Posted: 24 Juni 2010 in Islamic Lecture

Need for Prophets

A’La Maududi (from “Towards Understanding Islam,” published in 1977) raises the question as to why mankind needs prophets:
“Is the fundamental need of human culture confined to the need of experts and specialists in the fields of law and politics, science and mathematics, engineering and mechanics, finance and economics and the like, or does it need men who may show man the Right Path – the way to God and salvation? Other experts provide man with the knowledge of what is in the world and of the ways and means to use that, but there must be someone to tell man the purpose of creation and the meaning of life itself. What man himself is and why he has been created? Who has provided him with all the powers and resources and why? What are the proper ends of life and how are they to be achieved? What are the proper values of life and how can they be attained? This is the most cardinal need of man and unless he knows this he cannot erect the edifice of culture on sound foundations and cannot succeed in life here and the hereafter. And our reason refuses to believe that God Who has provided man with even the most trivial of his requirements would ignore to provide for this greatest, most paramount and most vital need. Nay, it can never be so. And it is not so. While God has produced men of distinction in arts and sciences He has also raised men with deep vision, pure intuition, and highest faculties to know and understand Him. To them, He Himself revealed the way of godliness, piety, and righteousness. He gave them the knowledge of the ends of life and values of morality and entrusted with them the duty to communicate the Divine Revelation to other human beings and to show them the Right Path. These men are the Prophets and Messengers of God.”
Prophethood in Islam
Jeffrey Lang (from “Struggling to Surrender) compares Christian and Muslim appreciation of revelation :
“The majority opinion of Christian scholars today is that the Bible is a synthesis of different levels of holy inspiration. When the Muslim speaks of revelation [on the other hand], he is usually referring to the most direct kind: the Prophet as the human instrument through which God literally “speaks” or reveals His Will, as in the Biblical descriptions: “I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and I will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command them” (Deuteronomy 18:18) and “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of Truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself: but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he shall show you things to come” (John 16:13). The Muslim does acknowledge, however, that this [direct revelation] is not the only type of divine communication.

Qur’an 42:51 (“The Consultation”):
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
“And it is not given to mortal man that God should speak unto him otherwise than through sudden inspiration, or from behind a veil, or by sending a messenger to reveal, by his leave, whatever He wills: for verily, He is exalted, wise.”

A’La Maududi (in his book “Towards Understanding Islam”) describes the extraordinary aspects of a prophet:
“The Prophets distinguish themselves in the human society by their special aptitudes, natural bents of mind and a pious and meaningful living, more or less in the same way as other geniuses in art and sciences distinguish themselves by their extraordinary capacities and natural aptitudes. Every such talent distinguishes itself by its remarkable power and extraordinary achievements. Others cannot stand a match to it. The same is true of a prophet. His mind grasps problems which defy other minds; he speaks and throws rare lights on subject on which no one else can speak; he gets insight into such subtle and intricate questions that no one else would have even understood after years of deep thought and meditation. His nature and disposition are so good and pure that in all affairs his attitude is that of truthfulness, straightforwardness, and nobility. He never does or utters wrong, nor does he commit any evil. He always inculcates virtue and righteousness, and practices himself what he preaches to others. No incident of his life shows that his life is not in accordance with his ideal. His character is without blemish and even the minutest scrutiny fails to reveal any flaw in his life. And all these facts, all these attributes, make it evident that he is the Prophet of God and faith must be reposed in him.”

Maududi continues, “When it becomes quite clear that such and such a person is the true Prophet of God, the natural dictate of this realization is that his words should be accepted, his instructions followed, and his orders obeyed. It is quite unreasonable to accept a man as God’s true Prophet, and yet not believe in what he says or not follow what he ordains; for your very acceptance of him as God’s Prophet means you have acknowledged that what he says is from God, and that whatever he does is in accordance with God’s Will and Pleasure.”

