The Obligation to Believe in Him, Obey him and follow his Sunnah
Source: Muhammad, Messenger of Allah, Ashi-Shifa of Qadi ‘Ilyad
Qadi ‘Ilyad Ibn Musa al Yahsubi, translated by Aisha Abdarrahman Bewley (Pg. 213)
Allah says, “Believe in Allah and His Messenger and the light which He sent down.” (64:8) He says, “We sent you as a witness and a bringer of good news and a warner so that they might believe in Allah and His Messenger.” (48:8-9) He says, “Believe in Allah and His Messenger, the unlettered Prophet.” (7:158) Belief in the Prophet Muhammad is therefore a necessary obligation for every individual. Belief is not complete without it and Islam is only valid with it.
As for the obligation to obey the Prophet, belief in him demands it. Confirmation of what he brought requires obedience to him because that is part of what he brought. Allah says, “O you who believe, obey Allah and His Messenger…” (8:20) “Say: obey Allah and obey the Messenger…” (24:54) He says, “Obey Allah and the Messenger and perhaps you will be shown mercy.” (3:132) “If you obey him, you will be guided…” (24:54) “Whoever obeys the Messenger has obeyed Allah…” (4:79) “Take what the Messenger brings you and leave what he forbids you …” (59:7) “Whoever obeys Allah and the Messenger is with those whom Allah has blessed.” (4:68) “We did not send any Messenger but for him to be obeyed by the permission of Allah.” (4:63)
He made obeying His Messenger tantamount to obeying Himself, and He placed obedience to Himself alongside obedience to His Messenger. Allah promises that doing this will result in an abundant reward and threatens a severe punishment for opposing it. He made it obligatory to obey the things that the Prophet commanded and to avoid those he prohibited.
The commentators and Imams have said that obeying the Messenger means to cling to his sunna and submit to what he brought. They said that Allah did not send a Messenger without obliging those to whom he was sent to obey him and that obeying the Messenger in his sunna is equivalent to obeying Allah in His obligations. Sahl at-Tustari was asked about the Shari’a of Islam and he quoted, “Take what the Messenger brings you.” (59:7)
As for the obligation to follow him and obey his sunna and follow his guidance, Allah says, “Say: if you love Allah, follow me and He will love you and forgive you your wrong actions.” (3:31) “Believe in Allah and His Messenger, the unlettered Prophet who believes in Allah and His words. Follow him, perhaps you will be guided.” (7:157) “No, by your Lord, they will not believe until they ask you to judge between them in what they disagree about and then they shall find in themselves no impediment touching your verdict, but shall surrender in full submission.” (4:64) i.e. obey your judgement.
Allah also says, “You have a good model in the Messenger of Allah for one who hopes for Allah and the Last Day.” (33:21) Muhammad ibn ‘Ali at-Tirmidhi said, “To take the Messenger as a model means to emulate him, follow his sunna and abandon opposition to him in either word or action.” Several commentators said words to that effect.
It is said that this was intended as a criticism of those who fail to follow him. Sahl said that the ayat that form the Fatiha (Sura 1), “The path of those whom You have blessed”, means to follow the sunna. Allah commands this and promises they will be guided by following him by reason of the fact that Allah has sent him with the guidance and the deen of the truth to purify them, teach them the Book and the Wisdom, and to guide them to a straight path.
In the first ayat mentioned Allah promises His love and forgiveness to those who follow the Prophet and prefer him to their own passions and inclinations. Soundness of belief is based on submission to the Prophet and satisfaction with this judgement and abandoning opposition to him.
It is related from al-hasan al-Basri that some people said, “Messenger of Allah, we love Allah,” so Allah revealed, “Say: if you love Allah, follow me and Allah will love you.” (3:31) It is related that this verse was revealed about Ka’b ibn Ashraf and others. They said, “We are the sons of Allah and His beloveds,” (5:20) and “We are stronger in love for Allah, “ (2:165) so Allah revealed the ayat.
It is related that the Prophet said, “The Qur’an is hard and difficult for anyone who hates it. It is judgement. Whoever clings to what I say and understands it and retains it, then it will be like the Qu’ran for him. Whoever considers the Qu’ran and what I say unimportant and neglects it loses this world and the Next. My community is commanded to take my words and obey my command and follow my sunna. Whoever is pleased with my words is pleased with the Qur’an. Allah says, ‘Take what the Messenger brings you.’” (59:7)