Muhammad: Prophet for All, Citizen of Arabia
It would be equally incorrect to claim that God sent Muhammad, peace be upon him, only to the Arabs. Muhammad is in fact the only prophet who claimed to be sent to all of mankind.
When we consider the time and place in which Muhammad lived (peace and blessings be upon him), it is really quite amazing.
In all his 63 years on this earth, Muhammad never travelled outside of the Arabian peninsula.
Travel in those time was not easy compared to today. The distance we can travel in a day on an airplane today, would have been unthinkable back then.
The world was not as densely populated as it is now, so to set out to preach to the world would have taken many lifetimes of just one man.
The entire world was in need of Islam, as it is today, but to expect him to spend his life traveling would not be realistic.
Having said that, scholars have reflected on possible reasons that Islam was revived amongst the Arabs of Muhammad’s time.
Islam is Universal
I say “revived” because Muslims believe that the core message of all prophets to their peoples was, “There is only one God, worship Him alone”.
All prophets warned against the following of one’s desires, lying, stealing, murder, etc, and all of them warned their people of the Day of Judgment, peace be upon all of God’s servants and messengers.
Muslims also believe that God sent a messenger to every nation on earth at least once in their history.
Some nations were blessed more than others, as were the Children of Israel, but in God’s infinite mercy, no nation was left to stray except when they refused His Guidance.
When we look at the religious beliefs of even the most primitive cultures and societies, we see some common threads that cannot be explained by nations trading or visiting each other.
Many cultures were very isolated from the rest of the world for centuries, yet there are common attitudes and beliefs around the roles of women and men, family structures, major and minor crimes, etc.
And for every community (or nation), there is a Messenger; when their Messenger comes, the matter will be judged between them with justice, and they will not be wronged.
And verily, We have sent among every community (or nation) a Messenger (proclaiming): “Worship God (Alone), and avoid evil.” Then of them were some whom God guided and of them were some upon whom straying was justified. So travel through the land and see what was the end of those who denied (the truth).
But why Arabia?
One reason might be that the Arabian peninsula is literally the cross-roads of the world. It connects Europe, Africa and Asia through trade and conquest.
It effectively enabled news of any new religion to be easily and quickly transmitted to the furthest corners of the known world.
The first house of God built on earth was in Mecca and built by our father Adam, peace be upon him. Abraham, peace be upon him, rebuilt it with his son Ishmael’s help long after the flood of prophet Noah’s time erased it’s location.
Islam connects all of God’s messengers from first to last in a part of the world that is very important strategically, economically, and spiritually.
The Arabs also had many qualities that made them well suited to be the best ambassadors of Islam. They were known for their bravery, generosity, loyalty, and perhaps above all, their language.
The importance of the Arabic language in transmitting God’s message cannot be overstated:
Verily this is a Revelation from the Lord of the Worlds. With it came down the Spirit of Faith and Truth. To thy heart and mind, that you might admonish. In the unambiguous Arabic tongue. Without doubt it is (announced) in the revealed Books of former peoples. Is it not a Sign to them that the learned of the Children of Israel knew it (as true)? Had We revealed it to any of the non-Arabs: And had he recited it to them, they would not have believed in it. Thus have We caused it to enter the hearts of the Sinners.
The Arabic language is an “ocean”, and therefore the best medium for transmitting God’s message in as simple, and yet extremely deep way, as possible.