Say (O Muhammad ﷺ): "I am only a man" – Explanation by Shaykh al-Fawzaan
Say (O Muhammad ﷺ): “I am only a man”
Say (O Muhammad ﷺ): I am only a man like you. It has been revealed to me that yourIlaah (God) is One Ilaah (God – i.e. Allaah). [18:110]
And from the end of the aayah there occurs:
So whoever hopes for the Meeting with his Lord, let him work righteousness and associate none as a partner in the worship of his Lord [18:110]
Shaykh al-Fawzaan (hafidahullaah) comments:
«Say (O Muhammad ﷺ): I am only a man» Meaning: Allaah has commanded His Prophet to say to the people, «I am only a man». The Messenger ﷺ is a man just like all of the Messengers were men. And we find that the Messengers are of two types. There are Messengers amongst the angels and Messengers amongst the men.
Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) says:
Allaah chooses Messengers from angels and from men. [22:75]
The Messengers from amongst the angels are basically intermediaries between Allaah and the Messengers from amongst the men. And the men are not able see angels in their original form, but they are able to see men who are just like them. For this reason, Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala) sent Messengers as men to men. This is something that would necessarily follow […] from Allaah’s Mercy towards His servants in the sense that they can actually learn and understand from them. If the Messengers have been sent as Angels, then they would have not been able to see them because the shape and form of an angel is different from the shape and form of men.
«I am only a man» Another meaning here is: I am just a person. I do not have anything from ar-Ruboobiyyahnor do I deserve anything from ‘Ibaadah.
«I am only a man» I am just a servant amongst the servants of Allaah. A slave amongst the slaves of Allaah. A `abd from amongst `Ibaadulllah.
The opening passage of this verse «Say (O Muhammad ﷺ): I am only a man» is also a refutation of those who exaggerate the right of the Messenger of Allaah ﷺ; those who call upon him besides Allaah, seek aid through and rescue from him besides Allaah. It is a refutation to those who say that he is created from light or that he was not created from the same thing that the children of Aadam were created from, and that (in actuality) he was created before Aadam. And refuge is sought with Allaah. This is from the greatest of the types of ghuloo` (extremism) and kufr (disbelief in Allaah (`Azza wa Jall)).
«I am only a man like you» Meaning: I am just like you in the affairs of manhood, in the affairs ofbashareeyah. So he is a person; he becomes hungry, he becomes ill, he becomes tired on a journey just like other people. Many of the other things that come and happen to people happen to him ﷺ. So therefore, he can be afflicted with anxiety and sadness and all the other things that inflict people.
We know indeed the grief which their words cause you (O Muhammad). [6:33]
Likewise, Allaah says:
And grief you not over them. [27:70]
Likewise in another verse, Allaah says:
Perhaps, you, would kill yourself (O Muhammad ﷺ ) in grief. [27:70]
This proves and shows that anxiety, grief and sadness can overcome the Messenger ﷺ on account of whatever he sees from the people in opposition to the worship of Allaah (subhaanahu wa ta’aala). Why? This is because he wants to see goodness for the people. He wants them to be delivered and saved. So when he sees the people upon a path of destruction, it makes him sad. This is because of the perfection in his concern and fear for the people.
As far as him being distinguished from the rest of the people ﷺ then that is because he was sent with Messenger-hood, with Messenger-ship, and he was given excellence and perfect `Uboodiyyah to Allaah the Mighty and Majestic. Therefore, he is the greatest of the creation in his worship of Allaah and the most fearful of them, and the most pious amongst them.(1)
(2) Source: Class 02: Forbiddance of Showing Off Part I by Abu `Iyaad based on the commentary of Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzaan (hafidahullaahu ta`aala).