The Sunnah in understanding the Quran

Since 2012-12-06

I guess, after considering the above examples, the status of the Sunnah in Islamic legislation has become clear to us.

The Necessity of the Sunnah in understanding the Quran

The following verse is a good example:
"Cut off the hand of the thief, male or female" [al-Maa’idah 5: 38]

{وَالسَّارِقُ وَالسَّارِقَةُ فَاقْطَعُوا أَيْدِيَهُمَا}

المائدة: 38

Transliteration: Waalssariqu waalssariqatu faiqtaAAoo aydiyahuma

A “thief” in this context is a Mutlaq (open term) just as is the word “hand” in the same verse. The verbal Sunnah however explained what is meant by “thief” in the verse. According to the Sunnah a “thief” is one who steals something worth quarter a Dinaar or more. The Messenger (peace be upon him) said: «There is no chopping off except in the value of quarter a Dinaar onwards»[Narrated by al-Bukhaari and Muslim]

«تقطع اليد في ربع دينار فصاعدا»

رواه البخاري ومسلم

Also the word “hand” was explained through the practice of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the application of his Companions under his watch. They chopped the hands of thieves at the wrest, a case known in the books of Hadeeth.

The word “hand” however, was defined differently in a different context, which is tayammum (dry ablution) to mean the “palm”. Allah says:
"Wash your face and your hands" [al-Maa’idah 5: 6]

{فَاغْسِلُوا وُجُوهَكُمْ وَأَيْدِيَكُمْ}

المائدة: 6

Transliteration: faighsiloo wujoohakum waaydiyakum

The Messenger (peace be upon him) explained that statement as follows:

"Tayammum is performed by making one strike [on dirt] for both the face and the palms". [Narrated by Ahmad, al-Bukhaari, Muslim and others from the Hadeeth of Ammaar ibn Yaasir (may Allah be pleased with him).]

«فضرب بكفه ضربة على الأرض، ثم نفضها، ثم مسح بها ظهر كفه بشماله، أو ظهر شماله بكفه، ثم مسح بها وجهه»

رواه البخاري

Here are some verses that cannot be understood correctly except through the Sunnah:

1.Allah’s statement: "It is those who believe (in the Oneness of Allah and worship none but Him Alone) and confuse not their belief with Zulm (wrong i.e. by worshipping others besides Allah), for them (only) there is security and they are the guided." [al-An’aam 6: 82].

{الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَلَمْ يَلْبِسُوا إِيمَانَهُم بِظُلْمٍ أُولَـٰئِكَ لَهُمُ الْأَمْنُ وَهُم مُّهْتَدُونَ}

الأنعام: 82

Transliteration: Allatheena amanoo walam yalbisoo eemanahum bithulmin olaika lahumu alamnu wahum muhtadoona

The Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) understood Thulm (injustice) according to its comprehensive meaning (Aamm). This is why they sought further explanation. They asked Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him): Who among us does not commit injustice?! He said: It is not what you think; it is Shirk (Polytheism). Did not you hear Luqmaan’s statement: "…indeed, shirk is profound injustice" [reported by al-Bukhaari and Muslim].

«لما نزلت هذه الآية: {الذين آمنوا ولم يلبسوا إيمانهم بظلم }. شق ذلك على أصحاب رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم، وقالوا: أينا لم يلبس إيمانه بظلم؟ فقال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: (إنه ليس بذلك، ألا تسمعون إلى قول لقمان: {إن الشرك لظلم عظيم}»

رواه البخاري ومسلم

2.Allah’s statement: "And when you (Muslims) travel in the land, there is no sin on you if you shorten your Salat (prayer) if you fear that the disbelievers may attack you " [an-Nisaa’ 4: 101].

{وَإِذَا ضَرَبْتُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ فَلَيْسَ عَلَيْكُمْ جُنَاحٌ أَن تَقْصُرُوا مِنَ الصَّلَاةِ إِنْ خِفْتُمْ أَن يَفْتِنَكُمُ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا }

النساء: 101

Transliteration: Waitha darabtum fee alardi falaysa AAalaykum junahun an taqsuroo mina alssalati in khiftum an yaftinakumu allatheena kafaroo inna

The explicit meaning of this verse suggests that the excuse behind the shortening of the prayer during travel is fear. This is why some Companions asked Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him): Why do we still shorten the prayer although we live now in a state of peace? He said: "This is a gift from Allah; accept his gift!" [reported by Muslim].

«قلت لعمر بن الخطاب: {ليس عليكم جناح أن تقصروا من الصلاة إن خفتم أن يفتنكم الذين كفروا} [4/ النساء / الآية - 101] فقد أمن الناس! فقال: عجبت مما عجبت منه. فسألت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم عن ذلك. فقال "صدقة تصدق الله بها عليكم. فاقبلوا صدقته

رواه مسلم

3.Allah’s statement: "Forbidden to you (for food) are: Al-Maytatah (the dead animals - cattle-beast not slaughtered), blood ..." [al-Maa’dah 5: 3].

