Is the scope of the authority of Prophet Muhammad limited only to the doctrinal affairs and the matter of worship, and not to worldly affairs? By some western circles, the function of the Prophet is restricted to correct the doctrinal beliefs of the ummah and to teach them how to worship Allaah. According to them, worldly affairs are not governed by the prophetic authority. Nevertheless, the authority of the Prophet is clearly established by the Holy Qur'aan for all people and all times.
These worldly affairs include, in the view of those who would limit the scope of the Prophet's authority, all the economic, social and political affairs which should be settled according to the expediency at each relevant time, and the Prophetic authority has no concern with them. Even if the Holy Prophet gives some directions in these fields, he does so in his private capacity, and not as a Messenger. So, it is not necessary for the ummahto comply with such directions.
A report which is often misquoted to support the above-mentioned fallacious view is as follows from Imaam Muslim: The blessed Companion Talha says: "I passed along with the Prophet across some people who were on the tips of the palm-trees. The Prophet asked, "What are they doing?" Some people said, "They are fecundating the tree. They insert the male into the female and the tree stands fecundated". The Prophet said, "I do not think it will be of any use."
The people were informed about what the Prophet said. So, they stopped this operation. Then the Prophet was informed about their withdrawal. On this, the Prophet says, "If it is in fact useful to them, let them do it, because I had only made a guess. So, do not cling to me in my guess. But when I tell you something on behalf of Allaah, take it firm, because I shall never tell a lie on behalf of Allaah." Further, According to Anas , the Prophet has also said on this occasion, "You know more about your worldly affairs."
If the ummah was to take the above-mentioned hadeeth literally, Islaam, like some other religions would only be restricted to doctrines and rituals, and having no concern with the day-to-day affairs of the human life. Once one has observed the prescribed doctrines and rituals, he is free to run his life in whatever way he likes, not hindered in any manner by the divine imperatives. However, it is an established fact that Islaam, unlike some other religions which can coincide and co-exist with the secular concept of life, is not merely a set of doctrines and rituals. Islaam is a complete way of life which deals with the political, economics and social problems as well as the theological issues. Allaah states in the Holy Qur'aan (which means): "O those who believe, respond to the call of Allaah and His Messenger when he calls you for what gives you life"(8:24).
There are vast fields in our day-to-day worldly affairs which are not directly commented upon by the Qur'aan and Sunnah, where people have been allowed to proceed according to their needs and expedience on the basis of their knowledge and experience. However, for these worldly affairs that are not directly addressed by the Qur'aan and Sunnah, the Muslim must align his decision with existing principles laid down by both, to ensure that they are guided Islaamically in the performance of that affair, and most importantly, avoiding the major sin of committing shirk.
For, if Allaah and His Messenger are to call people towards life, the affairs of life must totally be within the jurisdiction of Allaah and His Messenger . Otherwise, vital branches of human life will always fall prey to satanic desires leading the people toward disaster.
Furthermore, none who has studied the Qur'aan can endorse that its teachings are limited to worship and rituals only. There are specific injunctions in the Qur'aan about sales, purchase loans, mortgages, partnership, penal laws, inheritance, matrimonial relations, political, social and family affairs, problems of war and peace and other aspects of worldly relations. Likewise, the Sunnah of the Prophet also deals with the economic, social, political and legal problems in such details that voluminous books have been written to compile them. The injunctions of the Qur'aan and the Sunnah in this field (worldly affairs) are so absolute, imperative, and of mandatory nature that they cannot be imagined to be personal advises lacking any legal (divine) reference.
Finally, there are numerous verses from the Qur'aan which enjoin the obedience of Allaah and the authority of the Messenger upon the believers, in particular Chapter 4 Aayat 65 which says (which means): "But no, by your Lord! They could not be believers, until they make you (Muhammad) judge in all disputes between them and find in their souls no resistance against your decisions, but accept them fully with submission." Hence, to accept the fallacy that the Prophet’s authority does not encompass worldly affairs, is to denounce the second source of Islaamic Law, the Sunnah. This authority of the Sunnah is based on the revelation the Prophet received from Allaah. This obedience to the Prophet has nowhere been limited to some particular field. It is an all-embracing obedience which requires total submission from the believers, having no exception whatsoever, neither by limiting its tenure, nor by exempting the worldly affairs from its scope.