The Quran commands the believers that we are to “obey God and His messenger.” This statement occurs some twenty-plus times in the Quran.

[47:33] O you who believe, you shall obey GOD, and obey the messenger. Otherwise, all your works will be in vain.

(٣٣) يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوٓا۟ أَطِيعُوا۟ ٱللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُوا۟ ٱلرَّسُولَ وَلَا تُبْطِلُوٓا۟ أَعْمَـٰلَكُمْ

2alladhīnaٱلَّذِينَthose who
3āmanūءَامَنُوٓا۟[they] believed!
4aṭīʿūأَطِيعُوا۟Obey [you all]
6wa-aṭīʿūوَأَطِيعُوا۟and obey [you all]
7l-rasūlaٱلرَّسُولَthe messenger,
8walāوَلَاand (do) not
9tub’ṭilūتُبْطِلُوٓا۟you [all] nullify / make in vain
10aʿmālakumأَعْمَـٰلَكُمْyour deeds.

Time and Place

There is no question that if we were living among the prophet that we must obey all his commands pertaining to the religion. For example, when the prophet assigned positions in battle (3:121) or commanded the change in the direction of the Qibla (2:142), the believers had to abide by these commands. But notice that these specific commands were limited to the time and place when the prophet was alive. So how does one uphold this command today now that Muahmmad has passed? As we see from the verses below, this question will cause the followers of Muhammad to feud with one another on the Day of Resurrection.

[39:30] You (Muhammad) will surely die, just like they will die.

(٣٠) إِنَّكَ مَيِّتٌ وَإِنَّهُم مَّيِّتُونَ

[39:31] On the Day of Resurrection, before your Lord, you people will feud with one another.

(٣١) ثُمَّ إِنَّكُمْ يَوْمَ ٱلْقِيَـٰمَةِ عِندَ رَبِّكُمْ تَخْتَصِمُونَ

Obey the messenger, not Muhammad

Nowhere in the Quran do we have a commandment to obey Muhammad. This is because even Muhammad was obligated to obey the messenger. An example of this can be seen in the following verses, where Muhammad was commanded to marry the divorced wife of his adopted son. Still, he was apprehensive about doing so and was reprimanded for this. This shows that Muhammad, the man, disobeyed Muhammad, the messenger.

[33:36] No believing man or believing woman, if GOD and His messenger issue any command, has any choice regarding that command. Anyone who disobeys GOD and His messenger has gone far astray.

وَمَا كَانَ لِمُؤْمِنٍ وَلَا مُؤْمِنَةٍ إِذَا قَضَى ٱللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُۥٓ أَمْرًا أَن يَكُونَ لَهُمُ ٱلْخِيَرَةُ مِنْ أَمْرِهِمْ وَمَن يَعْصِ ٱللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُۥ فَقَدْ ضَلَّ ضَلَـٰلًا مُّبِينًا

[33:37] Recall that you said to the one who was blessed by GOD, and blessed by you, “Keep your wife and reverence GOD,” and you hid inside yourself what GOD wished to proclaim. Thus, you feared the people, when you were supposed to fear only GOD. When Zeid was completely through with his wife, we had you marry her, in order to establish the precedent that a man can marry the divorced wife of his adopted son. GOD’s commands shall be done.

وَإِذْ تَقُولُ لِلَّذِىٓ أَنْعَمَ ٱللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَأَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِ أَمْسِكْ عَلَيْكَ زَوْجَكَ وَٱتَّقِ ٱللَّهَ وَتُخْفِى فِى نَفْسِكَ مَا ٱللَّهُ مُبْدِيهِ وَتَخْشَى ٱلنَّاسَ وَٱللَّهُ أَحَقُّ أَن تَخْشَىٰهُ فَلَمَّا قَضَىٰ زَيْدٌ مِّنْهَا وَطَرًا زَوَّجْنَـٰكَهَا لِكَىْ لَا يَكُونَ عَلَى ٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ حَرَجٌ فِىٓ أَزْوَٰجِ أَدْعِيَآئِهِمْ إِذَا قَضَوْا۟ مِنْهُنَّ وَطَرًا وَكَانَ أَمْرُ ٱللَّهِ مَفْعُولًا

In this next verse, we see another mistake committed by Muhammad, the man. These examples show that Muhammad the man was fallible, and he was just as responsible, if not more, to obey the messenger just like any other believer.

[9:43] GOD has pardoned you: why did you give them permission (to stay behind), before you could distinguish those who are truthful from the liars?

(٤٣) عَفَا ٱللَّهُ عَنكَ لِمَ أَذِنتَ لَهُمْ حَتَّىٰ يَتَبَيَّنَ لَكَ ٱلَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا۟ وَتَعْلَمَ ٱلْكَـٰذِبِينَ

Muahmmad’s Only Duty was to Deliver The Message

In many places in the Quran, we are informed that Muhammad’s only duty as a messenger was to deliver the message.

[16:82] If they still turn away, then your sole mission is the clear delivery (of the message).

 فَإِنْ تَوَلَّوْا فَإِنَّمَا عَلَيْكَ الْبَلَاغُ الْمُبِينُ

It is worth noting that this sole function of the messenger is articulated after the commandment to “obey God, and obey the messenger.” This shows the connection between obeying the messenger and the corresponding message given to him by God.

[5:92] You shall obey GOD, and you shall obey the messenger, and beware. If you turn away, then know that the sole duty of our messenger is to deliver the message efficiently.

وَأَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ وَاحْذَرُوا فَإِنْ تَوَلَّيْتُمْ فَاعْلَمُوا أَنَّمَا عَلَىٰ رَسُولِنَا الْبَلَاغُ الْمُبِينُ

[5:99] The sole duty of the messenger is to deliver the message, and GOD knows everything you declare and everything you conceal.

