“You are not alone.”

Today’s passage begins with this reminder to the Prophet:

Messengers before you [Muhammad] were also ridiculed. (21:41)

Muhammad is a part of a long line of prophets — Moses and Aaron, Abraham, Noah, David and Solomon, Job, Ishmael, Idris, Dhu-l’Kifl (Ezekiel), Jonah, Zechariah, Mary.  God has always been with His messengers.  Today’s section ends with this reassurance:

We answered him [Jonah] and saved him from distress: this is how We save the faithful. (21:88)

Muhammad was not alone.  There were other prophets before him who had experienced the same sting of ridicule.  There were others who watched the destruction of people they had been called to preach to.  There were others who might have felt like failures because those people did not repent.  Others who felt frustrated, angry, or depressed.  He was not alone in this sea of emotions.

Loneliness from rejection is a primal fear.  People everywhere feel it.  Alone in our fears and insecurities.  Alone in our guilt and shame.  Alone in our quirkiness and idiosyncrisy.  That’s why the fear of loneliness is so often a topic of religion, this system we construct from our questions and answers to life’s biggest questions. 

Whether it is Muhammad in Mecca, Moses on Mt. Sinai, or Jesus in Gethsemane, each needed to know they were not alone.  And so do we.

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