“It is noteworthy that in very important worldly affairs an expert is needed for advice, and when you turn to the expert you thereafter trust his advice and entirely depend upon it. You rather surrender your own right of judgment and inference and follow him gracefully. Every ordinary man cannot be a master in all arts and crafts of the world. The proper way for an average human being is to do what he can and, in respect of things he cannot do, to use all his wisdom and shrewdness in finding out the proper man to guide and help him, and after finding such a man to accept his advice and follow him. When you are sure that a certain person is the best man available for your purpose, you solicit his advice and guidance, and have complete trust in him.”

25 prophets mentioned in Qur’an, 5 of strong will

According to the teachings of Islam, there are many Prophets and Messengers of God, about 25 of them are mentioned in the Qur’an, out of these 25, only five are of strong will, namely Muhammad, Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus – son of Mary (peace be upon them all). This is referred to in the following verses of the Qur’an:

Qur’an 33:7 (“The Confederates”)
In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
“And (remember) when we took from the Prophets their covenant, and from you (O Muhammad), and from Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus son of Mary. We took from them a strong covenant.”

Previous Messengers – Qur’an 4:163-164 (“The Women) & 57:26-27 (“Iron”)

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
“Verily, We have inspired you [O Muhammad (pbuh)] as We inspired Noah and the Prophets after him; We (also) inspired Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and Al-Asbat (the twelve sons of Jacob), Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron, and Solomon, and to David We gave the Zabur (Psalms).

And Messengers We have mentioned to you before, and Messengers We have not mentioned to you,-and to Moses God spoke directly.”

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
“And indeed, We sent Noah and Abraham, and placed in their offspring Prophethood and Scripture, and among them there is he who is guided, but many of them are Fasiqun (rebellious, disobedient to God).

Then, We sent after them, Our Messengers, and We sent Jesus – son of Mary, and give him the Injil (Evangel). And We ordained in the hearts of those who followed him, compassion and mercy. But the Monasticism which they invented for themselves, We did not prescribe for them, but (they sought it) only to please God therewith, but that they did not observe it with the right observance. So We gave those among them who believed, their (due) reward, but many of them are Fasiqun (rebellious, disobedient to God).”

Previous Books – Qur’an 5:44-48 (“The Table Spread”)

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
“Verily, We did send down the Torah (to Moses), therein was guidance and light, by which the Prophets, who submitted themselves to God’s Will, judged the Jews. And the Rabbis and the priests (too judged the Jews by the Torah after those Prophets) for to them was entrusted the protection of God’s Book, and they were witnesses thereto. Therefore fear not men but fear Me (O Jews) and sell not My Verses for a miserable price. And whosoever does not judge by what God has revealed, such are the Kafirun (i.e. disbelievers – of a lesser degree as they do not act on God’s Laws).

And We ordained therein for them: “Life for life, eye for eye, nose for nose, ear for ear, tooth for tooth, and wounds equal for equal.” But if anyone remits the retaliation by way of charity, it shall be for him an expiation. And whosoever does not judge by what God has revealed, such are the Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doers – of a lesser degree).

And in their footsteps, We sent Jesus – son of Mary, confirming the Torah that had come before him, and We gave him the Evangel, in which was guidance and light and confirmation of the Torah that had come before it, a guidance and an admonition for Al-Muttaqun (the pious). Let the people of the Evangel judge by what God has revealed therein. And whosoever does not judge by what God has revealed (then) such (people) are the Fasiqun (the rebellious i.e. disobedient of a lesser degree to God).

And We have sent down to you (O Muhammad (pbuh)) the Book (this Qur’an) in truth, confirming the Scripture that came before it and Mohayminan (trustworthy in highness and a witness) over it. So judge between them by what God has revealed, and follow not their vain desires, diverging away from the truth that has come to you. To each among you, We have prescribed a law and a clear way. If God willed, He would have made you one nation, but that (He) may test you in what He has given you; so strive as in a race in good deeds. The return of you (all) is to God; then He will inform you about that in which you used to differ.”

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