Position of Rasoolullahﷺ in Islam

The opposite of knowledge is not ignorance but the illusion of knowledge. Ignorance which is recognized is a blessing because the person then seeks to dispel it by learning. But the illusion of knowledge produces arrogance which shuts the door to learning and greases the slide into Jahannam. As happened for the first time when Iblis, blinded by his own faulty logic based on his illusion of knowledge decided to defy Allahﷻ’s command. Imam Shaf’ee (RA) said, ‘It is possible to convince 70 scholars with one Daleel (piece of evidence) but you can’t convince one ignorant person even with 70 Dala’il (pl. Daleel). May Allahﷻ make us humble and be willing to accept the truth when evidence is presented to us and remember that is it not about winning arguments but of standing for the truth.

Allahﷻ in His infinite Mercy, sent for us a way of life called Islam. This came in the form of His Revelation and its meaning and demonstration through its teacher, our Beloved Prophet Muhammad. A Book of Commands – the Qur’an and its Field book, the Sunnah of Rasoolullah. Allahﷻ promised to protect His Word (text, meaning, context, implementation) and said:

إِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْنَا ٱلذِّكْرَ وَإِنَّا لَهُۥ لَحَـٰفِظُونَ

Hijr 15: 9    It is certainly We Who have revealed the Reminder, and it is certainly We Who will preserve it.

The easiest way to understand this is to consider that Allahﷻ commanded us to pray. But didn’t explain the method of Salah in the Qur’an. Instead, He taught it to His Messenger who taught it to us and said, ‘Pray as you have seen me pray.’ Interestingly this is what Allahﷻ did with all the pillars of Islam to make the position of the Messenger abundantly clear. Allahﷻ said that Islam is the only way to salvation on the Day of Judgement and said:

وَمَن يَبْتَغِ غَيْرَ ٱلْإِسْلَـٰمِ دِينًا فَلَن يُقْبَلَ مِنْهُ وَهُوَ فِى ٱلْـَٔاخِرَةِ مِنَ ٱلْخَـٰسِرِينَ

A’al Imraan 3: 85    Whoever seeks a way other than Islam, it will never be accepted from them, and in the Hereafter they will be among the losers.

But Allahﷻ didn’t tell us how to enter Islam. It was Rasoolullah who was instructed about how people could enter Islam and it is from Him that we have the Shahada. In Hadith Jibreel we have the words of the Shahada:

On the authority of Omar ibn Al-Khattab (R) who said, “While we were one day sitting with Rasoolullah  there appeared before us a man dressed in extremely white clothes and with very black hair. No traces of travel were visible on him, and none of us knew him. He sat down close by Rasoolullah  rested his knees against the knees of Rasoolullah and placed his palms over his thighs and said, “O Muhammad! Inform me about Islam.” Rasoolullah  replied, “Islam is that you should testify that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger, that you should establish Salah, pay Zakah, fast during Ramadan, and perform Hajj to the House (Ka’aba), if you can find a way to it (or find the means for making the journey to it).” He said, “You have spoken the truth.”

The method of praying and all the rules related to it, the rules related to Zakat, fasting and Hajj, all come from Rasoolullah and not from the Qur’an directly. Without the guidance of Rasoolullah it is impossible to live Islam.

To help us understand the relationship between the Book of Allahﷻ and its explanation, the Sunnah of Rasoolullah, Allahﷻ said:

وَمَا يَنطِقُ عَنِ ٱلْهَوَىٰٓ  إِنْ هُوَ إِلَّا وَحْىٌ يُوحَىٰ

Najm 53: 3-4     Nor does he speak of his own volition. It is only a revelation sent down ˹to him˺.

Let us see now how this affects us and our relationship with Allahﷻ and His Messenger and therefore what our responsibilities are in that context. Allahﷻ drew our attention to His great favor on the Believers and said:

لَقَدْ مَنَّ ٱللَّهُ عَلَى ٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ إِذْ بَعَثَ فِيهِمْ رَسُولًا مِّنْ أَنفُسِهِمْ يَتْلُوا۟ عَلَيْهِمْ ءَايَـٰتِهِۦ وَيُزَكِّيهِمْ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ ٱلْكِتَـٰبَ وَٱلْحِكْمَةَ وَإِن كَانُوا۟ مِن قَبْلُ لَفِى ضَلَـٰلٍ مُّبِينٍ

A’al Imraan 3: 164   Indeed, Allah has done the believers a ˹great˺ favor by raising a messenger from among them—reciting to them His revelations, purifying them, and teaching them the Book and wisdom. For indeed they had previously been clearly astray.

Allahﷻ called Rasoolullah, His special blessing on the Believers because to understand the Qur’an and apply it in our lives is not possible without the guidance of Rasoolullah. Rasoolullah is the key to understanding the meaning of the Qur’an and implementing its commands in our lives.

That is what I mean by the Word and its meaning. The Word without the meaning is just sound or text. It is only with the meaning that it inspires, soothes, supports, strengthens, encourages, consoles, and guides. The Qur’an is the ‘What’. The Sunnah is the ‘How’. Without the ‘How’, the ‘What’ can’t be implemented. Allahﷻ told us who He sent the Qur’an to.

تَبَارَكَ ٱلَّذِى نَزَّلَ ٱلْفُرْقَانَ عَلَىٰ عَبْدِهِۦ لِيَكُونَ لِلْعَـٰلَمِينَ نَذِيرًا

Furqan 25: 1   Blessed is the One Who sent down the Standard to His slave, so that he may be a warner to the whole world.

The Qur’an came to the Rasool and the Rasool came to us. This is the fundamental principle of Islam and the core relationship between Allahﷻ and Rasoolullah which we acknowledge starting from the Shahada. This is the meaning of preservation and protection of the Word of Allahﷻ.

قُلْ يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلنَّاسُ إِنِّى رَسُولُ ٱللَّهِ إِلَيْكُمْ جَمِيعًا ٱلَّذِى لَهُۥ مُلْكُ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٰتِ وَٱلْأَرْضِ لَآ إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ يُحْىِۦ وَيُمِيتُ فَـَٔامِنُوا۟ بِٱللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ ٱلنَّبِىِّ ٱلْأُمِّىِّ ٱلَّذِى يُؤْمِنُ بِٱللَّهِ وَكَلِمَـٰتِهِۦ وَٱتَّبِعُوهُ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَهْتَدُونَ

A’araf 7: 158   Say, ˹O Prophet,˺ O humanity! I am Allahs Messenger to you all. To Him ˹alone˺ belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth. There is no god ˹worthy of worship˺ except Him. He gives life and causes death. So, believe in Allah and His Messenger, the unlettered Prophet, who believes in Allah and His revelations. And follow him, so you may be ˹rightly˺ guided.