The fourth article of faith is the belief in the Messengers of Allah.
To believe in Allah’s Messengers means to believe with certainty that Allah sent a messenger to each nation, calling them to worship Allah alone and not to associate any partners with Him in worship.
All Messengers were Human Beings
All the prophets and messengers were human beings chosen by Allah to receive revelations from Him. They were commanded to pass on these revelations to people of their time. A person cannot by himself attain Prophethood or Messengership through spiritual exercises or personal efforts. It is Almighty Allah alone who chooses His Messengers and He alone knows best whom to choose.
Indeed, Allah chooses messengers from both angels and men, as the Quran says, “Allah chooses from the angels messengers and from the people. Indeed, Allah is Hearing and Seeing.” (Quran, 22:75)
Almighty Allah also sent prophets and messengers to every nation. “Indeed, We have sent you with the truth as a bringer of good tidings and a warner. And there was no nation but that there had passed within it a warner.” (Quran, 35: 24)
We do not know about all of them, as the Quran says, “And [We sent] messengers about whom We have related [their stories] to you before and messengers about whom We have not related to you. And Allah spoke to Moses with [direct] speech.” (Quran, 4: 164)
As time passed, the original message of each prophet and messenger was distorted or entirely lost, and it became necessary for a new prophet or messenger to appear. Since Islam is the final religion, Allah has preserved its message from all forms of corruption. Therefore, the beliefs and practices which Muslims recognize today are the same beliefs and practices taught by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) himself.
It is significant to note that all the messengers and prophets were human beings. They ate and drank. They became ill and recovered from illness. They married and had children. They lived and died. They suffered from what other humans suffer. They were, however, unlike ordinary folks. They were mortal but the most perfect of human beings. They were extraordinary men but did not have any divine status. They did not know anything about the unseen except for those matters about which Almighty Allah revealed to them. The Quran says, “Say, O [Muhammad], “I am only a man like you to whom it has been revealed that your god is but one God” (Quran, 41:6)
Correct Belief in Allah’s Messengers consists of four Things
The correct belief in the messengers of Allah consists of four things:
- Belief that the message of all of them is the truth from Allah. If a person denies any single one of them who is confirmed in the Quran or the Prophet’s traditions, then he is in fact denying all of them. Denial of one is tantamount to denial of all of them, since their message is essentially one and the same. Muslims must believe in all the prophets and messengers.
- Belief in all the prophets and messengers mentioned by their names in the Quran and the Sunnah. As for those not mentioned in the Quran, one must believe in them in general. One must believe that there is not a single community among whom a warner had not come. Allah sent many prophets and messengers although not all of them are mentioned in the Quran or the Sunnah.
- Belief in everything they said. They communicated their message from Allah completely and correctly. They tried hard to deliver Allah’s message. They strove hard for Allah’s sake in the most complete manner. They were the most knowledgeable of all people. They were the best servants of Allah. Allah protected them from ascribing to Him something of their own invention or judging according to their whims and desires. He also protected them from committing sins or adding or deleting something from the religion.
- One must act in accordance with the guidance and the teachings of the messengers Almighty Allah sent for man’s guidance.
Indeed, it is one of Allah’s great blessings that He sent prophets and messengers to guide mankind to the right path. In fact, people are more in need of the prophets’ guidance than they are of food, drink and shelter. Allah sent prophets and messengers with clear proofs and supported them with miracles.
Adam was the first man and the first prophet, and the succession of prophets and messengers came to an end with Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), who was the Seal of the Prophets. Indeed, he was the universal and final messenger of Allah to all mankind. Every prophet and messenger was sent to his own people, but Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was sent to all mankind, as the Quran says, “Say, [O Muhammad], “O mankind, indeed I am the Messenger of Allah to you all,” (Quran, 7:158)
The Quran speaks of Adam as the first man and the first Prophet. Prophethood began with Adam, and it came to a close with Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The end is always in a sense a return to the beginning. This is equally true of the Prophets’ mission and Islam. Islam, being the final message, has in it not only the fragrance of the end but also of the beginning. Islam, in its final form, is the most beautiful, adequate, the most wonderful and perfect religion. Prophet Muhammad’s character was the Quran itself. His whole life was the Quran in action.
The Purpose of Sending Prophets and Messengers
The Quran says, “And We certainly sent into every nation a messenger, [saying], “Worship Allah and avoid Taghut (i.e. false gods).” (Quran, 16:36)
Thus, the basic message of all prophets and messengers was the same: to call to the Oneness of Allah (tawheed), to worship Him Alone and to shun false gods and powers of evil.
All the prophets and messengers were inspired by Allah. They all brought the same basic truth that there is only One God – Allah, who will reward the good and punish the wicked. They all had the same mission to call people to the Straight Path.
Difference between Nabee and Rasool
A ‘rasool‘ (messenger) is a man who was inspired with a new law or set of laws and sent to a transgressing people, conveying to them Allah’s message.
A ‘nabee‘ (prophet) is a man who was inspired with a message, but the message was to follow the law of those who came before him. He was sent to apply a previously revealed law.
Stories of Prophets and Messengers in the Quran
The stories of prophets and messengers form a significant portion of the Quran. The Quran, however, does not tell the stories of the large number of prophets and messengers as mentioned in the Inadeetln. There are twenty-five prophets mentioned in the Quran: Adam, Idrees, Nooh, Hood, Saalih, Ibraaheem, Ismaa’eel, Is-haaq, Ya’qoob, Lot, Yoosuf, Shu’ayb, Ayyoob, Dhul-Kifl, Musaa, Haaroon, Yoosha, llyaas, Daawood, Sulaymaan, ‘Uzayr, Zakariyyaa, Yahyaa, ‘Eesaa, and Muhammad – May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon them all!
The Quran speaks of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as the Last of the Prophets – Khaatam an-Nabiyyeen. Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) once said, “My example and the example of the prophets before me is like that of a man who has built a house and he made it very good and very beautiful with the exception of one stone in the corner; so people began to go round it and to wonder at it and say, “Why has the stone not been placed?” The Prophet (pbuh) said, “I am this stone, and I am the Last of the Prophets.”
It is thus the same procession moving forward throughout human history since Adam. They brought the same guidance, warned people against Allah’s punishment and gave them good news of a happy life in this life and eternal bliss in the hereafter. This procession includes noble men from various nations and various countries who lived at different times. Every one of them received revelations from Allah, and none of them invented anything in religion.