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Prophets in Islam (Arabic: ٱلْأَنۢبِيَاء فِي ٱلْإِسْلَام, romanized: nabī, lit. 'prophet' pl. الأنبياء,نب anbiyāʼ) are individuals who Muslims believe were sent by God to various communities in order to serve as examples of ideal human behavior and to spread God's message on Earth. Some prophets are categorized as messengers (Arabic: رسل, romanized: rasūl pl. رسول rasl), those who transmit divine revelation through the intercession of an angel. Muslims believe that many prophets existed, including many not mentioned in the Qur'an. The Qur'an states: "There is a Messenger for every community". Belief in the Islamic prophets is one of the six articles of the Islamic faith.
Muslims believe that the first prophet was also the first human being, Adam (آدَم), created by Allah. Many of the revelations delivered by the 48 prophets in Judaism and many prophets of Christianity are mentioned as such in the Qur'an but usually in slightly different forms. For example, the Jewish Elisha is called Eliyas, Job is Ayyub, Jesus is Isa, etc. The Torah given to Moses (Musa) is called Tawrat, the Psalms given to David (Dawud) is the Zabur, the Gospel given to Jesus is Injil.
The final and most important prophet in Islam is Muhammad (Muhammad ibn ʿAbdullāh), who Muslims believe to be the "Seal of the Prophets" (Khatam an-Nabiyyin, i.e. the last prophet), to whom the Qur'an was revealed in a series of revelations (and written down by his companions). Muslims believe the Qur'an is the sole divine and literal word of God, thus immutable and protected from distortion and corruption, destined to remain in its true form until the Last Day.
Although Muhammad is considered the last prophet, some Muslim traditions also recognize and venerate saints (though some modern schools, such as Salafism and Wahhabism, reject the theory of sainthood).
In Islam, every prophet preached the same core beliefs, the Oneness of God, worshipping of that one God, avoidance of idolatry and sin, and the belief in the Day of Resurrection or the Day of Judgement and life after death. Prophets and messengers are believed to have been sent by God to different communities during different periods in history.
In Islam there is a tradition of prophetic lineage, particularly with regard to the prophet Abraham (Ibrahim) who had many prophets in his lineage - Jesus (Isa), Zakariyyah, Muhammad, David (Dawud)), etc. - through his sons Ismael and Isaac.
In Arabic and Hebrew, the term nabī (Arabic plural form: أَنْبِيَاء anbiyāʼ) means "prophet". Forms of this noun occur 75 times in the Quran. The term nubuwwah (Arabic: نُبُوَّة meaning "prophethood") occurs five times in the Quran. The terms rasūl (Arabic plural: رُسُل rusul) and mursal (ِArabic singular: مُرْسَل mursal; plural: مُرْسَلُون mursalūn) denote "messenger with law given/ received by God" and occur more than 300 times. The term for a prophetic "message" (ِArabic singular: رِسَالَة risālah; plural: رِسَالَات risālāt), appears in the Quran in ten instances.
The Syriac form of rasūl Allāh (literally: "messenger of God"), s̲h̲eliḥeh d-allāhā, occurs frequently in the apocryphal Acts of St. Thomas. The corresponding verb for s̲h̲eliḥeh—s̲h̲alaḥ, occurs in connection with the prophets in the Hebrew Bible.
The following table shows these words in different languages:
|Arabic||Arabic Pronunciation||English||Greek||Greek pronunciation||Strong Number||Hebrew||Hebrew pronunciation||Strong Number|
|رسول, مرسل||Rasūl, Mursal||Messenger, Prophet, Apostle||ἄγγελος,
shalah /ʃalaħ/ (verb)
In the Hebrew Bible, the word nabi ("spokesperson, prophet") occurs commonly. The biblical word for "messenger", mal'akh, refers today to Angels in Judaism, but originally was used for human messenger both of God and of men, thus it is only somewhat equivalent of rasūl. According to Judaism, Haggai, Zaqariah, and Malachi were the last prophets, all of whom lived at the end of the 70-year Babylonian exile. With them, the authentic period of Nevuah ("prophecy") died, and nowadays only the "Bath Kol" (בת קול, lit. daughter of a voice, "voice of God") exists (Sanhedrin 11a).
