that was already present in the Torah.194 The
question employs the word Yuakkimnaka conveying a plural subject, a group of people
who sought Muhammad to give a Hukum.

















Wa Kayfa Yuakkimnaka Wa `Indahumu At-Tawratu Fh ukmu Allhi
`Thumma Yatawallawna.
But why do they come to you for judgement when they have the Torah with
Gods judgement, and even then they still turn away. These are not believers.
(Q. 5:43)
An important part of what the Qur'an tells Muhammad is that he has the option of
choice; whether to give a legal decision upon non-Muslim cases brought to him or not to
do so:






















"They listen eagerly to lies and consume what is unlawful. If they
come to you (Muhammad) for judgement, you can either judge between them,
or decline---if you decline, they will not harm you in any way, but if you do
judge between them, judge justly: God loves the just. (Al-Ma'idah 5:42)
191

Ibn al-Furs v2 p.433-5, Ibn Kathir v3 p.905-7, Ja.s.sa.s v2 p.434, Razi v3 p.600, Tabari v4 p.2880,
Qurtubi v6 p.187, Zamakshari v1 p.614
192
Ibn Kathir v3 p.907.
193
Ibn Kathir v2 p.904, Ja.s.sa.s v2 p.439-30, Tabari v4 p.2878-80, Thalabi v1 p.429.
194
Zamakshari v1 p.614.
40

This legal implication is interpreted differently by scholars. Eight of the


Mufasirun highlighted and outlined how Islamic scholars interpret Q. 5:42 as being
mansukh, abrogated by Q. 5:49.195






"So (Muhammad) judge between them according to what God has sent down.
Do not follow their whims and take good care that they do not turn you away
from any of what God has sent down to you. If they turn away, remember that
God intends to punish them for some of the sins they have committed: a great
many people are lawbreakers." (Al-Ma'idah 5:49)
In Q. 5:42 is an allowance, a choice between two options entrusted to
Muhammad, the right to have the choice to give a legal ruling upon Jews or Christians
seeking a Shariah legal decision or not to do so. Whereas the later ayah Q. 5:49 conveys
that it is wajib to issue a Hukum from the Shariah if the People of the Book raise a case to
Muhammad.196 The majority of our Mufasirun articulated and presented that there is a
wide range of jurist scholarly opinions regarding whether Q. 5:49 was mansukh or not
mansukh. However, most of the scholars in this study held that the ability to choose
whether Muhammad or even an Imam after him, would issue a Hukum when requested by
Ahlu Kitaab still remains a relevant Hukum.197
An important reason that these ayah were interpreted differently is that according
to the beliefs of the Classical scholars of Tafsir, Islam and its Shariah abrogates the
Shariah, religious laws, of the People of the Book.198 At the same time, the Quran
defines itself as a protector of the validity of the scriptures revealed before it. The Qur'an
confirms the veracity of the prophets in the Old Testament and in the New Testament
bearing witness to their message in its text.199 While assuredly, the Quran is also
interpreted as being sent to replace specific Ahkam in the Torah and the Gospels that
differ from its Quranic Ahkam.200
There is a duality in how the Qur'anic message is expressed. On one side, the
Qur'an expresses that it is the final one in the line of divinely revealed scriptures.
Repeatedly it confirms that the Torah, the Gospels and the Psalms of David were previous
divinely revealed scriptures. The Qur'an even adds to this list a scripture revealed to
195

Ibn `Adil v7 p.340-2, Ibn al-Furs v2 p.425, Ibn Kathir v2 p.908, Ja.s.sa.s v2 p.432-3, Mawardi v1 p.4678, Thalabi v1 p.429, Qurtubi v6 p.186, Zamakshari v1 p.614.
196
Ibn Kathir v2 p.907-9, Ibn Furus v2 p.442-3.
197
Ibn `Adil v3 p.340-3, Ibn al-Furs v2 p.425-7, Ibn Kathir v p. , Ja.s.sa.s v2 p.437, Razi v3 p.600, Tabari
v4 p.2886-7, Thalabi v1 p.430-1, Qurtubi v6 p.184-5.
198
Ibn `Adil v7 p.373, Ibn Kathir v2 p.915-7, Tabari v4 p2910-11.
199
Ibn `Adil v7 p.364, Ibn Kathir v2 p.915, Mawardi v1 p.470, Razi v3 p.607, Tabari v4 p.2909, Thalabi v1
p.434, Qurtubi v6 p.209.
200
Ibn Kathir v2 p.915, Tabari v4 p.2909, Thalabi v1 p.434, Qurtubi v6 p.209.
41

