Prophets

Prophets of God – Part 1

Our universe and all that itcontains is the creation of Allah, the Wise. He has created everything with a purpose and to achieve that purpose He has provided all necessary guidance and means. He has created man in His own image and has made him the chief of His creation. Both good and bad have been made manifestly clear to man. He has also been blessed with wisdom by which he can find out the right path, can sift right from wrong and truth from falsehood. The Holy Qur’an tells us that man has been endowed with both spiritual and physical eyes by which he can distinguish good from evil and has been given a tongue and two lips that he might ask for guidance, and above all God has placed before him a supreme object of his life that he may devote all his faculties and energies to achieve it. Man has been granted the choice of both selection and action. Hence he is the master of his own destiny. To achieve the object of life, God, out of His benevolence raises prophets, who serve as models. These prophets have been appearing in every people and in all parts of the world. Their mission has always been to guide mankind to its Creator, through their example and model. The guidance revealed through each prophet was designed to cater for the specific needs of the time and location; hence they were essentially temporary in nature. With the advancement and maturity of mankind God sent advanced and matured teachings suitable to their time. God’s 37The Review of Religions – January 2006 G o d PROPHETS of Part 1 By Daud A Hanif – USA This article was first printed in the Muslim Sunrise in 2003 and gives an brief introduction to some of the major prophets. guidance for human race commenced through Adam(as) and reached the zenith through Muhammad(sa). God says: This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed my favor upon you and have chosen for you Islam as religion… (Ch.5:V.4) Thus the revelation of Law, or Shariah, was perfected and completed by Islam. According to one saying of the Prophet Muhammad the number of prophets who were chosen to convey the message of God to mankind is 124,000. The names of all of them are not mentioned anywhere. However the Holy Qur’an states in very clear words: T h e re is no people [in the world] to whom a Warner has not been sent. (Ch.35:V.25) It also mentions the following twenty-eight prophets by name: A d a m( a s ), Noah( a s ), Abraham ( a s ), L o t( a s ), Ishmael( a s ), Isaac( a s ), Jacob( a s ), J o s e p h( a s ), Hud ), Salih( a s ), Shuaib( a s ), M o s e s( a s ), Aaron ( a s ), David( a s ), S o l o m o n( a s ), Elias (Elijah) ( a s ), J o n a h( a s ), Ezekiel (Dhul-Kifl) ( a s ), Elisha (Alyasa)( a s ), Idris (Enoch)( a s ) ( C h . 1 9 : V.57), Job( a s ) ( C h . 4 : V. 1 6 4 ) , Z e c h a r i a h( a s ) ( C h . 1 9 : V.3), John ( Ya h y a )( a s ) ( C h . 3 : V.40), Jesus( a s ) ( C h . 3 : V.46), Luqman ( a s ) ( C h . 3 1 : V.13), Ezra( a s ) ( C h . 9 : V.30), Dhul- Q a r n a i n( a s ) ( C h . 1 8 : V. 8 4 ) , M u h a m m a d( s a ) ( C h . 4 8 : V. 3 0 ) . Belief in all the prophets and their messages is an integral part of the belief of every Muslim. The Holy Q u r’an states: This Messenger of Ours believes in that which has been revealed to him from his Lord , and so do the believers; all of them believe in Allah, and in His angels, and in His Books, and in His Messengers, saying, ‘ We make no distinction between any of His M e s s e n g e r s . . . ’ (Ch.2: V. 2 8 6 ) In prophethood all are equal but their ranks are different as is clear 38 PROPHETS OF GOD – PART 1 The Review of Religions – January 2006 from the following verse of the Holy Qur’an: These Messengers have We exalted some of them above others; among them there are those whom Allah spoke; and some of them He exalted by degrees of rank…’ (Ch.2:V.254) So wherever and to whichever people prophets have been sent, they are our (Muslims’) prophets as well, and we hold them in great reverence. A brief history of a few of them is given for the benefit of the reader. Hadrat Adam(as) Adam(as) lived about 6,000 years ago. It is possible that he was born in present day Iraq. He is popularly believed to be the first man created by God upon earth. This view is, however, wrong. The world has passed through diff e r e n t cycles of creation and civilization, and Adam( a s ), the progenitor of the present human race, is only the first link in the present cycle, and not the very first man in God’s creation. Nations have risen and fallen, civilizations have appeared and perished, and many other cycles of human civilization may have appeared and disappeared. Muhiyud-Din Ibn Arabi, the great Muslim mystic, says that once he saw himself in a dream per- forming a circuit of the Kabah. In the dream a man who claimed to be one of his ancestors appeared before him. ‘How long is it since you died?’ asked Ibn Arabi. ‘More than forty thousand years,’ the man replied. ‘But this period is much more than what separates us from Adam( a s )!’ said a surprised Ibn Arabi. The man replied, ‘Of which Adam( a s ) are you speaking? About the Adam( a s ) who is nearest to you or of some other?’ ‘Then I recollected,’ says Ibn Arabi, ‘a saying of the Holy Prophet to the e ffect that God had brought into being no less than a hundred thousand Adams (peace be upon them), and I said to myself, ‘Perhaps this man who claims to be an ancestor of mine was one of the previous Adams.’ (Futuhat ii, p. 607) It does not, however, mean that the race, which lived before 39 PROPHETS OF GOD – PART 1 The Review of Religions – January 2006 Adam(as), was entirely swept away before he was born. Most likely, there had remained a small degenerated remnant of the old race and Adam( a s ) was one of them. God then selected him to be the progenitor of a new race and the precursor of a new civilization. Created, as it were, out of the dead, he represented the dawn of a new era of life. Allah, the Knower of the unseen has said: And when thy Lord said to the angels, ‘I am about to appoint a vicegerent in the earth,’ they said, ‘Wilt Thou place therein such as will cause disorder in it, and shed blood? We glorify Thee with Thy praise and extol Thy holiness.’ He answered, ‘I know what you know not.’ (Ch.2:V.31) In this verse God has used the word khalifah for Adam ( a s ). Khalifah in Arabic means a successor. It is, therefore, clear that men had existed and lived on earth before Adam(as) whom he succeeded. We cannot say whether original inhabitants of America, Australia, etc., are the progeny of this last Adam(as) or of some other Adam(as) gone before him. In short, the Holy Qur’an speaks of that Adam ( a s ) who was appointed as Khalifah and the first Prophet of God, and who was raised for the guidance of mankind. God taught him the knowledge and made him leader of men. He was appointed a prophet in the gardens of Eden, which lay near Babylon in Iraq. It was a very fertile land abounding in its verdure and was referred to as Jannah, that is, the garden. Angels and other beings were commanded by God to obey Adam(as). All obeyed except Iblis. An explanation of Iblis seems inevitable as a lot of controversy prevails about this entity. ‘Iblis’ is a being which contains little good and much of evil and which, on account of its having despaired of God’s mercy owing to its disobedience, is left perplexed and confounded. Iblis is often considered the same as 40 PROPHETS OF GOD – PART 1 The Review of Religions – January 2006 Satan, but in some cases, also different from him. It must be understood that Iblis was not one of the angels, because, whereas he has been described in Ch.2:V.35 as disobeying to God, the angels, we are told, are ever ‘submissive’ and ‘obedient’ (Ch.66:V.7). God was angry with Iblis because he too was commanded to serve A d a m( a s ) but he disobeyed ( C h . 7 : V.13). Moreover, even if there were no separate commandment for Iblis, the one for angels can be extended to all beings because angels are the custodians of different parts of the universe. The commandment given to them automatically extends to all beings. Iblis is an attributive name given to the evil spirit opposed to the angels. He has been so named because he possesses the qualities of being deprived of good, being left bewildered in the way, and of despairing of God’s mercy. That Iblis of Adam(as) was not the Satan spoken of in verse 37 of Surah Baqarah. It is apparent from the fact that the Qur’an mentions the two names side by side wherever the story of Adam(as) is given, but everywhere a careful distinction is observed between the two. Wherever it speaks of the being, who, unlike the angels, refused to serve Adam ( a s ), it invariably mentions the name Iblis, and wherever it speaks of the being who beguiled Adam ( a s ) a n d became the means of his being turned out of ‘the garden,’ it mentions the name ‘Satan.’ The distinction, which is most significant and which has been maintained throughout the Qur’an in at least ten places (Ch.2:V.35, and V.37; Ch.7:V.12, and V.21; C h . 1 5 : V.32; Ch.17:V. 6 2 ; C h . 1 8 : V.51; Ch.20:V. 117, and V.121; Ch.38:V.75) clearly shows that Iblis is different from ‘Satan’ who beguiled Adam(as) and who was one of Adam’s(as) own people. Elsewhere, the Qur’an says that Iblis belonged to a secret creation of God and, unlike the angels, was capable of obeying or disobeying God (Ch.7:Vs.12-13) (Commentary of Ch.2:V36). The Law Introduced Through Adam (peace be upon him) Under the guidance of God Adam(as) built the House of God in 41 PROPHETS OF GOD – PART 1 The Review of Religions – January 2006 Arabia. He and his followers turned to it in worship. This house united them and kept them focused. It is the same house, which is presently called the Kabah in Saudi Arabia. Basic rules for living in society were taught to the people through Adam(as). The fundamental rights given to all people through A d a m( a s ) are mentioned in the Holy Qur’an as: It is provided for thee that thou wilt not hunger therein nor wilt thou be naked; and that thou wilt not thirst t h e rein, nor wilt thou be exposed to the sun. (Ch.20:Vs.119, 120) In other words, provision of food, clothing, shelter and water to the people was fixed as the duty of the authorities. So through Adam(as) a social order for the progress and prosperity of its people as well as of the future generation was established. A d a m( a s ), as has already been stated, was appointed as the prophet in the Garden of Eden near Babylon in Assyria or present day Iraq. He was allowed to use whatever pleased him but was forbidden to approach a tree – a particular family tree. It appears Adam(as), who had a great desire for the good of all people, approached the forbidden one also. They were an arrogant people who picked a quarrel with A d a m( a s ) and his followers. It eventually ended in a fight and the people of Adam(as) had to migrate from Iraq to some neighboring country. This lapse of Adam(as) has been highly exaggerated by Christian writers and cited as an unpardonable sin. Rather, a sin which every human being inherits. The Bible, being an interpolated book contains confused statements about the forbidden tree. In Genesis 2:17 we have: ‘But the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.’ 42 PROPHETS OF GOD – PART 1 The Review of Religions – January 2006 Contrary to this we have in Genesis 3:4-5: ‘And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die; for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.’ This statement of the serpent, God forbid, as opposed to God’s appears to be true. We have in Genesis 4: 6: ‘And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.’ This statement of the Bible makes it crystal clear that Eve and not A d a m( a s ) committed the first sin. Therefore, if this sin is to be inherited, then all those who are born of woman including Jesus( a s ) must inherit it first. But there exist many other verses in the Bible that prove that there were men like Malik Siddiq Saleem (Melchisedek, King of Salem) who were born without sin. On the issue of Adam’s( a s ) sin the Holy Qur’an is very clear and unambiguous. It says: And verily, We had made a covenant with Adam b e f o rehand, but he forgot, and We found in him no determination to disobey. ( C h . 2 0 : V. 11 6 ) This verse shows that Adam’s( a s ) lapse was only an error of judgment. It was inadvertent and involuntary and not at all intentional or deliberate. To err is human. One becomes sinful if one commits it willfully and k n o w i n g l y. Hence the theory of original sin and its inheritance is a castle built on a precipice. The lapse of Adam( a s ) and Eve no doubt was inadvertent and accidental and hence not a sin. However they discovered that by acting on the advice of Satan or the serpent they had lodged 43 PROPHETS OF GOD – PART 1 The Review of Religions – January 2006 themselves in trouble with a certain evil family, and as a result had to migrate from that place. T h e y, however, repented and turned to God Who granted A d a m( a s ) His grace. God also turned to him with mercy and guided him (Ch.20:V.13). Adam(as) conveyed the message of God to the people and was successful in his assignment. A progressive society governed by the divine