Saturday, May 8, 2010

Belief in the Prophets

Belief in the Prophets and Messengers

In the Name of Allāh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful,
All praise and thanks are due to Allāh, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Description: The purpose and role of the Prophets, the nature of the message that they brought to humanity, and the emphasis that they were mere humans with no divine attributes.

Belief in certain prophets who Allāh chose to convey His message to mankind is a required article of Islamic faith.

“The Prophet (Muhammad) believes in what has been sent down to him from his Lord and (so do) the believers. Each one believes in God, His Angels, His Books, and His prophets. (They say,) ‘We make no distinction between one another of His prophets...’”

[Al-Baqarah, 2:285]

1. Allāh conveys His message and relates His will through the prophets.

The Prophets form a link between the earthly beings and the heavens, in the sense that Allāh has picked them to deliver His message to human beings. There are no other channels to receive divine communications. It is the system of communication between the Creator and the created. Allāh does not send angels to every single individual, nor does He open the skies so people can climb up to receive the message. His way of communication is through human prophets who receive the message through angels.

To have faith in the prophets or messengers is to firmly believe that Allāh chose morally upright men to bear His message and pass it to humanity. Blessed were those who followed them, and wretched were those who refused to obey. They faithfully delivered the message, without hiding, altering, or corrupting it. Rejecting a prophet is rejecting the One who sent him, and disobeying a prophet is disobeying the One who commanded to obey him.

Allāh sent to every nation a prophet, mostly from amongst them, to call them to worship Allāh alone and to shun false gods.

“And ask (O Muhammad) those of Our prophets whom We sent before you: ‘Did We ever appoint gods to be worshipped besides the Most Merciful (God)?’”

[Al-Zukhruf, 43:45]

Muslims believe in those prophets mentioned by name in Islamic sources, such as Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, David, Solomon, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad, (Sallallāhu `Alayhi Wa Sallam), to name a few. A general belief is held in those not mentioned by name, as Allāh says:

And, indeed We have sent prophets before you (O Muhammad), of some of them We have related to you their story, and of some We have not related to you their story...”

[Ghafir, 40:78]

Muslims firmly believe the final prophet was the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, and there will be no prophet or messenger after him. 

The teachings of the last prophet are preserved in original language in their primary sources. There is no need for another prophet. In the case of earlier prophets, their scriptures were lost or their message was corrupted to the point that truth was hardly distinguishable from falsehood. The message of the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu `Alayhi Wa Sallam) is clear and preserved and will remain so till the end of time.

1.1 The Purpose for Sending Prophets

We can identify the following main reasons for sending prophets:

1. Guiding humanity from the worship of created beings to the worship of their Creator, from being in a state of servitude to the creation to the freedom of worshipping their Lord.
2. Clarifying to humanity the purpose of creation: worshipping Allāh and obeying His commands, as well as clarifying that this life is a test for each individual, a test of which its results will decide the type of life one will lead after death; a life of eternal misery or eternal bliss. There is no other definite way to find the true purpose of creation.
3. Showing humanity the right path that will lead them to Paradise and to salvation from Hellfire.
4. Establishing proof against humanity by sending prophets, so people will not have an excuse when they will be questioned on the Day of Judgment. They will not be able to claim ignorance to the purpose of their creation and life after death.
5. Uncovering the unseen ‘world’ which exists beyond the normal senses and the physical universe, such as the knowledge of Allāh, existence of angels, and the reality of the Day of Judgment.
6. Providing human beings practical examples to lead moral, righteous, purpose-driven lives free of doubts and confusion. Innately, human beings admire fellow human beings, so the best examples of righteousness for humans to imitate are those of Allāh’s prophets.
7. Purifying the soul from materialism, sin, and heedlessness.
8. Conveying to humanity the teachings of Allāh, this is for their own benefit in this life and in the Hereafter.

1.2 Their Message

The single most important message of all prophets to their people was to worship Allāh alone and none else and to follow His teachings. All of them, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Moses, Aaron, David, Solomon, Jesus, Muhammad and others, in addition to those we do not know - invited people to worship Allāh and shun false gods.

Moses declared: “Hear, O Israel, The Lord our God is one Lord.” (Deuteronomy 6:4).

This was repeated 1500 years later by Jesus, when he said: “The first of all the commandments is, ‘Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord.’” (Mark 12:29).

Finally, the call of Muhammad (Sallallāhu `Alayhi Wa Sallam) some 600 years later reverberated across the hills of Makkah:
“And your God is One God: there is no god but He...”

[Al-Baqarah, 2:163]

The Holy Qurān states this fact clearly:

“And We did not send any Messenger before you (O Muhammad) but We revealed to him (saying): ‘none has the right to be worshipped but I, so worship Me.’”

[Al-Anbiya’, 21:25]

1.2 The Message Bearers

Allāh chose the best among humanity to deliver His message. Prophethood is not earned or acquired like higher education. Allāh chooses whom He pleases for this purpose.

They were the best in morals and they were mentally and physically fit, protected by Allāh from falling into cardinal, major sins. They did not err or commit mistakes in delivering the message. They were over one hundred thousand prophets sent to all mankind, to all nations and races, in all corners of the world. Some Prophets were superior to others. The best among them were Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad (Sallallāhu `Alayhi Wa Sallam).

People went to extremes with the prophets. They were rejected and accused of being sorcerers, madmen, and liars. Others turned them into gods by giving them divine powers, or declared them to be His children, like what happened to Jesus.

In truth, they were fully human with no divine attributes or power. They were Allāh’s worshipping slaves. They ate, drank, slept, and lived normal human lives. They did not have the power to make anyone accept their message or to forgive sins. Their knowledge of future was limited to what Allāh revealed to them. They had no part in running the affairs of the universe.

