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The Islamic Shari‘ah of Preaching: (Preaching of Muhammad (sws))
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi
(Tr. by:Dr. Shehzad Saleem)

An important requirement of religion is that its followers should also continue to urge others to adopt and adhere to it. It is this requirement of religion for which the terms da‘wah (preaching) and tabligh (propagation) are used. We Muslims have always been aware that the radiance of faith and good deeds that we have been blessed with entails that we must also enlighten others about it. It is because of this importance of preaching and propagation that the Almighty has revealed a detailed shari‘ah about it just as He has done so in spheres such as politics, economics and worship besides some others. A study of this shari‘ah shows that the responsibility of preaching has been imposed in distinct categories on the believers according to their various capacities.

For convenience of understanding, the shari‘ah of preaching can be categorized as follows:

i. Preaching of Muhammad (sws)

ii. Preaching of Abraham’s Progeny

iii. Preaching of the Scholars

iv. Preaching of the State

v. Preaching of an Individual

vi. Strategy for Preaching

In the following pages, the shari‘ah of preaching described in the Qur’an is detailed out below:

Preaching of Muhammad (sws)

ياَ أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ إِنَّا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ شَاهِدًا وَمُبَشِّرًا وَنَذِيرًا وَدَاعِيًا إِلَى اللَّهِ بِإِذْنِهِ وَسِرَاجًا مُّنِيرًا (٣٣: ٤٥-٤٦)

O Prophet! We have sent you forth as a witness, a bearer of good tidings, and a warner and as one who shall call men to God by His leave and as a shining lamp for the guidance of mankind. (33:45-46)

The above verses refer to the preaching responsibility of the Prophet Muhammad (sws). It is evident from the Qur’an that all prophets of God were sent to call people to God and to warn and to give glad tidings to them. The Qur’anic words1 كَانَ النَّاسُ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً فَبَعَثَ اللّهُ النَّبِيِّينَ مُبَشِّرِينَ وَمُنذِرِينَ (٢١٣:٢) also mention this fact. From among these anbiya (prophets), those who were given the status of rusul (messengers), their indhar (warning) culminates in shahadah. In the terminology of the Qur’an, shahadah means that the truth is unveiled to people in such a manner that no one is left with an excuse to deny it. The Qur’anic words used are: (٤:١٦٥) لِأَلَّا يَكُونَ لِلنَّاسِ عَلَى اللَّهِ حُجَّةٌ بَعْدَ الرُّسُلِ (so that mankind after the coming of these messengers are left with no excuse against the Almighty, (4:165)). The way this shahadah is established is that the Almighty selects these rusul and then, before the actual Day of reward and punishment, rewards and punishes in this very world people to whom the rusul are sent. People are told that if they honour their covenant with God they will be rewarded in this world and if they dishonour it, they will be punished here. The result of this is that these rusul become a sign of God, and it is as if people see God walking along with the rusul who deliver His verdicts. Moreover, these rusul are directed to propagate the truth and deliver to people the exact guidance of God they have received. This is shahadah, and when it is established on this earth, it becomes a basis for God to deliver His Judgement both in this world and in that to come. Consequently, the Almighty grants dominance to these rusul and punishes those who reject them. The word شَاهِدًا used in the above quoted verses of Surah Ahzab delineates this very status of Prophet Muhammad (sws).

Delivering of warnings and glad tidings by anbiya (prophets) does not require any explanation. However, when rusul (messengers) deliver these warnings and glad tidings then this requires some elaboration because these rusul must also fulfill the responsibility of shahadah.2 As a result of this responsibility, there are certain phases of their preaching endeavour. And there are certain consequences of these phases which are peculiar to these rusul only. This preaching is not related to any other person except these rusul.

In the following paragraphs, these phases are elaborated upon.

