(Draft Article) Objection: “Isn’t Islam only to be propagated to the idolaters among the Arabs?”

(Please read the notice concerning our draft articles and works)

By MuslimAnswers.net Team

بِسْمِ اللَّـهِ الرَّحْمَـٰنِ الرَّحِيم

We received the objection of a certain person who said that in his talks, Dr. Zakir Naik said that Islam is for all of mankind. However, the objector says that in Verses 6:92 and 42:7 of the Qur’an, it is clearly stated that Muhammad had been sent to the people of Makkah and its surroundings, and in Verses 32:3 and 36:6, it is mentioned that he was sent to people other than those who had already received divine guidance. Based on this, the objector said that Muslims have no basis for propagating their faith in the Christian West and must stop this promulgation of Islam.

To this, we say that Islam is indeed for all mankind. This is a basic rule of the Islamic faith, attested to by numerous evidences from the primary Islamic sources, such as the saying of Allah the Exalted:

وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ إِلَّا كَافَّةً لِلنَّاسِ بَشِيرًا وَنَذِيرًا وَلَٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ

And We have not sent thee (O Muhammad) save as a bringer of good tidings and a warner unto all mankind; but most of mankind know not. (Qur’an 34:28)

By bringing up the other Verses into the discussion, the non-Muslim is either trying to say that there is a contradiction in the Qur’an and thus the Qur’an cannot be trusted, or he is trying to deduce juridical rulings and produce these as being what the Muslims should follow in terms of jurisprudence.

Concerning the second possibility, this is totally improper, since the interpretation of the Qur’an cannot be carried out until one has achieved proficiency in a number of sciences. Many times a common scholar of Islam is not qualified to independently deduce rulings from the Qur’an all by himself, let alone a normal Muslim. So we can imagine what the situation is with respect to a non-Muslim who most likely has malice in his heart towards Islam.

This is a very long topic that we will not pursue at length in here, but it is sufficient to say that we will entertain the objections or interpretations of the Qur’an presented to us by the non-Muslims, but the non-Muslims should also know that the Muslim community in general and the scholars in particular have already gone through the Verses in question and that they understand the relationship between a given Verse and the rulings concerning the matter brought up by the Verse.[1] Whenever we present any Tafsir (interpretation) of the Qur’an, this is only meant to show what other scholars have said concerning the topic at hand and 

Coming to the first possibility, the Verses brought up are the following:

وَهَٰذَا كِتَابٌ أَنْزَلْنَاهُ مُبَارَكٌ مُصَدِّقُ الَّذِي بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ وَلِتُنْذِرَ أُمَّ الْقُرَىٰ وَمَنْ حَوْلَهَا

This is indeed a Blessed Book We have sent down, confirming what was (revealed) before it, so that you may warn the town which is the Mother of All Towns, (i.e. Makkah) and those around it. (Quran 6:92)

أَمْ يَقُولُونَ افْتَرَاهُ ۚ بَلْ هُوَ الْحَقُّ مِنْ رَبِّكَ لِتُنْذِرَ قَوْمًا مَا أَتَاهُمْ مِنْ نَذِيرٍ مِنْ قَبْلِكَ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَهْتَدُونَ

Is it that they say, “He has fabricated it?” No, it is the truth from your Lord, so that you (O prophet,) may warn a people to whom no warner has come before you; may be they take the right path. (Quran 32:3)

لِتُنْذِرَ قَوْمًا مَا أُنْذِرَ آبَاؤُهُمْ فَهُمْ غَافِلُونَ

…so that you may warn a people whose fathers were not warned, and hence, they are unaware. (Quran 36:6)

وَكَذَٰلِكَ أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ قُرْآنًا عَرَبِيًّا لِتُنْذِرَ أُمَّ الْقُرَىٰ وَمَنْ حَوْلَهَا

And thus We have revealed to you an Arabic Qur‘an, so that you may warn the mother town, and those around it (Quran 42:7)

One can see immediately that these Verses do not go into any direct conflict with Verse 34:28 or any of the other primary Islamic texts establishing that the Prophet and Islam are for the world at large. The Verses are simply stating that the Qur’an was sent to these people who had no warners come to them beforehand, to the “Mother of Al Towns” (Makkah) and its surroundings. However, there is no clause expressing exclusivity for the dissemination of Islam to the city of Makkah and its immediate vicinity in a manner that would eliminate the conveying of Islam to humanity at large.

Even if an exclusion clause were present in these Verses, it would still not bar the possibility of this ruling being superseded later on by a new instruction telling the Prophet to preach Islam to the world at large.

Besides, there are Verses in the Qur’an instructing the Prophet to convey the message to different circles of people. For example, in the very early stages of the Islamic call, the following Verse was revealed:

وَأَنْذِرْ عَشِيرَتَكَ الْأَقْرَبِينَ

And warn the nearest people of your clan (Quran 26:214)

In here there is only an order for preaching to a certain group of people, not a statement prohibiting people outside of this group from permanently receiving the message of Islam.

With respect to what is found in the Quranic exegesis about some of the important phrases found in these Verses, we see a further proof of the weakness of our opponent’s claims that these Verses point to a specific group of people receiving the message to the exclusion of everybody else. For example, in the Ma’ariful Quran interpretation, we read:

(Mazhari) Said with: أُمَّ الْقُرَىٰ (Umm al-Qura) is: وَمَنْ حَوْلَهَا(and those around it). It means all environs of Makkah, which includes the whole world East, West, North and South of Makkah.[2]

From this we see that the environs of Makkah includes every human habitation that exists in the world, and the term Umm al-Qura is used first as a way for Allah to raise the rank of Makkah above the rest of the world’s cities.[3]

This is only a small example to advance our argument, and we feel that there is no need to show a large number of other interpretations showing the correctness of our view, since in reality the objection itself was built on faulty premises. Finally, we wish to remind all of our readers that the proper way to approach the rulings of Islam is not to try to deduce them by one’s self, but rather to have recourse to qualified scholarship, who will separate the correct and strong rulings from the weak and discarded ones. And our success is only through Allah.


[1] There is a chance that the Christians of today may adopt the ideology of their coreligionists of the past which was to accept that the Qur’an and Islam as true, but to maintain that they were sent only to the Arab idolaters, and not to Christians. A small example of this thinking can be found at the beginning of Khalid Baig’s article “The Miracle of the Qur’an”

[3] If someone were to bring up the argument that some exegesists have said that the environs of Makkah include mentioned in this Verse are referring only to other Arab lands, we would answer with the same statement we made above, namely that there is no passage saying that the message will never be made available to other people.