The Greatest and Most Exalted of Allāh’s Orders1
يَا أَيُّهَا الرَّسُولُ بَلِّغْ مَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكَ مِن رَّبِّكَ ۖ وَإِن لَّمْ تَفْعَلْ فَمَا بَلَّغْتَ رِسَالَتَهُ ۚ وَاللَّهُ يَعْصِمُكَ مِنَ النَّاسِ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْكَافِرِينَ
”O Messenger (Muḥammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم))! Proclaim (the Message) which has been sent down to you from your Lord. And if you do not, then you have not conveyed His Message. Allāh will protect you from mankind. Verily, Allāh guides not the people who disbelieve.
Imām ʿAbd al-Raḥmān ibn Nāṣir al-Saʿdī (d. 1376 AH) comments:
This is from among the greatest and most exalted of Allāh orders to His Messenger, Muḥammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم). It is to deliver that which Allāh has revealed to him. This includes every matter that this ummah has received from him (صلى الله عليه وسلم) whether it be pertaining to creed, acts, speech, legislative rulings, or divine requests.
Thus did the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) deliver this message in the most complete manner. For he (صلى الله عليه وسلم) called his people and warned them. He gave glad tidings and made the affair of those who accepted his call prosperous and easy. He taught the ignorant, illiterate ones among his people such that they became scholars that taught the people in a progressive manner starting with the simpler, small matters before the major, more complex issues. He delivered his message with his speech, his actions, his correspondences, and with the ambassadors he sent from among his ṣaḥābah. Such that there is no good except that he (صلى الله عليه وسلم) has already clarified it to this ummah, nor evil except that he (صلى الله عليه وسلم) has already warned them from it.
The best of this ummah, the ṣaḥābah, have testified to his (صلى الله عليه وسلم) delivery of this message. Just as those who came after them from the Imāms and the Muslims who have similarly testified to this effect.
His saying: “And if you do not,” that is if you do not deliver that which has been revealed to you from your Lord “then you have not conveyed His Message”, that is you have not enacted His command.
“Allah will protect you from mankind”, that is a protection from his people; a support granted by Allāh to His Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم). It denotes that his (صلى الله عليه وسلم) care and attention should relate to teaching his people and delivering the message to them. He should not be dissuaded from his mission due to fear of them, for their foreheads are in the Hand of Allāh, and Allāh has taken on the responsibility of protecting him (صلى الله عليه وسلم). The only matter he was tasked with was clear delivery of the message. Whomever accepts guidance, it is only for his own self. As for the disbelievers who do not intend except to follow their own desires then, indeed, Allāh will not guide them nor will He grant them the ability to enact acts of righteousness. This is all due to their initial disbelief.
The Attitude Adopted When Calling to Islām2
وَمَا يَنبَغِي لَهُمْ وَمَا يَسْتَطِيعُونَ ﴿٢١١﴾ إِنَّهُمْ عَنِ السَّمْعِ لَمَعْزُولُونَ ﴿٢١٢﴾ فَلَا تَدْعُ مَعَ اللَّهِ إِلَٰهًا آخَرَ فَتَكُونَ مِنَ الْمُعَذَّبِينَ ﴿٢١٣﴾ وَأَنذِرْ عَشِيرَتَكَ الْأَقْرَبِينَ ﴿٢١٤﴾ وَاخْفِضْ جَنَاحَكَ لِمَنِ اتَّبَعَكَ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ ﴿٢١٥﴾ فَإِنْ عَصَوْكَ فَقُلْ إِنِّي بَرِيءٌ مِّمَّا تَعْمَلُونَ ﴿٢١٦﴾ وَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى الْعَزِيزِ الرَّحِيمِ ﴿٢١٧﴾ الَّذِي يَرَاكَ حِينَ تَقُومُ ﴿٢١٨﴾ وَتَقَلُّبَكَ فِي السَّاجِدِينَ ﴿٢١٩﴾ إِنَّهُ هُوَ السَّمِيعُ الْعَلِيمُ
“And warn, [O Muḥammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم)], your closest kindred. And lower your wing to those who follow you of the believers. And if they disobey you, then say, “Indeed, I am disassociated from what you are doing.” And rely upon the Exalted in Might, the Merciful, who sees you when you arise and your movement among those who prostrate. Indeed, He is the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.”
