Every nation received Warner
Fatwa No: 350683

Question

Has Arabia received a warner before Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam? Was Ishmael, their forefather, not a Warner? The following verses declare that the Arabs never received a Warner (what means): {That you may warn a people whose forefathers were not warned, so they are unaware.} [Quran 38:6]
However, the below verses testify to Ishmael's (their forefather) Messengership (a Warner) (what means): {And mention in the Book, Ishmael. Indeed, he was true to his promise, and he was a Messenger and a Prophet.} [Quran 19:54]
How can both be reconciled? May Allaah reward you.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger.

The matter is as Allah, The Exalted, said in the Quran; that He sent a Warner to each and every nation and there has never been a time when there was no one calling people to Allah beyond the excuse of ignorance. Allah, The Exalted, says (what means): {Indeed, We have sent you with the truth as a bringer of good tidings and a Warner. And there was no nation but that there had passed within it a Warner.} [Quran 35:24]

In his Tafseer (exegesis) book, Ibn ‘Atiyyah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him commented on this verse, saying:

"It means that the divine message reached all creation, and if someone had not received the divine warning directly at the hands of a Warner, it reached him through the agency of others. Prophet Aadam (Adam) was sent to his children, and then the sending of Warners did not cease until the time of Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. The verses that imply that the people of Quraysh did not receive a Warner mean that they did not receive direct warning (at the hands of a Prophet or Messenger); rather, the warning reached them through others. What the scholars of ‘Ilm Al-Kalaam (scholastic theology) said regarding the people of the Fatrah (people who did not receive a Prophet or Messenger) and the likes of them is based on assumption, not that there was actually a nation that did not know that there was a call to worship Allah on earth."

Thus, you come to know the meaning of the verse: {...to warn a people to whom no Warner had come before you that they might be reminded.} [Quran 28:46]

Ismaa'eel (Ishmael), may Allah exalt his mention, was a Prophet and Messenger of Allah, as evidenced by the verse to which you referred. He was sent to the Arabs in Makkah and the Arabian Peninsula. Ibn Katheer  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him wrote, "Ismaa‘eel, may Allah exalt his mention, was a Messenger to the people of that area (i.e. Makkah) and what was around it, the tribes of Jurhum, the Amalekites, and the people of Yemen..." Given the long period of time (between the time of Ismaa‘eel and the time of Muhammad, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and the successive generations, people forgot the religion of Ibraaheem (Abraham) and Ismaa‘eel, may Allah exalt their mention, and they became people of ignorance and misguidance, with nothing left of the religion of Ismaa‘eel except a few negligible traditions.

Allah knows best.

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