By Syed Abul A'ala Maududi (b.1903 –d.1979)
THE misunderstanding has always been common among the ignorant people of every age that a human being could not be a Messenger of Allah. They rejected a Messenger just because he was a human being and took his meals and had wife and children like themselves. In contrast to this, after the passage of the time the credulous followers of a Messenger began to claim that he was not a human being at all because he was a Messenger. That is why some people made their Messenger their God, others the son of God and still others the incarnation of God. In short, the ignorant people had never been able to understand that a human being could be a Messenger of Allah.1
The Point of View of Disbelievers of Makkah
The disbelievers of Makkah would not believe that a human being like us could be a Messenger of Allah. Had Allah willed to send a Messenger, He would have sent an angel, and if at all a human being was to be sent, he should have been a king or a millionaire, who would have resided in a castle and been guarded by attendants. A Messenger could not be an ordinary person who has to move about in the market places like the common people, for it is obvious that such a human Messenger cannot attract the attention of the people. In other words, they thought that a Messenger was not meant to guide the people to the right path but to coerce them to obedience by show of worldly power and grandeur. For details, see (E.N. 26 of Surah Al-Mominoon).
That is, if a human being was to be sent as a Messenger, an angel should have been appointed to accompany him to proclaim: If you do not believe in him, I will scourge you. But what kind of a Messenger is he, who has to suffer from abuse and persecution?
That is, if nothing else, Allah should at least have made extraordinary arrangements for his livelihood. But this man has no treasure and no gardens; yet he claims to be a Messenger of the Lord of the universe.2
Ignorant Point of View on Godly Person and Prophethood
Feeble-minded people have always entertained the foolish misconception that the more godly a man is, the more liberated he should be from the limitations of human nature. They expect a godly person to be able to work wonders. By a mere sign of his hand, whole mountains should be transmuted into gold. At his command, the earth should begin to throw up all its hidden treasures. He should have miraculous access to all relevant facts about people. He should be able to point out the locations of things which have been lost, and show how they can be retrieved. He should be able to predict whether or not a patient will survive his disease; whether a pregnant woman will deliver a boy or a girl. Moreover, he should be above all human disabilities and limitations. How can a genuinely godly person feel hunger or thirst? How can he be overcome by sleep? How can he have a wife and children? How can he engage in buying and selling to meet his material requirements? How can he be impelled by force of circumstances to resort to such mundane acts as making money? How can he feel the pinch of poverty and paucity of resources? False conceptions such as these dominated the minds of the contemporaries of the Prophet (peace be on him). When they heard of his claim, in order to test his veracity they asked him regarding things that lie beyond the ken of human perception and to work wonders, and blamed him when they saw him engaged in such acts as eating and drinking, and taking care of his wife and children, and walking about the bazaars like other ordinary human beings.3
Why It is important for A Prophet to be a Human Being
Allah (S.T.) talked about the wisdom to reveal the Message to Prophet in Surah An-Nahl:
(16:44) We raised the Messengers earlier with Clear Signs and Divine Books, and We have now sent down this Reminder upon you that you may elucidate to people the teaching that has been sent down for them,40 and that the people may themselves reflect.
In this connection, it is worthwhile to note that this duty of making plain and explaining the teachings of the Book was to be performed by Prophet not only by word of mouth but also practically. It was required that he should organize, under his own guidance, a Muslim community and establish it in accordance with the principles of the Book. This duty of the Prophet (peace be upon him) has been stated here especially to show the wisdom of sending a man as a Messenger, for, otherwise the Book could have been sent through the angels or could have been printed and sent directly to each man. But in this way; that purpose for which Allah in His Wisdom and Bounty and Providence designed to send the Book could not have been served. For, that purpose demanded that the Book should be brought by a perfect man, who should present it piece by piece, explain its meaning, remove the difficulties and doubts, answer objections etc. and above all, he should show towards those who rejected and opposed it that kind of attitude which is worthy of the bearer of this Book. On the other hand, he should guide those who believed in it in every aspect of life and set before them his own excellent pattern of life. Then he should train them individually and collectively on the principles of the Book; so as to make them a model society for the rest of mankind.4
To Guide Human Beings, the Prophet Should be Human
The Messenger does not merely convey the message but also is sent to reform human life in accordance with it. He has to apply the principles of the message to the circumstances of human beings and has himself to demonstrate practically those principles. Moreover, he has to remove the misunderstandings of those people who try to listen to and understand his message. Besides this, he has to organize and train the believers to create a society based on the teachings of his message. He has to struggle against those who reject and oppose his message in order to subdue those powers that are bent upon corruption, and bring about that reformation for which Allah has sent His Messenger. As all these things have to be done in a society of human beings only a human Messenger can perform the mission. If an angel had been sent as a Messenger, the most he could have done was to convey the message, for he could not live among human beings and share their life and problems in order to reform them. It is thus clear that a human Messenger only could be suitable for this purpose. 5
- Surah Israa, Explanatory Note 107
- Surah Furqan E. N. 14 to 16
- Surah Al-Ana’m E. N. 31
- Surah An-Nahl, E. N. 40
- Surah Israa, Explanatory Note 108
(Translated from Urdu book Seerat e Sarwar Alam, Vol. 1)
Towards Understanding Quran