The Quran

Commentaries for 16.43

An Nahl (The bee) - النحل

16.43 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(And We sent not (as Our messengers) before thee) O Muhammad (other than men) human beings like you (whom We inspired) with commands and prohibitions and signs. (Ask the followers of the Remembrance) the followers of the Torah and the Gospel (if ye know not!) that Allah always sent human messengers.
16.43 Asrar - Kashf Al-Asrar
Ask the folk of remembrance if you do not know.
This alludes to the fact that knowledge of the Shariah is to be learned and is not correct without an intermediary and teacher. Anyone who fancies that the intermediary is useless in knowledge of the Shariah has no portion of the religion.
In short, know that knowledge is of three sorts: knowledge of the Shariah, knowledge of the Tariqah, and knowledge of the Haqiqah. The Shariah is to be learned, the Tariqah is to be practiced, and the Haqiqah is to be found. Concerning knowledge of the Shariah He says, “Ask the folk of remembrance.” Concerning knowledge of the Tariqah He says, “Seek the means of approach to Him” [5:35]. Concerning knowledge of the Haqiqah He says, “We taught him knowledge from Us” [18:65]. He turned knowledge of the Shariah over to a teacher, He turned knowledge of the Tariqah over to a pir, and He turned knowledge of the Haqiqah over to Himself.
When someone obtains these three knowledges, a light shines in his heart through which he recognizes the essence of prophethood. When he is given this recognition, he finds this eminence and special favor from the threshold of prophethood: “The men of knowledge are the heirs to the prophets.”
16.43 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
And We did not send before you anything other than men, to whom We revealed, and [sent] not angels: ‘So ask the followers of the Remembrance, those knowledgeable in the Torah and the Gospels; if you do not know’, that, then they know it, and you are more likely to believe them than the believers are to believe Muhammad (s),
16.43-44 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
Only Human Messengers have been Sent
Ad-Dahhak said, reporting from Ibn `Abbas: "When Allah sent Muhammad as a Messenger, the Arabs, or some of them, denied him and said, `Allah is too great to send a human being as a Messenger.' Then Allah revealed:
أَكَانَ لِلنَّاسِ عَجَبًا أَنْ أَوْحَيْنَآ إِلَى رَجُلٍ مِّنْهُمْ أَنْ أَنذِرِ النَّاسَ
(Is it a wonder to people that We have sent Our Inspiration to a man from among themselves (saying): "Warn mankind...'') and He said,
وَمَآ أَرْسَلْنَا مِن قَبْلِكَ إِلاَّ رِجَالاً نُّوحِى إِلَيْهِمْ فَاسْأَلُواْ أَهْلَ الذِّكْرِ إِن كُنْتُم لاَ تَعْلَمُونَ
(And We sent not (as Our Messengers) before you (O Muhammad) any but men, whom We sent Revelation. So ask Ahl Adh-Dhikr, if you know not.). meaning, (ask) the people of the previous Books, were the Messengers that were sent to them humans or angels If they were angels, then you have the right to find this strange, but if they were human, then you have no grounds to deny that Muhammad is a Messenger. Allah says:
وَمَآ أَرْسَلْنَا مِن قَبْلِكَ إِلاَّ رِجَالاً نُّوحِى إِلَيْهِمْ مِّنْ أَهْلِ الْقُرَى
(And We sent not before you (as Messengers) any but men to whom We revealed, from among the people of townships. ) 12:109 and not from among the people of heaven as you say.'' It was reported by Mujahid from Ibn `Abbas that what is meant by Ahl Adh-Dhikr is the People of the Book. This is as Allah says:
