We learn from this ayah:
– Everything that the Prophet sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam taught is guidance for us. We cannot say it was only relevant for those times. It’s still valid today.
– If a person makes an incorrect judgment or goes against Shari’ah due to lack of knowledge then he is not blameworthy as compared to the one who possesses knowledge yet opposes the teachings of Rasoolullah sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam. For example, shirk. Grave worshiping is shirk. Many people do it out of ignorance. They don’t have the knowledge that the Prophet sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam never taught us to seek help from dead saints. No one has corrected them ever. If people are doing something wrong out of ignorance or lack of knowledge, we cannot call them mushrik or kafir because the condition is min baAAdi ma tabayyana lahu alhuda i.e. after guidance has become evident to him.
But if a person after learning the truth still persists in following the wrong path because it was their forefathers’ way then this is deliberate opposition to the Message of Rasoolullah sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam.
Our duty is not to pass judgment or declare fatwas of kufr on others but to politely guide them to the correct way. The way of the Prophet sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam and the way his Companions understood and practiced.
– The words waman yushaqiqi alrasoola teach us the obligation of obeying the Messenger sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam. Many people say that Qur’an is sufficient and there’s no need to follow the Sunnah. But when they say this, they are opposing this very ayah.
– When a person leaves the way of the Prophet sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam and the way of believers, he is not on the deen of Islam anymore. Anything that we do in our deen is from the Qur’an, the Sunnah and the way the Companions practiced it. There are people who proof the continuity of Messengers after Prophet sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam when the Prophet himself certified there is no Messenger after him. These people argue leave the Sunnah whereas the sahabahs fought those people who claimed continuity of Prophethood. These people are not only contradicting the Qur’an, opposing teachings of Rasoolullah sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam, deviating from the practice of sahabah radhiAllahu anhum but worshiping their own whims and desires. It’s an innovation in deen and not the Islam that the Prophet of Allah brought to us. Anything that you term as deen has to have evidence from the Qur’an, the Sunnah or the way of the Sahabahs.
– The way of the believers is the way of the Sahabahs and the Salaf. We cannot innovate things in our deen. We have to see how our predecessors practiced it, the ones who learned first-hand from the Prophet sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam himself. This is true for every single thing that we do. For example, the issue of hijab. Some people argue it only means wearing modest clothes, or modesty is in the eyes and you don’t have to hide your hair or cover up properly. This is an incorrect interpretation. Surah Nur properly explains what hijab means.
– The obligation of adhering to the jama’at, the congregation and not splitting from them.
– The importance of ijma i.e. the consensus among the scholars of Ummah. When we cannot find an instruction about a matter in the Qur’an, we refer the Sunnah. When we cannot find it in Sunnah either, we study the lives of the Sahabah, how they acted in such a situation. If there is no instruction there as well, then the scholars give their opinions. There are certain matters on which all scholars do not agree, but there are some where they do agree. This agreement of scholars about a particular matter is known as ijma and if the scholars agree on it, then being the followers of Rasoolullah, we accept what the scholars agree upon. It’s an obligation on us.
There is an incident related to Imam Shaf’ai where he was asked, “Can the validity of the consensus of Muslim Ummah be proved from the Qur’an?” The Imam dedicated three days to the study of Qur’an where he completed three recitals each during the day and night. Finally, the proof he came up with was this ayah [4:115]. When he cited it before scholars, they all agreed this to be a proof sufficient to confirm the authority of ijima.
Moreover, the Prophet sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam said,
“Allah will never unite my Ummah on misguidance.”
– Leaving the Sunnah means a person has invented his own way. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala could have sent the Book by itself, but He chose to send a Prophet to teach us. The Prophet taught the Book to the Sahabahs, the Salaf learned from the Sahabahs and passed it on to the other people. Then some people started following their whims and vain desires and invented things on their own. The ayah teaches us that a person who chooses misguidance over guidance will never be guided. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala will keep him in his deviated path unless he seeks guidance. The deviated path will be made enticing for him and then one day he will be thrown into the hellfire. What an evil destination indeed!
– This ayah also highlights the importance of studying deen and seeking right guidance.
May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala keep us on the straight path, aameen. Ya muqallib al-qaloobi thabbit qalbi ala dinik “O Controller of hearts! Make my heart firm on Your deen.” [Tirmidhi]