Allah charges everyone with obeying the prophets He has sent. These messengers were blessed men who abided by Allah’s commands, communicated His revelations, represented the human model most pleasing to Allah by means of their words and actions, in short by their whole manner of living. Allah reveals in the Qur’an that those who abide by His messengers will be saved. For that reason, obedience to the Prophet (saas) is an obligation of the very greatest importance. Allah reveals the importance of obedience in the Qur’an:
We sent no messenger except to be obeyed by Allah’s permission. If only when they wronged themselves they had come to you and asked Allah’s forgiveness and the Messenger had asked forgiveness for them they would have found Allah Ever-Returning, Most Merciful. (Surat an-Nisa’: 64)
Whoever obeys Allah and the Messenger will be with those whom Allah has blessed: the prophets and steadfast affirmers of truth, the martyrs and righteous. What excellent company such people are! (Surat an-Nisa’: 69)
In several verses of the Qur’an, Allah states that those who obey His messengers are in truth obeying Allah. Those who rebel against these messengers, on the other hand, rebel against Allah. Some of these verses are:
Whoever obeys the Messenger has obeyed Allah. If anyone turns away, we did not send you to them as their keeper. (Surat an-Nisa’: 80)
Those who pledge you their allegiance pledge allegiance to Allah. Allah’s hand is over their hands. He who breaks his pledge only breaks it against himself. But as for him who fulfils the contract he has made with Allah, We will pay him an immense reward. (Surat al-Fath: 10)
The Prophet (saas) has also stressed the importance of obedience in the hadiths:
“Whoever obeys me, obeys Allah, and whoever disobeys me, disobeys Allah, and whoever obeys the ruler I appoint, obeys me, and whoever disobeys him, disobeys me.” (Sahih Bukhari)
In the Qur’an, Allah describes the Prophet (saas) as a protector and guide for the faithful. Muslims, therefore, referred to him in all matters, and sought his permission and opinion before engaging in anything. On subjects they were unable to agree upon among themselves, though even on matters they were able to solve by themselves, or when they received news concerning the security, health or economy of the community of the faithful, they immediately took them to the Prophet (saas) and abided by the sure and trustworthy advice or solution he recommended.
This is a most important aspect of morality that Allah commanded in the Qur’an. In one verse, for instance, He orders all news to be forwarded to the Prophet (saas) or those representing him. The verse reads:
When news of any matter reaches them they spread it about, whether it is of a reassuring or disquieting nature. If they had only referred it to the Messenger and those in command among them, those among them able to discern the truth about it would have had proper knowledge of it. If it were not for Allah’s favor to you and His mercy, all but a very few of you would have followed Satan. (Surat an-Nisa’: 83)
That, of course, is a most beneficial and wise command. For one thing, Allah had guaranteed each order and rule of the Prophet (saas). Furthermore, the Prophet (saas) was the wisest and cleverest member of the community of the faithful. Usually, most look to consult the most intelligent person and the one who best obeys his conscience, that is, the person they trust the most in any matter, in order to establish a decision.
As well as all these characteristics of the Prophet (saas), another wisdom in all news being gathered together in one person is that this will provide the best and most intelligent response because all the aspects of the event will be known by one person. In another verse, Allah commands the faithful to make the Prophet (saas) their judge in any disagreements between them. It is a command from Allah that all such disagreements should be taken to the Prophet (saas) at once, and that is therefore the most fitting course of action in terms of reason, morality and conscience. It is also most important to obey the rules set out by the Prophet (saas), with all one’s heart and with no reservations. Even if his decision conflicts with the interests of an individual, true believers will feel no doubts at all, and will immediately obey the command of the Prophet (saas).
Some hypocritical people, or people whose faith is weak, have failed to realize that Allah assured the decisions of the Prophet (saas) and opposed informing him of every situation, thus causing dissension. Allah describes the condition of such people in the Qur’an:
Among them are some who insult the Prophet, saying he is only an ear [only a hearer]. Say, “An ear of good for you, believing in Allah and believing in the believers, and a mercy for those among you who believe.” As for those who insult the Messenger of Allah, they will have a painful punishment. (Surat at-Tawba: 61)
Since these people failed to grasp the essence of faith, and were unable to appreciate the merit of the Prophet (saas), they adopted the wrong approach with regards to informing him about every matter. The ignorant are unable to use what they know for beneficial ends, for the good and security of mankind. They use it for gossip and to try to spread dissension, to turn people against one another and to plot against them. The Prophet (saas), however, used all the information that was brought to him for the peace, security and health of Muslims and other groups under his protection, to avoid possible dangers and to thwart plots against believers. Identifying those whose faith was weak, he took measures to strengthen that faith, and prevented anything that might have weakened the faithful or damaged their morale. He brought in measures that would bring them good and lead to desirable outcomes. That is why Allah refers to him as “an ear of good” in one verse. All of the Prophet (saas)’s words, decisions and measures have led to good and positive results for believers as well as mankind.