Indhar (Warning)

This is the first phase of preaching. Indhar means to warn someone of the evil consequences of something. It is evident from the Qur’an that the rusul of God always warn their people of two punishments: the punishment which those who reject these rusul will face in the Hereafter, and the punishment which they will face in this very world for this very reason. These rusul inform their people that they have been sent in this world to create a miniature Day of Judgement. Once they have revealed the truth to their addressees in a manner that they are left with no excuse to deny it, they will have to face punishment in this very world. Surah Qamar, which belongs to the sixth group of Qur’anic surahs, is the best example of this indhar. Here, after indicating His practice about rusul of Allah and their people, the Almighty has warned: أَكُفَّارُكُمْ خَيْرٌ مِّنْ أُوْلَئِكُمْ أَمْ لَكُم بَرَاءةٌ فِي الزُّبُرِ (٤٣:٥٤) (Are your disbelievers better men then these? Or are you given immunity in the Scriptures? (54:43)). It is evident from the coherence and arrangement of the Qur’an that in the last group of the Qur’an, the six surahs from Surah Mulk (67) to Surah Jinn (72) belong to this phase of preaching. A study of these surahs reveals the tone, style and arguments Messengers of God adopt in this phase. In Surah Qalam, after mentioning the parable of the people of the orchard, while summing up this indhar, the Qur’an says:

كَذَلِكَ الْعَذَابُ وَلَعَذَابُ الْآخِرَةِ أَكْبَرُ لَوْ كَانُوْا يَعْلَمُوْنَ (١٧:٣٣)

[O people of Makkah! you are denying this rasul. So take heed] in such a way shall the punishment come, and the punishment of the Hereafter shall be much greater than this if they only knew. (17-33)

Since the consequences of this indhar have to materialize in this world, hence its addressees are primarily people who wield influence in some form or another. These are the people whose character and conduct the masses follow; their illness or health is instrumental in keeping others ill or healthy; if their intellect is convinced of a certain ideology, it becomes a source for convincing others of this ideology; their material means and resources increases the power wielded by the truth; their mental ability can inspire the intellect of the masses and stir their souls in favour of the message they preach. Such is the influence they exercise that unless the masses are able to see that these people have been intellectually defeated, and their philosophies have been uprooted from their base through sound reasoning and the edifice of their systems of morality and politics is publicly brought down, the masses would not be fully devoted and convinced of the cause of the right message; they would not be able to get out of the whirlpool of their previous views and relieve themselves of indecision; they would also not be able to feel elevated while following the message of truth – the elevation which is necessary to induce in them the courage and strength to break the shackles and hold of the dominant elements of the society who have spun a strong web of influence.

The way this characteristic of indhar becomes evident from the Qur’an is explained thus by Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi:

Abraham foremost called to the truth his family and clan who had the reins of religious leadership. He then called to the truth the king who had the reins of political authority and who thought that he had power over the life and death of his people … The Almighty had directed Moses (sws) to first of all address the Pharaoh … Jesus (sws) foremost called upon the scholars of the Jews. Similarly, the preaching endeavours of the prophets Noah (sws), Hud (sws) and Salih (sws) are all mentioned in the Qur’an. All these prophets began their preaching by calling upon the people who were in authority in their times. They tried to wake up the arrogant peoples of their times from their peaceful slumber and vehemently criticized their views. Finally, Muhammad (sws) was sent and asked to warn his immediate relatives. These relatives were religious and political leaders of the patriarchal polity of Arabia and with this reference morally and politically guided all the people of Arabia.3

The Almighty says:

وَكَذَلِكَ أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ قُرْآنًا عَرَبِيًّا لِّتُنذِرَ أُمَّ الْقُرَى وَمَنْ حَوْلَهَا وَتُنذِرَ يَوْمَ الْجَمْعِ لَا رَيْبَ فِيهِ فَرِيقٌ فِي الْجَنَّةِ وَفَرِيقٌ فِي السَّعِيرِ (٧:٤٢)

And in a similar manner have We revealed to you an Arabic Qur’an that you may warn the mother-city and those who dwell around it and warn them of the day which is sure to come: when one group will go to Paradise and another to Hell. (42:7)

Indhar ‘Am (Open Warning)

This is the second phase of the preaching of a rasul. There is no difference between this phase and the previous one except that in the first preaching is done individually and on a person-to-person basis or in certain select gatherings. However, in this second phase, the Almighty directs his rusul to deliver open warning through whatever means they can use, and whatever extent they can go to, they should in order to openly preach among people. In the preaching endeavours of the rusul, this phase is very tough. The Qur’an has informed us that when this phase came during the preaching of Muhammad (sws), he was told to stand in prayer at night in order to prepare for the hardships of this phase. It was in this phase that Surah Muzzammil was revealed. In this surah, he was directed by the Almighty to recite the Qur’an in a measured tone in the night prayer of tahajjud. He was asked to remember the Almighty in his heart while being fully aware of His attributes and to glorify and praise Him with his tongue as much as he could, and in the loneliness of night fully devote himself to God. The Almighty informed Him the reason for all these directives by saying: إِنَّا سَنُلْقِي عَلَيْكَ قَوْلًا ثَقِيلًا (Because soon We shall lay on you the burden of a heavy word, (73:6)) Consequently, in the next surah, this burden was laid on him:

يَاأَيُّهَا الْمُدَّثِّرُ قُمْ فَأَنذِرْ وَرَبَّكَ فَكَبِّرْ وَثِيَابَكَ فَطَهِّرْ وَالرُّجْزَ فَاهْجُرْ وَلَا تَمْنُنْ تَسْتَكْثِر وَلِرَبِّكَ فَاصْبِرْ(٤٧ :١-٧)

O ye enfolded in your shawl! Arise and give open warning and proclaim the greatness of your Lord only, and cleanse the apparel of your soul and keep away from [this] dirt [of polytheism] and [listen!] Do not discontinue your endeavour regarding it to be enough, and with perseverance wait for the decision of your Lord. (74:1-7)

In this phase too, the rusul address the leaders and rulers of the society; however, since this is done at an intense pace, it also elicits a great reaction – something which is not evident in the first phase. Since those who took lead in professing faith in Muhammad (sws) were generally the youth, the reaction experienced was from their relatives and associates. The leaders of the society reacted once they saw that Muhammad (sws) was becoming influential in the society. Then what they did, and what Muhammad (sws) was directed to do in response is mentioned in the surahs which were revealed in this phase. The following two passages from Surah Yunus give us some idea of this:

وَإِذَا تُتْلَى عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتُنَا بَيِّنَاتٍ قَالَ الَّذِينَ لاَ يَرْجُونَ لِقَاءنَا ائْتِ بِقُرْآنٍ غَيْرِ هَـذَا أَوْ بَدِّلْهُ قُلْ مَا يَكُونُ لِي أَنْ أُبَدِّلَهُ مِن تِلْقَاء نَفْسِي إِنْ أَتَّبِعُ إِلاَّ مَا يُوحَى إِلَيَّ إِنِّي أَخَافُ إِنْ عَصَيْتُ رَبِّي عَذَابَ يَوْمٍ عَظِيمٍ (١٥:١٠)

And when Our clear revelations are recited to them, those who have no hope of meeting Us say to you: “Give us a different Qur’an, or change it a little.” Tell them: “It is not for me to change it of my own accord. I follow only what is revealed to me, for I fear the punishment of a fateful day if I disobey my Lord.” (10:15)

قُلْ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِن كُنتُمْ فِي شَكٍّ مِّن دِينِي فَلاَ أَعْبُدُ الَّذِينَ تَعْبُدُونَ مِن دُونِ اللّهِ وَلَـكِنْ أَعْبُدُ اللّهَ الَّذِي يَتَوَفَّاكُمْ وَأُمِرْتُ أَنْ أَكُونَ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَأَنْ أَقِمْ وَجْهَكَ لِلدِّينِ حَنِيفًا وَلاَ تَكُونَنَّ مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ (١٠: ١٠٤-١٠٥)

Tell them: “You people! If you have any doubts about my religion, then listen that I do not worship those whom you worship beside God. In fact, I worship the God who gives you death and I have been commanded to be among the believers and I have been directed: “Devote yourself fully to the faith in all uprightness and to not be among these idolaters whatsoever.” (10:104-105)

It is at this stage that the rusul are stopped from going after the arrogant among their people, and are directed to primarily concentrate on their followers.

The Qur’anic words are:

فَتَوَلَّ عَنْهُمْ فَمَا أَنتَ بِمَلُومٍ وَذَكِّرْ فَإِنَّ الذِّكْرَى تَنفَعُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ (٥١: ٥٤-٥٥)

For this reason, ignore them; now you shall incur no blame. Keeping reminding them, for reminding is beneficial to the believers. (51:54-55)

عَبَسَ وَتَوَلَّى أَنْ جَاءَهُ الْأَعْمَى وَمَا يُدْرِيكَ لَعَلَّهُ يَزَّكَّى أَوْ يَذَّكَّرُ فَتَنْفَعَهُ الذِّكْرَى أَمَّا مَنْ اسْتَغْنَى فَأَنْتَ لَهُ تَصَدَّى وَمَا عَلَيْكَ أَلَّا يَزَّكَّى وَأَمَّا مَنْ جَاءَكَ يَسْعَى وَهُوَ يَخْشَى فَأَنْتَ عَنْهُ تَلَهَّى كَلَّا إِنَّهَا تَذْكِرَةٌ فَمَنْ شَاءَ ذَكَرَهُ فِي صُحُفٍ مُكَرَّمَةٍ مَرْفُوعَةٍ مُطَهَّرَةٍ بِأَيْدِي سَفَرَةٍ كِرَامٍ بَرَرَةٍ (٨٠: ١-١٦)

