From the outset of Islam the Quran and the sunnah (practices of the Prophet) have been accepted as two inseparable sources, and together they have formed a basis for implementation. Many Quranic verses and hadiths show that the sunnah is directly connected to revelation, that its basis is revelation and that the Prophet (pbuh) got knowledge for the sunnah through revelation. Consequently, this conclusion shows at the same time that the sunnah is a source of knowledge on its own. On the other hand, the origin of the sunnah being connected to revelation and the sunnah’s being binding from the beginning and being accepted as an original source in religion, as a result, make it mandatory to conform to the sunnah.
It is a necessity of apostleship that Allah first informs the prophets, as the first human recipients, of divine revelation. The most obvious channel for revelation is prophets being informed directly. Since prophets are the ones who, by conveying the religion to others, will teach and train the people, first they must be taught and trained.
It is a fact that the Prophet was “taught” and this was accepted naturally among the Companions. In fact, a woman came to the Prophet and said, “Teach us what Allah has taught you.” The knowledge that Allah taught His Messenger and that he passed on to the women was not knowledge from the Quran. The things he said to the women not being from the Quran shows that the knowledge taught to him was not just from the Quran.
Prophets receiving revelation other than that recorded in sacred texts is another necessity of apostleship. Religion is not just comprised of propagating a message. The application of religion by the person who brought it is a natural requirement and result of the matter. There is proof in the Holy Quran that, regardless of whether or not they have brought books, prophets receive revelation outside of the religion they are conveying and the books sent to them. Revelation other than religious commands prophets convey comes to them. A few examples of this are: the glad tidings that Abraham will father a son (Al-Ankabut 29/31, Al-Hijr 15/53-54); the news that Lot’s tribe will be destroyed (Al-Ankabut 29/33); news that Joseph will be chosen and will be taught dream interpretation (Al-Yusuf 12/6, 21, 101). There are also verses proving that Muhammad received revelation other than the Quran. For example, it was revealed to the Prophet previously outside the Quran that he would marry Zaynab.
Prophetic Applications Showing the Existence of Revelation Outside the Quran:
Some applications of the Prophet act as examples clearly showing that he received revelation other than the Quran. One of the first examples that can be given is activity related to the Quran. Knowing matters like the arrangement of Quranic verses, their explanation and the order of suras is only possible through revelation. Many hadiths related to exegesis in hadith collections prove this. The Companions would warn that there should be no doubt regarding the Prophet being the person who understood the Quran best.
The Prophet’s call to religion was based on revelation. Proof of this are the verses: “Say: I am only warning you through revelation” (Al-Anbiya 21/45) and “I am not one of those who claim something on their own” (Al-Sad 38/86). As a matter of fact, it is obvious that the Prophet received revelation regarding the application of worship from the beginning. Jerusalem’s status as the first qibla of Muslims was established through revelation. Another example of revelation related to worship is the Messenger being commanded to fast on Ashura. During the pilgrimage, revelation was constantly coming to the Prophet regarding this form of worship.
Revelation was also coming on subjects regarding behavior unrelated to religious doctrines or worship. The information in the hadith saying that debtors would not enter heaven without paying their debts was undoubtedly something known from revelation.
As a result, the Prophet’s behavior does not go beyond divine will as can be understood in the verse, “If their turning their faces weighs heavy upon you, then make a miracle by opening the earth or putting a ladder up to heaven. If Allah wanted, He would have led everyone to salvation” (Al-Anam 6/35). The verse, “My prayer, my sacrifice (worship), my life and my death are all for Allah, the Lord of the worlds” (Al-Anam 6/162), proves that the Prophet was led towards the truth in his behavior. His own emphasis on the fact that his works were done at Allah’s command shows that there is divine direction in the Prophet’s activities.
After all these, it is possible to make this conclusion: The call to religion was not just made by means of the Holy Quran; Allah revealed the religion to His prophet by many other ways. Consequently, the sunnah is based on revelation and it has been approved by revelation. On the other hand, there is no evidence that a religion can only be conveyed by means of a sacred book. Similarly, just as the gradual revelation of the Quran was not understood to mean that religion was not completed, it was not seen as a deficiency and Muslims conformed to everything the Prophet made known without distinguishing between the Quran and sunnah.