In the New Testament, however, the word "messenger" becomes more frequent, sometimes in association with the concept of a prophet. "Messenger" may refer to Jesus, to his Apostles and to John the Baptist. But the last book of the Old Testament, the Book of Malachi, speaks of a messenger that Christian commentators interpret as a reference to the future prophet John the Baptist (Yahya).
The Qur’an is a revelation from the last prophet in the Abrahamic succession, Muhammad, and its contents detail what Muslims refer to as the 'Straight path.' According to Islamic belief, every prophet preached Islam. There is an emphasis on charity, prayer, pilgrimage, worship of the one God, and fasting. The Qur’an itself calls Islam the "religion of Abraham" (Ibrahim) and refers to Jacob (Yaqub) and the Twelve Tribes of Israel as being Muslim.
The Qur’an says:
The same religion has He established for you as that which He enjoined on Noah—the which We have sent by inspiration to thee—and that which We enjoined on Abraham, Moses, and Jesus: Namely, that ye should remain steadfast in religion, and make no divisions therein:...
Prophets in Islam are exemplars to ordinary humans. They exhibit model characteristics of righteousness and moral conduct. Prophetic typologies shared by all prophets include prophetic lineage, advocating monotheism, transmitting God's messages, and warning of the eschatological consequences of rejecting God. Prophetic revelation often comes in the form of signs and divine proofs. Each prophet is connected to one another, and ultimately support the final prophetic message of Muhammad. The qualities prophets possess are meant to lead people towards the straight path.
Islam teaches that prophets were "protected from sin" by God, so unlike other human beings they cannot commit a sin. The Qur’an speaks of the prophets as being the greatest human beings of all time. Prophets are considered to be chosen by God for the specific task of teaching the faith of Islam. Some were called to prophesy late in life, in Muhammad's case at the age of 40. Others, such as John the Baptist, were called to prophesy while still at a young age. Jesus prophesied while still in his cradle.
The Qur’anic verse 4:69 lists various virtuous groups of human beings, among whom prophets (including messengers) occupy the highest rank. Verse 4:69 reads:
All who obey Allah and the messenger are in the company of those on whom is the Grace of Allah—of the prophets (who teach), the sincere (lovers of Truth), the witnesses (who testify), and the Righteous (who do good): Ah! what a beautiful fellowship!
Stories of the prophets in the Qur’an (e.g., Job, Moses, Joseph (Yusuf) etc.) demonstrate that it is "God's practice" (sunnat Allah) to make faith triumph finally over the forces of evil and adversity. "We have made the evil ones friends to those without faith." "Assuredly God will defend those who believe." The prophets are divinely inspired by God but "share no divine attributes", and possess "no knowledge or power" other than that granted to them by God.
The question of Mary's prophethood has been debated amongst Muslim theologians. The Zahirite ("literalist") school argued that Mary as well as Sara the mother of Isaac and the mother of Moses are not considered as prophets. The Zahirites-based this determination on the instances in the Qur’an where angels spoke to the women and divinely guided their actions. According to the Zahirite Ibn Hazm of Cordova (d. 1064) women could be placed under the categorization of nubuwwa ("prophethood") but not under risala ("messengerhood") which could only be attained by men. Ibn Hazm also based his position on Mary's prophethood on Chapter 5, Verse 75 of the Qur’ān which refers to Mary as "a woman of truth" just as it refers to Joseph as a "man of truth" in Chapter 12, Verse 46. Other linguistic examples which augment scholarship around Mary's position in Islam can be found in terms used to describe her. For example, In Chapter 4, Verse 34 Mary is described as being one of the "qanitin", or one who exhibits "qunut" ("devout obedience"). This is the same term used for male prophets in the masculine gender plural of Arabic. The feminine plural, which is not used, would be "qanitan." 
Challenges to Mary's prophethood have often been based on Chapter 12, Verse 109 which reads "We have only sent men prior to you". Some scholars have argued that the use of the term "rijal" or men should be interpreted as providing a contrast between men and angels and not necessarily as contrasting men and women.
Some scholars, particularly in the Sunni tradition, have rejected this doctrine as bid'a ("heretical innovation").
