The disbelievers considered it too implausible
that Allah would send a human messenger. This delusion originated from their
inability to appreciate their worth as human beings, and the honor that Allah
has conferred upon humankind over His other creatures. It also originated from
their inability to understand the nature of the universe and that of angels1. Allah says U:
nothing prevented the people from believing when guidance came to them except
that they said, “Has Allah sent a human as (His) Messenger?” Say, “If there
were angels walking peacefully on the earth, We would have sent down to them
from the heaven an angel as a Messenger.”)2
They attacked the Prophet’s humanity and used it as basis for
raising doubts about his Message and rejecting it. Allah says U:
their hearts distracted, those who do wrong conceal their private counsels,
(saying), “Is this (Prophet) except a human being like you? Will you submit to
magic while you see it?”)3
they say, “What is this messenger that eats food and walks in the markets? Why
is not an angel sent down to him to be with him a warner?)4
It is the dictate of the Constant Law of Allah that messengers
should be humans who live through all human experiences of birth and death,
love and loss, prosperity and adversity, illness and healing, defeat and
victory, want and fulfillment, struggling, livelihood, marriage, family,
progeny… and He made the last of them, whose Message shall continue to the end
of time, the most perfect example of a man living on earth, encompassing the
various themes of life.
All messengers had a bodily form. Allah did not create for them
bodies then make them not eat! (And We did not make
them (the Messengers) bodies not eating food, nor were they immortal.)5 Eating is from the
exigencies of corporality, and corporality is from the exigencies of humanity,
and being created as humans, they are not immortal. That is the constant
established Law of Allah, and there will never be any change to the Law of
Human messengers live a
human life, so their actual life becomes an embodiment of their law and their
behavior a living model to what they preach. The real, living word is the one
that influences and guides, because people see it materialized, translated into
Had the messengers been non-humans who did not eat, sleep,
marry, have a social life, or human feelings and emotions struggling within
them, there would not be any rapport between them and people. They would not
sympathize with the impulses that motivate humans and, conversely, humans would not follow their example.
Those who claimed in the past that the Messenger should be an
angel are just like those who claim today that the messenger is far above human
emotions. All of them fail to realize the truth. Angels do not live the life of
humans because of their special nature and shall never live it. A messenger
must be a human, must have human needs and emotions, and must experience them
in his actual existence in order to delineate through his own life the
practical code of living that serves as an example to his human followers.7
These followers are the ones who in turn will shoulder the
trust after the death of the messengers, as did Abu Bakr As-Siddiq t
(nicknamed the Trustful) upon the death of Prophet Muhammad r.
The Companions were stunned by the news of his death, but Abu
was the most resolute among them. He went out to the people and addressed them,
saying: “Whoever among you worships Muhammad r,
Muhammad is dead; but whoever worships Allah, Allah is alive and shall never
die. Allah says, (Muhammad
is no more than a Messenger, and indeed Messengers have passed away before him. If he dies or is killed,
will you then turn back on your heels (as disbelievers)? And he who turns back
on his heels, not the least harm will he do to Allah; and
Allah will reward the grateful.8)”9
‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbas t
said: “By Allah, as if people never knew before that Allah had revealed this
Ayah until Abu Bakr recited it and all people heard it from him, and then I
heard everybody reciting it.”10
Prophet Muhammad r succeeded. He r
made his Companions a living embodiment of his faith, eating food and walking
in the markets. He r
made each of them a living Qur’an walking on earth; each of them a visual
example of Islam. When people saw them, they saw Islam incarnate.
A Divine Book alone will do nothing. The Qur’an alone will not
work unless it is materialized through people, and principles will not survive
unless they become adopted behavior.
The main aim of Prophet Muhammad r is to build men, not
to give sermons. The Law itself is given in the Glorious Qur’an, whereas the
duty of Muhammad r is to transform the abstract into
concrete – men that the hands can touch and the eyes can see.11
1 Sayyid Qutb, In the Shade of the Qur’an, interpretation of
Surat Al-Isra’ [17: 94-95], thirty-sixth
edition, Dar Al-Shorouk.
Translated meanings of Al-Isra’ 17: 94-95.
Translated meanings of
Al-Anbiya’ 21: 3.
Translated meanings of
Al-Furqan 25: 7.
Translated meanings of Al-Anbiya’ 21: 8.
6 Adapted from Sayyid Qutb, In the Shade of the
Qur’an, interpretation of Surat Al-Anbiya’ [21: 8], thirty-sixth
edition, Dar Al-Shorouk.
8 Translated meanings of Al-‘Imran 3:
9 Narrated by ‘Abdullah bin
‘Abbas: Sahih Al-Bukhary, Book of Magazi (Expeditions), Hadith no. 4097;
similar versions of the Hadith are also reported by Al-Bukhary (1165, 3394) and
Ibn Majah (1616).
11 Sayyid Qutb,
Dirasat Islamiyah (Islamic Studies), chapter of Islam Striving, Dar