Limitless is God in His Glory
In the name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful
“I have allowed these people and their forefathers to enjoy their lives freely until the truth has come to them through a Messenger who makes things clear. Now that the truth has come to them, they say, ‘This is all sorcery, and we reject it outright.’ They also say, ‘Why was not this Qur’an revealed to some great man of the two cities.’ Is it they who apportion your Lord’s grace? It is We who deal out to them their livelihood in the life of this world, and raise some in rank above others, so that some of them may take others into their service. Your Lord’s grace is better than all that they can amass”.
(Gold; Al-Zukhruf: 43: 29-32)
Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) worked hard to establish the concept of monotheism. The Arabs at the time when Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) received his message were idolaters. Yet they rightly claimed to descend from Abraham. How did those Arabs, descending from Abraham, receive this principle? They had after all been far removed from it for generations. Indeed, they had forgotten Abraham’s faith to the extent that the principle of God’s oneness was alien to them, viewed as exceedingly singular. They gave the Prophet preaching it, a very bad reception, judging the divine message by earthly standards. Hence, their criteria were flawed.
Referring to those people present at the time of Qur’anic revelation, the surah says: “I have allowed these people and their forefathers to enjoy their lives freely until the truth has come to them through a Messenger who makes things clear.” It is as though the surah is saying: ‘Let us not talk about Abraham, for these people have no relation to him. We will discuss their situation specifically, which has no relevance to Abraham and what he advocated. God says that He allowed these people and their ancestors to enjoy life, providing them with much, and allowing them a long life, until the truth came to them in the shape of the Qur’an, and there came to them a Messenger who stated things clearly. Nevertheless, “Now that the truth has come to them, they say, ‘This is all sorcery, and we reject it outright.’”
The truth, which is always clearly manifest, cannot be confused with sorcery. What they said was conjecture and they were the first to know that it was false. The elders of the Quraysh could not have been blind to the truth of the message of the Qur’an, yet they aimed to deceive the masses: first by alleging that it was sorcery and secondly by reaffirming their rejection of it: “This is all sorcery, and we reject it outright.” In this way, they sought to impress the masses by showing themselves to be confident of what they said. Like all who are deluded, the masses would then follow them. What the Quraysh elders feared most was that they might lose their influence over people. Should the people see the truth of the principle of God’s oneness, no leader would have any influence except within the framework of worshipping God alone. The Qur’an describes their confused values and standards as they objected to the choice of Muhammad (Pbuh) as the one to bring them light and the message of the truth: “They also say: Why was not this Qur’an revealed to some great man of the two cities?” The two cities they referred to were Makkah and Taif. The Prophet belonged to the most distinguished family in the clan of Hashim of the Quraysh tribe, which were the elite among Arabs. He was also known to be a man of high principles and fine manners, even before he was chosen as God’s Messenger. However, he was not a tribal chief, while his environment placed much importance on such considerations. Hence their objection: “Why was not this Qur’an revealed to some great man of the two cities?”
God certainly knows best whom to entrust with His message.
He chose the man whom He knew to be best suited to the task. Limitless is God in His glory! He chose a man whose paramount qualities were his morality and dedication, both of which are part of the nature and essence of the Islamic message. For the delivery of His message, He chose neither a tribal chief nor a man of wealth or social influence. This because, He did not wish any earthly value to cast a shadow over the message bestowed from on high. It should neither be adorned with an earthly jewel nor be influenced by any alien effect. Thus, no one would embrace it to achieve ambition, and no one would seek it for unfair gain.
With their narrow view of worldly pleasures and lack of awareness of the nature of the divine message, the Arabs objected to the choice of Muhammad as God’s Messenger, suggesting that a recognized leader of either of the two cities would have been preferable. The surah denounces their objections and reminds them of how God bestows His grace on whomever He chooses of His servants. It shows the flaw inherent in their concepts which confuse worldly values with divine ones. It also makes clear to them how their values score in God’s accurate measure: “Is it they who apportion your Lord’s grace? It is We who deal out to them their livelihood in the life of this world, and raise some in rank above others, so that some of them may take others into their service. Your Lord’s grace is better than all that they can amass.”