The Sixty Ninth Call: The Prohibition of Putting ourselves before Allah and His Messenger
Almighty Allah says (what can be translated as): “O you who have believed, do not put [yourselves] before Allah and His Messenger but fear Allah. Indeed, Allah is Hearing and Knowing.” (Al-Hujurat: 1)
In this verse, Almighty Allah disciplines His believing servants and teaches them the standards of addressing the Messenger, Peace Be upon Him, and how to deal with him and give him his due respect and esteem. Almighty Allah says to the believers: Do not rush into deciding about a certain matter before Allah and His Messenger issue a decree about it for you. Commit to Their rulings and commands. Do not talk about a matter before the Messenger talks about it and give you a ruling. Do not hasten to do anything before the Messenger does it first and fear Allah, believers, for He is All-Hearing of what you say and All-Knowing of what you do.
In these verses, Almighty Allah disciplines His believing servants concerning their relationship with the Messenger, Peace Be upon Him, in terms of respect, esteem, honor and regard. Almighty Allah says: “O you who have believed, do not put [yourselves] before Allah and His Messenger…” That means do not decide quickly concerning religious matters before Him but rather follow Him in all the aspects included in the religious manners.
Imam Ahmad, Abu Dawud, al-Tirmidhl and Ibn Majah relate that the Prophet asked Mu'adh when He appointed him Governor of Yemen: "How will you judge?" Mu'adh said: "According to Allah’s book." The Prophet asked: ''What if you do not find in it what you need?" Mu'adh answered: "Then according to the Sunnah of Allah's Messenger," Again the Prophet asked: "And if you do not find something relevant in that?" Mu'adh replied: In this case, I will exercise my judgment as best as I can. The Prophet put his hand on Mu'adh's chest and said: "Praise be to Allah for guiding the messenger of Allah's Messenger to what pleases His Messenger."
So, the point is that Mu'adh delayed his opinion, vision and his endeavor to drive a rule based on his independent interpretation of Qur’an and Sunnah after researching first in the rulings of the Qur’an and Sunnah. If he referred to that before looking into the Qur’an and Sunnah, it would have been considered putting himself before Allah and His Messenger and Their teachings.
Ali ibn Abi Talha reported from Ibn Abbas, may Allah be pleased with both of them, that he said: “Do not put [yourselves] before Allah and His Messenger…” means do not say anything which is not in line with the Qur’an and the Sunnah. Al-Awfi says: “They were told not to start speaking in his presence.” Mujahid says: “The verse orders believers not to precipitate what the Prophet might say. They must wait until Allah made His judgment clear through His Messenger.” Al-Dahhak says: “Do not make a judgment on any question relating to your faith without waiting for the judgment of Allah and His Messenger.” Sufyan al-Thawri says: Do not put [yourselves] before Allah and His Messenger by a say or deed. Al-Hassan al-Basri says: Do not pray before the Imam. Qatadah says: It has been reported that some people used to say: “If there was some revelation concerning such and such,” or, “If it could thus be true.” Allah disliked such suggestion. “...but fear Allah....” That means fear Him with regard to His commands and obey them. “Indeed, Allah is Hearing and Knowing.” That means Allah hears your sayings and knows your intentions.
Thus, we see that it is all a question of a psychological attitude defining the standards to be observed in relation to Allah and His Messenger, and the process by which instructions are received and carried out. This is an essential part of how Islamic law is enacted and implemented. It is all based on an essential Allah-fearing quality and its reinforcement. This quality stems from the awareness that Allah hears all and knows all. Furthermore, this all-embracing truth is incorporated into one single, short verse.
The believers applied this standard to their relationship with their Lord and His Messenger. None of them would ever presume to surest anything to Allah or His Messenger. None would voice an opinion unless Allah’s Messenger asked him to do so. None would make a judgment concerning any matter without first referring to what Allah and His Messenger said about it.
After the revelation of this verse, the Prophet might ask his Companions about their day and the places they had been to but even then, they would hesitate to give an answer other than: "Allah and His Messenger know best." They feared that a direct answer might be treated as presumption in the presence of Allah and His Messenger.
In a hadith reported by Abu Bakarah Nafr ibn al-Harith mentions that during his pilgrimage, the Prophet asked his Companions: "'Which month is this?' We said: 'Allah and His Messenger know best.' He was silent until we thought that he would give it a different name. But he said: 'Is it not Dhu'l-Hijjah?' We said: 'Yes' He then asked: 'Which city is this?' We said: 'Allah and His Messenger know best.' Again he was silent until we thought that he would call it by a different name, but then he said: 'Is it not the sanctified city?' We said: 'Yes, indeed'. So he went on and asked: 'What day is today?' We replied: 'Allah and His Messenger know best.' Once more he remained silent until we thought that he would give it a different name, but then he said: 'Is it not the day of sacrifice?' We answered in the affirmative.' He said: 'Indeed, your blood, your wealth and your honor are all Haraam (sacred) to each other, just as this day is sacred, in this sacred month, in this sacred place. Then he said: 'Let the witness among you inform the absent, for the absent might perceive more than the witness.'
This is, then, an example of the standard the Prophets Companions achieved in their Allah-fearing manners when they heard this instruction coupled with the order to maintain their fear of Allah, who hears all and knows all.