Why did God send us His messengers and prophets (عليهم السلام)? In particular, why was the Prophet Muhammad (عليه الصلاة و السلام) sent? The Qur’an answers this with the following verse,
وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ إِلَّا رَحْمَةً لِّلْعَالَمِينَ – 21:107
It was only as a mercy that We sent you [Prophet] to all people
Indeed, it is Divine Mercy that caused this to happen. It is the mercy of God that did not leave us in a state of confusion, wondering who we are, why we are here, and where we will go. It is from His mercy that He taught us all that we know of, that we are given a path to reach our fullest potential.
Indeed, humans are not like animals; we cannot simply think of the immediate moment and feel satisfied. We are created for a greater purpose and it’s only by accomplishing that purpose that we’ll be fulfilled. (see Humans: Fruits of this Universe, Happiness and Worship Directly Proportional)
Now, a question may arise: despite the mercy associated with sending prophets (عليهم السلام) to the humankind, there also comes responsibility. Those who choose to reject them face the consequences of their choices; they spend eternity in hell. In fact, most humans reject rather than embrace the truth. Essentially, if prophets (عليهم السلام) were not sent to the humankind, there would be no responsibility and hence no consequences. Below are some verses and hadiths regarding this.
وَمَا أَكْثَرُ النَّاسِ وَلَوْ حَرَصْتَ بِمُؤْمِنِينَ – 12:103
However eagerly you may want them to, most men will not believe. (AH)
وَقَلِيلٌ مِّنْ عِبَادِيَ الشَّكُورُ – 34:13
Very few from My slaves are thankful. (TU)
حَدَّثَنِي إِسْحَاقُ بْنُ نَصْرٍ، حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو أُسَامَةَ، عَنِ الأَعْمَشِ، حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو صَالِحٍ، عَنْ أَبِي سَعِيدٍ الْخُدْرِيِّ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ” يَقُولُ اللَّهُ تَعَالَى يَا آدَمُ. فَيَقُولُ لَبَّيْكَ وَسَعْدَيْكَ وَالْخَيْرُ فِي يَدَيْكَ. فَيَقُولُ أَخْرِجْ بَعْثَ النَّارِ. قَالَ وَمَا بَعْثُ النَّارِ قَالَ مِنْ كُلِّ أَلْفٍ تِسْعَمِائَةٍ وَتِسْعَةً وَتِسْعِينَ، فَعِنْدَهُ يَشِيبُ الصَّغِيرُ، وَتَضَعُ كُلُّ ذَاتِ حَمْلٍ حَمْلَهَا، وَتَرَى النَّاسَ سُكَارَى، وَمَا هُمْ بِسُكَارَى، وَلَكِنَّ عَذَابَ اللَّهِ شَدِيدٌ …
The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Allah will say (on the Day of Resurrection), ‘O Adam.’ Adam will reply, ‘Labbaik wa Sa`daik’, and all the good is in Your Hand.’ Allah will say: ‘Bring out the people of the fire.’ Adam will say: ‘O Allah! How many are the people of the Fire?’ Allah will reply: ‘From every one thousand, take out nine-hundred-and ninety-nine.’ At that time children will become hoary headed, every pregnant female will have a miscarriage, and one will see mankind as drunken, yet they will not be drunken, but dreadful will be the Wrath of Allah.”…
Given such verses and hadiths, how is the Prophet Muhammad (عليه الصلاة و السلام) is considered a mercy to the worlds? A similar question was asked to Ustadh Bediuzzaman from a different angle. He responded in his book titled Flashes [see the thirteenth flash, second indication] and mention it below.
Suppose we plant a thousand and ten seeds and only ten manage to germinate and grow into trees. Now its not reasonable to say that it wasn’t worth planting all those seeds, since the benefits brought by those ten trees far outweigh the loss of a thousand seeds. Similarly, while believers are very few in number, the benefit and honor brought by them to the humankind far outweigh the loss of the majority. Also, we should not forget that God treats each and everyone of us equally; we all go through the same test. Unlike the analogy of planting seeds, those who end up in hell do so because of their own choices. They reject the truth knowing they will go to hell. Their choice does not prevent the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) from being a mercy to the worlds.
-  In-book reference
- Sahih al-Bukhari 3348
- Book 60, Hadith 28
- USC-MSA web (English) reference
- Vol. 4, Book 55, Hadith 567
(deprecated numbering scheme)