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The Necessity of Referring to the Qur'an and Sunnah for Judgment

Allah said,

﴿ فَإِن تَنَـٰزَعۡتُمۡ فِى شَىۡءٍ۬ فَرُدُّوهُ إِلَى ٱللَّهِ وَٱلرَّسُولِ

((And) if you differ in anything amongst yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger). Mujahid and several others among the Salaf said that the Ayah means, "(Refer) to the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger.'' This is a command from Allah that whatever areas the people dispute about, whether major or minor areas of the religion, they are required to refer to the Qur'an and Sunnah for judgment concerning these disputes. In another Ayah, Allah said,

﴿ وَمَا ٱخۡتَلَفۡتُمۡ فِيهِ مِن شَىۡءٍ۬ فَحُكۡمُهُ ۥۤ إِلَى ٱللَّهِ‌ۚ

(And in whatsoever you differ, the decision thereof is with Allah). Therefore, whatever the Book and Sunnah decide and testify to the truth of, then it, is the plain truth. What is beyond truth, save falsehood This is why Allah said,

﴿ إِن كُنتُمۡ تُؤۡمِنُونَ بِٱللَّهِ وَٱلۡيَوۡمِ ٱلۡأَخِرِ‌ۚ

(if you believe in Allah and in the Last Day.) meaning, refer the disputes and conflicts that arise between you to the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger for judgment. Allah's statement,

﴿ إِن كُنتُمۡ تُؤۡمِنُونَ بِٱللَّهِ وَٱلۡيَوۡمِ ٱلۡأَخِرِ‌ۚ

(if you believe in Allah and in the Last Day. ) indicates that those who do not refer to the Book and Sunnah for judgment in their disputes, are not believers in Allah or the Last Day. Allah said,

﴿ ذَٲلِكَ خَيۡرٌ۬

(That is better) meaning, referring to the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger for judgment in various disputes is better,

﴿ وَأَحۡسَنُ تَأۡوِيلاً

(and more suitable for final determination.) meaning, "Has a better end and destination,'' as As-Suddi and several others have stated while Mujahid said, "Carries a better reward.''

﴿ أَلَمۡ تَرَ إِلَى ٱلَّذِينَ يَزۡعُمُونَ أَنَّهُمۡ ءَامَنُواْ بِمَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَيۡكَ وَمَآ أُنزِلَ مِن قَبۡلِكَ يُرِيدُونَ أَن يَتَحَاكَمُوٓاْ إِلَى ٱلطَّـٰغُوتِ وَقَدۡ أُمِرُوٓاْ أَن يَكۡفُرُواْ بِهِۦ وَيُرِيدُ ٱلشَّيۡطَـٰنُ أَن يُضِلَّهُمۡ ضَلَـٰلاَۢ بَعِيدً۬ا وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمۡ تَعَالَوۡاْ إِلَىٰ مَآ أَنزَلَ ٱللَّهُ وَإِلَى ٱلرَّسُولِ رَأَيۡتَ ٱلۡمُنَـٰفِقِينَ يَصُدُّونَ عَنكَ صُدُودً۬ا فَكَيۡفَ إِذَآ أَصَـٰبَتۡهُم مُّصِيبَةُۢ بِمَا قَدَّمَتۡ أَيۡدِيهِمۡ ثُمَّ جَآءُوكَ يَحۡلِفُونَ بِٱللَّهِ إِنۡ أَرَدۡنَآ إِلَّآ إِحۡسَـٰنً۬ا وَتَوۡفِيقًا أُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ ٱلَّذِينَ يَعۡلَمُ ٱللَّهُ مَا فِى قُلُوبِہِمۡ فَأَعۡرِضۡ عَنۡہُمۡ وَعِظۡهُمۡ وَقُل لَّهُمۡ فِىٓ أَنفُسِہِمۡ قَوۡلاَۢ بَلِيغً۬ا

