PROPHET MUHAMMAD WAS/IS A MERCY TO CREATION ?
Many Muslims make use of the following verse without any bearing on Quranic context to make a distinction with regards Prophet Muhammad in respect to other Prophets of God.
21.107 “We sent thee not, but as a mercy (Arabic: Rahmah) for all people (Arabic: Alameen)”
The first point to note is that the Quranic use of the term ‘alameen’ does not exclusively imply every human being (past present or future). Nor does it imply all other creatures of God within the whole universe. The meaning of the term ‘Alameen’ is dependant on context.
For example, with regards Prophet Lot,we read that God delivered him to a land that was blessed for all ‘Alameen’. It would be untenable to assert that this would imply a land that was to remain a blessing for every creature human or otherwise on Earth, or within God’s universe.
21:71 “But We delivered him and Lot (and directed them) to the land which We have blessed for the nations (Arabic: Alameen)”.
THE QURAN’S CLARITY THAT BELIEVERS MAKE NO DISTINCTIONS BETWEEN THE MESSENGERS OF GOD
To draw any distinctions between God’s messengers is negated by the Quran.
2:285 “The messenger believes in what has been revealed to him from his Lord, and (so do) the believers; they all believe in God and His angels and His books and His messengers; We make no difference between any of His messengers; and they say: We hear and obey, our Lord! Thy forgiveness (do we crave), and to Thee is the eventual course”
4:152 “And those who believe in God and His messengers and do not make a distinction between any of them – God will grant them their rewards; and God is Forgiving, Merciful”
This message is repeated in verses 2:136 and 3:84.
The Quran provides the context as to what capacity Prophet Muhammad was sent as a mercy. The following sections will attempt to make this clear.
(1) THE PROPHET IS ONLY A MERCY FOR THOSE THAT BELIEVE
9.61 “Among them are men who molest the Prophet and say, “He is (all) ear.” Say, “He listens to what is best for you: he believes in God, has faith in the Believers, and is a Mercy to those of you who believe.” But those who molest the Messenger will have a grievous penalty”
(2) THE CAPACITY OF THE PROPHET AS A MERCY ONLY EXTENDS AS A ‘MESSENGER’ TO WARN HIS OWN PEOPLE
28.46 “Nor were you at the side of (the Mountain of) Tur (Sinai) when we called (to Moses). But (you are sent) as mercy (Arabic: Rahmah(tan)) from thy Lord, to give warning to a people to whom no warner had come before you: in order that they may receive admonition”
One is inclined to ask the obvious question – How can a Prophet of God be a mercy for all mankind if he can’t guide everyone?
Furthermore, how can he guide those that he does not know nor can see, or those that come after him? Clearly, Prophet Muhammad was only sent as a mercy to the people in his capacity as a messenger and to his own people.
28:56 “Surely you (Muhammad) cannot guide whom you love, but God guides whom He pleases, and He knows best the followers of the right way”
However, those that heard the message directly from the Prophet were to carry the message forward as ‘witnesses’ to mankind in the same way as the Prophet acted as a witness against them. In this way, the Quran acted as the vehicle of divine deliverance and as a light and guide to all of humanity present and future to whom the message would subsequently reach.
22.78 “And strive in His cause as you ought to strive, (with sincerity and under discipline). He has chosen you, and has imposed no difficulties on you in religion; it is the cult of your father Abraham. It is He Who has named you Muslims, both before and in this (Revelation); that the Messenger may be a witness for you, and ye be witnesses for mankind! So establish regular Prayer, give regular Charity, and hold fast to God! He is your Protector – the Best to protect and the Best to help!”
2:143 “Thus We have appointed you a middle nation, that you may be witnesses against mankind, and that the messenger may be a witness against you…”
(3) THE QURAN AS A MERCY AND MESSAGE TO ALL MANKIND
The Quran is stated as a message for mankind (12:104).
12:104 “And no reward do you ask of them for this: it is no less than a message for all mankind (Arabic: Alameen)”
25:1 “Blessed is He who sent down the criterion (Arabic: Furqan) to His servant, that it may be an admonition to all mankind (Arabic: Alameen)”
The Quran is also stated as a ‘mercy’ for mankind
7:203 “And when you do not bring them a verse (Arabic: biayatin) they say: Why do you not forge it? Say: I only follow what is revealed to me from my Lord. This is enlightenment from your Lord and guidance and mercy (Arabic: rahmatun) for a people who believe”
From the above verses, it is evident that the Quran is also depicted as a mercy and a message for all mankind. Therefore in verse 21:107, it is the capacity of Prophet Muhammadas a messenger of God entrusted to deliver the Quran’s message is what is being referred to as a ‘mercy’ to all mankind (Arabic: Alameen). In other words, God has sent His messenger as a mercy to mankind to deliver His mighty words as an admonition.
Further clarity is obtained if 21:107 is read with its previous verse in context.
21.106“Verily in this (Quran) is a Message for people who would (truly) worship God”
21.107“We sent thee not, but as a Mercy for all mankind (Arabic: Alameen)”
As has been noted in the article above, it is the Quran that has been referred to as a guidance and mercy to all mankind (Alameen). It is in this capacity as a messenger that Prophet Muhammad was also referred to as a mercy to his people, as he brought to them the Quran by Divine inspiration.
However, this provides no basis for any prophetic exclusivity as doing so, is against the fundamental belief of a believer not to draw any distinctions between the messengers of God (2:285).