There are many verses in the Quran that tells Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam) that his duty was to convey or deliver the message. These verses are often used by the Anti-Hadith or Submitters (more accurate – submersers which means those who sink their heads in water! If they don’t come out of it and submit to the truth, they will surely drown!)
These verses actually mean that the prophet was not responsible if the people do not believe him after he has delivered the message. This is clear. But a begging question arises: To what extent is a message considered delivered?
To answer this queston, we need to gather all the verses in this regard for a complete picture.
These verses can be found with different level of details. Each level of detail has a purpose and is relevant to understand the meaning.
Firstly, the verses which mention the duty as “to deliver” only:
“The Messenger's duty is but to deliver (the Message). And Allâh knows all that you reveal and all that you conceal.” [5:99]
“But if they turn away (O Muhammad SAW). We have not sent you as a Hafîz (protector) over them (i.e. to take care of their deeds and to recompense them). Your duty is to deliver (the Message). And verily, when We cause man to taste of Mercy from Us, he rejoices thereat, but when some ill befalls them because of the deeds which their hands have sent forth, then verily, man (becomes) ingrate!” [42:48]
“Whether We show you (O Muhammad SAW) part of what We have promised them or cause you to die, your duty is only to deliver (the Message) and on Us is the reckoning.” [13:40]
“So if they dispute with you (Muhammad SAW) say: "I have submitted myself to Allâh (in Islâm), and (so have) those who follow me." And say to those who were given the Scripture (Jews and Christians) and to those who are illiterates (Arab pagans): "Do you (also) submit yourselves (to Allâh in Islâm)?" If they do, they are rightly guided; but if they turn away, your duty is only to deliver the Message; and Allâh is All-Seer of (His ) slaves.” [3:20]
This can mean:
1. Only transferring the message to the receivers, like the postman transfers or delivers a letter to the address. No explanation! Nothing. He only delivers the message.
2. Transfer the message (Quran) and explain the meaning of the message (Quran), but whether the receivers believe or accept the message (Quran) or not, that’s not his problem. He only delivers the message (Quran).
3. Transfer the message (Quran & Sunnah), explain the meaning of the message (Quran & Sunnah) and make sure the message (Quran & Sunnah) is clearly understood and demonstrated into action (the Quran & Sunnah). Whether the receivers believe or accept the message or not, that is not his problem. He only delivers the message (Quran & Sunnah).
NOTE: Sunnah includes details not found in the Quran.
So which of these meanings were meant by Allah? Bear in mind that rejecting the message will result in punishment!
Secondly, let’s look at the next level of details:
"And if you deny, then nations before you have denied (their Messengers). And the duty of the Messenger is only to delver (the Message) clearly." [29:18]
“Then, if they turn away, your duty (O Muhammad SAW) is only to deliver (the Message) in a clear way.” [16:82]
“And our duty is only to deliver clearly (the Message).” [36:17]
“And those who join others in worship with Allâh say: "If Allâh had so willed, neither we nor our fathers would have worshipped aught but Him, nor would we have forbidden anything without (Command from) Him." So did those before them. Then! Are the Messengers charged with anything but to deliver clearly the Message?” [16:35]
These verses have added a detail which is very relevant and clarifies part of the problem. The message that has been delivered, must be explained clearly!
Hence, the possibilities mentioned above have been reduced to:
1. Transfer the message (Quran) and explain the meaning of the message (Quran), but whether the receivers believe or accept the message (Quran) or not, that’s not his problem. He only delivers the message (Quran).
2. Transfer the message (Quran & Sunnah), explain the meaning of the message (Quran & Sunnah) and make sure the message (Quran & Sunnah) is clearly understood and demonstrated into action (the Quran & Sunnah). Whether the receivers believe or accept the message or not, that is not his problem. He only delivers the message (Quran & Sunnah).
Thirdly, let’s look at the next level of details:
“And obey Allâh and the Messenger (Muhammad SAW), and beware (of even coming near to drinking or gambling or Al-Ansâb, or Al-Azlâm, etc.) and fear Allâh. Then if you turn away, you should know that it is Our Messenger's duty to deliver (the Message) in the clearest way.” [5:92]
This verse starts of with “obey” and mentions Allah and the Messenger. This could mean:
1. Obey Allah (Quran) and the Messenger (who merely obeys the Quran).
2. Obey Allah (Quran) and obey the Messenger (Hadith – including explanation and instructions not covered by the Quran)
So which of these meanings is true?
