From Merchant to Messenger

Mocking the Messenger

From Merchant to Messenger21:33 It is He who created the night and the day, the sun and the moon, each floating in its orbit.

21:34 And We did not grant immortality to any human before you, If you die, are they then immortal?

21:35 Every living soul shall taste death, and We test you by evil and good as a temptation and unto Us you shall be returned.

21:36 And if the unbelievers see you, they only take you as an object of mockery [saying]: “Is this the one who talks about your gods?” And they disbelieve in the mention of the Compassionate.

It may not have mattered that the Compassionate promised His Messenger that those who mocked him would burn in Hell.

21:37 Man is created in haste. I will bring you My Signs; so do not hasten them.

21:38 And they say: “When will this threat come to pass if you are truthful?”

21:39 If only the unbelievers knew the time when they will not be able to ward off the Fire from their faces or their backs, and they will not be helped!

21:40 But it will come upon them suddenly confounding them, and so they will not be able to repel it, nor will they be respited (sic).

Fear the Compassionate!

21:42 Say: “Who guards you night and day against the Compassionate?” Yet they turn away from the mention of their Lord.

21:43 Or do they have gods who will defend them against Us? They cannot help themselves and they will not be protected from Us!

21:44 No, We gave ease to those people and their fathers until they became advanced in age. Do they not see that We come upon the land [under their control] reducing it from its extremities? Are they then the victors.

21:45 Say: “I only warn you through the Revelation; but the deaf people do not hear the call, when they are warned.”

21:46 And if the least hint of your Lord’s punishment touches them, they will surely say: “Woe to us; we have been truly wrongdoers.”

21:47 We set up the just scales for the Day of Resurrection, so that no soul shall be wronged a whit; and even if it be the weight of a mustard seed, We shall produce it. We suffice as reckoners (sic).

Allah will tell his besieged spokesman to remind the mockers of who created mankind, as if they were not His creation. You have to wonder what Allah means by that, while He wonders about the mockers' short term memory.

37:11 So ask them: “Are they mightier in constitution than those We have created?” We have actually created them from sticky clay.

37:12 You rather wonder, while they mock.

37:13 If they are reminded, they will not remember.

37:14 And if they see a sign, they simply scoff.

It took almost ten years before a significant number of the Prophet’s contemporaries warmed to Allah’s ideas for a new world religious and domestic order and the coming of Judgment Day. During those difficult years of his ministry, God’s Messenger was the object of much scorn and derision of the most hurting kind.


20 Tâ Hâ

In the Name of Allah,

the Compassionate, the Merciful

20:1 Ta Ha (no consensus on exact meaning)

20:2 We have not revealed the Qur’an to you so as to make you unhappy.

20:3 But only as a reminder to him who fears.

20:4 A revelation from Him Who created the earth and the high heavens.

One reason the Meccans incessantly mocked the Messenger was because the promised punishment never materialized.

11:8 And if We hold punishment back from them for a fixed period, they will say: “What holds it back?” Surely, the day it will overtake them will not be turned away from them, and they shall be afflicted by what they used to mock.


29:53 And they urge you to hasten the punishment; but had it not been for an appointed term, the punishment would have certainly smitten them. In fact, it will smite them suddenly, while they are unaware.

29:54 They urge you to hasten the punishment. Hell shall surely encompass the unbelievers.

29:55 Upon the Day the punishment shall overwhelm them from above them and from under their feet and He says: “Taste now what you used to do.”

It was not enough for the Prophet to say that Allah had punished his predecessors.

13:6 And they ask you to hasten the evil before the good; yet there were punishments before them (there have been instances of exemplary punishments from Allah, Moududi). Your Lord forgives people notwithstanding their wrongdoing, but your Lord is truly severe in retribution.

13:7 Those who disbelieve say: “Why has no sign been sent down to him from His Lord?” You are only a warner; and for each people there is a guide.

The Prophet was not the only one who was mocked. Those who made fun of the “Ultimate Schemer” by perverting His “Beautiful Names”, He will surreptitiously lead them, “step by step”, to their destruction.

7:180 And to Allah belong the Most Beautiful Names; so call Him by them and leave those who pervert His Names. They shall be punished for what they used to do.

7:181 And among those We have created is a nation that guides by the truth, and by it the nation acts justly.

7:182 And those who deny Our Revelations, We shall lure them step by step to destruction, whence they do not know.

7:183 And I will grant them respite. Surely My Scheme is very effective.

Not Worthy

But it was the Messenger who took the brunt of the skepticism and disparagement. His Meccan audience believed in god, most, in more than one; they just couldn't accept that the God, Allah,if he needed a spokesperson, would chose a retired middle-age illiterate merchant, instead of a tribal  leader, to receive his revelations, “scrolls unrolled”, revealed truth 74:52.

74:49 Why are they turning away from the Reminder (the Qur’an)?

74:50 As though they were startled asses,

74:51 Fleeing from a lion?

