Belief in Prophets

Posted In Pillars of Iman - By islampillars On Wednesday, January 11th, 2012 With 0 Comments

In religion, a prophet, from the Greek word προφήτης profitis meaning “foreteller”, is an individual who is claimed to have been contacted by the supernatural or the divine, and serves as an intermediary with humanity, delivering this newfound knowledge from the supernatural entity to other people. The message that the prophet conveys is called a prophecy.

The Qur’an identifies a number of men as “Prophets of Islam” (Arabic: nabiyy نبي‎; pl. anbiyaa’ أنبياء). Muslims believe such individuals were assigned a special mission by God (Arabic: Allah) to guide humanity. Besides Muhammad(saas), this includes prophets such as Ibrahim(Abraham), Musa (Moses) and Isa (Jesus).

A depiction of Muhammad(saas) receiving his first revelation from the angel Gabriel. From the manuscript Jami’ al-tawarikh by Rashid-al-Din Hamadani, 1307, Ilkhanate period.

Although only twenty-five prophets are mentioned by name in the Qur’an, a hadith (no. 21257 inMusnad Ibn Hanbal) mentions that there were 124,000 of them in total throughout history (with other traditions placing the number of Prophets at 224,000 while other scholars holding that there is even a greater number in the history of mankind, and God alone knows), and the Qur’an says that God has sent a prophet to every group of people throughout time, and that Muhammad(saas) is the last of the prophets, sent for the whole of humankind. The message of all the prophets is believed to be the same. In Islam, all Prophetic Messengers are Prophets (such as [Adam], [Noah], [Abraham], [Moses], [Jesus], and [Muhammad(saas)]) not all Prophets are Prophetic Messengers. The primary distinction being that a Prophet is required to demonstrate God’s law through his actions character, and behavior without necessarily calling people to follow him, a Prophetic Messenger is required to pronounce God’s law (i.e. revelation) and call his people to submit and follow him. The Prophet Muhammad(saas) is distinguished from the rest of the Prophetic Messengers and Prophets in that he was commissioned by God to be the Prophetic Messenger to all of mankind. Many of these prophets are also found in the texts of Judaism (The Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings; collectively known as the Old Testament to Christians) and Christianity.

While Islam shares the Jewish tradition that the first prophet is Adem (Adam), it differs in that the last prophet is Muhammad(saas), who in Islam is called Seal of the prophets or Khatim an-Nabuwwah. Isa (Jesus) is the result of a virgin birth in Islam as in Christianity, and is regarded as a prophet like the others.[29]

Traditionally, four prophets are believed to have been sent holy books: the Tawrat (Torah) to Moses, the Zabur (Psalms) to David, the Injil(Gospel) to Jesus, and the Qur’an to Muhammad(saas); those prophets are considered “messengers” or rasul (Ule al A’zm men al Rusul أولي العزم من الرسل). Other main prophets are considered messengers or Nabi, even if they didn’t receive a Book from God. Examples include the messenger-prophet Aaron (Haroon), the messenger-prophet Ishmael (Isma’eel) and the messenger-prophet Yusuf (Joseph).

Although it offers many incidents from the lives of many prophets, the Qur’an focuses with special narrative and rhetorical emphasis on the careers of the first four of these five major prophets. Of all the figures before Muhammad(saas), Moses is referred to most frequently in the Qur’an. As for the fifth, the Qur’an is frequently addressed directly to Muhammad(saas), and it often discusses situations encountered by him. Direct use of his name in the text, however, is rare. Rarer still is the mention of Muhammad’s(saas) contemporaries.

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