Abraham and one to Noah. Furthermore, the Qur'an states explicitly that it is the final
version, the scripture that replaces, amends and takes the place in terms of contemporary
and current religious authority over all revelations that preceded it. There is a sense of a
duality; firstly Qur'anic verification of the Bible's past authenticity and secondly
declaring theses scriptures, in a sense, to be obsolete and in need of replacement.
Confidently, the Qur'an declares itself to be the final newly updated scripture before
judgment day falls upon us all.
Much emphasis is also given in the Qur'an to the basic, original foundation of all
these three faiths and that their foundation is perceived as one, Tawhid, a strict
monotheism.201 Thus their roots are the same, even though their religious laws differ. Ibn
Kathir makes this point by reporting a Hadith from Muhammad reported in Sahih alBukhari:

:
, ,
.
Muhammad said, "Both in this world and in the Hereafter, I
am the
nearest of all the people to Jesus, the son of Mary. The prophets are
paternal
brothers; their mothers are different, but their religion is one''202
Muhammad's reported words here are a confirmation of this Qur'anic principle,
that the prophets prior to him are confirmed as bearers of an authentic message from God,
as deliverers of divine scripture. Ibn Kathir conveys this connection in his Tafsir and
supports his view with this Hadith. Muhammad's authority to give legal rulings to Ahlu
Kitaab stems from the Qur'anic claim that he is the last one in the line of prophets whose
messages have the same source. Muhammad, according to the Qur'anic text, is one of the
prophets and the final one, then Ahlu Kitaab's acceptance of his legal rulings is like a
piece of the same cloth as their acceptance of their own prophets before Muhammad.

Asmat Muhammad and his Ijtihad


Asmat al Anbiya in Muslim theology is that every prophet is sacrosanct and
inviolable. When Muhammads human nature may have led him to lean towards the least
correct of two solutions, wahiy, revelation was sent to correct him according to the
Classical scholars.203
For example, there was the case brought to Muhammad in Medina regarding an
Ansari poet named Tuma b. Abiyriq.204 Acting like a cat burglar, he had stolen two
shields that were tied together and packed with a bag of flour. Then he concealed them in
201

Ibn Kathir v2 p.917, Qurtubi v6 p.210-11, Tabari v4 p.2915-16, Thalabi v1 p.434,


Ibn Kathir v2 p.917, Musu'a al-H.adith al-sharif, al-Kutub al-sita, p.281, No. 3442, .Sa.hi.h al-Bukhari
p.434 v4 No. 652.
203
Ibn `Adil v7 p.6-8, Ja.s.sa.s v1 p.423, Razi v3 p.454-7, Tabari v3 p.2525, Thalabi v1 p.383-4,
Zamakshari v1 p.561.
204
Ibn `Adil v7 p.6, Ibn al-Furs v1 p.278-9, Ibn Kathir v1 p.755-6, Ja.s.sa.s v11 p.133-4, Mawardi v1 p.422,
Razi v3 p.454-5, Tabari v3 p.2521-2, Thalabi v1 p.383, Zamakshari v1 p.561.
202

42

the house of a Jewish man in Medina. However, unbeknownst to him a trail was left by
the flour spilling from its bag and witnesses testified to seeing Tuma carrying something
that evening.205
When later questioned, Tuma first passionately denied any theft and then accused
a Jewish man in whose home he had hid the stolen goods. In addition, several people
from his clan came to plead his innocence to Muhammad. Consequently Tu'ma's defense
was beginning to be perceived as more plausible especially since the shield was
conveniently recovered from the house of the unfortunate and victimized Jewish
man.206
The circumstantial evidence of the stolen property being found in the residence of
one of the accused plus the multiple character testimonies from Tuma's tribe called Bani
Abiyriq, gave the outward appearance that nothing was deficient in Tumas claim of
innocence.207 And here is where Asmat Muhammad distinguishes his Ijtihad from any
other scholars'. Before Muhammad gave a final legal decision and was still in the process
of legal reasoning it was reported that Q. 4:105 was revealed:208






















