Discover Islam: Basic Concepts : Prophethood

 

 

 

 

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Prophethood


[Prophets] [Angels] [Books]

The fundamental belief of a Muslim is in the oneness of Allah (the Almighty God). As a result of this, we understand that the entire purpose of our life on earth is to worship, serve, and obey Allah. The question arises then: How we are to have a clear understanding of our position in relation to the rest of creation, and how do we learn what our duties are in respect of our Creator, our fellow creations, and our own selves.

The answer to this is the institution of prophethood. The prophets are the channel of communication between Allah and mankind. It is through them, in His infinite mercy, that Allah provided men and women with guidance to follow the right course and so make this world a happy and peaceful place to live in. For those who accept and follow that guidance, the reward in the life after death is much greater and more desirable than the fleeting pleasures of this world.

[External link: Prophets - The Perfect Models for Humanity]

 

Prophets

Since the beginning of Creation, Allah has sent His guidance for mankind through a group of specially selected human beings. These chosen people are called prophets (Arabic: nabi, pl. ambiyaa) or messengers (Arabic: rasool, pl. rusul). Each one of them invited the people of their time to obey and worship Allah as He wished. They taught, guided, and trained their people to follow the way of Allah and left indelible prints on the fabric of human history.

The prophets and messengers were very special people - but none the less were no more than human beings. They were not sons, partners, or incarnations of Allah. The message of every prophet and messenger was one and the same: "There is none worthy and deserving of worship except Allah."

Beliefs

bulletAllah sent prophets and messengers to every nation in every time and place throughout the history of mankind. The minimum number of these prophets was 124,000. Muslims affirm faith in all of them, whether their names are known or not.
 
bulletThe first of the prophets was, in fact, the father of the human race, Adam ( - 'alayhis-salaam - peace be upon him). The last of the prophets and messengers was the Prophet Muhammad ( - sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam - peace and blessings of All‚h be upon him).
 
bulletAll the prophets and messengers were human beings whom Allah chose to convey His message to the people. No person became such as a result of their own effort. Never was prophethood revoked from a person once it was bestowed. In His infinite Wisdom, Allah knew well the people whom He chose as His messengers. 
 
bulletThey always spoke the truth, committed no sins, and conveyed the message they were sent with - leaving nothing out, nor adding anything of their own accord.
 
bulletMuhammad () is the last and final prophet. After him, there will now come no new prophets. The message that he brought is the message and guidance for mankind until the end of time. The message he delivered is the perfection and culmination of the guidance that Allah has been revealing to mankind throughout the ages of history.
 
bulletMany times, Allah bestowed upon the prophets the ability to perform miracles. Such events, which could not be performed by ordinary men, were meant to demonstrate the truthfulness of the claim to prophethood. [Click here for more on miracles.]
 
bulletThose people chosen by Allah fell into two categories: "Prophets" and "Messengers". Every "messenger" was a "prophet" but not the other way around. "Prophet"s were all those who were favored to be a guide for mankind. They received Revelation from Allah, but not necessarily a complete Divine Book and Law. A "messenger" was one who in fact received a Divine Book and code of law for his nation. Most of the prophets simply came to remind people of their duty towards the book of the time, and to reestablish the existing code of law. The last Book to be revealed, containing the most perfect code of law for the rest of time, is the Qur'an.
 
bulletWhy do we need guidance from Allah anyway? The answer is simple: human beings are weak and frail; we have no knowledge of the future and the knowledge we do have is extremely limited, notwithstanding any "great discovery" or "invention" that the human race has produced. Also, we are not perfect and are unable to make any guidance and laws for ourselves which hold good for all times and in all conditions. In particular, it is necessary for us to be educated and informed of three aspects: (1) Knowledge of Allah and His attributes, (2) the reward and punishment of the Hereafter, so as to encourage men and women towards good deeds and away from evil, and (3) the manner of prayer and worship that is accepted by Allah. No matter how much we use our intellect, it brings us no fruit in understanding these aspects of life if void of Divine Guidance. Just as our sense of seeing is only activated in the presence of light, so our intellect can only be activated if guided by Divine knowledge through the medium of prophethood.

[External link: Children's Stories of the Prophets]

 

Angels

The angels are a creation of Allah, created from a substance called noor (light or effluence). They are a creation that we cannot see by eye. They have no propensities towards evil nor do they have any carnal desires. They were not created with free will, as human beings -- rather they remained constantly engaged in whatever duties Allah has assigned to them. Their number is uncountable and only known to Allah and they have no gender -- that is, they are neither masculine nor feminine.

We include angels here in the discussion of prophethood because the duty of the most famous and senior of the angels, the Angel Jibreel (Gabriel -  - 'alayhis-salaam - peace be upon him), was to deliver the laws and revelations of Allah to the prophets and messengers. The angels are thus a medium of Divine revelation.

The names of three other prominent angels are known to us: (1) Mikaa'eel () is the angel in charge of the rains, weather, and providence. There are many angels under his supervision that act in accordance with the will and commandments of Allah. (2) 'Izraa'eel () is the "Angel of Death" - charged with the supervision of those angels who withdraw the souls of people when their time to live upon this earth has expired. (3) Israafeel () is the angel whose task it will be to sound the Trumpet on the Last Day which will lead to the destruction of the Universe and the advent of the Day of Judgment.

Besides these angels, there are countless others engaged in various duties: two angels accompany every woman and man, writing down the good and bad deeds we do; there are angels who protect people from calamities and disasters; others question the dead in the graves; others seek out and attend gatherings where the worship and remembrance of Allah is taking place; others are in charge of guarding or taking care of Hell and Heaven; finally, others do nothing else but remain in constant worship of Allah, glorifying and magnifying Him until eternity. 

 

Divine Books

Many books of various sizes were revealed to different prophets for the guidance of their nations. Muslims believe in all the books revealed by Allah. Of these, the four major ones are:

bulletTawraah (Torah), revealed to Musa (Moses - )
bulletZaboor (Psalms), revealed to Dawood (David - )
bulletInjeel (Gospel), revealed to 'Isa (Jesus - )
bulletQur'an, revealed to the Last Prophet, Muhammad ()

All the other books, besides the Holy Qur'an, were revealed at once. The Qur'an was revealed part-by-part over a period of 23 years. [Read more...]

Furthermore, besides the Qur'an, none of the books are currently to be found in their original form. Changes, alterations, additions, and deletions have been made to them. Allah has promised to safeguard the text of the Qur'an up till the Last Day. From the beginning of its revelation until the present day, thousands of people have memorized the Qur'an by heart in its entirety. Muslims read and recite the Qur'an many times over every year.

The previous books and revelations all mentioned the coming of the final Prophet and the last Book that he would bring. His name, place of birth and migration, and detailed descriptions of his own self as well as his companions were and are still to be found in these books -- even in their present adulterated forms. The pages of history bear witness to the fact that those people with knowledge of the previous scriptures recognized immediately the signs of the Prophet Muhammad (). It was for this very reason that large communities of Jews had established their residences in Madinah at the time of his coming -- they were in fact awaiting the arrival of the last prophet. When the second khalifah (caliph) after the death of the Prophet (), Umar ibn al-Khattab, marched to Jerusalem, the Christians (Romans), in whose control it was, opened the doors of the city to him after recognizing in him the signs given in the Injeel (Gospel).

 

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Last modified 08/12/05 09:45 AM - Connecticut Council of Masajid, Inc.