(60. Have you not seen those (hypocrites) who claim that they believe in that which has been sent down to you, and that which was sent down before you, and they wish to go for judgment (in their disputes) to the Taghut while they have been ordered to reject them. But Shaytan wishes to lead them far astray. ) (61. And when it is said to them: "Come to what Allah has sent down and to the Messenger,'' you see the hypocrites turn away from you with aversion.) (62. How then, when a catastrophe befalls them because of what their hands have sent forth, they come to you swearing by Allah, "We meant no more than goodwill and conciliation!'') (63. They (hypocrites) are those of whom Allah knows what is in their hearts; so turn aside from them (do not punish them) but admonish them, and speak to them an effective word to reach their inner selves.)

Referring to Other than the Qur'an and Sunnah for Judgment is Characteristic of Non-Muslims

Allah chastises those who claim to believe in what Allah has sent down to His Messenger and to the earlier Prophets, yet they refer to other than the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger for judgment in various disputes. It was reported that the reason behind revealing this Ayah was that a man from the Ansar and a Jew had a dispute, and the Jew said, "Let us refer to Muhammad to judge between us.'' However, the Muslim man said, "Let us refer to Ka`b bin Al-Ashraf (a Jew) to judge between us.'' It was also reported that the Ayah was revealed about some hypocrites who pretended to be Muslims, yet they sought to refer to the judgment of Jahiliyyah. Other reasons were also reported behind the revelation of the Ayah. However, the Ayah has a general meaning, as it chastises all those who refrain from referring to the Qur'an and Sunnah for judgment and prefer the judgment of whatever they chose of falsehood, which befits the description of Taghut here. This is why Allah said,

﴿ يُرِيدُونَ أَن يَتَحَاكَمُوٓاْ إِلَى ٱلطَّـٰغُوتِ

(and they wish to go for judgment to the Taghut) until the end of the Ayah. Allah's statement,

﴿ يَصُدُّونَ عَنكَ صُدُودً۬ا

(turn away from you with aversion) means, they turn away from you in arrogance, just as Allah described the polytheists,

﴿ وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمُ ٱتَّبِعُواْ مَآ أَنزَلَ ٱللَّهُ قَالُواْ بَلۡ نَتَّبِعُ مَا وَجَدۡنَا عَلَيۡهِ ءَابَآءَنَآ‌ۚ

(When it is said to them: "Follow what Allah has sent down.'' They say: "Nay! We shall follow what we found our fathers following.'') This is different from the conduct of the faithful believers, whom Allah describes as,

﴿ إِنَّمَا كَانَ قَوۡلَ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ إِذَا دُعُوٓاْ إِلَى ٱللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِۦ لِيَحۡكُمَ بَيۡنَهُمۡ أَن يَقُولُواْ سَمِعۡنَا وَأَطَعۡنَا‌ۚ

(The only saying of the faithful believers, when they are called to Allah and His Messenger, to judge between them, is that they say: "We hear and we obey.'')

Chastising the Hypocrites

Chastising the hypocrites, Allah said,

﴿ فَكَيۡفَ إِذَآ أَصَـٰبَتۡهُم مُّصِيبَةُۢ بِمَا قَدَّمَتۡ أَيۡدِيهِمۡ

(How then, when a catastrophe befalls them because of what their hands have sent forth,) meaning, how about it if they feel compelled to join you because of disasters that they suffer due to their sins, then they will be in need of you.

