The Primary Message of the Quran

The primary message of the Quran reminds us of our relation to the Creator, the world around us and our responsibility towards the society in which we live

By Ahmad Ibrahim, April 2006

In the past few years we have seen resurgence in propaganda against Islam in which it is portrayed as a violent and intolerant religion, which spreads hatred towards others. These accusations couldn't be further from the truth. In reality Islam is a religion of peace and the primary message of the Quran teaches us the basic humanitarian values and goodness towards fellow human beings.

These baseless accusations against Islam are made by people who either have a hidden agenda to malign our religion or have no knowledge about the teachings of the Quran themselves and simply repeating the hearsay. Therefore, it is the responsibility of every Muslim to refute these false accusations with the help of knowledge from the Quran and to communicate and explain to everyone that the primary message of the Quran is to promote the basic humanitarian values and goodness towards fellow human beings.

In this essay we will examine 

  1. the the meaning of the primary message
  2. the background of this message and
  3. what is the primary message of Quran.

What is the meaning of primary message?

The word PRIMARY means:

  • of the first importance;
  • fundamental, earliest, original;
  • belonging to the first stage of development.

(Oxford English Reference Dictionary)

By this definition the primary message of the Quran must be its earliest, fundamental and most important message. Studying and analyzing this message is important since it provided the basis for the initial development of Muslim community fourteen centuries ago and later it formed the basis of the subsequent structure of Muslim community and its enormous success. [2]

We all know that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) received the revelation of the Quran over the period of 23 years beginning with the first five verses of chapter 96 - Surah Alaq. After that the revelations continued several verses at a time until the Quran was completed. The revelations were transmitted orally from believer to believer or written on a variety of material including animal skins, bone plates, palm tree fronds, thin stone plaques, and other material available at the time.

The revelations followed a evolutionary pattern beginning with the primary message and as the community grew this message was supplemented by new commandments suitable to the need of the time and situation.

Fortunately, the answer of this question can still be found in the Quran. For this purpose we can study the verses of the Quran which were revealed in the early years in Mecca and meticulously dated in many interpretations of the Quran.

Before we examine the primary message it is important to briefly look at the social and political landscape at that time.

Social and political background

At the turn of 7th century Mecca was the most important commercial city in the Hijaz, at the cross-roads of two important caravan routes. One route went from Yemen to Syria and the other from Iraq to Abyssinia. It also housed the Kabaa, the place of worship Prophet Abraham (PBUH) built several thousand years ago. It provided a sanctuary where people came from far distances without fear.

These two factors played an important part in the growth of Mecca into a prosperous trading center and an important financial hub, whose leading men where skillful in credit, investment and speculation. As a result, they had their financial influence as far as Yemen, Syria and Iraq.

Mecca was the home of tribe of Quraysh. Only two generations ago they had lived a tough nomadic life which required a grim struggle for daily survival. The surah or chapter 106 - The Quraysh is addressed to the tribe of Quraysh and reminds them of the bounties of God (Allah) who gave them provisions and peace through their caravan trade and house of God.

Due to Kabba and the caravan trade the Meccan grew rich beyond their wildest dreams. Yet their drastically altered lifestyle meant that the old tribal values had been superseded by a rampant and ruthless capitalism[3]. As a result the situation in Mecca was that of decline.

This is the social background in which the primary message of the Quran was first revealed.

The Primary Message of Quran[4]

The Beneficent and Merciful God (Allah) & return to God

The Quran does not present the concept of God as something new. It assumes that the reader is familiar with nature and can relate it to the concept of God. However, the Quran is a reminder. It reminds us the simple facts of life which we ignore in our preoccupations of life.

The primary message of Quran reminds us that:

  • God is the creator who created us from a germ cell or clotted blood, clay [ 96:1-2, 80:17-18, 87:2-3, 55:3 & 55:14]
  • God made the life on this earth possible by providing us the means; food to eat, water to drink, a vast earth to live, night for sleep, day for economy, companionship for love and peace for prosperity [106, 80:24-32, 55:10-12]
  • God gave us all the faculties and taught us by pen [96:4, 90:4-17];
  • Everything will perish except the majesty of God [55:26]
  • Everyone must return to God for judgement [96:8, 74:8-10, 84:6]
  • Every human being is punished or rewarded for his or her deeds. [84:7-12]

The response of Man: Gratitude (shukr) , Generosity & Moral purification (tazzaka)

In response to the God's mercy and benevolence Quran expects man:

  • To be grateful to God;
  • Worship none other but the God;
  • Be generous to the fellow human beings
  • Honor the orphans, feed the poor and give his or her wealth to the poor [93:8-10, 90:4-17 ]
  • Cooperate in acts of goodness with fellow human beings
  • And in this way purify his or her soul [80:3]

(Also read Successful People)

In practical terms, Islam meant the Muslim had a duty to create a just, equitable society where the poor and vulnerable are treated decently. The early moral message of Quran is simple: it is wrong to stockpile wealth and to build private fortune, and good to share the wealth of society fairly by giving a regular proportion of one's wealth to the poor. [5]


The primary message of the Quran explains our relationship to the God and the world around us. It is a reminder. It denies nothing about actual human behavior and experience. It tells us about facts which we already know, but often fail to appreciate because of our preoccupations. It reminds us that our life on the face of earth is brief, fragile and only because nature, in its benevolence, has subjected its forces to our benefit, without which life on the face of this planet is incomprehensible. So our response should be to worship the God and be good to other human being and in this way we purify ourselves.

Notes & References

[1] The word primary means something derived from the first stage of development or growth, and often forming the foundation of the subsequent structure. [Oxford Dictionary] [2] The description of Muslims in Gospel is "like a seed which sends forth its shoot, then makes it strong, it then becomes thick, and it stands straight on its stem, delighting the sowers that He (God) may enrage the disbelievers with them. God has promise them among them who believe and do good deeds forgiveness and a mighty reward. [3] A history of God by Karen Armstrong (1993, page 132) [4] References from Quran: The verses revealed in Mecca can be divided into those which are revealed before the opposition and persecution and those after. For the purpose of primary message of Quran we refer to the verses in the former category. Most of the these early Meccan revelations are in the sections (para) 29 and 30 of Quran. The list of them are produced below:

  • Surah 55 - Ar-Rehman - Most Gracious
  • Surah 74 - Muddathir - The secret (*)
  • Surah 80 - Abasa - The frowned (*)
  • Surah 84 - Al Inshiqaq - The rupture (*)
  • Surah 86 - At Tariq - The Bright Star (*)
  • Surah 87 - Al A'la - The Most High
  • Surah 88 - Al Ghasiyah - The overwhelming
  • Surah 90 - Al-Balad , The Town or The City (*)
  • Surah 93 - Ad Duha - The forenoon
  • Surah 96 - Al-Alaq, The Embryo (*)
  • Surah 106 - Quraish Tribe

* parts of these chapters are thought to be revealed after the opposition

** Some sources put Surah 68 - Al-Qalam second or third in order of revelation. However, the subject matter of the surah shows that it was revealed after the beginning of opposition. [5] Armstrong, Karen, A History of God (Ballantine Books, 1993)