He frowned and turned away – [this rasul of Ours] – because there came to him that blind man [interrupting his meeting with the leadership of the Quraysh]. And what do you know [O Muhammad!] that he might have sought to reform [himself] or might have heard the admonition [when you delivered it] and might have gained from this admonition. And these who show indifference, you go after them even though you are not responsible if they are not reformed; and he who comes to you with zeal and also fears [Allah], you neglect him. Certainly not! [there is no need to go after them]. This is but a reminder so whoever wishes, can be reminded through it [and whoever wishes can turn a deaf ear towards it] -- [It is set down] on honoured pages, exalted and untouched, in the custody of scribes, honourable and faithful. (80:1-16)

Itmam al-Hujjah

This is the third phase. By this phase, the truth has become so evident to the addressees that they do not have any excuse except stubbornness to deny it. In religious parlance, this is called itmam al-hujjah. Obviously, in it besides the style adopted and the arguments presented, the very person of the rasul plays a role in achieving this end. The stage is reached that the matter becomes as evident as the sun shining in the open sky. Consequently, at this instance, a rasul to a great extent communicates the fate of the addressees to them, and his preaching takes the form of a final warning. Both these aspects are evident in Surah Fil and Surah Quraysh, the two surahs which were revealed in this phase of itmam al-hujjah of the Prophet Muhammad’s (sws) preaching endeavour:

أَلَمْ تَرَى كَيْفَ فَعَلَ رَبُّكَ بِأَصْحَابِ الْفِيلِ أَلَمْ يَجْعَلْ كَيْدَهُمْ فِي تَضْلِيلٍ وَأَرْسَلَ عَلَيْهِمْ طَيْرًا أَبَابِيلَ تَرْمِيهِمْ بِحِجَارَةٍ مِنْ سِجِّيلٍ فَجَعَلَهُمْ كَعَصْفٍ مَأْكُولٍ (١٠٥: ١-٤)

Have you not seen how your Lord dealt with the people of the elephant? Did He not foil their scheme? And sent down against them swarms of birds? [Such that] you pelted them with stones of baked clay, and He rendered them as straw eaten away. (105:1-4)

لِإِيلَافِ قُرَيْشٍ إِيلَافِهِمْ رِحْلَةَ الشِّتَاءِ وَالصَّيْفِ فَلْيَعْبُدُوا رَبَّ هَذَا الْبَيْتِ الَّذِي أَطْعَمَهُمْ مِنْ جُوعٍ وَآمَنَهُمْ مِنْ خَوْفٍ (١٠٦: ١-٤)

On account of the association the Quraysh – the association [in the peaceful atmosphere of the Baytullah] they have with the winter and summer travels, they should worship the Lord of this House who [in these barren mountains] fed them in hunger and rendered them secure from fear. (106:1-4)

A little deliberation shows that the first surah warns the Quraysh to remain aware of the wrath of the Almighty who, not very long ago, had destroyed the enemies of the Baytullah in front of their very eyes. If the Quraysh become His enemies, they too will have to face the same fate. The second surah urges the Quraysh that it is the Lord of the Baytullah who has blessed them with the favours of peace and sustenance since they are its custodians. This magnanimity entails that they should now adopt a submissive attitude towards Him.

This then is the style adopted by the rusul in this phase.

Hijrah and Bara’ah (Migration and Acquittal)

This is the fourth phase. When the rusul of God have done all what they can in preaching people and when they have revealed the truth to them to the extent that no one is left with an excuse to deny it, then their preaching enters this phase. In this phase, a charge sheet is handed out to the leaders of their nation with full clarity and they are intimated that their time is now up. Hence, they will now be exterminated from the land. Along with this, the rasul is given glad tidings of help and support of the Almighty. He and his followers will be saved, and in the very land in which they were helpless and weak, they will be dominant. So they should get ready to declare those who have denied as disbelievers and announce their acquittal from their views and ideologies.