Out of the Infinite Mercy and Love of Allāh, He sent to humanity prophets, guiding them to that which is the best. He sent them as an example for humanity to follow, and if one does follow their example, they would live a life in accordance to the Will of Allāh, earning His Love and Pleasure

[ (16 Jan 2006)]

2. A Belief in All Prophets without Distinction

The Islamic belief in all prophets without exception, with a small discussion on the nature of Jesus and Muhammad.

One might well ask:

How many prophets has Allāh sent to humanity? We are only sure of what is clearly mentioned in the Quran, that Allāh has sent a messenger to every nation. That is because it is one of Allāh’s principles that He will never call a people to account unless He has made clear to them what to do and what not to do. The Quran mentions the names of 25 prophets and indicates that there have been others who were not mentioned to Prophet Muhammad, (Sallallāhu `Alayhi Wa Sallam). These 25 include Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad (may Allāh praise them all). These five are the greatest among Allāh’s messengers. They are called ‘the resolute’ prophets.

An outstanding aspect of the Islamic belief in prophethood is that Muslims believe in and respect all the messengers of Allāh with no exceptions. All the prophets came from the same One God, Allāh for the same purpose: to lead mankind to Allāh. Hence, belief in them all is essential and logical; accepting some and rejecting others has to be based on misconceptions of the prophet’s role or on a racial bias. The Muslims are the only people in the world who consider the belief in all the prophets an article of faith. Thus the Jews reject Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them), and the Christians reject Muhammad(Sallallāhu `Alayhi Wa Sallam). The Muslims accept them all as messengers of Allāh who brought guidance to mankind. However, the revelations which those Prophets before Muhammad (Sallallāhu `Alayhi Wa Sallam) brought from Allāh have been tampered with in one way or another.

The belief in all the prophets of Allāh is enjoined upon the Muslims in the Qurān:

“Say (O Muslims): We believe in God and that which is revealed to us and that which was revealed to Abraham and Ishmael, and Isaac and Jacob, and their children, and that which Moses and Jesus received and that the prophets received from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them and unto Him we have surrendered.”

[Al-Baqarah, 2:136]

The Qurān continues in the following verses to instruct the Muslims that this is the true and impartial belief. If other nations believe in the same, they are following in the right track. If they do not, they must be following their own whims and biases and Allāh will take care of them. Thus we read:

“And if they believe in what you believe, then they are rightly guided. But if they turn away, then they are in disunity, and God will suffice you against them. He is the Hearer, the Knower. This is God’s religion and who is better than God in religion?”

[Al-Baqarah, 2:137-138]

There are, at least, two important points related to prophethood that needs to be clarified. These points concern the roles of Jesus (`Alaihis-Salam) and Muhammad (Sallallāhu `Alayhi Wa Sallam as prophets, who are usually misunderstood.

The Quranic account of Jesus emphatically rejects the concept of his ‘divinity’ and ‘divine sonship’ and presents him as one of the great prophets of Allāh. The Quran makes it clear that the birth of Jesus without a father does not make him the son of God and mentions, in this respect, Adam, who was created by Allāh without a father or mother.

“Truly, the likeness of Jesus, in God’s sight, is as Adam’s likeness; He created him of dust, them said He unto him “Be”, and he was.”

[Al-‘Imran, 3:59]

Like other prophets, Jesus also performed miracles. For example, he raised the dead and cured the blind and lepers, but, while showing these miracles, he always made it clear that it was all from Allāh. Actually, the misconceptions about the personality and mission of Jesus, peace be upon him, found a way among his followers because the Divine message he preached was not recorded during his presence in the world. Rather, it was recorded after a lapse of about one hundred years. According to the Quran, he was sent to the Children of Israel; he confirmed the validity of the Torah, which was revealed to Moses, peace be upon him, and he also brought the glad tidings of a final messenger after him.

“And when Jesus son of Mary said, ‘Children of Israel. I am indeed the messenger to you, confirming the Torah that is before me, and giving good tidings of a Messenger who shall come after me, whose name shall be the praised one…”

[Al-Saff, 61:6]

(The “praised one” is the translation of “Ahmad”, which is Prophet Muhammad’s name.)

However, the majority of the Jews rejected his ministry. They plotted against his life and in their opinion, crucified him. But the Quran refutes this opinion and says that they neither killed him nor crucified him; rather, he was raised up to Allāh. There is a verse in the Quran which implies that Jesus will come back and all the Christians and Jews will believe in him before he dies. This is also supported by authentic sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallāhu `Alayhi Wa Sallam) .

The last prophet of Allāh, Muhammad (Sallallāhu `Alayhi Wa Sallam), was born in Arabia in the sixth century C.E. Up to the age of forty, people of Makkah knew him only as a man of excellent character and cultured manners and called him ‘Al-Ameen’ (‘The Trustworthy’). He also did not know that he was soon to be made a prophet and receiver of revelation from Allāh. He called the idolaters of Makkah to worship the one and only Allāh and accept him (Muhammad) as His prophet. The revelation that he received was preserved in his lifetime in the memory of his companions and was also recorded on pieces of palm leaf, leather, etc. Thus the Quran that is found today is the same that was revealed to him, not a syllable of which has been altered, as Allāh Himself has guaranteed its preservation. This Qurān claims to be the book of guidance for all of humanity for all times, and mentions Muhammad
(Sallallāhu `Alayhi Wa Sallam),as the last Prophet of Allāh.

[By; edited by (6 Mar 2006)]

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