"We have sent down the Scripture to you (Muhammad) with the truth so that
you can judge between people in accordance with what God has shown you. Do
not be an advocate for those who betray trust." (An-Nisa 4:105)
The Classical Mufasirun explained that this ayah was revealed to correct
Muhammads preliminary inclination of leaning towards nearly accepting Tumas false
claim; the lie of a thief concealing his theft.(Q. 4:105)209 The Ijtihad of Muhammad is
then brought into question by the sabab al-nuzul of this ayah. Was their Ijtihad; great
effort in seeking to deduce an Islamic legal ruling by Muhammad in this case?
If Muhammad actually did deduce Ahkam by being involved in the process of
Ijtihad is actually only a theoretical question as his personal efforts to arrive at a legal
solution were corrected and guided by wahiy according to Classical Muslim scholars.
Some of the scholars assert that Muhammad did not make Ijtihad.210 And others held that
he did make a form of Ijtihad, however his Ijtihad is not independent and it was
encompassed by the revelation.211 While still others deduced that he actually did make
Ijtihad in temporal affairs, legal decisions and military affairs only.212 Even so, all sides of
205

Ibn `Adil v7 p.6 , Ibn al-Furs v1 p.278-9, Ibn Kathir v1 p.755-6, Ja.s.sa.s v11 p.133-4, Mawardi v1
p.422, Razi v p. , Tabari v3p.2521-2, Thalabi v1 p.383.
206
Ibn `Adil v7 p.6, Ibn al-Furs v1 p.278-9, Ibn Kathir v1 p.755-6, Ja.s.sa.s v11 p.133-4, Mawardi v1 p.422,
Razi v3 p.454-5, Tabari v3p.2524-7, Mawardi v1 p.422.
207
Ibn `Adil v7 p.6, Ibn al-Furs v1 p.278-9, Ja.s.sa.s v11 p.133-4, Mawardi v1 p.422, Razi v3 p.455-6,
Thalabi v1 p.383, Zamakshari v1 p.561.
208
Razi v3 p.456, Ja.s.sa.s v11 p.133-4.
209
Ibn `Adil v7 p.7-8, Ja.s.sa.s v11 p.133-4, Tabari v3p.2525, Thalabi v1 p.383.
210
Razi v3 p.455.
211
Ibn `Adil v7 p.5, Ibn Kathir v1 p.754, Ja.s.sa.s v11 p.133-4, Thalabi v1 p.383, Mawardi v1 p.422-3,
Zamakshari v1 p.561.
212
Ibn al-Furs v1 p.278-9.
43

this theoretical debate of Islamic scholars agree that Muhammads final Ahkam was
protected by correction via divine revelation. That means they interpreted this ayah as
proof that wahiy confirmed and guaranteed the preservation of the Sunnah. His Sunnah is
another side of the revelation of Islam that the Quranic text mentions repeatedly.213 Thus,
the protection of the Sunnah of Muhammad and his Ijtihad via wahiy is held to be
additional evidence that Sunnah is an authentic source of law in the eyes of the Classical
Mufasirun.

Chapter 5 Legal Terminologies and Muhammad in the Quran


In this chapter we will investigate the employment of legal terms in some of the
ayat where Muhammad is mentioned in the Quranic text. How do these terms relate to
communicating the legal status of the Sunnah of Muhammad? The first terms we will
highlight are Yuillu and its antonym Yuarrimu.
Yuillu is a transitive verb meaning to make something lawful or religiously
permissible.214 Consequently, the antonym Yuarrimu is also a transitive verb that means
to make unlawful and moreover to declare something as sinful.215







213

Ibn `Adil v7 p.8, Razi v3 p.455-6, Thalabi v1 p.384.


Abdel Haleem, Muhammad, Arabic English Dictionary of Quranic Usage p. 232.
215
Ibid. p. 202.
214

44

Those who follow the Messenger---the unlettered Prophet they find described
in the Torah that is with them and in the Gospel---who commands them to do
right and forbids them to do wrong, who makes good things lawful to them and
bad things unlawful and relieves them of their burdens and the iron collars
that were upon them. So it is those who believe in him, honor and help him and
who follow the light which has been sent down with him, who will succeed.
(Al-A'raf 7:157)
Muhammad is the subject of both verbs and nearly all of the Classical Mufasirun
explained that this ayah signifies that as a prophet, he gave legalization to what was of
benefit and prohibition to that which causes harm.216