rules was established in that land by him. Hadhrat Noah(as) Noah(as) was an inhabitant of Iraq (Genesis 11:9). Very little is known of his childhood or youth. The Bible says that Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. He was a just man and perfect in his generation and Noah walked with God (Genesis 6:9). He appeared about ten centuries after Adam(as). The people of his time had become worldly and were involved in social and moral evils. They had forgotten the real Creator and had resorted to the worship of idols. They had many idols, the principal ones being Wadd, Suwa, Yaghuth, Yauq and Nasr. P rophet Noah ( a s ) Visits the House of God Noah(as) visited the house of God built by Adam(as). According to Al-Arzaki, Noah ( a s ) carried out major repairs to the House of God after the Deluge (Akhbar Makkah) and performed the Pilgrimage (Al- badaya Ch.1:V.119). The worship of one God was revived in that area after long time, and the example of Noah(as) did indeed infuse afresh the love of God in his people. P rophet Noah ( a s ) C o n v e y s Message of God God appointed Noah( a s ) for the guidance of mankind. The Holy Qur’an says: We sent Noah to his people and he said, ‘O my people, worship Allah, you have no other God but Him. Indeed, I fear for you the punishment of the great day.’ (Ch.7:V.60) On hearing this message the 44 PROPHETS OF GOD – PART 1 The Review of Religions – January 2006 chiefs of his people replied: ‘We see you to be in manifest error.’ Hadhrat Noah ( a s ) then very politely told them: O my people, there is no error in me, I am a Messenger from the Lord of the worlds. I deliver to you the messages of my Lord and give you sincere advice, and I know from Allah what you do not know. Do you wonder that an exhort a t i o n has come to you from your L o rd through a man fro m among yourselves, that he may warn you and that you may become righteous and that you may be shown mercy? (Ch.7:Vs.62-64) Despite the bitter opposition of the chiefs, Noah(as) continued his preaching. Only a handful of weak ones, the poor and the youth, believed in him. He preached to his people day and night, and spoke to them in public and in private. He reminded them of the great favors and bounties that God had bestowed upon them and also warned them of the evil consequences of the rejection of the divine message. But all his preaching and warning, his sympathy and solicitude, were treated with ridicule, opposition and abuse. Instead of following him whose heart was full of love for them, they chose to follow their false leaders. The chief of his people told him: We see thee in nothing but a man like ourselves, and we see that none have followed thee but those who, to all outward appearance, are the meanest of us. And we do not see in you any superiority over us; nay, we believe you to be a liars. (Ch.11:V.28) Noah(as) tried to convince them and win them over for God. He advised them to seek forgiveness of the Lord, as He is a great Forgiver of sins. Enumerating the benefits of belief in One God he informed them, God would send down rain for them in abundance and would grant them increase in wealth and children. He will also cause gardens to grow and rivers to flow for them. He further drew 45 PROPHETS OF GOD – PART 1 The Review of Religions – January 2006 their attention to the great creation of the seven heavens in perfect harmony and placing of the moon in it as a light and the sun as a lamp. Lastly he drew their attention to their own growth out of the earth and their return to it and then their resurrection. But all his advice fell on deaf ears. Their chiefs persuaded them to continue the worship of idols saying Noah(as) was just a man like them who only sought to gain superiority over them. So when N o a h ’s( a s ) exhortation and preaching throughout his prophetic life proved a voice in the wilderness, God revealed to him: Noah: None of thy people will believe except those who have already believed; grieve not, therefore, at what they have been doing. (Ch.11:V.37) Prophet Noah(as) Offers Special Prayer After the intimation from God that none of his people would believe in him any more, Noah(as) offered the following prayer to God: My Lord, leave not in the land a single one of the disbelievers as dwellers therein; for, if thou dost leave them, they will only lead astray Thy servants and will beget none but sinners and disbelievers. My Lord ! Forgive me and my parents, and him who enters my house as a believer, and the believing men and the believing women; and increase Thou not the wrongdoers in aught but in ruin.