Prophethood in Islam

The Characteristics of Prophets

All Prophets have common characteristics which make them exceptional human beings.

Prophets receive revelation

The main difference between an ordinary human being and a Prophet is that a Prophet receives revelation from Allah.

Prophets have noble character

Prophets never sought personal benefits such as wealth, high status or power — rather, they only sought the approval of God.

Prophets perform miracles

Many Prophets performed miracles, usually in a field which their people excelled. For example, the people of Moses (peace be upon him) excelled in magic; therefore, Moses (peace be upon him) was able to perform miraculous acts which even magicians could not perform. The people of Jesus (peace be upon him) excelled in matters of medicine; therefore, Jesus (peace be upon him) was able to perform acts of healing beyond the skill of his own people. The people of Muhammad (peace be upon him) excelled in poetry; therefore, Muhammad (peace be upon him) delivered the Quran, containing such eloquent words which no poet could ever compete with. In addition, many Prophets conveyed truthful prophecies of future events. Such miracles were performed only with the permission and assistance of Allah, proving that they were human, and not divine.

Prophets are not divine

While Prophets are chosen by Allah Almighty, they are in no way divine and should not be worshipped. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was commanded to say, “I am only a man like you. It has been revealed to me that your God is One God.” Quran 18:110 It is clear even from the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, that the Prophets were not divine, and would worship and prostrate to the One True God. “And he [Jesus] went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed…” Matthew 26:39 “And they [Moses and Aaron] fell upon their faces…” Numbers 16:22 “And Abram [i.e. Abraham] fell on his face: and God talked with him…” Genesis 17:3

Prophets have necessary qualities

Allah gave all Prophets certain characteristics in order for them to successfully fulfil their mission, such as persistence, courage, leadership, patience and wisdom.

  • The persistence of Noah (peace be upon him) in calling his people to Allah, even though very few accepted.
  • The courage of Abraham (peace be upon him) to singlehandedly confront his entire community regarding their false beliefs, while he was still very young.
  • The leadership of Moses (peace be upon him) in directing the escape of his people from the most oppressive tyrant of his time — Pharaoh.
  • The patience of Jesus (peace be upon him) in enduring the hardships and persecution imposed upon him by his people.
  • The wisdom of Muhammad (peace be upon him) in uniting the many rival tribes of Arabia, who had a long history of conflict, into one peaceful community.

The Message of the Prophets

“And certainly We sent to every nation a Messenger (saying): ‘Worship Allah and avoid false gods.’ “Quran 16:36

  • Clarify the true concept of God and reject false beliefs
  • Teach the true purpose of life
  • Demonstrate how Allah should be worshipped
  • Convey Allah’s definition of righteous and sinful conduct, and advise people accordingly
  • Describe the rewards for obedience (Heaven) and warn of the punishment for disobedience (Hell)
  • Explain commonly misunderstood issues such as the soul, angels and spirits, the afterlife and fate

Why did God send prophets and messengers to people?

Muslims believe that the key message brought by all Prophets was the same; to believe in One God and not to associate partners with Him, to stay away from sins and to lead a life devoted to earning Gods pleasure.

  1. - Adam > God is One
  2. - Noah > God is One
  3. - Abraham > God is One
  4. - Moses > God is One
  5. - Jesus > God is One
  6. - Muhammad > God is One

Every Nation was Sent a Prophet

Why Doesn’t Everyone Receive Direct Revelation?

Allah created life and gave humans free will and intellect, as a test to see who will willingly follow His path and who will deviate. If every person received direct revelation, life would not be a true test of faith. The real test of one’s faith is in using one’s intellect and reason to contemplate and recognise God’s signs, rather than being spoken to directly by God, which would not require any effort, and would render belief meaningless.

The Final Prophet

Prophets were sent to specific groups of people, and over time, the messages with which they came were lost or corrupted. However, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was not sent to a specific people, but to mankind as a whole, and his message has been preserved both in the form of the Quran and the Sunnah. Since the Quran and Sunnah are preserved and easily accessible, there is no need for another Prophet.

  • The Quran is the spoken word of Allah, and is free of any corruption, errors or contradictions. It is a book of “guidance for mankind… and the distinction (between right and wrong).” Quran 2:185
  • The Sunnah is a collection of the sayings and actions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), as recorded by his companions and their students. The fact that there are thousands of these recorded and rigorously authenticated makes it very easy for anyone to follow Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) correctly.

Conclusion

“Indeed in the Messenger of Allah [Prophet Muhammad] you have an excellent example to follow for whoever hopes in (the meeting with) Allah and the Last Day, and remembers Allah much.” Quran 33:21

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Fatima Karim

Fatima Karim

It is Allah who brought you out of your mothers’ wombs knowing nothing, and gave you hearing and sight and hearts. ―Quran 16:78 My Twitter @fatimakarimms