"Obey Allah and obey his messenger"

Misconception

Since the Qur’an says that we should obey Allah and His messenger, therefore this implies that to obey Allah we have to obey the Qur’an, while obedience to the messenger means obedience to some other books apart from the Qur’an.

Clarification

When the Qur’an says that we have to obey the messenger then it does not stop there only but also identifies as to what is the divine message that is bestowed on the messenger and in turn the messenger propagated to the people. The following verses inform us what is that divine teaching that the messenger received from Allah and is then delivering to mankind:

What is that teaching that the messenger received from Allah?

In Surah Al-Maidah, the messenger is ordered to deliver the Divine revelation received by him, otherwise he would not have fulfilled his mission:


"O Messenger! Deliver what has been revealed to you from your Sustainer <balligh ma_ unzila ilaika mir rabbik>; and if you do it not, then you have not delivered His message, and Allah will protect you from the people; surely Allah will not guide the unbelieving people." (5:67)

In the above verse the messenger of Allah is ordered to deliver what has been revealed on him. Or what the Qur’an identfies as "ma_ unzila ilaika mir rabbik". Now what are those divine teachings and laws that are revealed on the messenger? The following verses clarify as to what consists of <ma_ unzila ilaika> (what has been revealed to you):


"And We have revealed the Book to you which has the clear explanation of everything <wa nazzalna_ 'alaikal kita_ba tibya_nal likulli shai'iw>, and a guidance and mercy and good news for those who submit." (16:89)

Thus it is the Book of Allah which contains the clarity for all matters requiring guidance, that has been revealed on the messenger. In Surah An-Nisa, the divine teaching received by the messenger is again identified as:


"Surely We have revealed the Book to you with the truth that you may judge between people by means of that which Allah has shown you; and be not an advocate on behalf of the treacherous." (4:105)

Once again it is the book of Allah which has been identified as the divine teaching which has been bestowed upon the messenger and through which the messenger himself is to judge people. Again we are reminded:


"And We have revealed to you the Book with the truth, verifying what is before it of the Book and a guardian over it, therefore judge between them by what Allah has revealed, and do not follow their low desires (to turn away) from the truth that has come to you;" (5:48)

Again it is confirmed that the messenger received the Book of Allah and he is to govern among people by Allah’s Book and he cannot deviate the slightest bit from the Qur’an. Now it has been confirmed by the above and many other verses in the Qur’an that the messenger has received the Book of Allah as divine teaching. Now what is that teaching that the messenger is to pass on to people, through which they are admonished by him? The following verses identify this aspect:

What is that teaching with which the messenger ordered people?

Allah commands the messenger:


"We know best what they say, and you are not one to compel them; therefore remind him by means of the Quran who fears My Promise." (50:45)

Thus Allah commands the messenger to admonish people by the Qur’an, and the messenger confirms himself that his mission is <tazkir bil Qur’an> "Admonishing with the Qur’an", not any other book:


"Allah is witness between you and me; and this Quran has been revealed to me that with it I may warn you and whomsoever it reaches." (6:19)

Again:


"O People of the Book! Indeed Our Messenger has come to you making clear to you much of what you concealed of the Book and passing over much; indeed, there has come to you light and a clear Book from Allah; With it Allah guides him who will follow His pleasure into the ways of safety and brings them out of utter darkness into light by His will and guides them to the right path." (5:15-16)

According to above verse the messenger is propagating the Book of Allah among the people of the Book. Again we are reminded as to what the messenger is giving to his people as a teaching so that they receive divine guidance:


"I am commanded only that I should serve the Sustainer of this city, Who has made it sacred, and His are all things; and I am commanded that I should be of those who submit; And that I should recite the Quran. Therefore whoever goes aright, he goes aright for his own soul, and whoever goes ' astray, then say: I am only one of the warners." (27:91-22)

The messenger is to recite the Qur’an, so that whoever wishes, he can take guidance, says the above verse. Again it is emphasized that it is only the Qur’an whose propagation has been made as an obligation on the messenger:


"Most surely He Who has made the Quran binding on you will bring you back to the destination. Say: My Sustainer knows best him who has brought the guidance and him who is in manifest error." (28:85)