The way all this ensued in the preaching of Prophet Muhammad (sws), is evident from the following surahs of the Qur’an:

أَرَأَيْتَ الَّذِي يُكَذِّبُ بِالدِّينِ فَذَلِكَ الَّذِي يَدُعُّ الْيَتِيمَ وَلَا يَحُضُّ عَلَى طَعَامِ الْمِسْكِينِ فَوَيْلٌ لِلْمُصَلِّينَ الَّذِينَ هُمْ عَنْ صَلَاتِهِمْ سَاهُونَ الَّذِينَ هُمْ يُرَاءُونَ وَيَمْنَعُونَ الْمَاعُونَ (١٠٧: ١-٧)

Have you seen the one who denies reward and punishment [O Prophet!]. He it is who shoves the orphan and urges not the feeding of the poor. So woe be to these [priests of the Baytullah] who pray being unmindful of the essence] of their prayers; who put up a pretentious display [of worship], and are not even prepared to lend ordinary items of common use to others. (107:1-7)

إِنَّا أَعْطَيْنَاكَ الْكَوْثَرَ فَصَلِّ لِرَبِّكَ وَانْحَرْ إِنَّ شَانِئَكَ هُوَ الْأَبْتَرُ (١٠٨: ١-٣)

Upon you [O Prophet!] have We bestowed this abundance of good [this House of Ours]. So pray only for your Almighty and offer sacrifice only for Him. Indeed, it is this enemy of yours who is rootless: none of his followers will remain. (108:1-3)

قُلْ يَاأَيُّهَا الْكَافِرُونَ لَا أَعْبُدُ مَا تَعْبُدُونَ وَلَا أَنْتُمْ عَابِدُونَ مَا أَعْبُدُ وَلَا أَنَا عَابِدٌ مَا عَبَدتُّمْ وَلَا أَنْتُمْ عَابِدُونَ مَا أَعْبُدُ لَكُمْ دِينُكُمْ وَلِيَ دِينِ(١٠٩: ١-٦)

Declare [O Prophet!]: “O Disbelievers! I shall worship not that which you worship. Nor will you ever worship [alone] that which I worship. Nor ever before this was I prepared to worship that which you worshipped. Nor were you ever prepared to worship that which I have been worshipping. [So now] for you your religion and for me, mine.” (109:1-6)

إِذَا جَاءَ نَصْرُ اللَّهِ وَالْفَتْحُ وَرَأَيْتَ النَّاسَ يَدْخُلُونَ فِي دِينِ اللَّهِ أَفْوَاجًا فَسَبِّحْ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّكَ وَاسْتَغْفِرْهُ إِنَّهُ كَانَ تَوَّابًا(١١٠: ١-٣)

When comes the help of God and that victory [which We have promised you O Prophet!] and you see men embrace the religion of God in multitudes, extol His glory while being thankful to Him and seek His forgiveness. For, indeed, He is ever disposed to mercy. (110:1-3)

After this, a rasul is directed to migrate. It is evident from the Qur’an that it is on the bidding of the Almighty that this migration takes place. No Messenger is allowed to exercise his own judgement in this regard. The reason is that it is not possible for a person to have knowledge of the fact that the truth has been completely communicated to their people and that now there is no possibility of any positive response from them. Only God can have this knowledge. Consequently, when angels came to the celebrated Prophet Abraham (sws) to communicate this decision of the Almighty to him, he contended that they had come before time and argued with the Almighty as depicted in the Qur’an (11:74-76), and when Jonah (sws) decided on his own to migrate from his people, the Almighty reprimanded him (37:139-148). It became evident from his nation’s professing faith once he returned to them that only Almighty knows when someone can profess faith. The Qur’an refers to his example and cautions the Prophet Muhammad (sws) to exercise patience and forbearance while waiting for God’s decision in this regard. He cannot of his own form the opinion that he has fully discharged his duty and he can leave his people. It is essential that he must continue to discharge this duty until the Almighty communicates His decision to him that the truth has been unveiled to the people and that he can migrate from his people.

Reward and Punishment

This is the final phase. It is in this phase that the divine court of justice descends and is set up on this earth. Punishment is meted out to the rejecters of the truth and those who have accepted it are rewarded, and in this way a miniature Day of Judgement is witnessed on the face of the earth. The history of the preaching endeavours of the rusul related in the Qur’an shows that at this stage generally either of the two situations arise.

Firstly, a rasul only has a few companions and there is no place available to him for migration.