(Al-Shuʿarāʾ, 26: 211-220)
Imām ʿAbd al-Raḥmān ibn Nāṣir al-Saʿdī (d. 1391 AH) comments:
The saying of the Most High: “And warn, [O Muḥammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم)], your closest kindred,” that is, the closest ones to you for they are most deserving of your good treatment, kindness, and compassion, whether it be in relation to your worldly or religious dealings with them.
This order in no way contradicts the command to warn all of mankind. Rather, it is similar to if someone was ordered with general goodness to people after which it is said to him: ‘Treat your close kindred with goodness.’ This command would act only to reinforce the existing order, and to indicate their entitlement to a greater share of it.
He (صلى الله عليه وسلم) enacted this command. He called all the tribes of Quraysh, specifying certain ones among them in his call. He reminded and exhorted them. There was no advice or guidance within his abilities to grant except that he carried it out. So those amenable to guidance were guided, and those who opposed him continued in opposition.
“And lower your wing to those who follow you of the believers,” that is, be tender in your dealings with them, kind and compassionate when speaking to them, while cultivating fondness, amicability, and love in your relationship with them. All the while treating them with excellent manners and complete goodness in your dealings with them. He (صلى الله عليه وسلم) also enacted this, as the Most High said:
فَبِمَا رَحْمَةٍ مِّنَ اللَّهِ لِنتَ لَهُمْ ۖ وَلَوْ كُنتَ فَظًّا غَلِيظَ الْقَلْبِ لَانفَضُّوا مِنْ حَوْلِكَ ۖ فَاعْفُ عَنْهُمْ وَاسْتَغْفِرْ لَهُمْ وَشَاوِرْهُمْ فِي الْأَمْرِ
“So by mercy from Allāh, [O Muḥammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم)], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them on the matter.”
(Āli ʿImrān, 3: 159)
Such was his conduct (صلى الله عليه وسلم); he showed the best of manners which resulted in the greatest of witnessed reforms and extinguishment of harm.
Thus, is it befitting for the one who believes in Allāh and His Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) to leave off following or imitating him (صلى الله عليه وسلم)? That he should treat the Muslims with blunt harshness, with unsociable ill-temperedness, displaying extreme disdain and scorn for them, harshness of heart, rudeness and atrocious speech? Upon observing disobedient acts or inscrutable manners they immediately abandon them [i.e. ill-mannered callers] while harbouring hate, scorn, and disdain for them. They possess no tenderness, nor manners, nor guidance. Such treatment has led to corruption, complete negation of reformation and goodness, as is clearly discernible.
Even so, you will find such people showing hate towards those who have adopted the manners of the most gracious of Messengers, labelling them with hypocrisy and deceit. All the while considering themselves perfect, far removed and above them, in awe of their own actions. Does one adopt such an attitude except out of his own ignorance, compounded with the beautification and trickery of shayṭān? It is due to this that Allāh says to His Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم): “And if they disobey you” that is, in a matter from among the matters, then do not declare yourself innocent from them, leaving off lowering your wing [of mercy] to them, or showing tenderness in your dealings with them. Rather, declare yourself innocent of their actions. But Exhort and advise them. Try your utmost to turn them away from what they have chosen while encouraging them to repent from it. This is a pre-emptive and precautionary negation of the misconception that one may hold from His saying: “And lower your wing” to the believers, misunderstanding this to be completely pleased with everything they take part in, as long as they are believers. This misconception is negated with what comes in subsequent verses.
 Al-Sīrah al-Nabawiyyah: 21-22
 Al-Sīrah al-Nabawiyyah: 20