Misinterpretation of 21:107

We have not sent you (O Muhammad) except as a mercy for all the people.
21:107

Traditional Muslim scholars quote the words "mercy for all people" in 21:107 to support their claim that Prophet Muhammad was given special status, placing him above all other messengers. To verify this claim, it is necessary to investigate the following four issues:

1- Does the Quran say that Muhammad was superior to other messengers?

2- Is the phrase 'sent as a mercy' used in the Quran exclusively in connection to Muhammad?

3- What is the Quranic meaning of a mercy sent to all people?

4- What is the significance of the words "to all people" in 21:107?

First: Does the Quran say that Muhammad was superior to other messengers, or was favoured by God over other messengers? The answer is no. When we read the Quran we note two important matters:

1- God commands Muhammad to say that he is not any different from other messengers:

Say (O Muhammad), "I am not a novelty (new/different) among other messengers." 46:9

If Muhammad was superior to all other messengers, would God command him to say that he is not any different from other messengers?

2- We learn from the Quran that God favoured some messengers above others:

These messengers; We favoured some of them over others. Among them were some whom God spoke to (Moses), and He raised some of them in ranks, and We gave Jesus, son of Mary, the clear proofs and supported him with the Holy Ruh. 2:253

We have favoured some Prophets over others and We gave David the 'Zabur' (Psalms).” 17:55

And Ishmael, Elisha, Jonah, and Lot; each of whom We favoured over all the people. 6:86

A number of names are mentioned in the above verses, but the name of Muhammad is not mentioned in any of these verses as one of those favoured:

Second: Is the phrase 'sent as a mercy' used in the Quran exclusively in connection to Muhammad?

Since God's messengers are sent to deliver a message and guidance from God it follows that all of God's messengers are sent as an act of mercy from God to mankind.

In the following verse for example, we read how Jesus was also sent as a sign of mercy from God:

He said, "Thus said your Lord, 'It is easy for Me. We will render him (Jesus) a sign for the people and mercy from Us. This is a matter pre-ordained.' " 19:21

Hence, those who claim that Muhammad had the exclusive blessing of being sent as a "mercy" to the world do not know the Quran in their hand.

Third: What is the Quranic meaning of a "mercy for all people"?

Every Prophet brings a Scripture from God. Every Scripture sent from God contains guidance and mercy to the people
.
Muhammad delivered the Quran from God, and it is the Quran which is an act of "mercy" to the people and not the person of Muhammad himself.

The same applies to all other Prophets who delivered a Scripture from God. The Quran tells us that the sole duty of all messengers is to deliver God's message (5:99), and thus all mercy is embodied in the Scripture they deliver. All Scriptures sent from God contain guidance and healing for the souls as well as mercy for the people. The following verses speak of the mercy which was sent with the Torah:

As for those who are given solid proof from their Lord, reported by a witness from Him, and before it, the book of Moses has set a precedent and a
mercy, they will surely believe. 11:17

When Moses' anger subsided, he picked up the tablets, containing guidance and
mercy for those who reverence their Lord.
7:154

In addition, the following verses confirm that the mercy we received (through Muhammad) was in the Quran itself:

The Day will come when We raise up from every nation a witness against them from among themselves and We brought you as a witness against these. We have brought the Book down to you providing explanations for all things plus guidance and mercy, and giving news to the Muslims. 16:89

We bring down in the Quran that which provides healing and mercy for the believers, yet it does not increase the transgressors except in loss. 17:82

Fourth
:
What is the significance of the words "to all people" in 21:107?

The words in 21:107 address Muhammad and describes the mercy sent with him as a mercy "to all people". When we compare this to 19:21 which speaks about the mercy sent with Jesus, we find that in 19:21 the words "to all people" are not used. The reason for this is quite clear. We know that the mercy sent with every Prophet is embodied in the Scripture he delivers and not in his person (11:17, 7:154, 16:89, 17:82). We also know that all previous Scriptures were intended for specific people and for specific times. However, the Quran is the final Scripture to be sent by God (33:40) and thus the Quran and the mercy it contains is sent to "all the people", and for all time.

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To conclude, the glorious words in 21:107 confirm the nature of the mercy which God sends to mankind and it also confirms that this mercy is sent with all messengers and not just Muhammad. Finally it confirms that the mercy is embodied in the Scripture which the messenger delivers and not in the person of the messenger.