Rebuttal to Sam Shamoun's Article "Warners Sent to All Mankind Before Muhammad?"
Shamoun's article could be located here.
In summary, Shamoun argues that the first set of verses: Surah 10:47; 16:35-36; 22:34,67; 35:24 & 40:5-6, which state that Allah has sent to every nation a Messenger before the time of Muhammad (peace be upon him) contradicts the second set of verses: Surah 28:46; 32:3 & 36:6, which state that a Messenger was never sent to the people Muhammad (peace be upon him) was sent to.
This is the problem with Shamoun. He thinks he is qualified to critique a book that he doesn't know the language of without providing proper sound academic scholarship to back him up.
In the first set of verses, the Arabic word ummah (ÃãÉ) is used, while in the second set of verses the Arabic word qawm (Þæã) is used. The word ummah means:
nation, people; generation. (Hans Wehr, A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic, Third Edition, 1976, page 25)
While qawm means:
Fellow, tribesmen, kinsfolk, kin, kindred; tribe, race, people. (Ibid. page 800)
So we see that ummah is more general than qawm and that a particular qawm could be part of a particular ummah.
The first set of verses state that the message was sent to all the previous ummah, while the second set of verses is specifically speaking about the qawm that the Prophet (peace be upon him) was sent to. Hence, there is no contradiction.
Shamoun wrote a rebuttal to my article here.
Unfortunately for him, no commentator on these verses of the Quran made such a distinction as he did.
That's funny, how does Shamoun know such a thing when he didn't even read all of the commentaries that exist? Shamoun could ask one of his Arab puppets to check the Qur'anic commentary of Al-Alusi, Volume 15, page 487 over here to confirm for him that I am not making it up.
Now if what Muhammad was sent to is "a qawm" (Q. 32:3, see above), and those who believed are certainly only part of those Muhammad was sent to, and those that believe are called "the best ummah" (Q. 3:110), then clearly here (this) ummah is part of the qawm which Muhammad was sent to, i.e. in this case the ummah is part of a qawm, and therefore the inclusion goes exactly the other direction to what Zawadi argues. [Again, we are not claiming that ummah is part of qawm in general. On the contrary, qawm and ummah are basically used synonymously in the Quran, but these two passages show clearly that Zawadi's alleged solution has no basis in the Quran.]
Poor Shamoun wastes his time not realizing that qawm in 32:2 is specifically referring to the Quraysh and doesn't mean that Muhammad (peace be upon him) was only sent to them. That was only during the first stage of his mission just as Christians claim Jesus was for the Jews (see here).
If we take that into consideration the rest of Shamoun's comments on the same argument become too useless to address.
In these hadiths Muhammad asserts that he and his followers are to follow the religion of their forefather Abraham who supposedly built the Kabah and instituted the rites of pilgrimage. This shows that the Meccans (allegedly) knew and believed that Abraham had traveled there and were therefore aware that Allah had (supposedly) revealed and made known the true religion to their ancestors long before Muhammad was born.
Agreed, but the verse says that Muhammad (peace be upon him) was sent to a tribe who weren't sent a warner before. So what does that have to do with them knowing about Abraham? Shamoun fails to distinguish between the "warner" and the "warning". Surah 24:6 itself implies that the warner is sent so that they remember and not that they come to know.
Imam Al-Qurtubi said:
Ëõãøó íóÌõæÒ Ãóäú Êóßõæä ÇáúÚóÑóÈ ÞóÏú ÈóáóÛóÊúåõãú ÈöÇáÊøóæóÇÊõÑö ÃóÎúÈóÇÑ ÇáúÃóäúÈöíóÇÁ ; ÝóÇáúãóÚúäóì áóãú íõäúÐóÑõæÇ ÈöÑóÓõæáò ãöäú ÃóäúÝõÓåãú . æóíóÌõæÒ Ãóäú íóßõæä ÈóáóÛóåõãú ÇáúÎóÈóÑ æóáóßöäú ÛóÝóáõæÇ æóÃóÚúÑóÖõæÇ æóäóÓõæÇ . æóíóÌõæÒ Ãóäú íóßõæä åóÐóÇ ÎöØóÇÈðÇ áöÞóæúãò áóãú íóÈúáõÛúåõãú ÎóÈóÑ äóÈöíø , æóÞóÏú ÞóÇáó Çááøóå : " æóãóÇ ÂÊóíúäóÇåõãú ãöäú ßõÊõÈ íóÏúÑõÓõæäóåóÇ æóãóÇ ÃóÑúÓóáúäóÇ Åöáóíúåöãú ÞóÈúáóßó ãöäú äóÐöíÑ " [ ÓóÈóÃ : 44 ] æóÞóÇáó : " áöÊõäúÐöÑ ÞóæúãðÇ ãóÇ ÃóÊóÇåõãú ãöäú äóÐöíÑ ãöäú ÞóÈúáóßó áóÚóáøóåõãú íóåúÊóÏõæäó " [ ÇáÓøóÌúÏóÉ : 3 ] Ãóíú áóãú íóÃúÊöåöãú äóÈöíøñ .
