They also say: ‘Why has no angel been sent down to this Prophet?’ Had We sent down an angel, the matter would surely have long been decided and no respite would have been granted them.
(Al-Qur’an – 6:8)
The unbelievers were saying that if Muhammad (may Allah bless and greet him) had indeed been endowed with prophethood, an angel should have been sent down from heaven to announce that he was the Messenger of God, and that people would be punished if they did not follow his directives. It was astonishing to these ignorant objectors that the Creator of the heavens and the earth should appoint someone as His Messenger and then leave him without protection against the physical hurts and insults that were flung at him. They would have expected the envoy of a Sovereign as great as the Creator of the universe to be accompanied by at least some heavenly constable, if not a large retinue, to protect him!
The unbelievers’ objection is refuted by this remark. It warns them that the time available for accepting the true faith and bringing about the required reform in their lives will last only as long as Ultimate Reality remains concealed from human perception by the wheel of the Unseen. Once that wheel is removed, there will be no more respite: the summons to God’s reckoning will have come. This earthly life is a test of whether a man is able to recognise the Ultimate Reality – even though it lies hidden from his sense perception – by the correct exercise of his reason and intellect and of whether, having once recognised it, he is able to behave in conformity with that Reality by exercising control over his animal self and its lusts. This test necessarily requires that the Reality should remain concealed. Thereafter man will be confronted with the result of the test rather than by any further test.