The third aspect: The claim of (Goldziher) that the following of the Muslims to the Sunnah is like the following of the pagans to the practices of their ancestors, is a premature corroboration; because he intended to emphasize that the Arab nature in following the practices of the ancestors, their ways and traditions have not changed in the early period of Islam. But it is a type of imprint in the Arab psyche, established within them over the ages, and stigmatized with fanaticism. They do not permit stepping aside away from it, whatever its nature may be.
This statement has no basis in terms of realism; because when the Muslims obey the Sunnah, it is because they are commanded to do so, considering that it is a revelation expressed through the words of the Prophet, it establishes the legal laws and rules they must follow, and given that it is confirming, explaining and elucidating to the Holy Quran (1).
The Almighty said: (O you who believe! Obey Allah, and obey the Apostle, and those charged with authority among you. If you differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Apostle, if you do believe in Allah and the Last Day) [An Nisa’: 59].
And reference to Allah is the reference to the Holy Book, and reference to the Prophet is the reference to him in his life and to his Sunnah after his death (2).
The Almighty said: (whoever obeys the Apostle, obeys Allah) [An Nisa’: 80]. And the Almighty said: (So take what the Apostle assigns to you, and deny yourselves that which he withholds from you) [Al Hashr: 7].
Obedience of the Honourable Prophet is to observe his orders and to shun his prohibitions, and obedience of the Apostle is from the obedience to Allah, for He selected him and chose him as a conveyor on His behalf.
Therefore - as Shaykh Ahmad Shakir says -: "Following the Sunnah of the Prophet - peace be upon him – for the Muslims was not in keeping with the tradition of following the fathers. Allah had deplored it severely for the infidels, threatened for it considerably, and commanded people to follow the truth wherever it may be, use their minds in reflection about the cosmos and its effects and critically discern the correct evidence from the false one. The eagerness of the Muslim about the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah, was but following the command of Allah in the Quran: (You have indeed in the Apostle of Allah a beautiful pattern (of conduct)) [Al Ahzab: 21] (then let those beware who withstand the Apostle's order, lest some trial befall them, or a grievous penalty be inflicted on them.) [An Nur: 63]. (And We have sent down unto you (also) the Message; that you may explain clearly to men what is sent for them) [An Nahl: 44], and other commands from Allah in his book, which any Muslim is not ignorant of, and following the command of the Messenger of Allah himself, in the numerous authentic Statements, and in what has been proven in practice through recurrence ...
This topic has been researched at length by eminent scholars, in which they excelled, and did not even leave a single statement, or almost. The books of Sunnah, books of fundamentals and others are extensive in that, and the fair researcher is able to discern the aspect of truth. It suffices to refer to two books, in which there is conviction to those who wished to: the book "The Message" by Imam Ash-Shaafi’i and the book "Ar-Rawdh Al Baasim Fidh-dhabbi ‘An Sunnati Abil-Qaasim" by the arch-scholar Mohammed bin Ibrahim, the Yemeni Minister. I saw that the author of the article did not make reference in it, from beginning to end, to an Arab or Islamic source, he consulted in his research, and this is odd! (3).
(1) See: Ibid (1/407).
(2) ‘Al Muwaafaqaat’: (4/14).
(3) The Encyclopaedia of Islam (13/101- 402), abridged.