The misinterpretation of 2:239

If you fear, then (observe the Salat) on foot or riding. Then once you are secure,
remember God as He taught you what you previously did not know.


Among the scholars who advocate the hadith (sayings) and the sunna (methodology) of prophet Muhammad, are those who interpret the words "as He taught you" in 2:239, to be speaking directly to prophet Muhammad and that God taught the prophet the correct way of observing the Salat. They add that since the Quran does not tell us how prophet Muhammad prayed, then we must follow the prophet's sunna to learn the correct way of observing the Salat.

The errors in the above claims can be detected by analysing the words in 2:239.

The first part of 2:239 speaks of the prayer and how it can be conducted while walking or riding (in circumstance where there is danger or fear).

The second part of 2:239 does not speak about the Salat, it speaks about commemorating God (Zhikr). The words used are:
"remember God".
The acts of Salat and Zhikr are not the same. Salat is a defined ritual with specific requirement (e.g. ablution, facing Qibla, etc) and precise physical positions (standing, bowing and prostrating). In contrast, Zhikr is simply commemorating God which has no requirements nor set physical positions. In addition, the Salat must be observed at specific times of the day while commemorating God (Zhikr) can be done at all times.

To follow, we read the words:
"kama allamakum"
(as He taught you). The letters "kum" at the end of the word "allamakum" mean that the word "you" is plural. This indicates that God is speaking to all believers and not just one person. If God was speaking to prophet Muhammad alone, the word used would have been "kama allamak".

The words "as He taught you" are followed with the words:
"what you previously did not know". These words must be understood in relation to the instruction in the same verse to "remember God".

How did God teach us to commemorate Him? The Quran contains numerous instructions from God in connection to how to commemorate Him and what words to use, such as:

1- First, we are commanded to commemorate God frequently:

"O you believe, remember God frequently." 33:41

2- "Allahu Akbar" (God is Great) to be uttered frequently in accordance to the Quranic command to magnify God (17:111, 22:37 and 74:3).

3- "Sobhan Rabi Al-Azeem" (Praise my Lord the Great). This is in response to the command in 56:74

4- "Sobhan Rabi Al-Aala" (Praise my Lord the Most High). This is as per the command in 87:1

5- The Shahada (Testimony): "Ash"hadu ana la illaha ila Allah" (I bear witness that there is no god other than God). 3:18

The above are various ways in which God has taught us in the Quran how to commemorate Him.

Neither the name of Muhammad, nor the word prophet, appear in 2:239. As a result, the claim that this verse speaks about what God taught Muhammad is an imposed manipulation of the words of the verse. As indicated above, in 2:239 God is speaking to all believers and not just to one person.

From the above analysis it becomes clear that the purpose of this manipulation was to claim that God taught prophet Muhammad the Salat (outside of the Quran), and therefore we are able to learn the Salat only from the sunna of Muhammad, since they claim that this information is not found in the Quran!

We read that God commanded Muhammad not to follow anything other than the Quran that was revealed to him:

Say (O Muhammad), "I am not a novelty among the messengers, nor do I know what will happen to me or to you. I follow nothing other than what is revealed to me (Quran). I am no more than a clear warner." 46:9

Thus, it would be meaningless for God to give Muhammad instructions outside the Quran on how to observe the Salat then command him not to follow anything other than the Quran!

The same command is issued to all believers, namely not to follow any hadith other than the Quran:

These are God's revelations (Quran)
that We recite to you with truth, so in which hadith other than God and His revelations (Quran) do they believe? 45:6

As for the believers, to seek rules and laws from outside the Quran would once again be in violation of God's instructions; in this case, the instruction in 45:6.