What is a 'prophet' or 'messenger' of
A prophet (nabi) or messenger (rasul) of God
is a human being to whom God gives His guidance and whom He charges with the task of
conveying that guidance to the people, so that they may do good and avoid evil.
In which countries of the world did
According to Islam, God sent prophets to all nations on
earth, at various stages of their histories. The Holy Quran says:
"And for every nation there is a messenger."
"And there is not a people but a warner has gone among
In which of these Prophets of God do
Muslims have to believe?
Muslims have to believe in all the prophets and messengers
of God, equally, without distinction, wherever they may have appeared. In the Holy Quran
(2:136, 285, and 3:84 etc.) it is stated clearly: "We make no distinction between
Please name some of these Prophets.
Many prophets are mentioned by name in the Holy Quran; for
example, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and Jesus from the Biblical prophets, and also
nonBiblical prophets some of whose names are Luqman, Hud, and DhulKifl. And, last of
all, there is the great, universal Prophet Muhammad, may peace and the blessings of Allah
be upon him.
Did any Prophets appear other than those
mentioned in the Holy Quran?
Certainly. The Quran itself tells us that it has mentioned
only some of the prophets (see 4:164). Since prophets appeared in every part of the world,
and there were many in each nation, to make a full list of names is impossible. Muslims
have to believe in and respect all the prophets, whether named in the Holy Quran or not.
It is wellknown that Muslims believe
in the Israelite Prophets, including Jesus. How do they regard the great figures of other
religions, such as Krishna, Buddha, and Confucius?
It is quite obvious from the teachings of the Holy Quran
that, as God sent Prophets to every nation, and quite a large number of them appeared all
over the world, the ancient founders of these other religions too would have been Prophets
and messengers of God. In fact, wherever there are people following a sacred scripture
older than the Quran, their religious founders mentioned in those Books should be accepted
by Muslims as true prophets of God. It has been suggested that Buddha is mentioned in the
Holy Quran by the name DhulKifl, meaning man of Kifl, where Kifl is the
Arabic form of the name of his birth-place Kapilvestu.
But religions such as Christianity and
Hinduism revere their great religious figures as 'gods' or incarnations of God. What does
According to Islam, all these righteous persons were
mortal, human prophets of God, like the Holy Prophet Muhammad, having the same needs that
every human being has. They all eventually died, as everyone must. There are several
reasons why they have come to be revered by their followers as 'gods'. One is that their
words were misunderstood by the later generations, who mistook their figurative
expressions in a literal sense. Another is that the details of their lives were not
preserved accurately, and therefore a great many myths have grown up around them, and
their works and deeds have been much exaggerated.
Why were the Prophets humans, and not
'gods on earth'?
Because they were sent to guide other human beings, not
only by preaching, but also by personal example. So they had to be completely human to
show other people how to live. According to Islam, each Prophet was himself the first and
foremost follower of the guidance God revealed through him for people to follow. This is
why previous prophets are called 'Muslims' in the Holy Quran, being not only teachers but
also followers of God's guidance. See for example 3:67. As for the Holy Prophet Muhammad,
not only does Islam teach that he was a human being, but a study of his life shows that he
regarded himself as a humble mortal, and mixed with people as just one of them.
What did the Prophets teach?
They all gave the same basic teaching: that man should
worship God, and God alone, and do good to his fellowbeings. Of course, the details of
the teachings differed according to the nation and the time in which a Prophet appeared.
In the Holy Quran, the teachings of all Prophets are called Islam, and the Prophets
and their true followers are labelled Muslims. See, for example, 2:131-133 and
5:111. This refers to the fact that the fundamental teachings given by all of them were
the same - submission to God and peace with fellow human beings.
Since Muslims believe in all the
Prophets equally, what is the special position of the Holy Prophet Muhammad?
All Prophets were equally from God, and equally true, but
the scope of their missions varied. The Divine messengers before the Holy Prophet Muhammad
were each given teachings limited to their respective nations, because in those times a
nation did not have much to do with other nations. Furthermore, the teachings of each
Prophet applied for a limited period of time only, after which God would raise another
Prophet to revise some of the teachings for the new circumstances. But at last the time
came to unite all the nations upon a single religion so that mankind may live in peace as
one nation. For this purpose was sent the Holy Prophet Muhammad, to whom God gave
teachings for the whole world for all time to come.
Can you give any arguments to support
Yes. Firstly, while followers of previous religions believe
that God's revelation and guidance was given only to some particular nation or land, Islam
teaches that guidance from God had come to every nation and it requires Muslims to believe
in all the previous national Prophets. So the Holy Prophet Muhammad is the one who
confirmed and established the truth of the Prophets of all the various nations, and laid
the basis for peace between them. He is thus the World-Prophet. Secondly, it is a
recognized fact that, while the original teachings of previous Prophets are largely lost,
the sources of Islam (the Holy Quran and details of the Holy Prophet's life) are available
to us fully and accurately. This shows Islam to be the religion for all time.
Could there be any Prophet or Messenger
of God after the Holy Prophet Muhammad?
No, after the Holy Prophet Muhammad there cannot come any
Prophet or Messenger from God. The reasons are clear from what has been stated above. The
teachings God gave to the Holy Prophet are meant for all nations, for all times, so that
the entire world be united in one, perfect brotherhood. Those teachings are preserved
perfectly. So there is simply no need for a Prophet after the Holy Prophet Muhammad.
Does this mean that no human being can
now reach the stage of a close contact with God, and be spoken to by God?
No, it does not mean this. It simply means that no further
new religious teachings, scripture, or prophet will come into the world. There will still
be people, after the Holy Prophet Muhammad, who, by following the teachings of Islam,
shall have such close contact with God that He will speak to them, comfort them and
disclose to them events of the future, through words of inspiration, and true dreams and
visions. In Islamic history there have been countless examples of such righteous
individuals who reached this high stage by following the teachings of Islam perfectly. A
person such as this is known as a wali or saint.