{حُرِّمَتْ عَلَيْكُمُ الْمَيْتَةُ وَالدَّمُ }

المائدة: 3

Transliteration: Hurrimat AAalaykumu almaytatu waalddamu

However, the verbal Sunnah clarified that dead locusts and dead animals of the sea are lawful. The liver and the spleen are also lawful. He (peace be upon him) said: "Two types of dead animals and two types of blood have been made lawful for us; dead locusts and seafood, the blood of the liver and the spleen". [reported by al-Bayhaqi and others authentically to the Companion who narrated the hadeeth. Such a statement takes the ruling of a prophetic statement as the Companion could not have said that from his own opinion].
4.Allah’s statement: "Say (O Muhammad SAW): "I find not in that which has been inspired to me anything forbidden to be eaten by one who wishes to eat it, unless it be Maytatah (a dead animal) or blood poured forth (by slaughtering or the like), or the flesh of swine (pork, etc.) for that surely is impure, or impious (unlawful) meat (of an animal) which is slaughtered as a sacrifice for others than Allah (or has been slaughtered for idols, etc., or on which Allah's Name has not been mentioned while slaughtering)..."[al-An’aam 6: 145].

{قُل لَّا أَجِدُ فِي مَا أُوحِيَ إِلَيَّ مُحَرَّمًا عَلَىٰ طَاعِمٍ يَطْعَمُهُ إِلَّا أَن يَكُونَ مَيْتَةً أَوْ دَمًا مَّسْفُوحًا أَوْ لَحْمَ خِنزِيرٍ فَإِنَّهُ رِجْسٌ أَوْ فِسْقًا أُهِلَّ لِغَيْرِ اللَّـهِ بِهِ}

الأنعام: 145

Transliteration: Qul la ajidu fee ma oohiya ilayya muharraman AAala taAAimin yatAAamuhu illa an yakoona maytatan aw daman masfoohan aw lahma khinzeerin fainnahu rijsun aw fisqan ohilla lighayri Allahi

However, the Sunnah also declared other things to be forbidden. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "every wild animal that has canine teeth and all wild birds with claws are forbidden".There are also other hadeeths that make other things unlawful such as the Prophet’s statement on the Day of Khaybar: "Allah and His Messenger have forbidden for you to eat the meat of donkeys as they are impure" [reported by al-Bukhaari and Muslim].

«حرم رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم يوم خيبر لحوم الحمر الإنسية ولحوم البغال وكل ذي ناب من السباع وكل ذي مخلب من الطير

رواه البخاري

5.Allah’s statement: "Say (O Muhammad SAW): "Who has forbidden the adoration with clothes given by Allah, which He has produced for his slaves, and At-Taiyibat [all kinds of Halal (lawful) things] of food?" " [al-A’raaf 7: 32].

{قُلْ مَنْ حَرَّمَ زِينَةَ اللَّـهِ الَّتِي أَخْرَجَ لِعِبَادِهِ وَالطَّيِّبَاتِ مِنَ الرِّزْقِ}

الأعراف: 32

Transliteration: Qul man harrama zeenata Allahi allatee akhraja liAAibadihi waalttayyibati mina alrrizqi

However, the Sunnah clarified that some of the adornment are unlawful. It was authentically reported that one day, the Prophet (peace be upon him) came to his Companions holding in one hand a piece of silk and in the other a piece of gold and said: "Those are unlawful to the males of my Ummah, lawful for the females". [Authenticated by Albani].

«أخذ رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم حريرا بشماله وذهبا بيمينه ثم رفع بهما يديه فقال إن هذين حرام على ذكور أمتي حل لإناثهم»

أخرجه الألباني

There are plenty of known hadeeths to the same effect, in the two Saheehs and other books.
In fact, there are plenty of examples that the scholars of hadeeth and fiqh are familiar with.

I guess, after considering the above examples, the status of the Sunnah in Islamic legislation has become clear to us. A close reflection on the previous and other examples reveals the fact that there is no way to correctly understand the Quran without the Sunnah.

In the first example, the Companions understood Thulm (injustice) according to the surface meaning despite being – as Ibn Mas’ood said – “the best among this Ummah, the ones with the most righteous hearts, the most knowledgeable and the closest in disposition to the truth”. Despite being so, they went wrong in understanding “thulm” according to its general meaning. Had not the Prophet (peace be upon him) rectified them we would have followed them in the wrong understanding. But Allah protected us from that by the guidance and Sunnah of Muhammad (peace be upon him).

In the second example, had it not been for the hadeeth in this regard, we would have been in doubt as to whether or not we can still shorten the prayer during travel at times of peace and security, not to mention abandoning the shortening of the prayer all together except at times of fear. In fact, this was the impression some Companions had had until they saw the Messenger (peace be upon him) shortening the prayer at times of peace and security.

In the third example, had it not been for the hadeeth on the subject, we would have made unlawful some things that are made lawful for us such as locusts, seafood, liver and spleen.

In the forth example, had it not been for the hadeeths we mentioned, we would have made lawful that which Allah made forbidden for us through His Prophet (peace be upon him) such as wild animals with canine teeth and wild birds with claws.

In the fifth example, had it not been for the hadeeths on the subject, we would have made permissible that which Allah declared to be forbidden. We only came to know this forbiddance of gold and silk via His Prophet (peace be upon him). This is why some of the early generations said: The Sunnah probides the right context for the Quran.


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