74:52 Rather, each one of them wishes to be given scrolls unrolled.

74:53 No, they do not fear the Hereafter.

74:54 No, it is indeed a Reminder.

74:55 So that he who wishes might remember it.

74:56 But they will only remember if Allah wishes. He is worthy to be feared and worthy to forgive.

The mocking had a lot to do with the god “in charge of everything” not willing to give any kind of sign, other than self-serving revelations which were not signs at all, that His anxious Messenger is the genuine article.

11:12 Perhaps you are passing over (not reciting) a part of what is revealed to you, and your heart is distressed lest they should say: “If only a treasure was sent down upon him or an angel accompanied him!” You are only a warner, and Allah is in charge of everything.

An Object of Curiosity

They say that there is no such thing as bad publicity. In a strange conversation between Allah and His Messenger, where Allah appears to be swearing by Himself as "the Lord of the East and the West", revelation 70:40, we learn that the Prophet was, for many Meccans, an object of curiosity who attracted large enough crowds for some to have to stretch their necks to get a glimpse of the self-acclaimed Messenger of God.

70:36 What is it with the unbelievers stretching their necks towards you?

70:37 From the right and the left banding together?

70:38 Does every one of them hope to enter the Garden of Bliss?

70:39 Not at all. We have created them from what they know.

70:40 No, I swear by the Lord of the East and the West that We are Capable,

70:41 Of Replacing them by many who are better than they; and We shall not be outstripped.

70:42 So leave them to romp and play till they meet their Day, which they have been promised.

70:43 The Day they will come out of their tombs hastily, as though they are hurrying towards their idols;

70:44 Their eyes cast down; overwhelmed by humiliation. That is the Day which they were promised.

They also say that familiarity breeds contempt, and for the vast majority of the men and women of Mecca who had more than a passing acquaintance with the man they knew as Muhammad ibn Abd Allāh ibn Abd al-Muttalib ibn Hāshimof, he was more than an object curiosity, but not in a good way.



10 Yûnus

In the Name of Allah,

the Compassionate, the Merciful

10:1 Alif – Lam –Ra.

Those are the verses of the sound Book.

10:2 Is it a wonder to the people that We have revealed to one of them: “Warn the people and announce to the believers the good news that they have a sure footing with their Lord?” The unbelievers say: “This indeed is a manifest sorcerer.”


34:43 And when Our Signs are recited to them clearly, they say: “This is only a man who wishes to bar you from what your fathers used to worship.” They also say: “This is nothing but a fabricated falsehood”; and the unbelievers say of the Truth when it comes to them: “This is nothing but manifest sorcery.”


46:7 And when Our Clear Signs are recited to them, those who have disbelieved will say to the Truth when it comes to them: “This is manifest sorcery.”

46:8 Or do they say: “He invented it.” Say: “If I have invented it, you have no means of helping me against Allah. He knows best what you are expatiating upon. Let Him suffice as a witness between me and you. He is the All-Forgiving, the All-Merciful.”

46:9 Say: “I am not the first of the Messengers and I do not know what will be done with me or with you. I only follow what is revealed to me and I am only a manifest warner."

A Laughing Stock

25:41 And when they see you, they only take you for a laughing stock: “Is this the one Allah sent as Messenger?

25:42 “He almost led us away from our gods, had we not stood fast by them.” They will certainly know, when they see the punishment, who is more wayward.

25:43 Do you see him who has taken his fancy as his god? Will you, then, have to be his guardian?

25:44 Or do you suppose that most of them hear or understand? Indeed, they are merely like cattle; no, even more wayward.

A Gullible Man

Others simply thought their kinsman gullible and tried to be nice, with some pretending that they believed him; but they too will pay, and dearly!

9:61 And some of them molest the Prophet saying: “He hears [all what is said and believes what he hears].” Say: “He hears what is good for you. He believes in Allah and believes what he hears from the believers; and he is a mercy for those who believe.” Those who hurt the Messenger of Allah will have a very painful punishment.

9:62 They swear to you by Allah to please you; but Allah and His Messenger they should rather please first, if they are true believers.

9:63 Do they not know that whoever opposes Allah and His Messenger, the Fire of Hell is reserved for them, abiding in it forever. That indeed is the great disgrace.

A Poet Possessed

The Prophet, a man possessed! Allah promises a painful punishment to those who would make such a claim.

37:35 For when it used to be said to them: “There is no god but Allah”, they would wax proud.

37:36 And they would say: “Are we going to forsake our gods for the sake of a poet possessed?”

37:37 Indeed, he brought the truth and confirmed the other Messengers.

37:38 You shall indeed taste the painful punishment.

For some, the story of the Man in the Whale may have been too much to swallow, the likely reason for the glances of disbelief and their thinking that the storyteller was controlled by some malevolent entity.

68:46 Or will you ask them for remuneration? They are surely burdened with debts.

