As we have learnt, God created man for a noble purpose: to worship Him and lead a virtuous life based on His teachings and guidance. Mankind would not know his or her role and the purpose of his existence unless he receives clear and practical instructions of what Allah wants him to do. Here comes the need for prophethood. Thus, Allah has chosen from every nation at least one Prophet to convey His Message to people.
One might ask, how were the Prophets chosen and who were entitled to this great honor?
Prophethood is Allah’s blessing and favour that He may bestow on whom He wills. However, from surveying the various messengers throughout history, three features of a Prophet may be recognized:
1. He is the best in his community, morally and intellectually. This is necessary because a Prophet’s life serves as a role model for his followers. His personality should attract people to accept his message rather than drive them away by his imperfect character. After receiving the message, he is infallible. That is, he does not commit any sin. The easiest way to see this is to consider that these individuals were examples sent for humanity to follow, and so if they committed errors, people would be obliged to follow their errors, thereby making the prophets and messengers untrustable. This power of infallibility and sinlessness does not make a person incapable of committing sins; rather, he refrains from sins and mistakes by his own power and will. A Prophet might make some minor mistakes – not out of desire or for personal goals; rather, out of keenness on achieving some benefits in the favour of the message he came to convey. Such minor mistakes were usually corrected by revelation. Infallibility is essential since the job of the prophets and messengers is not only to convey the divine message of Allah but also to lead and guide humanity towards the right path. Therefore, they have to be role models and perfect examples for mankind.
2. He is supported by miracles to prove that he is not an imposter. These miracles are granted by the power and permission of Allah and are usually in the field in which his people excel and are recognized as superiors.
3. Every Prophet states clearly that what he receives is not from his own, but from Allah for the well-being of mankind. He also confirms what was revealed before him and what may be revealed after him. A Prophet does this to show that he is simply conveying the message that is entrusted to him by The One True God of all people in all ages. So the message is one in essence and for the same purpose. Therefore, it should not deviate from what was revealed before him or what might come after him.
Prophets are necessary for conveying Allah’s instructions and guidance to mankind. We have no way of knowing why we were created. What will happen to us after death? Is there any life after death? Are we accountable for our actions? These and so many other questions about Allah, angels, paradise, hell, and more, cannot be answered without direct revelation from the Creator and Knower of the unseen. Those answers must be authentic and must be brought by individuals whom we trust and respect. That is why messengers are the elite of their societies in terms of moral conduct and intellectual ability.
The Prophets are also miraculously supported by Allah and instructed by Him to affirm the continuity of the message. The content of the Prophets’ message to mankind can be summarized as follows:
a) Clear concept of Allah: His attributes, His creation, what should and should not be ascribed to Him.
b) Clear idea about the unseen world, the angels, jinn, Paradise and Hell.
c) Why Allah has created us, what He wants from us and what rewards and punishments are for obedience and disobedience.
d) How to run our societies according to His will. That is, clear instructions and laws that, when applied correctly and honestly, will result in a smoothly functioning, harmonious society.
24. And there never was a nation but a warner had passed among them. [Quran 35: 24]
164. And Messengers We have mentioned to you before, and Messengers We have not mentioned to you – and to Moses Allah spoke directly. 165. Messengers as bearers of good news as well as of warning in order that mankind should have no plea against Allah after the (coming of) Messengers. And Allah is Ever All-Powerful, All-Wise. [Quran 4: 164-165]
47. And indeed We did send Messengers before you (O Muhammad) to their own peoples. They came to them with clear proofs, then, We took vengeance on those who committed crimes; and (as for) the believers, it was incumbent upon Us to help (them). [Quran 30: 47]
44. Then We sent Our Messengers in succession. Every time there came to a nation their Messenger, they denied him; so We made them follow one another (to destruction), and We made them as Ahadîth (the true stories for mankind to learn a lesson from them). So away with a people who believe not! [Quran 23: 44]
36. And verily, We have sent among every Ummah (community, nation) a Messenger (proclaiming): “Worship Allah (Alone), and avoid (or keep away from) Tâghût (all false deities i.e. do not worship Tâghût besides Allah).” Then of them were some whom Allah guided and of them were some upon whom the straying was justified. So travel through the land and see what was the end of those who denied (the truth). [Quran 16: 36]
Author : Hamad Saleh Al-Hoqail
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