The above verse identifies that it is the Qur’an which is <Farz> (an obligation) on the messenger. The above evidence from the Qur’an makes it quite clear that the messenger received the Book of Allah as divine teaching and he is delivering the message of Allah as is contained in Qur’an to the people. The above verses also make it evident that the messenger cannot deviate the slightest bit from the Qur’an and all his judgements are based entirely on Allah’s divine Book., as said in 5:48. The messenger does not propagate his own personal laws or teachings, but only the divine message received by him, and that divine message has been identified in the above verses as Allah’s Book. Obedience and subservience is only to Allah’s laws, and the messenger does not make people obey his own teaching, but the law of Allah contained in al-Qur’an. Obedience to the messenger means obedience to the message of Allah, as the messenger is delivering the message of Allah to mankind and no other laws. It is only the law of Allah that people are asked to follow and be obedient to, says the Qur’an. The following verses identify this aspect:

Obedience is only for the Law of Allah


"Surely the ‘HUKM’ (Law and Rule) is for none but Allah." (12:40)


"He does not make any one His associate in His ‘HUKM’ (Laws and Ruling)." (18:26)

The phrase <la_ yushriku fi hukmihi ahada> "He (Allah) does not associate anyone in His Laws." (18:26) Makes it quite clear that obedience and rule is only for the Law of Allah and no other law. Even a messenger of Allah does not have the authority to make anyone subservient to his personal commands, but obedience and subservience is only for the law of Allah, as the following verse declares:


"It is not meet for a Human Being that Allah should give him the Book and Government and 'Nabuwah' (Direct reception of Divine Messages), then he should say to people: Be subservient to me rather than Allah; <ku_nu_ 'iba_dal li min du_nilla_h> but on the contrary (he would say): Become sustenance providers (to mankind) because of your teaching the Book and your studying (it yourselves)." (3:79)

The above verse declares that even a ‘Nabi’, i.e. a person who is a direct recipient of Allah’s message cannot make any other human being subservient to his own laws, but he too is asking the people to be obedient to the law of Allah by studying the Book of Allah and teaching it to others as well.

The rule of Allah is ordained all over the universe in the form of natural laws, but in human affairs, it is established by governing all matters of human life though the injunctions contained in Allah’s Book. Muhammad (S.A.W) is himself made to confirm that it is by introducing the injunctions of Allah’s distinctly elucidated Book, that Allah’s government is to be established in human affairs:


<Afaghairalla_hi abghi hakamaw wa huwal lazi anzala ilaikumul kita_ba mufassala>
"Shall I then seek a Ruler other than Allah? When He it is Who has revealed to you the Book (which is) distinctly elucidated;" (6:114)

The messenger delivers the Law of Allah

The Messenger delivers only the Law of Allah and people are to obey the Law that Allah gives them through the agency of his messenger.

It is clearly established in the above verse that the messenger of Allah is also to put into practice the laws contained in the Book of Allah, and this clearly makes it evident that obedience to the messenger means obedience to the laws contained in Allah’s Book which the messenger is to establish in human affairs. The messenger of Allah delivers only the message of Allah, and does not ask people to be obedient to any other rule or law other than that given in the Book of Allah. The following verses confirm that obedience to the messenger means obedience to the message being delivered by him:


"And obey Allah and obey the messenger and be cautious; but if you turn back, then know that only a clear deliverance of the message is (incumbent) on Our messenger." (5:92)


"And Allah has made for you of what He has created shelters, and He has given you in the mountains places of retreat, and He has given you garments to preserve you from the heat and coats of mail to preserve you in your fighting even thus does He complete His favor upon you, that haply you may submit. But if they turn back, then on you devolves only the clear deliverance (of the message)." (16:81-82)


"And if you (o people) reject (the truth), nations before you did indeed reject (the truth); and nothing is incumbent on the messenger but a plain delivering (of the message)." (29:18)


"And obey Allah and obey the messenger, but if you turn back, then upon Our messenger devolves only the clear delivery (of the message)." (64:12)


"Say: Obey Allah and obey the messenger; but if you turn back, then on him rests that which is imposed on him and on you rests that which is imposed on you; and if you obey him, you are on the right way; and nothing rests on the messenger but clear delivering (of the message)." (24:54)

The above verses clearly define what is meant by obedience to Allah and His messenger. The double negative used in the phrase, <wa ma_ alar rasu_li il lal bala_ghul mubin> "...and nothing rests on the messenger but clear delivering (of the message)." Unambiguously states that the messenger makes people obedient only to the message of God that is revealed on him, and does not deliver any other teachings apart from the message of God. This clarifies that obedience to Allah and his messenger does not mean that Allah is giving some separate teachings while messenger ordains some separate injunctions, but clearly states that Allah has revealed his Book on His messenger and the messenger in turn delivers the law contained in the Book of Allah, and we have to obey those laws that Allah has sent to us through the agency of His messenger.