(Ch.71:Vs.27-29) Prophet Noah(as) Builds the Ark God commanded Noah (as) to build an Ark. The Holy Qur’an says: And build thou the Ark under Our eyes and as commanded by Our revelation. And address Me not concerning the wrongdoers. They are surely going to be drowned. (Ch.11:V.38) He immediately followed the instructions of God and prepared the Ark. The chiefs of his people ridiculed this move of his and termed it as an act of a lunatic. Noah(as) prayed to God saying: 46 PROPHETS OF GOD – PART 1 The Review of Religions – January 2006 ‘I am overcome so come Thou to my help.’ The Deluge God heard Noah’s(as) prayers and soon after, at the appointed time, God opened the gates of heaven with water, which fell in torrents. And earth burst forth with springs and both waters met according to the decree of God. God further directed Noah(as): Embark therein two of every kind, male and female, and thy family except those against whom the word has already gone forth, and those who believe.’ And there did not believe and live with him except a few. (Ch.11:V.41) And again: Embark therein. In the name of Allah be its course and its mooring. My Lord is assuredly Most Forgiving, Merciful. (Ch.11:V.42) Thus there appeared a great deluge in that part of the world. The might of the chiefs and their arrogance was brought to naught by God. The deluge consumed all opponents of Noah( a s ) including his disbelieving son, while Noah( a s ) and his followers were saved. Their ark anchored at Mount Al- Judi. Judi (Djudi) is a lofty mountain mass in the district of Bohtan, about 25 miles north-east of Jazirah ibn Omar in 37 degrees east longitude and 30 degrees north in latitude. It owes its fame to the Mesopotamian tradition, which identifies it, and not Mount Ararat, the mountain on which N o a h ’s( a s ) Ark rested. Older exegesis identified the mountain which is now called Judi, or according to Christian authorities the mountains of Gordyene, as the apobaterion of Noah( a s ) (Enc. of Islam, vol. I, p.1059). Babylonian traditions also place Mount Al- Judi in Armenia (Jew Enc. u n d e r ‘Ararat’). The Bible admits that Babylon was the place where the descendants of Noah( a s ) lived (Gen. 11 : 9 ) . The story of deluge with some variation is to be found in almost all countries. The reason is that when the descendants of Noah(as) 47 PROPHETS OF GOD – PART 1 The Review of Religions – January 2006 and those of his companions who were the founders of human civilization spread to other lands (as they were more powerful than the people already living there) they either exterminated the indigenous inhabitants or absorbed them. Thus they must have introduced into all the countries they subjugated their own traditions and customs. Subsequently the tradition about the deluge must also have come to be introduced into other lands. With the lapse of time, however, the immigrants ceased to have any connection with their original home and the catastrophe consequently came to be regarded as a local occurrence, with the result that local names of persons and places came to be substituted for the original names. So the deluge was not a universal visitation, nor should the traditions of different lands be taken to point to separate floods (Short C o m m e n t a r y ) . The Law Introduced Through Prophet Noah(as) The law introduced through Noah(as) has not been preserved. However it appears that it contained basic principle of the Unity of God. The law of Noah(as) was suitable for his time. It was to be transformed and developed in due course to suit the future needs. The Holy Qur’an states: He has prescribed for you the religion which he enjoined on Noah…(Ch.42: V.14) The law introduced through him remained in force about a thousand years (Ch.29:V. 1 5 ) . Many prophets followed his law until God revealed the new one. It extended to the time of Abraham(as) who was of his party (Ch.37:V.84). It seems that the first fifty years of Noah’s(as) dispensation were years of all-round spiritual progress and regeneration. After that moral decadence and degeneration set in and his people gradually became degraded morally, till their degeneration became complete in nine hundred years. To Be Continued 48 PROPHETS OF GOD The Review of Religions – January 2006