Today mankind desperately needs this message to save themselves from the abyss of misery and worry in which they are sinking.
Indeed, Allah bestowed a great favour on the believers when he sent them a messenger from among themselves, to recite to them His revelations, and to purify them, and to teach them the Book and wisdom, whereas previously they were surely in plain error.
(The House of Imran, Aal Imran: 3:164)
Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) concentrated on the practical meaning of purification and he accomplished this in the lives of the believers. The message of the Prophet has purified the concepts and practices of his followers to set them on the right course acceptable to Islam. The Islamic message has had practical effects on the lives of the Arabs. This enables us to appreciate the magnitude of the great favour Allah has bestowed on humanity by sending his last Messenger Muhammad (Pbuh).
The Standard Bearers
“And to teach them the Book and wisdom”. Those addressed by this verse were illiterate in every sense of the word. Not only they did not read and write, but their illiteracy was intellectual as well. According to international standards of knowledge, they lagged behind in every field. Their pre-occupation were not of the sort which encouraged or increased knowledge. When they received this message, they experienced a great transformation which made them teach it to the world. It endowed them with great wisdom. They became the standard bearers of an intellectual and social philosophy which was destined to save humanity from the depths of ignorance into which it had sunk.
The same doctrine is about to play the same role again, Allah willing, to save humanity anew from its contemporary ignorance which shares with past forms of ignorance, the same moral and social characteristics as well as the same goals and objectives it sets for human life, despite the great material advances of science and industry and the affluence such advances have brought about.
“Whereas previously they were surely in plain error”. They were certainly in error with regard to concepts and beliefs, goals and objectives, habits and practices, systems and standards, as well as moral and social values. The Arabs addressed for the first time by this verse undoubtedly remembered what their lives were like and fully appreciated the total transformation brought about by Islam. They recognised that without Islam, they would never have attained the high standards to which Islam elevated them. Such a transformation is totally unfamiliar in human history. They recognised that it was through Islam that they moved directly from the tribal stage with all its petty concerns and narrow minded-ness, not merely to become a nation in the fullest sense of the word, but to become, all of a sudden, the nation to lead humanity and to set for it, its ideals and practical systems. They recognized that only through Islam, they acquired their national, cultural and intellectual character.
Happiness of Man
Most importantly, Islam gave them their human character which elevated them to a position of honour through Allah’s grace. They established their whole life on the basis of this honour and subsequently, imparted it to the world and taught it how to respect man and to give him the position of honour Allah has given him. In this, they were the leaders. There was no one ahead of them in Arabia or anywhere else. They also realized that only through Islam, they had a message to present to mankind. It involves a doctrine and a system to mould human life. All these are basic essentials for the existence of a nation which wants to play an important role on life’s stage. The Islamic faith and its concepts of life and existence and its law and regulation of human life and its practical code which ensures the happiness of man were the credentials which the Arabs presented to the world and by which they earned the respect and assumed the leadership of mankind. Neither at present nor in future, will they ever have any other credentials. They have no message other than Islam to give them a position in the world. The choice they have to face is either to be the standard bearers of the message of Islam and that will earn them recognition and honour, or to abandon it and go back to their earlier position when no one recognized them. The Arabs should ask themselves what they can give to humanity when they abandon the message of Islam. Do they offer any great achievement in literature and arts? Many nations are far ahead of them in these fields. Nations of the world will not wait for any Arab genius to make his contribution because the need for such a contribution is not felt by anyone. Can they offer any great industrial advances to win the respect of the world and to compete in international markets? Many a nation has taken a lead over the Arabs in this respect as well. Or can they offer any social, economic or organizational philosophy of their own? Such philosophies, with varying practical effects, are abundant in our world. What can then the Arabs give to mankind in order to win a leading position which commands respect and demonstrates their excellence? They can offer nothing except their great message and unique system. This is the great favour which Allah has bestowed on them and favoured them with being its standard bearers. It is the message with which Allah saved mankind from ignorance.
Abyss of Misery and Worry
Today mankind desperately needs this message to save themselves from the abyss of misery and worry in which they are sinking. This message is the identity card of the Arabs which they presented to the world in the past and commanded its respect. They can present it anew in order to save themselves and save the world. Every great nation has a message and the greatness of the nation is commensurate with the greatness of its message and system. The Arabs have this great message in their custody. They are its standard bearers, while other nations are their partners in it. What devil turns them away from their great role and their infinite wealth?
The favour Allah has bestowed on this nation by sending them a Messenger from among themselves and by the message he conveyed to them is very great indeed. Only a wicked satan tries to turn them away from it. It is their duty to chase satan and resist his temptation.