Follow the Qur'an Only

Obedience is only for the Message received and delivered by the messenger. No book apart from the Qur'an is to be followed as divine guidance.

In Surah Al-Araf, it is stated that the believers are to follow and obey only the Book of Allah and not obey any other source besides that:


"A Book revealed to you-- so let there be no straitness in your breast on account of it-- that you may warn thereby, and a reminder close to the believers. Follow what has been revealed to you from your Sustainer and do not follow guardians besides Him (His Laws), how little do you mind." (7:2-3)

"Itiba" (Following and obedience) is only for "..what has been revealed to you from your Sustainer.." and the phrase "..do not follow guardians besides Him ..." makes it evident that only the revelation of Allah is to be obeyed and no other source besides that.

The messenger of Allah is reminded that Allah has not given any books apart from the Qur’an which the people should study:


"And We have not given them any books which they study, nor did We send to them before you a warner." (34:44)

The "Mushrikeen" of all times object to the Qur’anic Ayat that are presented, but Allah confirms that He has not given any books which they are to study, apart from Allah’s very own Book.

Again, Allah asks a question:


"What! shall We then treat the Muslims as the Criminals? What has happened to you? How do you judge? Or have you a book from which you study?. That you have surely therein what you choose?" (68:35-38)

The question of Allah in the above verses "Or have you a book from which you study?" indicates that Allah has not given any other divine book for study apart from the Qur’an.

Again, Allah confirms that He did not give any other Book apart from the Qur’an:


"Or have We given them a book so that they follow a clear argument thereof? Nay, the unjust do not hold out promises one to another but only to deceive." (35:40)

In Surah Az-Zukhruf it is said about the unbelievers:


"Or have We given them a book before this which they hold fast to?" (43:21)

In Surah Al-Haqqa, after identifying that it is the Qur’anic verses which are the sayings of the messenger, it is mentioned about the messenger that had he invented any sayings by his own self and then attributed them to Allah, he would then have been held accountable for it:


"And if he had uttered against Us some of the sayings. We would certainly have seized him by the right hand. Then We would certainly have cut off his aorta. And not one of you could have withheld Us from him." (69:44-47)

In Surah As-Saffat, Allah challenges the unbelievers to produce their book of authority, thus confirming that all man written books being used by Religions have defect and deficiency:


"What is the matter with you, how is it that you judge? Will you not then mind? Or have you a clear authority? Then bring your book, if you are truthful." (37:154-157)

The messenger is made to confirm that apart from the Qur’an and the revelation given to Moses (which contains the very same message as the Qur’an. Ref 42:13) there is no other book which can give the guidance of Allah:


"Say: Then bring some (other) book from Allah which is a better guide than both of them, (that) I may follow it, if you are truthful." (28:49)

Above verse confirms that there is no other Book apart from the Qur’an (which contains the message of Moses as well) that can give us divine guidance. Allah commands the believers that the very purpose of revealing His Book is that we become subservient to His laws and that we make ‘Deen’ pure and do not introduce any innovations. It is the Book of Allah which determines what is true from what is false, but people still abandon the Qur’an and seek obedience from the laws of humans:


"The revelation of the Book is from Allah, the Mighty, the Wise. Surely We have revealed to you the Book with the truth, therefore serve Allah, keeping ‘Deen’ sincere for Him in obedience. Now, surely, sincere obedience in ‘Deen’ is due to Allah (alone) and (as for) those who take guardians besides Him, (saying), We do not serve them save that they may make us nearer to Allah, surely Allah will judge between them in that in which they differ; surely Allah does not guide him aright who is a liar, ungrateful." (39:1-3)

The above verses remind us that we should serve Allah by following the Qur’an, keep ‘Deen’ "khalis" (Pure and sincere) for Him, and do not become like those who serve others besides Allah under the delusion that they will bring them closer to Him. Surah Al-Fatir informs us that it is only the Qur’an that is revealed on the messenger and that the Ummah, inherited only the Book of Allah, and no other Book as divine guidance:


"And that which We have revealed to you of the Book, that is the truth verifying that which is before it; most surely with respect to His servants Allah is Aware, Seeing. Then We gave the Book for an inheritance to those whom We chose from among Our servants; but of them is he who makes his soul to suffer a loss, and of them is he who takes a middle course, and of them is he who is foremost in deeds of goodness by Allah's permission; this is the great excellence." (35:31-32)

Only the Book of Allah was given as an inheritance to the Ummah. No other Book.

