A true believer in Islam is one who subordinates his thinking to God, who follows God’s dictates in all aspects of his life. What are the dictates of God? These are what are preserved in the Original sources of Islam: the Quran and the Sunnah. Both the Qur'an and Sunnah were transmitted to us through the last Messenger of God: Muhammad bin Abdullah.
The Qur'an is a book containing the literal Word of God. It was transmitted from God through the Angel Gabriel to Prophet Muhammad, who, in turn, delivered it to us as. The Qur'an covers a wide variety of topics, including evidence to support its claim of being the Word of the Creator, stories of earlier generations, rules which humanity is asked to obey, and information about the Hereafter. The claim of the Qur'an that it is protected from change is confirmed by the fact that in its 1400-year history, not one of its verses has been proven to be wrong even with the coming of the scientific era and the fact that the earliest copies and the latest copies are exactly the same.
The Qur’an is no new heavenly scripture. It is only an authentic edition of the previous heavenly scriptures. In this respect, the Qur’an is a book for all human beings, of all nations. It is the expression of God’s mercy for one and for all. It is a complete message sent by God for every one of us. The Qur’an is a light of guidance for the entire world just as the sun is the source of light and heat for the entire world. The Qur’an has 114 chapters. Its contents in a nutshell are: belief in one God, and considering oneself answerable to Him; firm belief that the guidance sent by God through the Prophet Muhammad is the truth and that man’s eternal salvation rests thereon.
The Sunnah can be described as the sayings and the actions of the last Prophet of God: Prophet Muhammad. Through the Sunnah, we obtain examples from the life of the prophet, who is a model for a believer. Whatever the prophet did, said, or approved of is a source of Islam just as much as the Qur'an. The Prophet's role is not overemphasized: his life was dictated by what the Creator desired, and the Messenger did not add or subtract to Islam according to his own personal whim.
God's prophets came to the world to make this chosen path plain to us. In their words and deeds, they showed us how to live in accordance with the will of God. It is this way of life, which is known in Islam as the Sunnah or the path of the prophets. It covers every aspect of life, from personal matters to social reform and nation-building. Those who earnestly seek to be included amongst God's chosen servants must follow the path of the Prophet in all respects. In no walk of life should they consider themselves free to tread another course.
The most important practice of the Prophet's personal life was preaching the word of God. A study of his life shows that his greatest concern was to bring people to the path of the Lord. That his concern had turned to anguish is clear from this verse of the Qur'an:
You will perhaps fret yourself to death on account of their unbelief. (Qur'an, 26:3)
The Prophet said that one who disregarded his Sunnah was not one of his community. Just as this remark applies to the marriage contract and other such social obligations, so does it equally apply to the duty of calling people to the path of God? Only those have the right to be called true followers of the Prophet, who, along with other obligations enjoined by him, adopt this all-important practice of the Prophet as well.
In the Qur'an, these words have been addressed to the faithful:
You have a good example in God's Apostle for anyone who looks to God and the Last Day and remembers God always. (Qur'an, 33:21)
It is clear from this verse that, in the life of the Prophet Muhammad, there is a perfect example for every human being. But the only real beneficiaries will be those whose apprehension of God is already profound, whose hopes and aspirations centre on God, whose lives are lived in fear of the punishment of the Lord. Those who cherish the thought of eternal bliss and truly yearn for it with every fibre of their beings will be the ones to learn from the Prophet's example.
Why should this be so? The reason is that one has to be sincere in one's search for truth if one is going to find it. , If one "looks to God and the Last Day," one will be sincere with regard to them. Sincerity will enable one to see the life of the Prophet in true perspective, and draw the right lessons from it. This is the relevance of the Sunnah for a believer.
According to my study, there is, therefore, a need to rediscover Islam through its original sources — Quran, the word of God and the Sunnah, the sayings and actions of the Prophet Mohammad. In the next few chapters, we will take an objective view of each misconception, one after another, and judge them in light of Islamic original sources rather than by the conduct of Muslims to reveal the true face of Islam.
For a seeker who wants to know more, the following is a comprehensive course for those who do not have time to study them all:
1. The Holy Qur’an
2. Sirat ibn Kathir (Biography of the Prophet) by Ibn Kathir
3. Hadith, Mishkat al-Masabih
4. Hayat as-Sahabah (Life of the Companions) by Muhammad Yusuf Kandhalvi
These are well-known and easily-obtainable books. Though originally written in Arabic, they have been translated and published in several languages. They can be acquired and read in the language of one’s choice.