Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Messengers

Apart from natural instinctive guidance, Allah due to His Mercy and Justice, bestowed His guidance to the people: “It is not the way of Allah to confound people after He has guided them, until He makes clear to them what they should guard against; surely Allah has the knowledge of everything.”(Qur’an;9:115);“..God draws unto Himself every one who is willing, and guides unto Himself everyone who turns unto Him”(Qur’an;42:13). The guidance has been provided in the form of Revelations through especially chosen men, the Messengers  (Rasool or Nabi). The Hebrew word for prophet is navi`, usually considered to be a loan word from Akkadian nabu, naba`um, "to proclaim, mention, call, summon": The title has a general application to all who have messages from God to men. Some scholars describe that, a Rasool (Messenger) is the Nabi who has delivered the written revelations (scripture). Every Rasool (Messenger) is aslo Nabi, where as every Nabi is not necessarily Rasool. Muhammad (peace be upon him) has been addressed as Rasool (Qur’an;3:144) as well as Rasool and Nabi (Qur’an;7:157,33:40). The English words; ‘Messenger’ and ‘Prophet’ has been used here for both i.e. Rasool or Nabi. The messengers and prophets were sent throughout the history for the guidance of mankind. Allah says: “For We assuredly sent amongst every People a Messenger (with the Command) "Serve Allah and eschew Evil"..”(Qur’an;16:36);“To every people (was sent) a Messenger: when their Messenger comes (before them) the matter will be judged between them with justice and they will not be wronged.”(Qur’an;10:47). Allah says: “And there never was a people, without a Warner having lived among them (in the past)”(Qur’an;35:24). Beginning with the first human and prophet Adam (peace be upon him), there has been many messengers and prophets from Noah (peace be upon him) through Abraham (peace be upon him) for their respective nations. According to Muslim traditions there has been more than 1,24,000 prophets sent to different nations at different times, it includes 315 Rasool (Messenger) granted scriptures (law). Allah says: “We did aforetime send Messengers before thee (O’ Muhammad) : of them there are some whose story We have related to thee and some whose story We have not related to thee” (Qur’an;40:78). Some of the well known Messengers mentioned in Bible and Qur’an are: Adam, Salih (Methuselah), Noah, Idris (Enoch), Hud (Heber), Lut,  Abraham (early 2nd Millennium BC), Isma'il (Ishmael), Ishaq (Isaac), Ya'qub (Jacob), Yusuf (Joseph), Musa (Moses, 14-13th Century B.C), Harun (Aaron), Shu'aib (Jethro), Shammil (Samuel, 11th Century B.C), Dawud (David, died 962 B.C), Sulaiman (Solomon, 10th Century B.C), Al-Yas'a (Elisha, 9th Century B.C), (Elijah, 9th Century B.C), Shia (Isaiah, 8th Century B.C), Yunus (Jonah, flourished around 785 B.C at Nineveh), Aramaya (Jeremiah, 7-6th Century B.C), Ayyub (Job, the Book of Job, 6-4th Century B.C), Elias, Dhul Kifl, Hizqeel (Ezekiel, 6th Century B.C), Daniel (6th Century B.C), 'Uzair (Ezra, 5th Century B.C, also considered a saint), Zechariah, Yahya (John the Baptist, 1st Century C.E), 'Isa (Jesus, 4 B.C-28-30 C.E) and Muhammad (571-632 C.E) (peace be upon all of them). The status of three pious respectable persons i.e.  Luqman (The Wise, sage), Dhul Qarnain (Two Horned Conqueror) and the one, referred as ‘ONE OF HIS SERVANTS’ (Qur’an;18:65), customary called Khizar is unknown.

All the Messengers conveyed good news to mankind and admonished them so that, after conveying the message through the Messengers, people should have no excuse to plead against Allah.(Qur’an;4:165). The Muslims do not discriminate against anyone of His Messengers (Qur’an;2:285) and follow the eternal guidance provided to all of them being the same. Allah says: “(O Muhammad) those were the (prophets) who received Allah's guidance: Follow then their guidance;..”(Qur’an;6:90). The Revelations were protected from the tempering of Satan in transmission (Qur’an;22:52). The Revelations were given in different ways: “it is not fitting for a man that Allah should speak to him except by inspiration of from behind a veil or by the sending of a Messenger to reveal with Allah's permission what Allah wills: for He is Most High Most Wise”(Qur’an;42:51). Three ways are mentioned: (1) Inspiration (Wahyun); (2) from behind a veil; and (3) by the sending of a Messenger. Angel Gabriel has been mentioned in Bible and Qur’an as messenger (courier) of Revelations: “And the angel answering said unto him (Zechariah), I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to show thee these glad tidings.”(Luke;1:19, similarly in Qur’an;2:97, 3:39,81:19; also Daniel; 8:16; 9:21-23; 10:11 & 12:6-7; Isaiah;42:19; Haggai;1:13). It was Gabriel, who announced the birth of Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) to the Mary (Luke;1:26-35, Qur’an;3:45 mentions him as an angel). Inspiration, is interpreted to be of two kinds: (1) a suggestion thrown by Allah into the heart of man, by which man understands the substance of the Message, whether it is a command or prohibition, or an explanation of a great truth; and (2) verbal or literal inspiration, by which the actual words of Allah are conveyed in human language. Vision (dream) is also an other method (Qur’an;17:60, 48:27), which is also mentioned in Bible: “And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.”(Numbers;12:6);“After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram (Abraham) in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.”(Genesis;15:1); “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,”(Hebrews;1:1). It is through these forms that God revealed His scriptures to the messengers and prophets, which remained available for the guidance even after the messengers, had left this world. Bible is the sacred book of Christianity, including the books of both the Old Testament and the New Testament. The first of the two main divisions of the Christian Bible, corresponding to the Hebrew Scriptures, the covenant of God with Israel which is also the sacred book of Judaism containing remnants of Torah, (Law of Moses). As distinguished in Christianity, the New Testament forms the record of the new dispensation belonging to the Church. The gospels are claimed to contain the reveled scripture to Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him). Even the Biblical traditions accept the doubtful authenticity of these books. Previously the messengers were sent for the particular nation or community for particular time. Once a new messenger or prophet came it was obligatory to follow him, denying one messenger means denying all the messengers. Once Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) came, he showed the way to the God, when Jesus (peace be upon him) came, he provided the way. However this system of messengers came to end with the last Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Muslims while believing in all the previous messengers of God and scriptures, adhere to the message preached by the last Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and The Qur’an as the final uncorrupted holy scripture not restricted to any particular race but for the guidance of whole humanity, while superceding all the previous scriptures.

Read more: Abraham to Muhammad (peace be upon them)