Belief in Prophethood
By Atta ur Rehman Khilji (AC Quetta)
Prophethood means the transmission or reaching of Allah's message to the human beings through prophets which may be in the verbal form i.e. sayings of the prophets or in practical form i.e. the actions of the prophets or their tacit approval or may be in the written form like the tablets that were received by Moses on Mount Sinai. It is obligatory upon Muslims to have belief in all the prophets that were sent by Almighty God for the guidance of humanity. It must be the integral part of the belief of prophethood that the chain of prophets has come to an end on the Holy Prophet (PBUH) as he is the last prophet sent by Almighty God and unlike other prophets his teachings are for eternity and for the whole humanity.
Prophethood is the strongest link between the Creator and creatures and is not prone to deficiencies. As we cannot solve our intellectual problems through the resources of senses, wisdom and intuition, we have to resort to revelation which is available in the form of prophethood.
Almighty God has sent about 124,000 prophets for conveying His message to human beings. Those messengers on whom complete divine books were revealed are called law-bearing (Shariah) prophets. They are four in number namely Moses, David, Christ and Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The remaining messengers who continued the mission of their predecessor prophets are called messengers. Some of them received some additions in the teachings of their predecessor prophets in the shape of divine scriptures. Islam ordains its followers to hold all the messengers in high esteem and strictly prohibits from using disgraceful remarks in respect of any prophet. In this regard Almighty God says in verse No. 285 of Surah Baqara:
“The Messenger believes, and so do the believers, in the guidance sent down upon him from his Lord: each of them believes in Allah, and in His angels, and in His Books, and in His Messengers. They say: “We make no distinction between any of His Messengers. We hear and obey. Our Lord! Grant us Your forgiveness; to You we are destined to return.”
If some non-Muslim belonging to any divine religion commits the devilish act of blasphemy i.e. uses derogatory remarks in respect of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) or attempts to desecrate the holy books of Islam, even them Islam does not authorise its followers to reciprocate it by defiling the copies of other divine books or using abominable remarks in respect of their prophets as being Muslim we have to believe in all the prophets/messengers and divine books subject to the condition that except the Holy Quran, all the other divine books have been tempered with by their followers as per their worldly whims and wishes.
The first trait/quality of prophethood is humanity which means that all the messengers were human beings, and on various occasions they were disbelieved by their people on this account but they did not repudiate this fact. In this regard Almighty God says in verse No. 10 and 11 of Surah Ibraheem.
(V.No.10)Their Messenger said: “Can there be any doubt about Allah, the Creator of the heavens and the earth? He invites you that He may forgive you for your sins and grant you respite till an appointed term.” They replied: “You are only a human being like us. You seek to prevent us from serving those whom our forefathers have been serving all along. If that is so, produce a clear authority for it.”
(V.No.11) Their Messenger told them: “Indeed, we are only human beings like you, but Allah bestows His favour on those of His servants whom He wills. It does not lie in our power to produce any authority except by the leave of Allah. It is in Allah that the believers should put their trust.”
The messengers sent for the guidance of different nations were from amongst them and spoke the same language that was spoken by their people. They have human needs and aptitude/desires. In this regard Almighty God says in verse No. 20 of Surah Furqan,
“(O Muhammad), We never sent any Messengers before you but they ate food and walked about in the markets. We made some of you a means to test each by the other to see whether you remain patient. Your Lord is All-Seeing”.
Similarly in verse No. 50 of Surah Anaam it has been directed “(O Muhammad)! Say: I don't say to you that I have the treasures of Allah; nor do I have knowledge of what is beyond the reach of perception; nor do I say to you that I am an angel. I only follow what is revealed to me”.
In verse No. 31 of Surah Hud, Hazrat Nuh said the same sentences to his people. It is inevitable to send human beings for the guidance of humanity because if the Allah had sent angels as prophets, the people would have said that being human beings they could not follow/imitate the lives of angels as the angles have no human needs or temptations.
The second quality of prophethood is that it is bounty of God which means that it is something that cannot be acquired by efforts and is bestowed by Allah upon those people who are chosen/selected by Him. In this regard, Almighty God says in verse No. 124 of Surah Anaam,
“Whenever there comes to them a sign from Allah, they say: “We will not believe until we are given what was given to the Messengers of Allah.” Allah knows best where to place His Message”.
However, prior to their selection for this meritorious and great task, they used to give some time to meditation at the command of Almighty God, like the Holy Prophet (PBUH) used to go to the Cave of Hira for worship purpose even before declaring his prophethood.
The third trait of prophethood is infallibility which means that all the prophets were infallible and their lives were safe and free from errors and satanic temptations because Almighty God has Himself taken responsibility for protecting them from human errors. For becoming role model this aspect was imperative for prophets. The prophets played pivotal role in the reformation of societies because there was no contradiction between their words and actions. Even prior to announcing his prophethood, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) was famous in the Arab society by the titles of Truthful and Trustworthy owing to his impeccable integrity and undisputed honesty.
The fourth quality of prophethood is that the prophets were bestowed knowledge by Almighty God. They did not invent things from their own. This thing has been clearly elaborated in the initial verses of Surah Najam where Allah says, “By the star when it sets (1) Your companion has neither strayed nor is he deluded (2) He does not say anything of his own (3) But whatever is revealed upon him (4) something that a very powerful One has imparted to him (5)”.
Apart from the above mentioned traits, the prophets had other qualities also. Like they were teachers and preachers as the Holy Prophet (PBUH) said: “I have been sent as a teacher”.
They were forewarners as they warned the people of the upcoming punishment /wrath they have to face if they failed to eschew the polytheistic beliefs and distasteful actions. They were role models for the humanity. In this regard, Almighty God declares about the life of Holy Prophet (PBUH) in verse No.21 of Surah Ahzab,
“For you is the best example in the life of the Holy Prophet (PBUH)”.
The prophets' lives were the practical form of books and scriptures that were revealed upon them and their predecessor prophets. Once the companions of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) inquired from Hazrat Aisha (RA) about the life of Holy Prophet (PBUH). She replied “The life of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) is Holy Quran”.
We can truly fulfill the requirements of the belief of the prophethood as well as the other fundamental beliefs of Islam by following the life and teachings of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) in letter and spirit as Almighty Allah says in verse No. 31 of Surah Al-e-Imran,
“(O Messenger) tell people: “if you indeed love Allah, follow me and Allah will love you and will forgive you your sins, Allah is All-Forgiving, All-Compassionate”.