Anti-Islamic missionaries have presented some verses of the Qur’an stating that only men were made messengers.
The following Qur’anic verses are under discussion in this paper:
And We sent not before you (as Messengers) ANY BUT MEN, whom We inspired from among the people of townships. Have they not travelled through the earth and seen what was the end of those who were before them? And verily, the home of the Hereafter is the best for those who fear Allah and obey Him (by abstaining from sins and evil deeds, and by performing righteous good deeds). Do you not then understand?
And We sent not before you (O Muhammad SAW) BUT MEN to whom We inspired, so ask the people of the Reminder [Scriptures – the Taurat (Torah), the Injeel (Gospel)] if you do not know. And We did not create them (the Messengers, with) bodies that ate not food, nor were they immortals,
And We never sent before you (O Muhammad SAW) any of the Messengers but verily, they ate food and walked in the markets. And We have made some of you as a trial for others: will you have patience? And your Lord is Ever All-Seer (of everything). And those who expect not for a Meeting with Us (i.e. those who deny the Day of Resurrection and the life of the Hereafter), say: “Why are not the angels sent down to us, or why do we not see our Lord?” Indeed they think too highly of themselves, and are scornful with great pride.
In relation to this, the following verse is presented:
And nothing prevented men from believing when the guidance came to them, except that they said: “Has Allah sent a man as (His) Messenger?” Say: “If there were on the earth, angels walking about in peace and security, We should certainly have sent down for them from the heaven an angel as a Messenger.”
Based on these verses of the Qur’an, anti-Islamic missionaries state that the following conclusion is reached:
– Allah sends humans as his messengers because he is communicating His divine message to human beings. If Allah were revealing the Quran to some other creatures then Allah would raise a messenger from their species so as to be able to communicate to them on their level. Thus, if Allah were speaking to angels He would send an angel, if He were speaking to beasts He would raise up a beast etc.
It is argued that the practice of Allah contradicts the message derived from these verses as according to the Qur’an, Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) was also sent for the jinn. Another argument made is that the beast of the earth would also be a messenger and communicate to the people in the language that people understand and hence the above stated rules would be violated.
Let us understand these verses in a little detail.
The two Jalals had this to say of Qur’an 17:95:
Say, to them, ‘Had there been in the earth, instead of humans, angels, walking [and living] secure, We would have sent down to them from the heaven an angel as Messenger’, for when a messenger is sent to a people he is of their kind, so that they are able to speak to him and understand from him [his message]. (Tafsir al-Jalalayn)
The following commentary attributed to Ibn Abbas stated regarding this same text that:
(Say) O Muhammad, to the people of Mecca: (If there were in the earth angels walking secure, We had sent down for them from heaven an angel as messenger) for we send angel messengers only to angels and human messengers to humans. (Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs)
We can clearly see that there is wisdom behind such act. The wisdom is that the message is properly communicated and implemented. This is a practice and not a fixed rule. This conclusion is not far-fetched and can be reached by pondering over the emphasized parts. Angel messengers were sent only to angels while human messengers were sent to humans but not limited to humans. Hence, to say that Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) was not just the Messenger of mankind but also the jinn would not contradict the Qur’an in any way. Only shallow reading of the text would lead to a contradiction.
Maududi states regarding the verse being discussed:
This is to say that Messenger does not merely convey the Message but 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 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.
The passage convincingly clarifies the purpose and intent behind the sending of human messengers. If a book had been sent down, the people would have differed on interpretation and if an angel had been sent with the message, people would certainly have argued for the impracticality of the teachings as bearing hardships would have been difficult for them and they would have stated that angels do not suffer hardships. Hence, when human messengers were sent, people only had themselves to blame for differences and lack of applying the teachings in their lives because the messenger has the same feelings, needs and desires as all humans i.e. feeling hungry, desire to drink, to sleep, to eat etc.
As for Qur’an 27:82, the verse is clear in itself:
وَإِذَا وَقَعَ الْقَوْلُ عَلَيْهِم أَخْرَجْنَا لَهُمْ دَآبَّةً مِّنَ الاٌّرْضِ تُكَلِّمُهُمْ أَنَّ النَّاسَ كَانُوا بِـَايَـتِنَا لاَ يُوقِنُونَ
And when the word befalls them, We will bring forth for them a creature from the earth speaking to them, [saying] that the people were, of Our verses, not certain [in faith].
The word used for Messenger in the verses discussed above is Rasool which is nowhere to be found in 27:82. The creature from the earth would not be a messenger and for it to communicate to the people would not be a problem, neither would it contract the above stated verses of the Qur’an. If the word used for the creature had been Rasool, then the argument would have carried weight and a new one would have taken birth i.e. there is a Messenger after Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) however, no such issues exist.
As to the doubt that if one species can communicate to a different kind of species then why can’t angels speak to human beings, especially when the Quran says that angels have spoken with humans before, it has already been cleared by Maududi’s explanation above. The purpose of sending messengers is the key to this doubt and limiting it to only speaking would be doing injustice.
Furthermore, the beast would be a sign of the Day of Judgment and it’s role would be more of a sign than the message. Notice the words in the verse:
And when the Word (of torment) is fulfilled against them, We shall bring out from the earth a beast to them, which will speak to them because mankind believed not with certainty in Our Ayât (Signs).
The speaking of the beast would have a purpose and that purpose would not be the same as the purpose behind sending human messengers. Neither the word used for messenger, nor the message is similar between the messengers and the beast of the earth. Therefore, it can undoubtedly be concluded that any other created interpretation would be indicative of, either, defect in intellect or pure hate for the revelation of Almighty God.