A UNIVERSAL MESSAGE
" ...We make no distinction between one and another of His messengers..." <Qur'an Baqara 2:285>
The essence of Allah's prophets is human but they are the purest of human beings.
A Muslim does not ascribe divinity to any prophets or messengers, and should
consider all of them with the same amount of respect and veneration. We should
be careful not to regard Jesus (pbuh) as belonging to Christianity, Moses (pbuh)
to Judaism, and Muhammad (pbuh) to Islam, rather all the monotheist religions
and hence prophets, lead back to the one true God.
Prophecy is selective and favoring. It is never imposed by force or compulsion, but rather by Allahs selection of the best of His creatures and the elites of His servants whom He chooses to bear the burden of the mission, and whom He selects from the rest of human beings. To this, God says in the Holy Book: "Allah chooses messengers from among the angels and from among the men; surely Allah is Hearing, Seeing." <Qur'an Al-Hajj 22:75> It can then only be given to qualified individuals, because it is a heavy burden and a great entrustment that no one is capable of assuming except those endowed with constancy, for it says in the Holy Quran: "If We had caused this Quran to descend upon a mountain, you would have seen it humbled, rent asunder by the fear of Allah. Such are the examples We set forth to people, so that they may reflect." <Quran Al-Hashr 59:21>
Prophethood has a special status and significance. Prophets chosen and entitled to this great honor had some common characteristics.
First of all, morally and intellectually speaking he is the best in his community. The prophet's life being an example for his followers, is the best example. He is gifted with a personality that would attract people to accept his message. They are chosen from among those people who have never committed nor would ever commit a sin.
Prophets are also supported by miracles as a way of substantiating the divinity of their message. Those miracles are granted by the power and permission of God and are usually in the field in which his people excel and are recognized as superior. We might illustrate this by quoting the major miracles of some prophets. Jesus' miracles (pbuh) were to raise the dead and cure the incurable diseases. Moses' contemporaries (pbuh) were excellent in magic. With the help of God, he defeated the best magicians of Egypt of his days. The Arabs, the contemporaries of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), were known for their eloquence and magnificent poetry. So Muhammad's major miracle (pbuh) was the Qur'an, the equivalent of which the whole legion of the Arab poets and orators could not produce despite the repeated challenge from the Qur'an itself. Again Muhammad's miracle (pbuh) has something special about it. All previous miracles were limited by time and place, that is, they were shown to a specific people at a specific time. Not so the miracle of Muhammad (pbuh), the Qur'an. It is a universal and everlasting miracle. Previous generations witnessed it and future generations will witness its miraculous nature linguistically and also in terms of its style, content and ability to spiritually uplift those who read and adhere to it.
Lastly, every prophet states clearly that what he receives is from God and is for the well-being of mankind. He also confirms what was revealed before him and what may be revealed after him. Prophets are necessary for conveying God's instructions and guidance to mankind. It is truly thanks to them that today we know the Word of God, the existence of the angels, paradise and hell...May the blessing of God be upon them all.
These verses group together those messengers of Allah as a community distinguished
from the rest of mankind. They also state that Allah has exalted some messengers
over others. The exaltation refers to the specific field assigned to the messenger
concerned in which he exerts his efforts and to which he directs his call. He
may be a messenger sent to a tribe, or a nation or a generation, or a messenger
sent to all mankind in all ages. He may be given a preference in relation to
the special qualities he, personally, or his nation is granted. It may also
be relevant to the nature of his message, its scope and which aspects of human
or universal life it addresses.
However, Muslims are commanded to respect them and not to discriminate among them. In the Holy Book, it is mentioned that all the prophets, from Adam (pbuh) to Muhammad (pbuh) are prophets of Islam, and their true followers are labelled Muslims. They gave the same basic teaching, that man should worship God, and God alone, and make peace with fellow human beings. They received the Word of God, preached and practiced it and struggled hard to shape the society on the basis of revealed moral principles.
But however they shared between them the knowledge of God, they advocated different outer rules and regulations for the well-being of human transaction in society. Points of difference among the divine messages were necessary due to the changing times and circumstances and concerned only certain secondary principles such as legislation, ways of worship and methods of organizing life. Each message had its particular legislative form through which the teachings of Islam and its major goals in life were suitably expressed. God says: "And We have revealed to you the Book (Qur'an) with the truth confirming whatever of the Book(s) was before it and a guardian over it, so judge between them by what Allah has revealed, and follow not their low desires (to turn away) from the truth which has come to you, for everyone of you We have appointed a divine law and a (traced out) way, and if Allah had willed, He would have made you (all) a single nation, but that He might try you in what He gave you, so strive as in race in all virtues. the goal of you is to God..." <Qur'an Mai'da 5:51>
The basic values and laws of conduct were universalized for all human beings and for all time by the last of the prophets, Muhammad (pbuh). He brought about a successful revolution in the world of thought and action and started a new phase of human civilization. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had come to complete the work of the earlier prophets."...This day have I perfected for you your religion and completed My favour to you and chosen for you Islam as a religion <Qur'an Maida 5:4> He told his followers to have faith in the prophets and revealed books of all religions and nations: "Say: We believe in God and in that which has been revealed to us, and in that which was revealed to Abraham and Isma'il and Isaac and Jacob and the various tribes, and in that which was given to Moses and Jesus, and in that which was give to all the prophets from their Lord; we do not make any distinction between any of them and to Him do we submit <Qur'an Baqara 2:136>
"How many of the Prophets fought (in God's way),
and with them (fought) large bands of godly men? But they never lost heart if
they met with disaster in God's way, nor did they weaken (in will) nor give
in. And God loves those who are firm and steadfast. All that they said was:
Our Lord! Forgive us our sins and anything we may have done that transgressed
our duty, establish our feet firmly, and help us against those that resist faith."
<Qur'an Al-Imran 3:146-147>
None of the prophets readily found a people who would listen to their message and follow them. All of them lived through difficulties, and oftentimes their own relatives refused to acknowledge their prophethood. But, however difficult the test, they never despaired or gave up their mission. God urges us to follow their example. This enables us to draw closer to Him by facing our difficulties in the best of ways through knowing and following the patience and steadfastness shown by the Prophets who came before. All the prophets overcame their tests, and were successful. They were in search of the light, the real truth. Looking for it, chosen and loved by God, they have always been very close to him. Indeed, God likes those who do good deeds and who are patient.