أَوْ يَكُونَ لَكَ بَيْتٌ مِّن زُخْرُفٍ أَوْ تَرْقَى فِى السَّمَآءِ وَلَن نُّؤْمِنَ لِرُقِيِّكَ حَتَّى تُنَزِّلَ عَلَيْنَا كِتَابًا نَّقْرَءُهُ قُلْ سُبْحَـنَ رَبِّى هَلْ كُنتُ إَلاَّ بَشَرًا رَّسُولاً - وَمَا مَنَعَ النَّاسَ أَن يُؤْمِنُواْ إِذْ جَآءَهُمُ الْهُدَى إِلاَّ أَن قَالُواْ أَبَعَثَ اللَّهُ بَشَرًا رَّسُولاً
(Say: "Glorified be my Lord! Am I anything but a man, sent as a Messenger'' And nothing prevented men from believing when the guidance came to them, except that they said: "Has Allah sent a man as (His) Messenger'') (17:93-94)
وَمَآ أَرْسَلْنَا قَبْلَكَ مِنَ الْمُرْسَلِينَ إِلاَّ إِنَّهُمْ لَيَأْكُلُونَ الطَّعَامَ وَيَمْشُونَ فِى الاٌّسْوَاقِ
(And We never sent before you (O Muhammad) any of the Messengers but verily, they ate food and walked in the markets.) (25:20)
وَمَا جَعَلْنَـهُمْ جَسَداً لاَّ يَأْكُلُونَ الطَّعَامَ وَمَا كَانُواْ خَـلِدِينَ
(And We did not create them (the Messengers, with) bodies that did not eat food, nor were they immortals.)(21:8)
قُلْ مَا كُنتُ بِدْعاً مِّنَ الرُّسُلِ
(Say (O Muhammad ): "I am not a new thing among the Messengers. '') 46:9,
قُلْ إِنَّمَآ أَنَاْ بَشَرٌ مِّثْلُكُمْ يُوحَى إِلَىَّ
(Say (O Muhammad): "I am only a man like you. It has been revealed to me.'') 18:110 Then Allah informs those who doubt that a Messenger can be a human to ask those who have knowledge of the previous Scriptures about the Prophets who came before: were their Prophets humans or angels Then Allah mentions that He has sent them,
بِالْبَيِّنَـتِ
(with clear signs), meaning proof and evidence, and
وَالزُّبُرِ
(and Books Zubur), meaning Scriptures. Ibn `Abbas, Mujahid, Ad-Dahhak and others said: Zubur is the plural of Zabur, and the Arabs say, Zaburtul-Kitab meaning, "I wrote the book.'' Allah says:
وَكُلُّ شَىْءٍ فَعَلُوهُ فِى الزُّبُرِ
(And everything they have done is noted in (their) Records (of deeds) Zubur) (54:52)
وَلَقَدْ كَتَبْنَا فِى الزَّبُورِ مِن بَعْدِ الذِّكْرِ أَنَّ الاٌّرْضَ يَرِثُهَا عِبَادِىَ الصَّـلِحُونَ
(And indeed We have written in Az-Zabur after the Dhikr that My righteous servant shall inherit the land (i.e. the land of Paradise).) (21:105) Then Allah says:
وَأَنزَلْنَا إِلَيْكَ الذِّكْرَ
(And We have also revealed the Dhikr to you), meaning the Qur'an,
لِتُبَيِّنَ لِلنَّاسِ مَا نُزِّلَ إِلَيْهِمْ
(so that you may clearly explain to men what was revealed to them,) meaning, sent down from their Lord, because you know the meaning of what Allah has revealed to you, and because of your understanding and adherence to it, and because We know that you are the best of creation and the leader of the Children of Adam. So that you may explain in detail what has been mentioned in brief, and explain what is not clear.
وَلَعَلَّهُمْ يَتَفَكَّرُونَ
(so that perhaps they may reflect.) meaning, they should examine themselves and be guided by it, so that they may attain the victory of salvation in this world and the next.
16.43-44 Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
This is the answer to the objection of the mushriks of Makkah (which has not been cited here j that they could not believe that Muhammad (may Allah's peace be upon him), was a Prophet of God, because he was a human being like them. They have been told that the same objection had been raised against all the Prophets who came before him.
