Not Accepting the Decision of the Prophet is Kufr
This ayah, while projecting a powerful view of the highly exalted station of the Prophet sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam, presents a very explicit statement concerning the need to obey him, something conclusively proved by so many ayaat of the Qur’an.
Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala begins this ayah by saying,
فَلاَ وَرَبِّكَ لاَ يُؤْمِنُونَ حَتَّى يُحَكِّمُوكَ فِيمَا شَجَرَ بَيْنَهُمْ ثُمَّ لاَ يَجِدُواْ فِى أَنفُسِهِمْ حَرَجاً مِّمَّا قَضَيْتَ وَيُسَلِّمُواْ تَسْلِيماً
“But no, by your Lord, they will not believe until they make you judge about whatever arises between them and then do not find within themselves any discomfort about what you have decided and submit in full submission.”
The ayah opens with the ultimate oath, “by your Lord”, following which Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala proclaims that nobody can become a Muslim unless he accepts the verdict of the Prophet sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam willingly, calmly and fully to the extent that there remains even in his heart not the slightest strain because of this verdict.
The Prophet sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam is himself the exercise of God-given authority over his community in his capacity as the Messenger of Allah and he is thus responsible for adjudicating in every dispute that may arise. The authority he exercises in making decisions certainly does not depend upon his being made a judge by some litigants.
We should also keep in mind that Muslims have been asked to make the prophet their judge because people are generally not satisfied with judgments delivered by someone appointed by the government as compared with an arbitrator they themselves choose to have. But, the Prophet sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam is not only the ruler of a state, he is a Messenger of Allah, protected against sins by Him, and sent as mercy for the worlds, and also a loving father for his community – so, the compassionate instruction given is that, whenever a situation of conflict arises in social or religious matters, the contesting parties are duty-bound to make the Prophet sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam the arbitrator and judge and have him give the final verdict, and once the verdict has been given by him, let them all accept it whole-heartedly and act accordingly.
Al-Bukhari recorded that Urwah said, “Az-Zubayr quarreled with a man about a stream which both of them used for irrigation. Allah’s Messenger said to Az-Zubayr, ‘O Zubayr! Irrigate (your garden) first, and then let the water flow to your neighbor.’
The Ansari became angry and said, ‘O Allah’s Messenger! Is it because he is your cousin?’ On that, the face of Allah’s Messenger changed color (because of anger) and said, ‘Irrigate (your garden), O Zubayr, and then withhold the water until it reaches the walls (surrounding the palms). Then, release the water to your neighbor.’ So, Allah’s Messenger gave Az-Zubayr his full right when the Ansari made him angry. Before that, Allah’s Messenger had given a generous judgment, beneficial for Az-Zubayr and the Ansari. Az-Zubayr said, `I think ayah 65 was revealed concerning that case’.