Question: Is it the case that a Muslim needs no discourse besides the Qur’an, as evidenced from the Quranic verse in which Allah Almighty says, “Then in what statement after it [i.e., the Qur’ān] will they believe?” [Al-Mursalāt: 50]?
Answer: This question contains a specious claim denying the authoritativeness of the Prophet’s Sunnah. This claim can be refuted in two ways:
First, there is nothing in the above Quranic verse indicating the idea contained in the question, and thus it cannot be used as a basis for answering it, whether in the affirmative or in the negative. As can be understood from the context of the verse, it contains a rhetorical question denouncing the unbelievers, who did not follow the Qur’an’s call for them to believe in Allah Almighty and in the Last Day. In this context, the question in the verse means, ‘If they did not believe in spite of all the reminders of Allah’s signs and the news about resurrection and judgment on the Day of Resurrection that Allah Almighty gave them in His Qur’an, then what statement or words after that would they believe in?’
This device has recurred several times in the Noble Qur’an, in the Suras of Al-A‘rāf, Al-Jāthiyah, and Al-Mursalāt, all of which are in the context of calling for belief in Allah Almighty and the Last Day and denouncing unbelievers’ stance towards this call. Allah Almighty says, “Do they not look into the realm of the heavens and the earth and everything that Allah has created and [think] that perhaps their appointed time has come near? So in what statement [i.e., message] hereafter will they believe?” (Al-A‘rāf: 185). Allah Almighty also says, “These are the verses of Allah which We recite to you in truth. Then in what statement after Allah and His verses will they believe?” (Al-Jāthiya: 6). Allah also says in Surat Al-Mursalāt, “And when it is said to them, ‘Bow [in prayer],’ they do not bow. Woe, that Day, to the deniers. Then in what statement after it [i.e., the Qur’ān] will they believe?” (Al-Mursalāt: 48, 49, 50).
Second, if we suppose, for the sake of argument, that the Holy Qur’an is alone sufficient for the believers, then those who believe in the Qur’an will of necessity be in need of the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH). Allah Almighty commanded people in His Qur’an to obey the Messenger (PBUH) and to follow him. Allah Almighty says, “O you who have attained faith, obey Allah and His Messenger and do not turn away from him while you hear” (Al-Anfāl: 20). Allah also says, “And whatever the Messenger brings you—accept it, and whatever he forbids you—abstain from it. And be mindful of Allah; indeed, Allah is stern in retribution” (Al-Hashr: 7). He also says, “Say, ‘If you love Allah, follow me, and Allah will love you and forgive you your sins; Allah is most forgiving, most merciful” (Ali ‘Imrān: 31). And He says, “Nor does he speak from [his own] inclination. It is but a revelation being revealed” (An-Najm: 3-4).