"....people who possess Admonition" are the scholars of the people of the Books and others, who, though not scholars in the strict sense had sufficient knowledge of the teachings of the revealed Books and were acquainted with the stories of the former Prophets.
In this connection, it is worthwhile to note that this duty of making plain and explaining the teachings of the Book' was to be performed by Prophet not only by word of mouth but also practically. It was required that he should organize, under his own guidance, a Muslim Community and establish it in accordance with the principles of the Book. This duty of the Holy Prophet has been stated here especially to show the wisdom of sending a man as a Messenger, for, otherwise the Book could have been sent through the angels or could have been printed and sent directly to each man. But in this way; that purpose for which Allah in His Wisdom and Bounty and Providence designed to send the Book could not have been served. For, that purpose demanded that the Book should be Brought by a perfect man, who should present it piece by piece, explain its meaning, remove the difficulties and doubts, answer objections, etc., and above all, he should show towards those who rejected and opposed it that kind of attitude which is worthy of the bearer of this Book. On the other hand, he should guide those who believed in it in every aspect of life and set before them his own excellent pattern of life. Then he should train them individually and collectively on the principles of the Book; so as to make them a model society for the rest of mankind.
Let us now consider this verse (43) from another point of view. Just as it cuts at the root of the argumentation of those who rejected the Creed that a human Prophet could bring the Book, in the same way, it repudiates the view of those who plead that the Book should be accepted without any exposition of it from the Prophet. This latter view is contradictory to this verse, whatever be the position taken by its exponents. They might either be of the opinion that (a) the Prophet did not give any explanation of the Book he presented or that (b) the only acceptable thing is the Book and not any "Exposition" thereof by the Prophet, or that (c) now the Book alone suffices us, for its "Exposition" by the Prophet has lost its utility or that (d) now the Book alone is authentic for the "Exposition" by the Prophet has ceased to exist, or if it does exists, it cannot be relied upon.
If they take the position (a), it will mean that the Prophet did not fulfill the purpose for which he was chosen to be the bearer of the Book: otherwise Allah could send it through an angel or directly to each person.
If they take the position (b) or (c), (God forbid) they will be accusing Allah of doing a useless thing by sending His Book through a Prophet, when He could have printed copies of the Qur'an and sent those directly to the people.
In case, they take the position (d), they, in fact, repudiate both the Qur'an and its "Exposition by the Holy Prophet. Then the only rational course left for them would be to accept the view of those who believe in the necessity of a new Prophet and a new revelation; whereas Allah Himself considers the "Exposition" of the Book by the Prophet as an essential thing, and puts it forward as an argument for the necessity of a Prophet. Now if the view of the rejectors of Tradition that the Explanation of the Holy Prophet has disappeared from the world is to be accepted, then two conclusions are inevitable; First, the Prophethood of Muhammad (May Allah's peace be upon him) as a pattern for us has ceased to exist, and the only relation we have with him is the same that we have with the other former Prophets, e.g. Hud, Salih, Shu`aib, etc. (May Allah's peace be upon them). That is, we have only to testify that they were Prophets but we have no obligation to follow their patterns, for we have none with us. This position obviously leads to the need of a new Prophet, for it automatically refutes the doctrine of the Finality of Prophethood. The second inevitable conclusion will be that a new Book is needed because in that case the Qur'an alone could not, according to its author, suffice. Thus in the face of this verse, there is no argument left to prove that the Qur'an is self-sufficient to explain itself, for it itself says that there is no need of a Prophet to explain it. Thus it is absolutely necessary that a new Book must be sent down. May Allah destroy such people ! In their enthusiasm to repudiate Tradition, they are really cutting at the very root of Islam itself.
16.43 Wahidi - Asbab Al-Nuzul by Al-Wahidi
(And We sent not (as Our messengers) before thee other than men whom We inspired…) [16:43]. This verse was revealed about the idolaters of Mecca who denied the prophethood of Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace. They said: “Allah is too great to have a human being as His messenger; could He not have sent an angel?”