Obedience to Allah and his messenger are not two seperate obediences but one obedience

The Qur’an has identified that obedience to Allah and His messenger do not mean two separate obediences, such that to obey Allah we have to obey the Qur’an and to obey the messenger we have to obey some books other than the Qur’an. The term "Allah and His messenger" represents a single source of law and obedience, as is evident from the following verses:

In Surah Tauba, a declaration is given by Allah through the agency of His messenger about the "mushrikeen", with whom the Believers had made a contract:


"And an announcement from Allah and His messenger to the people on the day of the greater pilgrimage that Allah and His messenger are free from liability to the idolaters; therefore if you repent, it will be better for you, and if you turn back, then know that you will not weaken Allah; and announce painful punishment to those who disbelieve." (9:3)

The announcement of immunity in the above verse was given by the messenger to the people but it is identified to come from "Allah and His messenger". It is obvious that the messenger did not issue a separate declaration from Allah such that one announcement came from Allah and the other from the messenger, but it is Allah who had commissioned this declaration and it was in turn delivered to people through the agency of His messenger. But the announcement is attributed to both Allah as well as his messenger. This clearly confirms that Allah and His messenger are not two separate sources to give laws and ordinances of a divine nature but it is Allah who is the supreme source of all divine law, but He does not give those laws directly to each and every human being but selects someone as His messenger and it is through the agency of the divinely selected emissary, that the message of Allah is conveyed to the people.
In Surah Al-Anfaal, it is stated:


"O you who believe! obey Allah and His messenger and do not turn back from Him while you hear" (8:20)

In the above verse the Believers are called upon to obey Allah and His messenger but the verse ends with the phrase: <wa la_ tawallau 'anhu wa antum tasma'u_n> "and do not turn back from Him while you hear". Here the believers are identified to be those who were listening to the messenger who delivers the Qur’anic laws to them, as the singular pronoun <anhu> "from him" indicates. This confirms that Allah and His messenger are not two separate sources of divine law to be obeyed but one source, as the above verse identifies both Allah’s as well as His messenger’s obedience but ends in the singular pronoun, and not a dual one. This pronoun in the singular is for the messenger to whom the Believers are asked to listen to attentively.

The ultimate source to whom obedience and subservience is due is Allah, but since Allah does not communicate with each and every individual directly, he selects a person among mankind, and reveals His laws and injunctions on His selected emissary. That person, who is divinely chosen, then delivers those Laws that he has received from Allah. Such a person has been called as "Nabi" and "Rasul". He is a "Nabi" on account of his direct reception of the divine message, and "Rasul", as he does not keep the divine message to himself but also delivers it to mankind. The messenger not only calls people to obey those laws which he has received by divine revelation but he himself is also obedient to those laws. It is those laws and injunctions which are contained in the Book of Allah, that are bestowed on the messenger by objective divine revelation and the messenger delivers those to his people and asks them to show obedience to what he is propagating. The Qur’anic verses are themselves identified as the divine utterances of the messenger <qaul-ur-rasool>, as the following verse informs us:


<In nahu_ laqaula rasu_lin karim>
"Most surely, it (the Qur'an) is the saying of an honourable messenger." (69:40)

Thus he who listens to the messenger listens to what the messenger propagates. By listening to the messenger people listen to what God has revealed on him and by obeying those injunctions which are delivered by the messenger the people indirectly obey Allah as well, as it is Allah Himself, who has given that teaching to his selected emissary. That is why it is stated in the Qur’an:


"Whoever obeys the messenger, he indeed obeys Allah, and whoever turns back, so We have not sent you as a keeper over them." (4:80)

From the above Qur’anic evidence it is clearly established that obedience to the messenger is not obedience to his personal orders but to the divine laws that have been revealed on him, and that Allah and his messenger are not two separate obediences but it is a term which stands for one single source of divine law and obedience.