THE SUNNAH IS THE SECOND SOURCE OF LAW
By: Sayyidi wa Imami al-Habib Ahmad Mash-hur bin Taha al-Haddad
Rady Allāhu ‘Anhu
Rady Allāhu ‘Anhu
Indeed, it is distinguishable from the Qur’ān in the sense that the Qur’ān and its Arabic locutions have been revealed from Allāh and that no man can compose anything remotely similar to the Qur’ān in whole or in the shortest of its Sūrahs and that the Qur’ān is a miracle abiding and enduring on the face of time and preserved from being changed and modified; and many other specialities apply to the Qur’ān but not to the Sunnah. These are that there is prescribed a reward for recitation of the Qur’ān, and that it is disallowed to transmit it by meaning and for a ritually unclean person it is not allowed to either touch where it is written neither to carry it. Such ordinances do not apply to the Traditions whether they are Hadith Qudsi or otherwise.
The Sunnah constitute an exposition and commentary on the Qur’ān. Says Allāh, the Exalted: And We have sent down unto you (also) the Message that you may explain clearly to men what is sent for them, and that they may give thought (Nahl 16:44). And the Prophet, may the blessings and peace of Allāh be upon him and his kinsmen, accordingly explained and detailed and clarified in words and actions and approval what was revealed in the Book in general terms, like for example the number of Rak‘aas in the prescribed prayers, their appointed times, their stipulations, their Sunnah, the appointed portions on what Zakāt is due, and also issues concerning Fasting and rituals in Pilgrimage and ‘Umrah. These include the pillars of these devotions, their stipulations, what corrupts them etc. As is the case with Sunnah, in that it has come up with judgements for which there is no exhaustive provision under the headings of transactions - mu‘āmalāt- and also under ethics and morals and merits for acts of virtue. The import of all this is that such guidance as the Sunnah offers organises a whole range of affairs of life and it all derives from the Prophet upon whom be blessings and peace of Allāh, and we have accordingly been commanded to abide by them as Allāh, the Exalted, says: You have indeed in the Apostle of Allāh a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for any one whose hope is in Allāh and the Final Day (Ahzab 33:21) and says Allāh, the Exalted: Say: If you do love Allāh, follow me: Allāh will love you (Āl-i ‘Imran 3:31). And thus does the servant who obeys and follows in the footsteps of the Greatest Beloved of Allāh, may the peace of Allāh be upon him and his kinsmen, such a one himself becomes the beloved of Allāh by virtue of his loving the Most Beloved of Allāh.
And what a beautiful line is Majnūn’s when talking of Layla in a similar context:
Layla he saw
And pined for no other
He saw no other beauty
Save Layla’s alone
His is the kingdom
His the crown
If she sees in him
What he sees in her.
And says Allāh, the Exalted: So obey Allāh and obey His Apostle: but if you turn back, the duty of Our Apostle is but to proclaim (the Message) clearly and openly (Al-Taghabun 64:12). And says Allāh, the Exalted: He who obeys the Apostle, obeys Allāh (an-Nisaa 4:80). And says the Exalted: So take what the Apostle assigns to you, and deny yourselves what he withholds from you (al-Hashr 59:7). The overriding consideration is the universal application of the verse and not the specific circumstance of the verse itself.
The rule implicit in the judgement has general application and extends to all ordinances and prohibitions as is the case with other verses and the many Traditions. Among them is the statement of the Prophet, may the blessings and peace of Allāh be upon him and his kinsmen, in which he says: “The whole of my ummah will enter Paradise except he who refuses.” “And who refuses, O Messenger of Allāh?” someone asked. He said: “Who obeys me will enter Paradise and who disobeys me has refused.” And says the Exalted: But no, by thy Lord, they can have no real Faith, until they make you judge in all disputes between them, and find in their souls no resistance against thy decisions, but accept them with fullest conviction (an-Nisaa 4:65). And says the Exalted: Then let those beware who withstand the Apostle’s order, lest some trial befall them, or a grievous Penalty be inflicted upon them (an-Nur 24:63)
Verily, Allāh, the Exalted, has ordered in His Book the adherence to the Sunnah of His Apostle as a matter of both bounden duty and obligation so much so that Faith itself is invalid without following him. And the rejection of the compliance with the Sunnah is an act of unbelief because it is the rejection of what the Qur’ān enjoins.
And for this reason Muslims have taken special care from the times of the Companions to our own times; they recorded the Sunnah as pointed out earlier; they transmitted it verbally and in writing and researched it in a most thorough manner, preserved it accurately, rigorously examined and edited it. And in the circumstances none will desecrate the Sunnah and distance himself from it except one who entertains a weak faith in the Sunnah’s persona, one who is totally removed from the community of Muslims in their path and creed, one who is in fact ignorant of Islām or one who is manifestly hostile to it.
Source: Al-‘Allama The Majestic Shaykh as-Sayyid al-Habib Ahmad Mash-hur bin Taha al-Haddad al-‘Alawi al-Husayni al-Hadhrami, Miftah al-Jannah (The Key To Paradise), translated from Arabic by Shaykh Mohamed Mlamali Adam in consultation with Sayyid ‘Omar ‘Abdallah, Iqra’ Publications, Memon Jamat Nairobi, 1409/1989, p. 58-60.