But why was the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) facing Jerusalem before that? The preceding verse shows that God Himself had appointed Jerusalem as the initial qiblah for the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him):
[And we appointed the Qiblah to which thou was used, only to test those who followed the Messenger from those who would turn on their heels (from the Faith).] (Al-Baqarah 2:143)
The appointment of the previous qiblah is referred to as being in the past. But there is no verse in the Qur’an which commands the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) to face Jerusalem at the beginning of his mission! Therefore, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) must have received this guidance from God in a form other than the Qur’an. As we have said above, this alternative revelation is preserved in the Sunnah.
[When the Prophet disclosed a matter in confidence to one of his wives, and she then divulged it, and God made it known to him, made known (to her) part thereof and passed over part, she said, “Who told you this?” He said, “He told me Who knows and is well-acquainted (with all things).”] (At-Tahrim 66:3)
We must consider carefully the phrases “God made it known to him” and “He told me Who knows and is well-acquainted.” The question is, how did God make it known to him and tell him? Certainly not via the Qur’an, since there is no mention of it anywhere else in the Book of God. Therefore, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) must have been told via revelation from God which is not part of the Qur’an.
[Whether ye (O Muslims) cut down the tender palm trees or ye left them standing on their roots, it was by leave of God, and in order that He might cover the rebellious transgressors with shame.] (Al-Hashr 59:5)
Here, their action is attributed to the “leave of God” given to them. Nowhere in the Qur’an is such permission found. Hence, God guided the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) in this matter but not via the Qur’an.
These are just a few examples out of many which leave no doubt that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to receive revelation from God either directly or through the medium of the Angel Jibreel (Gabriel). A part of this revelation was preserved word for word under the title of the Qur’an. All other revelation was embodied either in the Prophet’s sayings or in his practices, which were carefully preserved by the Companions as the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).
The Various Purposes Served by the Sunnah
The Mother of the Believers `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) was once asked, “What was the character of the Prophet?” She replied, “His character was nothing but the Qur’an.” Thus the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was an embodiment of the Qur’an itself: Whatever he practiced or said, i.e., the Sunnah, is related to the guidance of the Qur’an. Let us explore the role of the Sunnah in relation to the Qur’an.
[As to the thief, male or female, cut off his or her hand—a punishment from God by way of example for their crime. And God is exalted in Power, Wise.] (Al-Ma’idah 5:38)
The Sunnah explains the minimum of stolen goods for which a thief deserves this punishment, and the manner in which the hand should be cut off.
[It is those who believe and confuse not their beliefs with zhulm that are in security, and they are on (right) guidance.] (Surat Al-An`am 6:82)
Imam Al-Bukhari relates that some of the Companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) took the word zhulm in its general meaning, “to do injustice, to do wrong, to sin.” So they were troubled and said, “Which of us has not done wrong?” The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) relieved them of this worry by explaining that zhulm here means “to commit shirk” (to associate partners with God in worship or belief or both; idol worship; polytheism), as in Surat Luqman:
[Indeed, worshiping others besides God is great injustice (zhulm).] (Luqman 31:13)
[Those who hoard gold and silver and spend it not in the Way of God, announce unto them a most grievous penalty. On the day when it will (all) be heated in the fire of hell, and with it will be branded their foreheads, their flanks, and their backs.] (At-Tawbah 9:34)
The Arabic word kanz means a hoard, big or small. So this verse seemingly dooms a person who hoards any amount and does not spend it in the way of God. With this meaning in mind, `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) questioned the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) about this verse, to which he replied that once the poor tax (zakah) which is due on the hoarded amount is paid, it is no longer considered as kanz (reported by Ibn Majah).
[Behold! God promised you one of the two (enemy) parties, that it should be yours; ye wished that the one unarmed should be yours, but God intended to justify the Truth according to His words and to cut off the roots of the unbelievers.] (Al-Anfal 8:7)
Which two parties are meant? Which of them is unarmed? From books of Hadith we learn the relevant details about the Battle of Badr, which is the incident referred to in the above verses.
[(God turned in mercy) to the three who were left behind.] (At-Tawbah 9: 118)
Who were these three people, and why did they remain behind? Again, the books of Hadith explain this.
[He frowned and turned away, because there came to him the blind man.] (`Abasa 80:1–2)
Who frowned and turned away, and why? Who was the blind man? The details are furnished by the books of Hadith.
[God directs you as regards your children’s inheritance.] (An-Nisaa’ 4:11)
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) explained that the Muslim child of a disbeliever, the non-Muslim child of a Muslim, and the murderer of his/her own father cannot inherit.
[Prohibited to you are … two sisters in wedlock at one and the same time.] (An-Nisaa’ 4:23)
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) declared that to marry a woman as well as her aunt in the same wedlock is also prohibited.
One of the many duties of the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) was to tell the believers what is lawful (halal) and what is unlawful (haram) (Al-A`raf 7:157). For example, he prohibited the flesh of donkeys, dogs, beasts with canine teeth, and birds of prey. He also made gold and silkharam for Muslim men, but halal for Muslim women.
*By Sheikh Suhaib Hasan
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