MOHAMMED CLAIMED TO BE A WARNER ONLY FOR ARABIA
In this paper I am not dealing with the truth or falsehood of Mohammed's claim to prophethood. I will only demonstrate here that according to the Qur'an Mohammed is a Warner only for Arabia. If therefore this claim was true he was a prophet only for Arabia and if this claim was false he was not, but ascribing universality to Mohammed and the Quran is to exceed the claim of the Quran itself.
Following are my reasons supported by Quranic verses (see notes 1,2 and 3) whose translation is in bold:
- "(Mohammed) You are only a Warner and for every nation there is a guide."(13:7)
The principle given by the Quran here proves that as per his own standards Mohammed can only be a guide for his nation i.e. Arabs.
- "And we have sent no messenger but with the language of his people, that he might make (the message) clear for them." (14:4)
This principle also proves that as per his own standards Mohammed can only be a guide for Arabic speaking people.
- "He is (Allah) who has raised among the unlettered people a messenger from among themselves" (62:2)
So Mohammed claims only to be a prophet for "Umeen" the unlettered people of Arabia.
It is also interesting to note here that "Umeen" could also mean people of Makkah (note-4).
- "And this (Quran) is a blessed book which we have revealed, confirming that which was (revealed) before it, so that you (O prophet) may warn the mother of the cities (Makkah) and those around her." (6:92)
"And thus we have revealed to you an Arabic Quran, so that you may warn the mother of the cities (Makkah) and those around her." (42:7)
The above verses clearly show that Mohammed claims to have received a revelation in Arabic to warn people of Makkah and those living close to it, of course the Arabic speaking people.
- "Then we gave Moses the book, complete for him who would do good, an explanation of all things, a guidance and a mercy, so that they might believe in the meeting with their Lord." (6:154)
"And this (Quran) is a blessed book which we have revealed, so follow it and fear Allah that you may receive mercy." (6:155)
"Lest you (pagan Arabs) should say: The book was sent down to the two sects before us (the Jews and the Christians) and for our part we were in fact unaware of what they studied (because that book was in a different language)." (6:156)
These verses claim that the book given to Moses was complete. The Quran was revealed because the book of Moses was in a language foreign to the Arabs and they could have made this as an excuse for not following the book of Moses.
- "Verily, We made it a Quran in Arabic so that you may be able to understand"(43:3)
This verse is clear enough to prove that Quran is in Arabic so that Arabs can understand it.
To say that this book is for non Arabic speaking people is as ridiculous as telling a Japanese person, "I have written this book in English so that you can understand."
In the following we will take a look at the scriptural support cited by the Muslim theologians who claim universality for Mohammed's Prophethood and the Quran.
But before examining their reasons I would present an analogy that I feel may be useful.
A person comes to India when the British ruled it. This person claims, "I am a special representative of the Queen, sent to deliver this message to the people of India. I have been given this message in Hindi so that you can understand it."
Some other day he stands in the downtown of the Indian capital and delivers a speech and says "O people I have been sent as a special messenger from the Queen to you all".
Everybody understands that "O people" and "you all" here means only the people of India although the words are general but they give a restricted meaning because that person has clearly mentioned his scope earlier.
At another time while making an address to people at the same place he says, "I have come to deliver this message to you and to whom it reaches".
Every one would understand that "whom it reaches" is not general here either but is restricted to the people of India as that person has mentioned his scope clearly.
On the basis of the initial six points showing the scope as presented by the Qur'an itself together with the above analogy let us attempt to understand the following verses of the Quran appealed to by the Muslim theologians:
- "Say (O Mohammed): O people! Verily, I am sent to you all as the messenger of Allah." (7:158)
"And we have not sent you (O Mohammed) except as a giver of glad tidings and a Warner to all people."(34:28)
"The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Quran, a guidance for people and clear proofs for the guidance and the criterion" (2:185)
The above verses in the light of the above six points would mean that prophethood is for all people of Arabia.
- "This Quran has been revealed to me that I may therewith warn you and whomsoever it may reach." (6:19)
This verse would mean those from Arabia to whom it reaches.
