Answered by our Shaykh, the ‘Allaamah, the Trustworthy Adviser, Abu ‘Abdirrahman Yahya bin ‘Ali Al-Hajoori -may Allaah preserve him-
(عليكم بسنتي وسنة الخلفاء الراشدين المهديين)
“Upon you all is my Sunnah, and to the Sunnah of the Khulafā Ar-Rashidēn (the rightly guided caliphs)”
What does “The Sunnah of the Khulafā Ar-Rashidēn” mean if they (the rightly guided caliphs also) follow the Sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ?
The meaning of this Hadith is:
That its incumbent to follow the Sunnah of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, and this is obligatory upon all the Muslims, including the rightly guided caliphs. It’s not permissible for anyone to leave off the Sunnah of their Messenger ﷺ.
This is the meaning of his statement:
“You must keep to my Sunnah”
Upon the way of the rightly guided caliphs. This Hadith is a proof pointing to that it’s an obligation to follow the Sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ, upon the understanding of the Salaf, at the forefront of them being the rightly guided caliphs.
And Sunnah linguistically means: (الطريقة) – ‘The way (path, etc)’
A poet said:
(سنت لهم آباؤهم == ولكل قوم سنة وإمامها)
“Their forefathers paved the way for them, and for every people there is a way, and its leader.”
So, the intend is:
To understand the Qur’aan and Sunnah upon the manner they (the salaf) understood it.
When they (the salaf) differed in an affair, they would refer back to the proofs, like Allah, the Mighty and Majestic, commanded them.
Allah, the Most High, said:
(وَمَا اخْتَلَفْتُمْ فِيهِ مِنْ شَيْءٍ فَحُكْمُهُ إِلَى اللهِ)
And in whatsoever you differ, the decision thereof is with Allah (He is the ruling Judge). [Surah Ash-Shurah verse 10]
And He, the Most High, said:
(فَإِنْ تَنَازَعْتُمْ فِي شَيْءٍ فَرُدُّوهُ إِلَى اللهِ وَالرَّسُولِ إِنْ كُنتُمْ تُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ)
And if you differ in anything amongst yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger if you believe in Allah and in the Last Day.
[Surah An-Nisa verse 59]
And He, the Mighty and Majestic, said:
(وَمَا كَانَ لِمُؤْمِنٍ وَلا مُؤْمِنَةٍ إِذَا قَضَى اللهُ وَرَسُولُهُ أَمْرًا أَنْ يَكُونَ لَهُمُ الْخِيَرَةُ مِنْ أَمْرِهِمْ)
It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decreed a matter that they should have any option in their decision.
[Surah Al-Ahzab verse 36]
Thus, it’s not for anyone at all, to chose and take what suits them, and to leave what doesn’t suit them from the religion of Allah.
(فَلا وَرَبِّكَ لا يُؤْمِنُونَ حَتَّى يُحَكِّمُوكَ فِيمَا شَجَرَ بَيْنَهُمْ ثُمَّ لا يَجِدُوا فِي أَنفُسِهِمْ حَرَجًا مِمَّا قَضَيْتَ وَيُسَلِّمُوا تَسْلِيمًا)
But no, by your Lord, they can have no Faith, until they make you (O Muhammad ﷺ) judge in all disputes between them, and find in themselves no resistance against your decisions, and accept (them) with full submission. [Surah An-Nisa verse 65]
Thus, the Sunnah is religion and the binding evidence is the book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger. No-one else has a Sunnah alongside that of the Messenger ﷺ, otherwise it becomes another legislation, and Allah says:
أَمْ لَهمْ شُرَكَاءُ شَرَعُوا لَهمْ مِنَ الدِّينِ مَا لَمْ يَأْذَنْ بِهِ اللهُ وَلَوْلا كَلِمَةُ الْفَصْلِ لَقُضِيَ بَيْنَهُمْ وَإِنَّ الظَّالِمِينَ لَهمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ
Or have they partners with Allah (false gods), who have instituted for them a religion which Allah has not allowed. And had it not been for a decisive Word (gone forth already), the matter would have been judged between them. And verily, for the Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doers), there is a painful torment. [Surah Ash-Shura verse 21]
Translated by : Abu Ibrāhim Nāsir bin Rāshid Al-mamry
الكنز الثمين في الإجابة على أسئلة طلبة العلم والزائرين (5) (https://www.sh-yahia.net/show_books_40.html)
Under: كتاب السنة
Entitled: معنى: سنة الخلفاء الراشدين