Yuillu Lahumu A-ayyibti Wa Yuarrimu `Alayhimu Al-Khab'itha
"who makes good things lawful to them and bad things unlawful"
What was accepted in Jahiliya, pre-Islamic Arabian culture, and then prohibited
by Muhammad as well as what was prohibited by the Jews and then made permissible by
Muhammad in Islam are described in the Tafasir as different aspects of what is referred to
in this ayah.217 Among the previously practiced Arabian traditions was to dedicate certain
types of cattle with specific and exact characteristic to polytheistic religious idols.
The ayah was interpreted to also refer to certain Jewish ritual practices. Here the
Judaic religious laws are referred to by analogy as Aghlala, iron collars, since they were
seen to be obligations that were quite difficult.218 For instance, any of a religious Jews
clothing that had become stained with urine had to be cut off and not merely cleaned off.
In addition, it was not permissible for a male Jew to eat food with or even to sit with a
menstruating woman, nor could a Jew be allowed to consume meat that had any visible
veins in it.219 Such Judaic religious laws are referred to as difficult and harsh and then
were abandoned in the Shariah laws.
The next term with a legal implication is Nahkum, he forbids you:














216

Ibn `Adil v9 p.342-4, Ibn Kathir v2 p.1160-2, Mawardi v2 p.64-5, Razi v4 p.442-3, Tabari v5 p.3663,
Ibn Taymiyyah v7 p.275-6, Thalabi v1 p.580-1, Qurtubi v7 p.297, Zamakshari v2 p.122-3.
217
Ibn `Adil v9 p.343-4, Ibn Kathir v2 p.1160-3, Mawardi v2 p.64-5, Razi v4 p.443, Tabari v5 p.3663-5,
Ibn Taymiyyah v7 p.276-7 , Thalabi v1 p.581, Qurtubi v7 p.298-301, Zamakshari v2 p.122-3.
218
Abdel Haleem, Muhammad, The Quran p.105 see footnote, Ibn `Adil v9 p.344, Razi v4 p.443, Tabari
v5 p.3663-4, Qurtubi v7 p.301, Zamakshari v2 p.123.
219
Mawardi v2 p.63-5, Razi v4 p.443, Tabari v5 p.3663-5, Thalabi v1 p.580-1, Qurtubi v7 p.297-301,
Zamakshari v2 p.122-3
45

"Whatever gains God has turned over to His Messenger from the inhabitants
of the villages belong to God, the Messenger, kinsfolk, orphans, the needy, the
traveller in need ---this is so that they do not circulate among those of you who
are rich---so accept whatever the Messenger gives you, and abstain from
whatever he forbids you. Be mindful of God: God is severe in punishment."
(Al-Hashr 59:7)
Another facet of the legal authority that Muhammad is given in the Qur'an is the
exclusive use and/or right to distribute the wealth of non-Muslims acquired without
hostilities as was addressed in Chapter 3.220 The Classical scholars deduced from the
employment of Nahkum coupled with tkumu, two related meanings to this text:

wa M tkumu al-rasulu fakhthuhu wa M Nahkum`Anhu Fntah


So accept whatever the Messenger gives you, abstain from whatever he
forbids you.
One of the meanings interpreted from this ayah is that Muhammad was
specifically entrusted with the authority to benefit from the property of Bani Nadir, the
Jewish tribe that forfeited their homes and property in exchange for safe passage out of
their former village near Medina. While a more general meaning of avoiding the
prohibitions and adherence to the commands in the Quran and in the Sunnah was
deduced by the majority of the Classical Mufasirun in this study.221
udud Allah is another legal expression used in Quranic Arabic. The expression
is formed from the plural noun for add, defined as prescribed boundaries, religious
laws, limits and decrees.222 On two occasions udud Allah is employed in the Qur'an
immediately following the Shariah inheritance laws. The term is employed to emphasize
the importance of these Ahkam by linking them to the command to obey God and
Muhammad. (Q. 4:6-12, 13-14) 223 Although the Hukum is very specific, interpreters
explained that the specific meaning is coupled with the more general meaning of the
Qur'anic call to adherence to the Ahkam in the Quran and in the Sunnah.224 The Quranic
method of reasoning brings the ayat to a close with an eschatological warning of
punishment for disregarding the inheritance laws contrasted against a promise of reward
in the afterlife for implementing them. (Q. 4:13-14)225
220