- "Thus we made You a Just group, that you be witness over people and the messenger be a witness over you."(2:143)
Means that group of Muslims is witness over all people of Arabia or that Muslims are a witness over former nations on the day of Judgement to whom prophets were sent that those prophets delivered their message and the Muslims know this from the Quran. (The latter interpretation is from a Hadith in Bukhari (Kitab-ut-Tafsir), 6.14).
- "You (Muslims) are the best group raised for the people." (3:110)
Meaning for the people of Arabia.
- "Blessed is He who sent down the criterion to His slave that he may be a warner for the Aalameen." (25:1)
"And we have sent you not but as a mercy for the Aalameen" (21:107)
"It (this Quran) is only a reminder for the Aalameen." (38:87, 12:104, 6:90, and 81:27)
These above verses are also quoted but are not useful as their force is dependent on the interpretation of the word "Aalameen".
In Arabic the root of "Aalameen" is "Ain", "Lam", and "Mem" meaning knowledge. In Arabic there is a form of noun known as "Ism-e-Aala" and it is formed on "Fa-Alunn" so from this root "Ism-e-Aala" is "Aalamunn" which means "Ma Uulamu behi" (Raghib) i.e. "The thing from which knowledge of another thing is obtained." Since it is thought that knowledge about God is obtained from the universe, it is known as an "Aalamunn." But then, the universe is a combination of so many things and knowledge of God is obtained from each one of them so they are all also individually called an "Aalamunn" and in this way the universe becomes a plural, i.e. "Aalameen". However, this plural is not always used for the entire universe only, it may also be used for a combination of any three or more "Aalamunn" (in Arabic plural is used for three or more).
In this way every human is also an "Aalamunn" as it is thought that the knowledge of God is obtained from the existence of each human being and therefore any three or more persons are "Aalameen". Raghib (died 502 Hijrah) in Mufridat-ul-Quran quotes Jaffer Sadiq (The Son of Zain-Ul-Abideen the son of Hussein the Son of Fatimah the Daughter of Muhammad) to agree with the same that every human is an "Aalamunn".
The restricted meaning of Aalameen is also used in the Quran, for example in:
Here "Aalameen" cannot encompass all people of all times (let alone the entire universe) since it would be in contradiction to:
How can Muslims be the best group if "Aalameen" in 2:47 includes people of all times?
How can Ishmael and Lot be included in the "Aalameen" in 2:47 and if they are how can Children of Ishmael be included in the "Aalameen" here as they both are not from the Children of Israel?
For other examples of the restricted meaning of "Aalameen" see note 5.
Thus the context and overall coherence of the theme determines the meaning of "Aalameen" in any given passage.
In the light of the six points mentioned above, "Aalameen" in the above verses used by Muslim theologians would mean the people of Arabia. This interpretation is permissible by the language and maintains the coherence and harmony of the meaning of Quran and therefore is the best interpretation.
Thus you will note that in consideration of the six points presented above it is very clear that Mohammed claimed to be a Warner only for Arabia and to have received a revelation for them in Arabic so that they can understand it.
- In many cases only part of the verse has been quoted and referred to in the text of the paper as "the verse", to avoid the tedious use of the phrase "part of the verse".
- In the reference for the verses of Quran quoted, the first number is the chapter or surah number and after the colon is the verse number for example 7:158 would mean 7th chapter and 158th verse.
- In the translation of the verses quoted the words or phrases appearing within parentheses are mine. They are added to explain the meaning of the verse as understood by me.
- Islamic scholar Tamanna Ammadi is of the view that "Umeen" is a derivation from "Ummulqura (Makkah)" and would mean people of Makkah, for this discussion see pages 398 to 410 of his book "Ijaz-ul-Quran wa Ikhtilaf-e-Qirat".
- For other examples of the restricted meaning of Aalameen see verse 3:42 and compare with the Hadith "Aaisha (the wife of Mohammed) has superiority over all women" (Bukhari, Chapter Superiority of Aaisha, 5.113) and to another Hadith "Fatimah is the Leader of all women in the paradise" (Bukhari in the name of the chapter of Manaqib-e-Fatimah).
In 29:10 Aalameen is restricted to those with breasts (cf. Thinking with your breasts?)
In 15:70 it has been used for only those who ever came in contact with Lot.
This article also was discussed on the Islamic newsgroup (see discussion thread) and lead to more observations on individual verses of the Qur'an (*,*,*,*).