Rebuttal to Sam Shamoun's Article, "Warners Sent to All Mankind Before Muhammad?"


 Bassam Zawadi



Shamoun's article can 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 Shamoun's problem. 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 (أمة) is used, while in the second set of verses, the Arabic word qawm (قوم) 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 states that the message was sent to all the previous ummah, while the second set specifically speaks 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. 

Shamoun said: 

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 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. 

Shamoun said: 

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 refers 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 will become too useless to address. 

Shamoun said: 

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 that hadn't received a warner before. So what does that have to do with their 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, not that they come to know. 

Imam Al-Qurtubi said:  

ثُمَّ يَجُوز أَنْ تَكُون الْعَرَب قَدْ بَلَغَتْهُمْ بِالتَّوَاتُرِ أَخْبَار الْأَنْبِيَاء ; فَالْمَعْنَى لَمْ يُنْذَرُوا بِرَسُولٍ مِنْ أَنْفُسهمْ . وَيَجُوز أَنْ يَكُون بَلَغَهُمْ الْخَبَر وَلَكِنْ غَفَلُوا وَأَعْرَضُوا وَنَسُوا . وَيَجُوز أَنْ يَكُون هَذَا خِطَابًا لِقَوْمٍ لَمْ يَبْلُغْهُمْ خَبَر نَبِيّ , وَقَدْ قَالَ اللَّه : " وَمَا آتَيْنَاهُمْ مِنْ كُتُب يَدْرُسُونَهَا وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا إِلَيْهِمْ قَبْلَكَ مِنْ نَذِير " [ سَبَأ : 44 ] وَقَالَ : " لِتُنْذِر قَوْمًا مَا أَتَاهُمْ مِنْ نَذِير مِنْ قَبْلَكَ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَهْتَدُونَ " [ السَّجْدَة : 3 ] أَيْ لَمْ يَأْتِهِمْ نَبِيٌّ .

It's possible that the Arabs received Mutawaatir information from the prophets, so the meaning is that they weren't warned by a Messenger from amongst themselves. 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) 

Shamoun said: 

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. 

Shamoun said: 

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. Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the final messenger of Allah, and his message lives on to warn all mankind to come after him. This is not the case for the previous messengers, whose messages were limited to their people in specific. 

Shamoun said: 

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.

Shamoun said:

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 has messengers present.

Shamoun strongly insists that the utilization of ummah and qawm is the same. We will grant this to Shamoun to avoid entering into a long linguistic battle. 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: 

Surah 5:19

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.

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 must be distinguished. Even though there was this temporary cessation, I still believe that all those ummahs who were not receiving revelation during those times still received them sometime in the past since ummah could refer to a nation. However, qawm usually (not always) refers specifically to a specific tribe or group of people. So, considering all the Qur'an verses, there is no contradiction.

But Shamoun is not happy with this method, so we would 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 an exception was made during the gap between Muhammad and Jesus (peace be upon them).

Whatever it takes to end Shamoun's annoying ranting, we would opt for it as long as it is valid.

Shamoun said:

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 apparent truth of how unqualified the Answering Islam team is when it comes to critiquing Islam.


Recommended Reading (for Arabic readers)

Return to Refuting Sam Shamoun

Return to Homepage

click here to view site

HomeWhat's new?ChristianityRefutations Contact Me