Ibn `Adil v18 p.569, Ibn al-Furs v3 p.540, Ibn Kathir v p. , Ja.s.sa.s v3 p.429, Mawardi v4 p.210, Razi
v17 p. 286, Tabari v10 p.7965, Thalabi v3 p.315, Qurtubi v18 p.10-11, Zamakshari v4 p.82.
221
Ibn `Adil v18 p.581, Ibn al-Furs v3 p.543-4, Ibn Kathir v p. , Mawardi v4 p.211, Thalabi v3 p.316,
Qurtubi v18 p.18-19, Zamakshari v4p.82.
222
Abdel Haleem, Muhammad, Arabic English Dictionary of Quranic Usage p. 195, Zamakshari v1p.511.
223
Ibn `Adil v6 p.232 & 235, Ibn Kathir v1 p.632, Ja.s.sa.s v2 p.100-1, Razi v3 p.242, Tabari v3 p.2186, Ibn
Taymiyyah v7 p.293, Thalabi v1 p.334, Qurtubi v5 p.81-2, Zamakshari v1 p.511.
224
Ibn `Adil v6 p.232-234, Mawardi v1 p.371, Razi v3 p.242-3, Zamakshari v1 p.511.
225
Ibn `Adil v6 p.235, Razi v3 p.242, Tabari v3 p.2186, Qurtubi v5 p.81, Zamakshari v1 p.511.
46





"These are the bounds set by God: God will admit those who obey Him and His
Messenger to Gardens graced with flowing streams, and there they will stay --and that is supreme triumph! But those who disobey God and His Messenger,
and overstep His limits will be consigned by God to the Fire, and there they will
staya humiliating torment awaits them!" (An-Nisa 4:13-14)
Khasim is an intensive form of the active participle that means to be a
defendant or an advocate.226 The term appears in Q. 4:105 where Muhammad
initially inclined towards nearly accepting the dishonest plea of innocence of
Tuma b. Abiyriq as mentioned in Chapter 4. (Q. 4:105) Many scholars saw the
ayah as leading Muhammad towards the correct legal decision by unveiling to
him the knowledge of the unseen, 'ilim al-ghaib. The Qur'anic text employs the
term as if in the way of correcting and leading Muhammad's legal decision
making process. There are lengthy theoretical jurisprudence discussions over
whether Muhammad actually did Ijtihad or were his efforts in jurisprudence
always closely guided by wahy. Many of these writings often revolve around the
exegesis of this ayah.227(Q. 4:105) The Qur'anic revelation was reported as
protecting him from continuing to incline initially towards accepting Tuma's not
guilty plea. That inclination could then have caused him to give an unjust legal
ruling. Tuma sought to deceive by conniving to convince the prophet that he was
being wronged and deserved to be defended. But the case was exactly the
opposite and the revelation of this Qur'anic text corrects and criticizes
Muhammad for even initially leaning towards considering Tuma as innocent: 228



















"We have sent down the Scripture to you (Muhammad) with the
truth so that you can judge between people in accordance with what God
has shown you. Do not be an advocate for those who betray trust."
(An-Nisa 4:105)
So whether Muhammad did or did not make the full fledged personal effort of
Ijtihad to arrive at a legal decision is some what only a theoretical discussion. The
revelation of the Qur'an protected his legal rulings when he came even close to making
error in judgements according to Classical Islamic scholars.
226

Abdel Haleem, M, Arabic Eng Dict. of Quranic Usage p. 267, Razi v3 p.456.
Ibn `Adil v7 p.6, Ibn Kathir v1 p.754, Razi v3 p.456.
228
Razi v3 p.456-7, Tabari v3 p.2575, Thalabi v1 p.383-4.
227

47

'Abd al-Mun'im b. Muhammad b. Abd al-Rahim al-Khazarji al-Gharnati alAndalusi, more commonly known as Ibn Al-Furus (d. 597/1200) was born into an
esteemed family of scholars of Islamic law. Both his father and grandfather were Maliki
jurists. He was born, educated and his scholastic career flourished in Islamic Spain, alAndalusia. He had committed to memory many of the axioms of Maliki jurisprudence
principles and his Tafsir, Ahkam al-Qur'an, was authored when he was only twenty-five
years old. His other written works included a text analyzing the differences between the
Iraqi grammarians of Kufa and Busra as well as a work on argumentation.
In his Tafsir he related how many scholars have deduced from this ayah two
important legal principles. First that circumstantial evidence is not conclusive proof in
Shariah law. Total conclusive proof is arrived by a witness or a confession. Second that it
is forbidden for a Muslim to advocate for anyone in a case where his innocence is
doubtful to the advocate.229 Both of these points of Shariah law contrast its fundamental
principles with the legal principles common to Western law systems.
A transitive verb qada conveys the meaning to judge, to issue a verdict or to pass
a sentence.230 The word is found in an ayah where investigation unveils a total of three
terms with direct legal implications. (Q. 4:65)






