Secondly, his companions are in substantial numbers and the Almighty also furnishes a place to them where they can migrate and be bestowed with political authority.

In both these situations, the established practice of the Almighty manifests itself – the practice which the Qur’an refers to in the following words:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يُحَادُّونَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ أُوْلَئِكَ فِي الأَذَلِّينَ كَتَبَ اللَّهُ لَأَغْلِبَنَّ أَنَا وَرُسُلِي إِنَّ اللَّهَ قَوِيٌّ عَزِيزٌ (٥٨: ٢٠-٢١)

Indeed those who are opposing Allah and His Messenger are bound to be humiliated. The Almighty has ordained: “I and My Messengers shall always prevail.” Indeed Allah is Mighty and Powerful. (58:20-21)

In the first situation, divine punishment descends upon those who have rejected the rusul in the form of raging storms, cyclones and other calamities, which completely destroy them. It is evident from the Qur’an that the people of Noah (sws), Lot (sws), Salih (sws) and Shu‘ayb (sws) besides others met with this dreadful fate. The only exception in this case were the Israelites. Since they primarily adhered to monotheism, instead of annihilation, the punishment of subjugation was meted out to them once the Prophet Jesus (sws) left them. In the second case, a rasul and his companions subdue their nation by force.

In this situation, obviously the people are given some more time. During this time, the rasul proceeds with the task of unveiling the truth before people of the land he is supposed to migrate to. This unveiling of the truth continues till these people are not left with any excuse to deny it. Simultaneously, he prepares and instructs his followers and cleanses them and isolates them so that they are ready to participate in the battle between good and evil. He consolidates his political authority in this land to the extent that with its help he can exterminate the rejecters and achieve dominance for the believers. The net result of this process is that the followers and opponents of a rasul are totally distinguished from one another to the extent that as per the established practice of God each group can be observed with its complete characteristics. It is evident from the Qur’an that in each group there are three categories of people. Among the opponents are:


i. The Mu‘anidin4

ii. The Mutarabbisin5

iii. The Mughafillin6


Among the followers, the following three categories can be classified:

i. The Sabiqunal Awwalun7

ii. The Mutabi‘un al-Ihsan8

iii. The Du‘afa and the Munafiqun9


The Mu‘anidin (the antagonists) are people who openly and vehemently counter the preaching of a rasul once they see that it is becoming influential. The motive of their animosity is their prejudice for their traditional views as well as jealousies and vested interests. All these three motives are equal as far as their animosity is concerned; however, they are distinct from one another as far as their reality is concerned.

The first motive is found in people who are very sincere with traditional views and are the true servers of the system they have lived in. They consider the preaching of a rasul to be an open challenge to their system and the traditions of their forefathers which are present in the background of this system. Since their opposition is based on nationalistic emotions, it is without malice and meanness. Consequently, their opposition like that of Abu Jahal has much to do with their nationalistic pride, and if they profess faith, then like ‘Umar (rta) and Hamzah (rta) they profess faith with all their heart and all their might.

The second motive entices those people to animosity who are and have remained leaders in the current system whether in religious or political capacity. They have become so used to leadership and control that it becomes impossible for them to accept the leadership and guidance of a rasul and they also want the truth to remain subservient to them in all circumstances. It is such people who in the time of the Prophet Muhammad (sws) declared that if God had to reveal His guidance to someone why did He not reveal it to some leader of Makkah and Ta’if10 It was precisely for this reason that the Jews had opposed Muhammad (sws).11 In the times of the Prophet Jesus (sws), the religious chiefs of the Israelites, their scholars and the Pharisees were deprived of faith for this very reason, and the following words of Jesus (sws) were verified: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God”.12 Such people initially ignore the preaching of the rusul considering it to be worthless; however, once they see that this preaching is influencing the society the fire of jealousy ignites in them, and then they do everything jealous normally people do against their opponents.

The third motive stirs people who are not able to see beyond their personal interests. They have become used to watching their own interests and demanding privileges and deciding what is good and what is evil with reference to themselves only. It is because of this moral degradation and meanness that they can only take hold of things which are of benefit to them; it becomes impossible for them to accept the calls of the rusul and pass through tests which the followers of the rusul have to bear. In the times of the Prophet Muhammad (sws), the attitude of Abu Lahab is a prominent example of a person who opposed a rasul because of such a motive.