It's possible that the Arabs received Mutawaatir information from the prophets; so the meaning is that they weren't warned with a Messenger from amongst themselves. And it's possible that the news reached them, but they became careless about it, turned away from it and forgot about it. (Abu 'Abdullah Al-Qurtubi, Tasfir al Jami' li-ahkam al-Qur'an, Commentary on Surah 36:6, Source)
Zawadi's comments seem to suggest that what he is actually arguing for is that the Quran claims that Muhammad was sent to his own generation since they never had a warner sent to them.
This is not my understanding, but the understanding of the scholars. See Imam Al-Tabari's comments on Surah 28:59.
But such an explanation is nonsense since this would imply that Allah would have to constantly be sending warners to each new generation of people in order to warn them, i.e. any generation born after the previous one which had a messenger sent to them would also require a warner coming to them as well.
No it doesn't, since Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the final messenger of Allah and his message lives on to be a warning for all mankind to come after him. This is not the case for the previous messengers whose message was limited to their people in specific.
Allah failed to send warners to Israel after the ascent of Christ which shows that he is both cruel and unjust since he left countless number of people without a witness to the truth.
This is not cruel since Ahl Al Fatrah (people who didn't receive the message and lived between the intervals of two Prophets) would be judged fairly in the afterlife. Sheikh Al-Munajjid states:
Al-Haafiz Ibn Hajar (may Allaah have mercy on him) said, discussing the different points of view on this topic:
. They will be tested in the Hereafter by having a fire caused to appear before them. Whoever enters it will find it cool and safe, and whoever refuses will be punished. This was narrated by al-Bazzaar from the hadeeth of Anas and Abu Sa'eed, and it was narrated by al-Tabaraani from the hadeeth of Mu'aadh ibn Jabal. The issue of being tested has been proven in the case of one who is insane and the one who died during the fatrah (interval between two Prophets) via saheeh isnaads. Al-Bayhaqi stated in Kitaab al-I'tiqaad that it is the correct view. (Source)
Also read this.
Thus, if Allah sent messengers to their own qawm and yet messengers were sent to all peoples this means that every generation of mankind had warners sent to them before Muhammad showed up!
No the Qur'an says that all nations (ummahs, not all qawms) were sent messengers in the past. It doesn't say that every generation had messengers present.
Shamoun strongly insists that the utilization of ummah and qawm is exactly the same. In order to not enter into a long linguistic battle we will grant this to Shamoun. We would argue that the Qur'an as usual explains itself and general statements in the Qur'an could be restricted in meaning by other statements found in the Qur'an. Allah says:
O People of the Scripture! Now hath Our messenger come unto you to make things plain unto you after an interval (of cessation) of the messengers, lest ye should say: There came not unto us a messenger of cheer nor any warner. Now hath a messenger of cheer and a warner come unto you. Allah is Able to do all things.
The scholars have interpreted this as referring to the gap between Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them).
Now I take the position that ummah and qawm need to be distinguished. Even though there was this temporary cessation, I still believe that all those ummahs that were not receiving revelation during those times, still had received them sometime in the past, since ummah could refer to a nation. However, qawm usually (not all the time) refers specifically to a specific tribe or group of people. So taking all the verses of the Qur'an into consideration there really is no contradiction.
But Shamoun is not happy with this method, so we would just resort to the accepted exegetical practice of explaining one verse in light of another. So we have a general statement stating that Allah sent a messenger to every group of people, but there was an exception that was made during the gap between Muhammad and Jesus (peace be upon them).
Whatever it takes to put an end to Shamoun's annoying ranting, we would opt for it as long as it is valid.
I want to thank Jochen Katz, Mutee'a Al-Fadi and Bassam Khoury for their review of this article and the suggestions that helped to clarify and sharpen the argument.
Wow if it took four people (especially two Arabs) to come up with such an argument of low substance then that's just really sad. The only thing that has been sharpened and clarified is the obvious truth of how unqualified the Answering Islam team are when it comes to critiquing Islam
Recommended Reading (for Arabic readers)
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