Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | Islam and Muslims 

The traditions of the Prophet and the revelations of God make it clear that there is but one way for a Muslim to attain salvation, and that is to follow the path laid down by the Prophet and his companions. The Prophet left to posterity a Sunnah, a pattern of life, which was faithfully adhered to by his Companions, and which provides to this day an example to Muslims – one which, by their Islamic faith, they should have no choice but to follow. Any man-made addition to this Sunnah, being in the nature of an innovation, would be abhorrent to the Almighty.

Yet the Sunnah is flouted in a number of ways, the most common being the neglect of its fundamental aspects in favour of its more easily followed injunctions. If this happens with great frequency, it is because people are unable to contemplate the drastic alterations in the established pattern of their lives which would become unavoidable if they were really serious about following the more vital Islamic tenets. Hence their concern with mere externals instead of getting at the heart of the matter. Hence their evasion of those truths which should eradicate the selfishness of their ways. Another circumvention of the Sunnah is the adoption of its precepts in a partial or imperfect way, so that self-interest is never encroached upon; the fact needs to be faced, fairly and squarely, however, that this is little better than an outright rejection of the principles set forth therein.

The Jewish people, to their great discredit, had fallen into this very error. It was in order to correct this grievous tendency on their part to be self-centeredly selective in following religious principle that Jesus the Messiah was sent to them.

His reprimand to them was of the most excoriating nature. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” (Matthew, 23:23-28)