68:47 Or are they in possession of the Unseen, and so they are writing it down?

68:48 Bear up with your Lord’s Judgement, then, and do not be like the Man of the Whale (Jonah), when he called out fully distressed.

68:49 Had not a Grace from his Lord been meted out to him, he would have been cast out in the wilderness, fully despised.

68:50 But his Lord chose him and made him one of the righteous.

68:51 The unbelievers will almost strike you down with their glances, on hearing the Reminder (the Qur’an), and will say: “He is truly possessed.”

68:52 It is only a Reminder to all the Worlds.

A Man Bewitched

And still others thought him a man bewitched, but it may have been because they did not understand what the Prophet was talking about.

17:45 When you recite the Qur’an, We will place between you and those who do not believe in the Hereafter a hidden curtain.

17:46 And We have placed veils upon their hearts and deafness in their ears lest they understand it. And if you mention your Lord alone in the Qur’an, they turn their backs in aversion.

17:47 We know best what they listen to when they listen to you, as they confer secretly, when the wrongdoers say: “You only follow a man bewitched.”

This last epithet is what, according to Moududi, prompted Allah to reveal the following.

17:48 See how they coin similes for you and so go astray and are unable to find their way.

Moududi’s comment:

This is to say that they expressed different opinions at different times which contradicted each other. Sometimes they said, "You are a sorcerer" and at other times, "You have been bewitched by someone, or you are a poet or you are possessed of some evil spirit." These contradictory things were a proof that they did not know the reality.

This was not the only time that Allah revealed that the unbelievers coined “similes” about His Messenger; ”parables” in revelation 25:9.

25:7 And they say: “What is the matter with the Messenger? He eats food and strolls in the markets. If only an angel had been sent to him to be a warner with him;

25:8 “Or a treasure had been cast upon him, or he was given a garden from which he could eat.” And the wrongdoers say: “You only follow a man bewitched.”

25:9 See how they invent the parables for you, and so they err, and they cannot find their way.

A Madman

Some of the Messenger’s contemporaries believed the Prophet Muhammad to be quite mad, prompting Allah, on numerous occasions, to vouch for His Messenger’s sanity.

7:184 Do they not consider that their companion (Muhammad) is not mad. He is only a plain warner.

7:185 Have they not considered the kingdom of the heavens and the earth and all the things Allah has created, and how perhaps their appointed term may have drawn near?” In what other message after this (the Qur’an) will they, then, believe?

7:186 Whomever Allah leads astray will have no guide; and He leaves them in their arrogance to wonder aimlessly.


15:6 They say: “O you, to whom the Reminder (the Qur’an) is revealed, you are indeed a madman.

15:7 “Why do you not bring us the angels, if you are truthful?”


34:46 Say: “I only give you one exhortation, that you arise for Allah in couples and singly, then to reflect that there is no madness in your companion (the Prophet). He is merely a warner on the eve of a terrible punishment.”


52:29 So remind [them]; for you (Muhammad) are not, by the Grace of your Lord, a soothsayer or a madman.

Reassuring words, advice and praise for the Prophet, and an ominous warning to those who would question His Messenger’s sanity.

52:48 Bear with your Lord’s Judgement, for you are in Our Thoughts; and proclaim the Praise of Your Lord when you arise;

52:49 And in the night, glorify Him, and at the receding of the stars.


51:52 Likewise, no Messenger came to those who preceded them but they said: “A sorcerer or a madman.”

51:53 Have they attested to each other concerning him (Muhammad)? No, they are an unjust people.

51:54 So, turn away from them, you are not to blame.

51:55 And remind; for the reminder will benefit the believers.


68 Al-Qalam

In the Name of Allah,

the Compassionate, the Merciful

68:1 Nûn (No consensus on meaning). By the pen and what they inscribe,

68:2 You are not (O Muhammad), by the Grace of your Lord, a madman.

68:3 You will have a wage which is unstinted;

68:4 And you are truly a man of noble character.

They will get what is coming to them.

68:5 You shall see and they shall see,

68:6 Which of you is the demented one.


52:45 Leave them, then, till they encounter the Day on which they will be thunderstruck;

52:46 The Day when their cunning will avail them nothing, and they will not be supported.

52:47 And the wrongdoers shall suffer a punishment beyond that, but most of them do not know.

In many verses, such as revelation 36:76, the punishment is implied. Allah knows, and Allah never forgets.

36:74 Yet, they have taken, apart from Allah, other gods that they might receive support.

36:75 But they cannot support them, although they are arrayed as troops for them.

36:76 Do not let their words cause you grief; We know what they reveal and what they conceal.

The Prophet, after he left the cave where he first met the angel Gabriel, reported that he saw the angel’s face on the horizon wherever he looked. This only increased the scepticism of his detractors as to his state of mind.

81:22 Your companion (Muhammad) is not mad;

81:23 He saw him (Gabriel) upon the luminous horizon.