"By your Lord, they will not be true believers until they let you decide between
them in all matters of dispute, and find no resistance in their souls to your
decisions, accepting them totally..." (An-Nisa 4:65)
Qada is a verb in this ayah the subject of which is Muhammad. The ayah is
interpreted to relate that the acceptance of his legal decisions is a prerequisite to Muslim
faith. In other words to be a Muslim legally, one has to accept that Muhammad is a
prophet and conveyor of the divine message and the divine law of the Shariah.
Another term in the same ayah is shajr, to dispute.231 It refers to what Muhammad
is here called to judge on; between people, their quarrels and disputes. Moreover, the first
legal term found in this ayah is yahkumuka, conveying a plural subject, that a group of
people, are enjoined to seek Muhammad to give Ahkam, legal judgements. This comes
from the root verb Hakama, to give legal judgements, to have authority.
The ayah begins with a conditional; that true faith is only reached by embracing
the legal authority and the legal rulings of Muhammad. The three terms: qada, shajr,
yahkumuka are employed to convey the relationship between Muhammad, his legal
authority and this specific aspect of the meaning of faith in Islam. The ayah conveys in a
nutshell, that a main part of faith is to embrace Muhammad's legal authority. After his
death this legal authority is transferred to his Sunnah. This transfer is that the Sunnah is
the manifestation, the legacy of the legal authority of Muhammad.
229

Ibn al-Furs v1 p.278-9.


Abdel Haleem, M, Arabic Eng Dict. of Quranic Usage p. 763.
231
Fadzil, Ammar, An Analysis of Judgement of the Prophet Muhammad Based on the Occurrences of the
Term Hukm in the Qur'an, p. 142.
230

48

To swear fealty, make a pledge of allegiance or a pledge of loyalty like a patriotic


subject before a ruler is what the Classical Arabic term Bayaa means.232 This term comes
in the Quranic text as the effective cause of an eschatological promise of heavenly
reward to the approximately 1,500 Sahaba who swore their loyalty to Muhammad at the
Bayaa of Hudaybiyya.233 (Q. 48:10)
Reports of the exact wording of the statement pledge vary slightly and that may
not be all too surprising. There were so many people in the same locale, at the same time
and each one came and placed their hand on top of Muhammads hand.234 Then they each
verbally made their pledge in the midst of great excitement and a high energy level. The
excitement of the scene was intensified as Hudaybiyya is approximately sixteen
kilometres away from the entrance to Mecca.235 At that time it was unknown whether they
were going to make a peaceful pilgrimage or whether there would be hostilities.236
Even though the Muslims first came with the intention of a peaceful Hajj, their
emissary sent into the city was apprehended and many assumed that he had already been
killed.237 So the pledge they made was worded as; I will never flee the battle and some
reported that their pledge was to fight to the death.238 After the Meccan polytheists
present who witnessed the Bayaa of Hudaybiyya, then returned and informed their
neighbours, a ten year peace treaty was agreed upon between Muhammad and the nonMuslims in his hometown.239
The sabab al nuzul of this ayah Q. 48:10 was the Bayaa of Hudaybiyya:240 The
ayah is inlaid with a metaphor which completes a more accurate image of why so many
of the scholars of Classical Islam perceived authority in the Sunnah of Muhammad:








Those who pledge loyalty to you (Muhammad) are actually pledging
loyalty to God Himself---God's Hand is placed on theirs---and anyone who
breaks his pledge does so to his own detriment: God will give a great reward to
the one who fulfils his pledge to Him." (Al-Fath 48:10)
In Al-Razi's Tafsir, he elaborates with an analogy of a sales contract between a
232

