People through whom the Almighty
completed providing His guidance to mankind are called prophets. They were, in
fact, human beings; however, the Almighty selected them for this purpose on the
basis of His all embracing knowledge and wisdom. As such, prophethood is
God-given and cannot be acquired through self-effort or training. It is evident
from the Qur’ān that only those people were chosen as prophets who were able to
shield themselves from the lures of their inner-self as well as those of Satan,
guard themselves against sin and were the righteous and pious among their
The Almighty sent these prophets to
every community. He had promised Adam (sws) that He would guide his progeny
through guidance revealed by Him. This guidance was given to mankind through
these very prophets. After receiving revelation from God, they told what the
truth was to people, gave glad tidings to those who believed in Him and warned
those who did not believe in Him of a dreadful fate.
Prophets were not needed to make people
recognize their Lord or give them a means to distinguish between good and evil.
These facts are ingrained in their nature and innately found in them. Thus the
need for prophets did not arise to inform man of these things; it arose because
of two other reasons.
Firstly, for completion of guidance.
This means that man be reminded of whatever is ingrained in his nature in
concise form and of whatever he has known eternally and all its details be
specified for him.
Secondly, for itmām al-hujjah.
This means to awaken man from his slumber of unawareness and after providing the
testimony of his intellect and knowledge provide another testimony through these
prophets to such an extent that no one is left with any excuse to deny the
Through the prophethood of Muhammad (sws),
both these objectives had been achieved at the global level and accomplished to
the utmost. Hence the institution of prophethood was terminated. The Qur’ān
declared him to be the last prophet. After him, no prophet or messenger shall
Every right-minded person has no
difficulty in recognizing a prophet. If a person has a discerning mind and a
vibrant heart, then the very person of a prophet is a miracle. However, besides
this, the Almighty blesses a prophet with potent signs which, though may not
induce his adversaries to openly acknowledge him, are enough to leave them with
no excuse to deny his veracity. It is evident from the Qur’ān that these signs
are given to every prophet and their nature depends upon his times and
circumstances. We shall mention a few of these in the following paragraphs:
i. A prophet generally comes in
accordance with the prediction of the prophet who precedes him and comes as a
fulfillment of this prediction. Viewed thus, he is not an un-introduced
personality. People are familiar with him and also await him. It is known from
the Bible that the Prophet John (sws) foretold the coming of Jesus (sws) all
over Jerusalem. The predictions of the advent of Muhammad (sws) are mentioned
both in the Old and the New Testaments. One of the primary objectives of the
advent of Jesus (sws) was to prophesy about the coming of an unlettered prophet
in Arabia. The Qur’ān has presented as a conclusive proof of its own
authenticity the fact that the scholars of the Israelites recognize the Qur’ān
the way an estranged father recognizes his much awaited and promised son. This
means that they also fully recognized Muhammad (sws).
ii. Whatever a prophet presents as the
word and message of God is without any contradiction and inconsistency. Even the
most ultimate of geniuses of this world like Socrates and Aristotle, Kant and
Einstein, Ghālib and Iqbāl, Rāzī and Zamakhsharī cannot make such a claim about
the works they have produced. However, the Qur’ān has vehemently asserted about
itself that there is not a semblance of contradiction in the philosophy and
ideology it presents and there is not the slightest evolution or development in
its style that a person can detect. Is it possible that for years a person
should give speeches on a variety of topics in different situations and
circumstances and when these speeches are compiled from the beginning to the end
they form such a harmonious and congruous discourse that it has no contradiction
of views and does not reflect any effects of mood change of the speaker and also
does not depict any revision or change of views? Only the Qur’ān has this
iii. A prophet is blessed with miracles
from God. The Qur’ān has specified that one of the reasons for which
extra-ordinary miracles were given to Jesus (sws) and Moses (sws) was to
authenticate them as messengers of God. No one can reject these miracles by
pronouncing them as magic or trickery. The reason for this is that the reality
behind such acts is very much known to those adept in such disciplines and they
too are compelled to acknowledge such acts as miracles.
The miracle given to the Prophet (sws)
to validate his prophethood is the Qur’ān. When those who are aware of the
stylistic features of Arabic language and of its literary tradition and also
have a literary appreciation of the language read the Qur’ān, they clearly feel
that this could not have been produced by human beings. Thus, at more than one
instance, it has challenged its addressees who do not regard it to be of divine
origin and regard it to be a fabrication of Muhammad (sws) to produce just a
single sūrah that can match the majestic style of the Qur’ān. If a person
from amongst them in their own opinion can produce such a discourse without any
literary and academic background, then they should also have no problem in doing
This Book of God is still with us.
Fourteen centuries have passed ever since it was revealed. During this period,
our world has undergone tremendous changes. Many ideologies and thoughts were
presented by man only to be rejected by him later. Theories regarding man’s
being and those regarding the universe around him were put forth every now and
then. Each underwent a process of acceptance or rejection in various periods of
time. His intellectual journey took him through various paths and destinations;
however, this Book of God is the only book which is as unassailable and sound
today as it was fourteen centuries ago regarding the various facts it presents
and which have remained under academic discussion in the past few centuries.
Knowledge and intellect helplessly acknowledged its superiority at that time the
way they do today. Every statement it has given has stood the test of time. The
world, in spite of its astounding scientific and academic discoveries, has
failed to present a better alternative to the views it presents.
iv. The Almighty informs a prophet of
certain unknown things which are impossible to come into the knowledge of any
other human being. One example of this is the predictions made by divine
revelations which were fulfilled to the utmost. Some of these predictions are
mentioned in the Qur’ān and some in the Hadīth narratives. Every student of the
Qur’ān is aware of the predictions regarding the supremacy of the Prophet
Muhammad (sws) in Arabia, the conquest of Makkah and the people entering the
folds of Islam in multitudes. Another great prediction made by the Qur’ān was
the victory of the Romans after being defeated by the Persians.
When this prediction was made, then in
the words of Edward Gibbon: “No prophecy could be more distant from its
accomplishment, since the first twelve years of Heraclius announced the
approaching dissolution of the empire.”
However, it was fulfilled at the very time it was meant to and in March 628 AD
the Roman emperor returned to Constantinople with such splendour that four
elephants were pulling his chariot and numerous people stood outside the city
with lanterns and branches of olive to welcome back their hero.
v. Prophets who are also designated as
Messengers (rusul) are a symbol of divine justice in this world and
decide the fate of their people in this very world. The way this is brought
about is that if these Messengers abide by their covenant with God they are
rewarded in this world and if they deviate from it they are punished in this
world. The result is that the very existence of these Messengers becomes a sign
of God and it is as if they witness God walking on earth with these Messengers
and administering justice. It is this situation which becomes the basis of
passing judgement by the Almighty both in this world and in that to come.
Consequently, the Almighty grants supremacy to these Messengers and punishes
those who reject their message.
The Almighty has directed people to obey
a prophet. He has made it very clear in His Book that a prophet is not merely to
be revered, he is to be obeyed also. He is not sent that people merely regard
him to be a prophet and then leave him aside; he is not merely one who counsels
and preaches; he is a guide who must be obeyed. The very objective of his coming
is that whatever guidance he provides in all affairs of life must be followed
without any hesitation. Moreover, obeying a prophet is not merely a ritual. The
Qur’ān requires from a believer to obey him with the spirit of following him and
with full sincerity, full reverence and full devotion.
by Dr Shehzad Saleem)