Fourthly, let’s look at the next level of detail:
“Obey Allâh, and obey the Messenger (Muhammad SAW), but if you turn away, then the duty of Our Messenger is only to deliver (the Message) clearly.” [64:12]
Here, Allah added the word “obey” for Muhammad, showing that prophet Muhammad was given another form of revelation which he must deliver clearly to the people. If they disobey, then his duty is only to deliver the message clearly.
This understanding is further explained with another added detail. See the next verse:
“Say: "Obey Allâh and obey the Messenger, but if you turn away, he (Messenger Muhammad SAW) is only responsible for the duty placed on him (i.e. to deliver Allâh's Message) and you for that placed on you. If you obey him, you shall be on the right guidance. The Messenger's duty is only to deliver (the message) in a clear way (i.e. to preach in a plain way).” [24:54]
The verse double confirms the understanding by saying “If you obey him (Muhammad) you shall be on the right guidance.” If they reject, his duty is only to deliver the message!
Other verses confirm this interpretation, that the message meant to be delivered is the Quran and Sunnah with the correct understanding.
Allah also says: “Those who follow the Messenger, the illiterate Prophet whom they find written in the Taurat and Injil he commands them to the good and forbids them from the evil, he MAKES LAWFUL the good (food and others) and MAKES UNLAWFUL the evil (food and others), he releases them from their heavy burdens and bindings that were upon them. So those who believe in him, honour him, help him, and follow the light (Quran) which has been sent down with him, it is they who will be successful.” [7:157]
The benefits from this verse of the Quran:
1. Those who follow the Messenger of Allah, he will be successful.
2. The false claim that the word “Messenger” refers to when he is alive, and “prophet” after his death, trying to imply obedience to the prophet is not binding. This verse clearly mentions both terms, and implies obedience for both terms, dead or alive.
3. He commands to the good
4. He forbids the evil
6. He makes lawful the good
7. He makes unlawful the evil
8. He releases their heavy burden and bindings
9. He deserves to be believed in, honoured and helped
All the above were regarding the prophet, the messenger, mentioned in general to mean, primarily, his instructions not in the Quran, and instructions confirming the Quran, since the Quran was mentioned separately as Light at the end of the verse: “and follow the light (Quran) which has been sent down with him”.
The Quran was mentioned only at the end because the context of the verse is regarding the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam). And to claim that nothing of the prophet’s instructions has been preserved, or considering Quran as the only source of Islamic law, is surely an act of dishonor towards the prophet, and results in the nullifying of a huge portion of the religion!
“And We have also sent down unto you (O Muhammad SAW) the reminder (the Qur'ân), that you may explain clearly to men what is sent down to them, and that they may give thought.” [16:44]
We need the explanation even more compared to the companions since they lived the Quranic Era, and nurtured by the prophet himself. So, how can we access the explanation of the prophet, or learn their experience and understanding? What is the source for these? Don't you thnk the companions of the prophet would love to convey their experience, knowledge and understanding to their students? That is what we call "hadith"! So denying hadith means denying the correct understanding and message of Quran, hence denying Quran itself!
“He it is Who sent among the unlettered ones a Messenger from among themselves, reciting to them His Verses, purifying them, and teaching them the Book and Al-Hikmah. And verily, they had been before in manifest error” [62:2]
Clearly the verse mentions four duties that he has to fulfill:
1. Recite the Verses – which means deliver the Quran.
2. Purify them – which means educate and nurture them upon guidance from Quran and his Sunnah
3. Teach the Book – which means teach the meaning of the Quran.
4. Teach the Wisdom – which means teach the Sunnah
“And remember (O you the members of the Prophet's family, the Graces of your Lord), that which is recited in your houses of the Verses of Allâh and Al-Hikmah (i.e. Prophet's Sunnah). Verily, Allâh is Ever Most Courteous, Well-Acquainted with all things.” [33:34]
This verse clearly mentions that two different things recited (mentioned) in their homes:
So, to say the Quran is our only source of law is basically rejecting the other type of guidance. We have to take all related verses of the Quran and compile them before forming a judgment. And only by affirming Quran and Sunnah will all the verses be fulfilled without any contradictions.