مَا عَلَى الرَّسُولِ إِلَّا الْبَلَاغُ وَاللَّهُ يَعْلَمُ مَا تُبْدُونَ وَمَا تَكْتُمُونَ

[24:54] Say, “Obey GOD, and obey the messenger.” If they refuse, then he is responsible for his obligations, and you are responsible for your obligations. If you obey him, you will be guided. The sole duty of the messenger is to deliver (the message).

قُلْ أَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ فَإِنْ تَوَلَّوْا فَإِنَّمَا عَلَيْهِ مَا حُمِّلَ وَعَلَيْكُمْ مَا حُمِّلْتُمْ وَإِنْ تُطِيعُوهُ تَهْتَدُوا وَمَا عَلَى الرَّسُولِ إِلَّا الْبَلَاغُ الْمُبِينُ

Muhammad’s Only Message was the Quran AlOne

Then we see that Muhammads message was cointained in the reminder.

[21:10] We have sent down to you a scripture containing your message. Do you not understand?

(١٠) لَقَدْ أَنزَلْنَآ إِلَيْكُمْ كِتَـٰبًا فِيهِ ذِكْرُكُمْ أَفَلَا تَعْقِلُونَ

2anzalnāأَنزَلْنَآwe sent down
3ilaykumإِلَيْكُمْto you [all]
4kitābanكِتَـٰبًاa book / scripture
5fīhiفِيهِin it (is)
6dhik’rukumذِكْرُكُمْyour mention / reminder / message.
7afalāأَفَلَاThen will not
8taʿqilūnaتَعْقِلُونَyou [all] understand?

The Only book for Muhammad and His Followers To Study Was Quran alone

Additionally, neither Muhammad nor his people were given any other book to study.

[34:44] We did not give them any other books to study, nor did we send to them before you another warner.

(٤٤) وَمَآ ءَاتَيْنَـٰهُم مِّن كُتُبٍ يَدْرُسُونَهَا وَمَآ أَرْسَلْنَآ إِلَيْهِمْ قَبْلَكَ مِن نَّذِيرٍ

[68:37] Do you have another book you are studying?
[68:38] In it, do you find anything you want?

(٣٧) أَمْ لَكُمْ كِتَـٰبٌ فِيهِ تَدْرُسُونَ
(٣٨) إِنَّ لَكُمْ فِيهِ لَمَا تَخَيَّرُونَ

The Only Hadith we are to Uphold is the quran alone

The only Hadith that we are to uphold is the Quran alone.

[77:50] Which Hadith, after this, do they uphold?

(٥٠) فَبِأَىِّ حَدِيثٍۭ بَعْدَهُۥ يُؤْمِنُونَ

[45:6] These are GOD’s revelations that we recite to you truthfully. In which Hadith other than GOD and His revelations do they believe?

(٦) تِلْكَ ءَايَـٰتُ ٱللَّهِ نَتْلُوهَا عَلَيْكَ بِٱلْحَقِّ فَبِأَىِّ حَدِيثٍۭ بَعْدَ ٱللَّهِ وَءَايَـٰتِهِۦ يُؤْمِنُونَ

The only preserved Message is the Quran Alone

The Quran was the only reminder from the messenger that was preserved. All Hadith besides the Quran was not sent down, nor was it adequately preserved.

[15:9] Absolutely, we have sent down the reminder, and, absolutely, we will preserve it.

(٩) إِنَّا نَحْنُ نَزَّلْنَا ٱلذِّكْرَ وَإِنَّا لَهُۥ لَحَـٰفِظُونَ

1innāإِنَّاIndeed, [we]
3nazzalnāنَزَّلْنَا[we] sent down
4l-dhik’raٱلذِّكْرَthe reminder,
5wa-innāوَإِنَّاand indeed, we
6lahuلَهُۥof it (are)
7laḥāfiẓūnaلَحَـٰفِظُونَsurely guardians / protectors / preservers.

Conclusion: Obeying the messenger is obeying his message, which was the Quran alone

Therefore, if we want to obey the messenger, we must obey their message, which in the case of Muhammad was the Quran alone. This conclusion is best articulated in the following testimony given by a follower of the prophet and the messenger himself on the Day of Resurrection.

[25:27] The day will come when the transgressor will bite his hands (in anguish) and say, “Alas, I wish I had followed the path with the messenger.
[25:28] “Alas, woe to me, I wish I did not take that person as a friend.
[25:29] “He has led me away from the reminder after it came to me. Indeed, the devil lets down his human victims.”
[25:30] The messenger said, “My Lord, my people have deserted this Quran.”

وَيَوْمَ يَعَضُّ الظَّالِمُ عَلَىٰ يَدَيْهِ يَقُولُ يَالَيْتَنِي اتَّخَذْتُ مَعَ الرَّسُولِ سَبِيلًا
 يَاوَيْلَتَىٰ لَيْتَنِي لَمْ أَتَّخِذْ فُلَانًا خَلِيلًا
 لَقَدْ أَضَلَّنِي عَنِ الذِّكْرِ بَعْدَ إِذْ جَاءَنِي وَكَانَ الشَّيْطَانُ لِلْإِنْسَانِ خَذُولًا
 وَقَالَ الرَّسُولُ يَارَبِّ إِنَّ قَوْمِي اتَّخَذُوا هَٰذَا الْقُرْآنَ مَهْجُورًا

Notice the person mentioned above who is destined for Hell regrets not following the path of the messenger and abandoning the reminder when it was given to them. Then we see the messenger’s testimony against his people on the Day of Ressurection regarding individuals with such regrets is that his people have deserted this Quran. Notice there is no mention of the Sunnah or Hadith in the messenger’s statement. This shows that the preserved reminder the messenger was to deliver and that we are to uphold is the Quran alone.

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