Explanation of “Muḥammad is the Messenger of Allāh” and Examples of Conforming to His Sunnah
Shaykh al-ʿAllāmah ʿUbayd ibn ʿAbdillāh al-Jābirī details the meaning behind the testification “Muḥammad is the Messenger of Allāh” and the six areas where the action is required to be in conformity with the Sunnah, otherwise the action is rejected.
Believing and testifying to the truth of everything which he informs us of. This is because it may be the case that the legitimately responsible person may obey him but not testify to the truth of that which he informs us of. So it is obligatory to testify to the truth of everything that he informs us of, whether this is concerning the present, past or future, worldly affairs or the matters of worship.
Shaykh ʿUbayd ibn ʿAbdillāh al-Jābirī
Shaykh ʿUbayd al-Jābirī mentions:
What is the concise meaning of the statement, “Muḥammad is the messenger of Allāh”?
It means that a legitimately responsible individual acknowledges and attests to the final universal message of Muḥammad (ṣallá Allāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam). As for its detailed meaning, it is as the shaykh [Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhāb] mentioned, that it consists of four aspects:
1) Obeying the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallá Allāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) in all that which he commands.
2) Believing and testifying to the truth of everything which he informs us of. This is because it may be the case that the legitimately responsible person may obey him but not testify to the truth of that which he informs us of. So it is obligatory to testify to the truth of everything that he informs us of, whether this is concerning the present, past or future, worldly affairs or the matters of worship.
3) Abstaining from everything which he prohibited and forbade. This means that along with obeying him and testifying to the truth of everything which he informs us of, we must also stay away from everything which he prohibits us from.
4) Worshiping Allāh in the fashion which he has commanded.
With these four aspects, the testification that Muḥammad is the Messenger of Allāh is rightfully established and his way is followed.
Here, it is appropriate to mention six areas where the action is required to be in conformity with the Sunnah, otherwise the action is rejected. We will clarify these six areas with examples:
1) Conforming to the type: If two people perform the sacrifice of ʾuḍḥiyyah, one of them slaughters a gazelle and the other slaughters a sheep. Which of them is accepted? The action of the one who slaughters the sheep is accepted. Perhaps the gazelle is more expensive than the sheep, glory be to Allāh! Is this not the case that at times gazelles are more expensive than sheep? Even though this is the case, the individual who slaughtered the sheep conformed to the Sunnah with regards to the type, so his ʾuḍḥiyyah is accepted. The individual who slaughtered the gazelle opposed the Sunnah with regards to the type, so his ʾuḍḥiyyah is rejected.
2) Conforming to the reason: A Muslim fasts on Monday because it is the day that the actions are presented to Allāh, so he loved that his action be presented to Allāh whilst in the state of fasting. Another person fasts on Monday because it is the twenty-seventh of Rajab. They both fasted on Monday. Perhaps the latter even woke up three hours earlier than the first individual. Which fast is accepted? The first individual’s fast is accepted because he conformed to the Sunnah in reasoning. As for the latter individual, he opposed the Sunnah in reasoning. He believes that al-isrā wa-al-miʿrāj was the twenty-seventh night of Rajab, so he fasted. Is this legislated? Did they not both fast on Monday? They both fasted on Monday, from the entrance of Fajr till sunset, but only the first individual’s fast was accepted and the latter’s fast was rejected due to his opposition to the Sunnah in his reasoning.
3) Conforming to the way that an action must be performed: A person prays Ẓuhr prayer in four rakaʿāt; he recites one hundred verses along with sūrah al-fātiḥah; he reads one hundred tasbīhs every time he bows and prostrates. He prostrates, then stands from prostration, then bows, then [immediately] goes into prostration. He performs the prayer in such fashion until he completes the four rakaʿāt. This individual’s prayer is not accepted because he has opposed the Sunnah in the way he performed the action.
4) Conforming to the [prescribed] number or amount: An individual says he prays six rakaʿāt for Ẓuhr prayer, and he does not mean the four units of Ẓuhr and two optional units. Rather, he prays six rakaʿāt for the compulsory Ẓuhr prayer. He recites long surahs, also bowing and standing for a long period of time. His prayer is longer than the others who might be praying Ẓuhr in eight or ten minutes. Has this individual done more? Yes. Firstly: he has elongated his standing, bowing, prostrations and tasbīḥ. Secondly: He performed tashahhud three times. So what is the ruling on his prayer and why? His prayer is void because he opposed the Sunnah with regards to the prescribed amount which the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallá Allāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) commanded. This individual worshipped Allāh with an action which was not legislated by the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallá Allāh ʿalayhi wa-sallam).
5) Conforming to the prescribed time: A man wears his iḥrām [i.e. the two pieces of cloth worn by those who perform Ḥajj and ʿUmrah] to perform Ḥajj in the month of Ramaḍān. Others wear their iḥrām for Ḥajj on the 8th day of Dhu al-Hijjah. The first man’s Ḥajj is not accepted while the other peoples’ Ḥajj are correct due to their conforming to the Sunnah with regards to its prescribed timing.
6) Conforming to the designated place: Where do the people performing Ḥajj stand on the ninth day of Dhu al-Ḥijjah? They stand at ʿArafah. The standing [at ʿArafah] begins before Ẓuhr, until sunset. An individual—who wants to strive to do more than everyone else, desiring goodness, wanting seclusion for his worship so that he does not fall into showing off—leaves the people standing at ʿArafah to go and stand by himself and worship Allāh at Muzdalifah. He stands at Muzdalifah on the eighth, ninth and tenth day of Dhu al-Hijjah, and he meets with the rest of the people preforming Ḥajj after ʿAsr at Miná. He stood at Miná for three consecutive days, remembering Allāh, praying to Allāh during the night aswell as during the day. This individual’s Ḥajj is void because the Prophet (ṣallá Allāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) said: “Ḥajj is ʿArafah.” So this individual has opposed the Sunnah with regards to the designated place of worship.
Source: Itḥāf al-ʿUqūl, pg. 93-95.
Translated by: Munīb al-Ṣumālī