Abdel Haleem, M, Arabic Eng Dict. of Quranic Usage p. 232, Tabari v9 p.7476-7, Zamakshari v3
p.543.
233
Ibn `Adil v17 p.487-88, Ibn Kathir v4 p.2614, Mawardi v4 p.59-60, Razi v14 p.87, Tabari v9 p.7476-7,
Thalabi v3 p.199-200, Qurtubi v16 p.267-8, Zamakshari v 3 p.543.
234
Ibn Kathir v4 p.2614, Tabari v9 p.7476-6, Thalabi v3 p.199.
235
Khan, Muhsin, The Noble Quran, p. 755, Ibn Kathir v4 p.2612-6, Tabari v9 p.7476-7.
236
Ibn `Adil v17 p.487-8, Ibn Kathir v4 p.2614-6, Tabari v9 p.7476-7, Thalabi v3 p.199-200.
237
Ibn Kathir v4 p.2612-4, Tabari v9 p.7476-7.
238
Ibn `Adil v17 p.487-88, Ibn Kathir v4 p.2614, Tabari v9 p.7476-7, Thalabi v3 p.199-200, Qurtubi v16
p.267-8.
239
Ibn Kathir v4 p.2612-4, Tabari v9 p.7476-7.
240
Ibn `Adil v17 p.487, Ibn Kathir v4 p.2611, Mawardi v4 p.59, Razi v14 p.87, Tabari v9 p.7476, Thalabi
v3 p.199, Qurtubi v16 p.267, Zamakshari v 3 p.543.
49

buyer and a seller.241 If a third party facilitates the agreement and joins the hands of the
two parties thus clenching the contractual agreement with a handshake. The significance
of Muhammads role is that although the pledge was made to him, it represents a meaning
beyond what many may have perceived as just one local leader in the Arabian dessert
1,400 years ago. The Bayaa of Hudaybiyya to the Classical Mufasirun meant that the
loyalty to Muhammad carried the same legality, the same weight and significance on the
Day of Judgment as if the pledge was made directly to God.242 The Quranic method of
reasoning drives home this point metaphorically:







Yadu Allhi Fawqa 'Aydhim
God's Hand is placed on theirs (Al-Fat 48:10)
Yadu Allh, God's Hand was interpreted as the victory, strength, triumph,
assistance and blessings of God that guided the Sahaba to make the pledge and to fulfil
it.243 In fact, they believed that its reward was one that only God had the power to give; an
afterlife in eternal paradise.244 Thus its second name is Bayaa ridwan or the pledge that
earned Gods favour. 245

Conclusion
In order to address the question of whether the Sunnah carries authority in Islam
or not the discussion is first in need of being properly placed at the beginning of the
Islamic society. The early Muslim community upheld the principles that were taught and
ingrained into them by Muhammad. These original Islamic beliefs and practices were
then further developed into the detailed and diverse branches of the Islamic religion,
society and culture. It began with the Quran and the Sunnah as two roots that grew into
the larger tree of Islamic civilization. To make a full study of the authority attributed to
the Sunnah in the Quran requires detailed investigation of the Qur'anic Arabic in the
texts, its context and how it relates to Muhammad.
The Bayaa of Hudaybiyya was a solemn covenant even until death with
Muhammad. However, it conveyed according to Muslim belief, allegiance to the
divine.246 So the authority of Muhammad inferred a direct connection from a prophet to
241

Razi v14 p.87.


Ibn `Adil v17 p.487-88, Ibn Kathir v4 p.2614, Mawardi v4 p.59-60, Razi v14 p.87, Tabari v9 p.7476-7,
Thalabi v3 p.199-200, Qurtubi v16 p.267-8, Zamakshari v 3 p.543.
243
Mawardi v4 p.59, Razi v14 p.87, Thalabi v3 p.199, Qurtubi v16 p.267, Zamakshari v3 p.543.
244
Ibn `Adil v17 p.487, Ibn Kathir v4 p.2615, Mawardi v4 p.59, Razi v14 p.87, Tabari v9 p.7476-7, Thalabi
v3 p.199-200, Qurtubi v16 p.267-8, Zamakshari v3 p.543.
245
Abdel Haleem, M, Arabic Eng Dict. of Quranic Usage p. 232, Mawardi v4 p.59, Thalabi v3 p.199,
Qurtubi, v16, p.267.
246
Ibn `Adil v17 p.487, Ibn Kathir v4 p.2611, Mawardi v4 p.59-60, Razi v14 p.87, Tabari v9 p7476-7,
242

50

God in Muslim belief. Their hands were upon Muhammad's but God's hand was above
them all, overseeing and confirming that He was pleased by their loyalty.
The relevance of the Sunnah to the Islamic way of life is reflected in the Quran in
many different ways. The Amat of Muhammad, a prophet, according to Islamic belief,
is fundamental in understanding how the Quran presents him:










"Your Lord's grace does not make you a (Muhammad) a madman: you will
have a never-ending reward---truly you have a strong character"
(Al-Qalam 68:2-4)
Muhammad and all of the prophets are sinless, inviolable, sacrosanct Messengers
sent to humankind in the eyes Classical Mufasirun. And Muhammad was sent to deliver
the Quran, explain it, clarify it, demonstrate its implementation and be a living example
of the Quranic teachings. The Quran specifically describes him as a model to be
followed:




















The Messenger of God is an excellent model for those of you who put
your hope in God and the Last Day and remember God often. "
(Al-'Azb 33:21)
As a model Muhammad is directly enjoined in the Qur'an to judge with justice:



















"We have sent down the scripture to you (Muhammad) with the truth so
that you can judge between people in accordance with what God
has shown you. Do not be an advocate for those who betray trust."
(An-Nisa 4:105)
Moreover he is explicitly commanded in the Qur'anic text to convey the principals
of the spiritual teachings of Islam. These Islamic teachings include morality, character
building, legal rulings as well as the belief in the afterlife and the Day of Judgment:

Thalabi v3 p.199-200, Qurtubi v16 p.267-8, Zamakshari v3 p.543.


51












"Obey God, obey the Messenger, and always be on your guard: if you pay no
heed, bear in mind that the sole duty of Our Messenger is to deliver the message
clearly." (Al-Ma'idah 5:92)






"Say: 'Obey God and obey the Messenger. If you turn away, know that he is
responsible for the duty placed on him and you are responsible for the duty
placed upon you. If you obey him, you will be rightly guided, but the
Messenger's duty is only to deliver the message clearly." (An-Nur 24:54)



















"So obey God, and obey the Messenger. If you turn away, remember
that Our Messenger's duty is only to make plain his message."
(At-Taghabun 64:12)
Muhammad is commanded to be a just legislator:


Those who follow the Messenger---the unlettered Prophet they find described
in the Torah that is with them and in the Gospel---who commands them to do
right and forbids them to do wrong, who makes good things lawful to them and
bad things unlawful and relieves them of their burdens and the iron collars
that were upon them. So it is those who believe in him, honor and help him and
who follow the light which has been sent down with him, who will succeed.
(Al-A'raf 7:157)
52

And he is also given authority as a distributor of community maslaha grants and


properties:
















"Whatever gains God has turned over to His Messenger from the inhabitants
of the villages belong to God, the Messenger, kinsfolk, orphans, the needy, the
traveller in need ---this is so that they do not circulate among those of you who
are rich---so accept whatever the Messenger gives you, and abstain from
whatever he forbids you. Be mindful of God: God is severe in punishment."
(Al-Hashr 59:7)
As if all of these Qur'anic indicators to the authority of Muhammad's practices, his
Sunnah were not sufficient, the text issues him with even the authority to act as a justice
of the peace who sought, found and consecrated marriages for the downtrodden and
enslaved:

When God and His Messenger have decided on a matter that concerns
them, it is not fitting for any believing man or woman to claim freedom
of choice in that matter: whoever disobeys God and His Messenger is far
astray . (Al-Ahzab 33:36)
To imagine that these thirty-five ayat were not reflected and contemplated upon as
calling to the Sunnah as a source of law until a century after Muhammads death, as
Schachts 40 year old thesis argued is not a realistic assessment of early Muslim
scholarship. The Sunnah of Muhammad is seen as a source of authority in Islam. All of
the Classical scholars of Tafsir evaluated in this study clearly are in consensus that the
legal authority of Islam comes from both the Quran and the Sunnah.
I will close with an athar from Ibn Masud when a Muslim woman complained
that he had called the curse of God upon women who were adorned in the traditional
Arabian tattooing. He replied, "Why should I not curse those whom God's Apostle has
cursed and who are cursed in God's Book!" 247She then retorted that she had studied the
247

53

Bukhari, Kitab al-Tafsir p. 866 No. 4885.

entire Quran and never found such an ayah. Ibn Masud was well aware that Muhammad
had prohibited Muslims from tattooing themselves, and then recited to her Q. 59:7:

"So accept whatever the Messenger gives you, and abstain from
whatever he forbids you...." (Al-Hashr 59:7)

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