Opinion Editorials, June 2004, To see today's opinion articles, click here: ww.aljazeerah.info
No Angel Messenger Sent to Mankind
Arab News, 6/4/04
In the name of God, the Merciful, the Beneficent
Even before you, We never sent messengers other than (men) who indeed ate food and went about in the marketplaces. We have made some of you a means of testing others. Are you able to endure with patience? Surely your Lord sees all.
Those who entertain no hope of meeting Us say: “Why have no angels been sent down to us?” - or, “Why do we not see our Lord?” Indeed, they are far too proud of themselves and they have been insolently overbearing. (The Standard, Al-Furqan: 25: 20-21)
The first verse comments on the objections voiced by the unbelievers about the fact that God’s Messenger was a man like them. Like earlier communities which refused to believe in the divine message, they invented lies, ridiculed the Prophet (peace be upon him) and objected to his being an ordinary person who ate food and walked in marketplaces. This verse is addressed to the Prophet consoling and reassuring him, telling him that he was not a special case among God’s messengers. They all have the same essential attributes in common: “Even before you, We never sent messengers other than (men) who indeed ate food and went about in the marketplaces. We have made some of you a means of testing others. Are you able to endure with patience? Surely your Lord sees all.”
If they are voicing objections, these are not made against him in person; rather, they are objections to a law God has put in place for a definite purpose: “We have made some of you a means of testing others.” Thus, those who do not appreciate God’s wisdom and plans will object, while those who have full trust in God’s wisdom and support will persevere and remain reassured. The divine message will continue the struggle using human means and methods, so that those who have faith will demonstrate their patience in adversity: “Are you able to endure with patience?”
“Surely your Lord sees all.” He sees human nature, and what is in people’s inner thoughts. He sees to what end each one is driving. We note here the use of the possessive pronoun, ‘your Lord’, to give the Prophet a feeling of comfort and reassurance. God knows what will affect people’s hearts and feelings.
The second verse we are discussing today begins a new passage in the surah which, like the first passage, starts with the allegations, suggestions and objections made by the unbelievers as a prelude to stating what they say about the Prophet himself. All this is given here with the aim of comforting the Prophet. In this passage, however, we have an early account of the punishment in store for them for their arrogant attitude, putting it in a series of images of the hereafter. All this is given in reply to their question: “Why have no angels been sent down to us?’ - or, ‘Why do we not see our Lord?”
The surah then quotes their objection to the revelation of the Qur’an over a long period, and explains the purpose behind it, reassuring the Prophet that God’s help is ready at hand whenever the unbelievers challenge him: “Whenever they come to you with an argument, We shall reveal to you the truth and the best explanation.”
The surah describes to the Prophet and the unbelievers the fate suffered by earlier communities which denied God’s messages, reminding them of the destruction suffered by Lot’s people. They have been passing by their township, with its remains telling its terrible story. Yet they are hardened to it, and its sight does not inspire them to take steps in order to avoid a similar fate.
All this is given by way of introduction to the unbelievers’ ridicule of the Prophet and their offensive remarks against him. The surah immediately gives a strong comment on this portraying them in a very contemptible light: “They are but like cattle. Nay, they are even far worse astray.”
“Those who entertain no hope of meeting Us say: ‘Why have no angels been sent down to us?’ - or, ‘Why do we not see our Lord?’ Indeed, they are far too proud of themselves and they have been insolently overbearing.”
The unbelievers do not hope to meet God, which means that they do not expect such a meeting and do not take it into account so as to determine their behavior on the basis of this meeting. In their hearts they do not feel any awe of God. Hence, they are ready to make utterances that no one who expects to meet God will entertain. “Those who entertain no hope of meeting Us say: Why have no angels been sent down to us? - or, why do we not see Our Lord?”
They felt it unreasonable that God’s Messenger should be a man. They demanded that angels should be sent to them testifying the truth of the message in order to believe in it. An alternative demand they make is that they should see God, so as to believe in Him. Theirs is an overbearing attitude that betrays the sort of ignorance associated with denying God and His attribute, having no proper esteem of Him. Who are they to make such overbearing demands? What could they be in comparison with God Almighty? In God’s dominion, they are no more than a particle floating aimlessly in the air, unless they establish a bond between them and God through believing in Him, deriving their strength from Him. Hence, a reply is given to them in the same verse, showing the source of their overbearing attitude: “Indeed, they are far too proud of themselves and they have been insolently overbearing.”
They have given themselves airs and become highly conceited, too proud, which led them to great transgression. Their own pride have become their main preoccupation, which meant that they no longer gave proper estimation to other things and values. They feel nothing but their own pride, thinking themselves to be too great, or masters of the universe who deserve that God appears to them in person so that they could believe in Him.
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