Misinterpretation of 4:65

No, by your Lord; they are not believers until they make you judge the disputes which arise between them, then find no animosity in themselves towards what you have decided and accept it wholeheartedly.


The words in 4:65 have been misinterpreted to imply that unless we accept and follow the hadith we would be in breach of the instructions in 4:65. The promoters of this line of thought continue to say that those who do not accept the hadith are disbelievers by virtue of the opening words in 4:65.

Before analysing the words in 4:65 it is necessary to be reminded of the definition given by God for a believer.
The definition is given in 2:285:

The messenger has believed in what was brought down to him from his Lord, and so do the believers. They a
ll believe in God, His angels, His Scriptures and His messengers: "We do not distinguish between any of His messengers", and they said, "We hear and we obey. Forgive us, our Lord. To You is the ultimate destiny." 2:285

A believer is the one who believes in God, the angels, the Scriptures and the messengers of God.
Nowhere in the Quran is the belief in hadith a requirement for being a believer. In fact, the Quran prohibits the acceptance of any hadith other than the Quran which is described as the best hadith:

These are God's revelations (Quran) that We recite to you truthfully. In which hadith other than God and His revelations (Quran) do they believe? 45:6

God has brought down
the Best Hadith; a Book that is consistent in its frequent repetitions. 39:23

Which Hadith, after this (Quran), do they believe in? 7:185

So in which hadith besides it (Quran) do they believe? 77:50

With the above Quranic verses, the words in 4:65 can be looked at more closely:

The words "until they make you judge" clearly indicate that the instructions in 4:65 applied to the time of the Prophet and not today, for how can we expect a dead man to judge our personal disputes? Let us say two men disputed among themselves with regards to some conditions or terms of a joint business arrangement, how can they go to the grave of the Prophet to ask him to judge their dispute?

In addition, the words "the disputes which arise between them" indicate that the contemporaries of the Prophet were going to him to arbitrate in the disputes that arose on a personal level between them. The words clearly speak of everyday type of disputes that always arise between people and not only disputes of a religious nature.

The message we derive from 4:65 is that the believers who lived at the time of the Prophet were instructed to place their trust in the Prophet to judge among them regarding their personal disputes. The words continue to instruct the believers to accept the verdict of the Prophet wholeheartedly. Their faith in his verdict is a reflection of their belief in him as the messenger of God.