﴿ ثُمَّ جَآءُوكَ يَحۡلِفُونَ بِٱللَّهِ إِنۡ أَرَدۡنَآ إِلَّآ إِحۡسَـٰنً۬ا وَتَوۡفِيقًا

(They come to you swearing by Allah, "We meant no more than goodwill and conciliation!'') apologizing and swearing that they only sought goodwill and reconciliation when they referred to other than the Prophet for judgment, not that they believe in such alternative judgment, as they claim. Allah describes these people to us further in His statement,

﴿ فَتَرَى ٱلَّذِينَ فِى قُلُوبِهِم مَّرَضٌ۬ يُسَـٰرِعُونَ فِيہِمۡ يَقُولُونَ نَخۡشَىٰٓ

(And you see those in whose hearts there is a disease (of hypocrisy), they hurry to their friendship, saying: "We fear''), until,

﴿ فَيُصۡبِحُواْ عَلَىٰ مَآ أَسَرُّواْ فِىٓ أَنفُسِہِمۡ نَـٰدِمِينَ

(Then they will become regretful for what they have been keeping as a secret in themselves). At-Tabarani recorded that Ibn `Abbas said, "Abu Barzah Al-Aslami used to be a soothsayer who judged between the Jews in their disputes. When some Muslims came to him to judge between them, Allah sent down,

﴿ أَلَمۡ تَرَ إِلَى ٱلَّذِينَ يَزۡعُمُونَ أَنَّهُمۡ ءَامَنُواْ بِمَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَيۡكَ وَمَآ أُنزِلَ مِن قَبۡلِكَ

(Have you not seen those (hypocrites) who claim that they believe in that which has been sent down to you, and that which was sent down before you), until,

﴿ إِنۡ أَرَدۡنَآ إِلَّآ إِحۡسَـٰنً۬ا وَتَوۡفِيقًا

("We meant no more than goodwill and conciliation!'') Allah then said,

﴿ أُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ ٱلَّذِينَ يَعۡلَمُ ٱللَّهُ مَا فِى قُلُوبِہِمۡ

(They (hypocrites) are those of whom Allah knows what is in their hearts;) These people are hypocrites, and Allah knows what is in their hearts and will punish them accordingly, for nothing escapes Allah's watch. Consequently, O Muhammad! Let Allah be sufficient for you in this regard, because He has perfect knowledge of their apparent and hidden affairs. This is why Allah said,

﴿ فَأَعۡرِضۡ عَنۡهُمۡ

(so turn aside from them (do not punish them)) meaning, do not punish them because of what is in their hearts.

﴿ وَعِظۡهُمۡ

(but admonish them) means, advise them against the hypocrisy and evil that reside in their hearts,

﴿ وَقُل لَّهُمۡ فِىٓ أَنفُسِہِمۡ قَوۡلاَۢ بَلِيغً۬ا

(and speak to them an effective word to reach their inner selves) advise them, between you and them, using effective words that might benefit them.

﴿ وَمَآ أَرۡسَلۡنَا مِن رَّسُولٍ إِلَّا لِيُطَاعَ بِإِذۡنِ ٱللَّهِ‌ۚ وَلَوۡ أَنَّهُمۡ إِذ ظَّلَمُوٓاْ أَنفُسَهُمۡ جَآءُوكَ فَٱسۡتَغۡفَرُواْ ٱللَّهَ وَٱسۡتَغۡفَرَ لَهُمُ ٱلرَّسُولُ لَوَجَدُواْ ٱللَّهَ تَوَّابً۬ا رَّحِيمً۬ا فَلَا وَرَبِّكَ لَا يُؤۡمِنُونَ حَتَّىٰ يُحَكِّمُوكَ فِيمَا شَجَرَ بَيۡنَهُمۡ ثُمَّ لَا يَجِدُواْ فِىٓ أَنفُسِہِمۡ حَرَجً۬ا مِّمَّا قَضَيۡتَ وَيُسَلِّمُواْ تَسۡلِيمً۬ا

(64. We sent no Messenger, but to be obeyed by Allah's leave. If they, when they were unjust to themselves, had come to you and begged Allah's forgiveness, and the Messenger had begged forgiveness for them, indeed, they would have found Allah All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.) (65. But no, by your Lord, they can have no faith, until they make you judge in all disputes between them, and find in themselves no resistance against your decisions, and accept (them) with full submission.)