The Mutarabbisin or those among the opponents who have adopted the policy of “wait and see” are the ones who acknowledge the veracity of a rasul’s teaching; however, instead of accepting the truth simply because it is the truth they prefer to wait and see what the future has in store for this preaching. Consequently, they are not very active in opposing their rasul but always put their weight with his enemies. Day and night they are busy in trying to strike some sort of a compromise between truth and evil and so that they are not burdened in making a decision for themselves. In times of trials and tribulations, they may utter a good wish for the rasul, in their hearts be desirous of the rasul’s success, may muster the courage to help him financially or morally; however, accepting him in these times and bearing hardships for him is in no way possible for him.

The Mughafillin (the ignorant among the masses) are those who are mentally and financially subservient to the prevailing system and in every matter obedient to the religious and political pundits of the time. They thus follow the dictates of these pundits with regard to the preaching of a rasul and are at their obedient service at all times. This is their typical attitude in the first phase. However, once their pundits start to openly challenge the preaching endeavour of the rasul, the difference between them and these pundits in their character as well as the nature of arguments presented becomes prominent. At that time, they become distrustful of their pundits and leave them and direct their attentions to the rasul. Consequently, this change in them sometimes induces some bold and lofty character individuals among them to take the initiative and join the ranks of the rasul one after the other.

Among the followers, the al-Sabiqun al-Awwalun are the ones who take lead in supporting the cause of their rasul. They profess faith in him as soon as they hear his calls and irrespective of the consequences are ready to sacrifice whatever they have for this cause. These are people who have a noble nature, possess an active intellect and a vibrant heart. Their eyes really see and their ears really hear. They are the ones who analyze things in the light of sense and reason and when they are convinced of something they openly acknowledge it irrespective of any bias or prejudice as well as any danger which its acceptance may entail. They are the cream of a nation as far as character and morals are concerned, and their towering figures stand out among the masses. The call of the truth is not alien to them. It is in fact the call of their hearts, the voice of their conscience and the chant of their souls. They only await someone to call them to the truth after which they present themselves to serve him with all their mind and heart. Consequently, when the calls of a rasul reach them, they neither present any excuse nor look at his lineage; they neither indulge in the analysis of the past and present nor ridicule and censure him; they neither ask for miracles nor get involved in hairsplitting and needless conversation. In fact, they come forward with full vigour and respond to the call as if it was coming from within them. With great will and determination they stand by the side of the rasul, and possess the determination and will to never turn back even if their limbs are cut to pieces.

The Muttabi‘un bi al-Ihsan (the righteous) are people who are inspired by the al-Sabiqun al-Awwalun into accepting the truth. Although they are not as intellectually and morally superior however they are the most outstanding in the second category of people. If they do not take the initiative in accepting the truth like the al-Sabiqun al-Awwalun, it is also not possible for them to stay behind once they witness the determination and outstanding behaviour of their forerunners, their initiative in accepting the truth and bearing with perseverance the difficulties in this cause. Although the sound arguments of the truth preached to them may fail to influence them much, the commitment and devotion of the al-Sabiqun al-Awwalun and their great deeds – soon or late – often win them over. However, a rasul has to make some effort in their regard. Consequently, if the doubts which arise about the truth in their minds and those which are arise in them due to implantation from others are all cleared up and some examples of grit and determination are set before them then the rust which has clung to their nature is washed away. After this, if the grace of God is there to guide and propel them to the truth, they become the companions of the rasul and try to remain by his side with full strength and sincerity in all trials and tribulations that they encounter.

The Du‘afa and the Munafiqun (The Weak and the Hypocrites) only have an apparent resemblance. As far as their inner intentions are concerned, they are very distinct from one another. Thus their characteristics should be understood separately.

The Weak are people who accept the call of a rasul at some point of time; in fact, at times in the very first phase. It is their intention that they fulfill its requirement as long as they live; however, since they have a weak will-power they stumble and then recover again and again. However, they have the ability that every time that they fall they atone for their sins through repentance and continue their journey on the right path come what may.

Hypocrites, on the other hand, are people who sometimes because of a transient influence and sometimes because of a well-planned prank become associates of a rasul. In the first case, they become an embodiment of مُّذَبْذَبِينَ بَيْنَ ذَلِكَ لاَ إِلَى هَـؤُلاء وَلاَ إِلَى هَـؤُلاء (Wavering between this and that and belonging neither to these nor those, (4:143)), and in the second case they are like enemy agents in the ranks of the Muslims. Consequently, their character is no different from that of a typical agent.

