Categories of People who rejected the Divine Message

Syed Sharfuddin

We learn from the reading of the holy Quran about three types of people who were responsible for rejecting the divine message brought by the divine messengers of Allah to their nations in different times. These three categories of unbelievers were: the royalty which represented the kings and emperors of the land; the next were their political advisers and viceroys, and at the third level the ordinary corrupt people in society.

These three classes of people, especially the first two lots, were comfortable with the status quo they had carved for their nations because it provided continuity of power without any uncertainty or risks. They were not readily prepared to accept any new idea or an alternate way of life that threatened their freedoms, economic benefits, and social status. They considered rejection of idol worship and the dependence it promoted through a corrupt system, a risk not worth taking.

The people who belonged to the first category were kings and emperors who lived during the time of various prophets who challenged their governance and presented an alternate legal system which called for respecting humanity and submission to one true God. These kings did not like the erosion of their authority by this new message. They feared the growing popularity of the prophets and their message and saw it as a threat to their power. The Quran mentions that many prophets of Bani Israel were killed by their nation on the orders of the influential elders. Nimrud ordered Ibrahim to be put inside a big firepit so that he lived no more to challenge their worship and customs. The Pharaoh decided to kill Musa after the numerous curses that came to Egypt had been removed by God on Musa’s intercession on behalf of the Egyptians. Jesus was arrested and sentenced to hanging on the orders of King Herod in Palestine. In all three instances, Allah saved His prophets and humiliated the rulers.

In the second category there were special advisers, senior bureaucrats, gatekeepers of the status quo, tribal elders, officially ordained mullas and influential people who had the ear of the king in the courts. They rejected the message of the divine prophets to keep their positions and perks. For instance it were them who refused the invitation of Nuh, Hud, Saleh, Ibrahim, Lut, Shoaib, Musa and Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. They did not want to risk their jobs and material benefits given to them by the authoritarian rulers in return for their unconditional loyalty and obedience. The exceptions, if any, were few. For instance, the holy Quran informs us in Surah Al-Mu’min that in the court of the Pharaoh there was one adviser who had secretly accepted the divine message and acknowledged Musa’s God as the one true God. He spoke in favour of Musa before the Pharaoh and made him speechless with his arguments. But he was one man against many who endorsed the Pharaoh’s arrogant logic. In Surah Yaseen we learn that when the nation of Anatolia (as is generally believed) rejected the message of three prophets whom Allah had sent on this nation, a man who subsequently entered Jannah came and told them to fear God and not invite God’s wrath by calling them liars.

This category of advisers was the most dangerous of the entire lot of disbelievers because they knew that God’s messengers were speaking the Truth, but they told their political masters only what they wanted to hear. In the holy Quran there are numerous passages which describe how the advisers of the arrogant rulers opposed the messengers of Allah and prevented their nations from accepting divine guidance. One example of their foolishness and arrogant behaviour is given in Surah Saba. When Prophet Suleiman wrote a letter to the Queen of Saba inviting her to accept Islam or get ready to fight a fierce battle, and when the Queen consulted her privy council on this matter, her advisers said they were ready to accept the challenge and go to war against the army of Suleiman. The Queen of Saba later exposed their hollowness and flattery. This category of the people was the most arrogant and conceited, who on the one hand secured their wealth through flattery of their kings, and on the other hand oppressed the poor people under them by exploiting them for the benefit of the oligarchs.

The third category of polytheists consisted of ordinary people who did not have any power or possessions, but they refused to listen to the divine messengers for fear of losing their livelihoods through trade boycotts or social expulsions. Trade and economic sanctions are not just the instruments of post-world war neo-colonialism to keep the vessel states under control. This is an ancient method through which the democratic voice of the people has been suppressed in all times and eras. This corrupt social system also indoctrinated the minds of the commoners to make them follow the cue of their masters and reject the truth.

In studying the evolution of Islam in Makkah we see the same three types of people involved in opposing the divine message archangel Jibril brought form Allah to our Prophet Muhammad. The early Muslims were not the rich or well to do people of Makkah. They belonged mostly to poor households who accepted Islam because they didn’t have to sacrifice any position of power or material wealth, except be abandoned by their families. Of course, there were notable exceptions such as Abu Bakr and Uthman who were affluent and belonged to noble clans. But this was an exception rather than the norm.

Prophet Muhammad and his companions were also subjected to economic and trade sanctions by the economically wealthy polytheists of Makkah. They planned to kill the Prophet just like the Pharaoh who had planned to kill Musa to stop him from preaching the word of God to the people of Egypt. After the Prophet’s migration to Madinah and the establishment of an Islamic community, the tribal elders of Makkah made many attempts to attack the Muslims. After the polytheists lost the battles of Badar, Uhud and Ahzab, they conspired with the Jewish tribes of Banu Quraiza, Banu Qaynuka and Banu Nadir of Madinah to weaken and eventually defeat the Muslims. However, they failed in their plans and Muslims kept on growing in numbers and became politically and militarily strong in the years after the death of the Prophet.

It seems that after fourteen centuries, Islam continues to face the same challenges that it faced in the beginning in the same way as the other Abrahamic religions faced in their beginning. Today Muslims are the ‘bête noire’ in the West and face several obstacles to practice their religion freely without incurring social costs. The Islamic countries under authoritarian leaders and undemocratic regimes are also not independent to voice their views freely because they must behave like vessel states to get a share of international finance and trade benefits.







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