When among the addressees of a rasul, his followers and his opponents are fully distinguished from one another and they stand out separately, and the rasul and his companions are fully in a position for an armed offensive, the court of divine justice gives its ruling. Following is the way this verdict was declared in the matter of the Prophet Muhammad (sws):

1. All the antagonists and adversaries from among the leadership of the Quraysh were killed in the battle of Badr. It was only Abu Lahab who did not take part in the battle in an effort to save himself from torment. The Qur’an (111:1-3) had already declared that he would die together with his supporters and comrades. Consequently, this prediction was fulfilled word for word and this leader of the Banu Hashim was killed by plague. And such was the condition of his dead body that no one came near till three days after his death. Ultimately, his body got decomposed and a stinking smell started to come out from it. Eventually, a hole was dug and his corpse was shoved into it through sticks.

2. After the battles of Badr and Uhud, once the Muslims had been separated from the ranks of the disbelievers and took the shape of a distinct group, an ultimatum was given to the common masses of the Idolaters of Arabia as well as the ones among them who had adopted a policy of “wait and see”. They were given four months to mend their ways after which they would be humiliated and disgraced and would not be able to find a way out in this world.13

3. At the hajj-i akbar offered in the 9th hijrah, it was declared that once the sacred months pass, Muslims will kill these Idolaters wherever they find them except if they accept faith, adhere to the prayer and pay the zakah. Only those people would be an exception to this declaration who have treaties with the Prophet Muhammad (sws). Muslims were told that they will honour these treaties till they expire. It was obvious from this that once these expire, these people too would have to meet the same fate as had been destined and declared for the Idolaters.14

4. It was directed that all the groups of the People of the Book would pay jizyah and live in subjugation to the Muslims. They were further told that if this decision of God and His Prophet Muhammad (sws) was not acceptable for them, they would be massacred by Muhammad (sws) and his Companions (rta).15

5. The Hypocrites were warned that it would be better for them if they repented, otherwise they too would have to encounter the fate which was destined for the rejecters.16

6. Those among the followers of the Prophet Muhammad (sws) who were sincere and were guilty of some blemishes were forgiven after some punishment,17 and the weak among these followers were given the glad tidings that they if they repent and reform themselves and remain on this commitment, then hopefully the Almighty would forgive them too.18

7. The reins of political leadership of Arabia and the custodianship of the Baytullah were given in the hands of the Muslims who had taken lead in accepting Islam. In this way, the following promise of the Almighty was fulfilled:

وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِنكُمْ وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ لَيَسْتَخْلِفَنَّهُم فِي الْأَرْضِ كَمَا اسْتَخْلَفَ الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ وَلَيُمَكِّنَنَّ لَهُمْ دِينَهُمُ الَّذِي ارْتَضَى لَهُمْ وَلَيُبَدِّلَنَّهُم مِّن بَعْدِ خَوْفِهِمْ أَمْنًا يَعْبُدُونَنِي لَا يُشْرِكُونَ بِي شَيْئًا وَمَن كَفَرَ بَعْدَ ذَلِكَ فَأُوْلَئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ (٥٥:٢٤)

God has promised those of you who professed belief and did good deeds that He would grant them political authority in the land the way He granted political authority to those who were before them and He will strongly establish their religion He chose for them, and replace their fear by peace. They will worship Me and serve none besides Me, and he who again rejects after this will indeed be among the disobedient. (24:55)







1. Mankind was once one community. [Then differences surfaced between them]. So God sent forth prophets as bearers of glad tidings and as warners. (2:213)

2. Rusul are a higher cadre among the anbiya.

3. Amin Ahsan Islahi, Da‘wat-i Din awr us ka Tariqah kar, 1st ed. (Lahore, Faran Foundation, 1989), 49.

4. The antagonists.

5. Those who have adopted the policy of “wait and see”.

6.The ignorant among the masses.

7.Those who take lead in supporting the cause of a rasul.

8. The righteous, although do not possess the initiative of the first group.

9. The weak and hypocrites.

10. See: The Qur’an, 43:31.

11. See: The Qur’an, 2:109.

12. See: Matthew, 19:24.

13. The Qur’an (9:1-2).

14. The Qur’an (9:3-5).

15. The Qur’an (9:29).

16. The Qur’an (9:74, 101).

17. The Qur’an (9:118)

18. The Qur’an (9:102)

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