Abraham is widely recognized for being the father of monotheism in the Abrahamic religions, however, in the Qur’an he is recognized as a messenger and a link in the chain of Muslim prophets. Muhammad, Allah's final messenger and the revelator of the Qur’ān, is a descendant of Abraham. In the Qur’an it reads, “He [Allah] said: ‘I am making you [Abraham] a spiritual exemplar to mankind.’” (Q. 2:124)[circular reference] This phrase is affirming Islam as an Abrahamic religion, and further promoting Abraham as an important figure in the history of the Qur'an. This confirmation of the prophetic relationship (between Abraham and Muhammad) is significant to Abraham’s story in the Qur’ān – due to the fact that the last messenger, Muhammad, completes Abraham’s prophetic lineage. This relationship can be seen in the Sura 6:
"That is Our Argument which We imparted to Abraham against his people. We raise up in degrees whomever We please. Your Lord is indeed Wise, All-Knowing. And We granted him Isaac and Jacob, and guided each of them; and Noah We guided before that, and of his progeny, [We guided] David, Solomon, Job, Joseph, Moses and Aaron. Thus We reward the beneficent. And Zechariah, John, Jesus and Elias, each was one of the righteous. And Ishmael, Elijah, Jonah and Lot; each We exalted above the whole world. [We also exalted some] of their fathers, progeny and brethren. And We chose them and guided them to a straight path." (Q. 6:83-87)[circular reference]
These particular verses support the Qur'anic narrative for Abraham to be recognized as a patriarch and is supported by his prophetic lineage concluding with Muhammad.
The Quran presents the world of Abraham as interlocking dramas or conflicts. The divine drama concerns the events of creation and banishment from the garden; while the human drama concerns the life and history of humanity but, also inclusive of the ever-changing events in of individual lives and those of the Prophets. This is the situation that calls the faith of the Prophets to follow and reclaim the message of the Straight path and this is characterization of the conflicts between the two dramas. The Islamic morality is founded on this virtuous living through faith in the life ordained by the divine. This is the Divine task given to believers accompanied by the divine gift that the Prophets had in revelation and perspective of ayat. This the key feature to the authority of their revelation because not only is the source of revelation is Allah but it produces texts that are seen as distinctive than other poetry but it fits within the Abrahamic tradition. Poetry especially, in the Arabian context, connects the Quran to Pre-Islamic poetry which originates from the jihn; however, the Quran's place within other religious contexts gives the revelation to Mohammad the same authority of the Hebrew texts and the New Testament.
The Qur’ān states,
“And (remember) Abraham, when he said to his people: ‘Worship Allah and fear Him; that is far better for you, if only you knew. Indeed, you only worship, apart from Allah, mere idols, and you invent falsehood. Surely, those you worship, apart from Allah, have no power to provide for you. So, seek provision from Allah, worship Him and give Him thanks. You shall be returned unto Him.’” (Q. 29:16-17)[circular reference]
This passage promotes Abraham’s devotion to Allah as one of His messengers along with his monotheism. Islam is a monotheistic religion, and Abraham is one who is recognized for this transformation of the religious tradition. This prophetic aspect of monotheism is mentioned several times in the Qur’ān. Abraham believed in one true God, Allah, and promoted an “invisible oneness” (tawḥīd) with Him. The Qur’ān proclaims, “Say: ‘My lord has guided me to a Straight Path, a right religion, the creed of Abraham, an upright man who was no polytheist.’” (Q. 6:161)[circular reference] One push Abraham had to devote himself to Allah and monotheism is from the Pagans of his time. Abraham was devoted to cleansing the Arabian Peninsula of this impetuous worship. His father was a wood idol sculptor, and Abraham was critical of his trade. Due to Abraham's devotion, he is recognized as the father of monotheism.
Prophets and messengers in Islam often fall under the typologies of nadhir ("warner") and bashir ("announcer of good tidings"). Many prophets serve as vessels to inform humanity of the eschatological consequences of not accepting Allah's message and affirming monotheism. A verse from the Qur’an reads: "Verily, We have sent thee [Muhammad] with the truth, as a bearer of glad tidings and a warner: and thou shalt not be held accountable for those who are destined for the blazing fire." (Q. 2:119)[circular reference] The prophetic revelations found in the Qur’an offer vivid descriptions of the flames of Hell that await nonbelievers but also describe the rewards of the gardens of Paradise that await the true believers. The warnings and promises transmitted by Allah through the prophets to their communities serve to legitimize Muhammed's message. The final revelation that is presented to Muhammed is particularly grounded in the belief that the Day of Judgement is imminent.
Throughout the Qur’ān, prophets such as Moses and Jesus often perform miracles or are associated with miraculous events. The Qur’ān makes clear that these events always occur through Allah and not of the prophet's own volition. Throughout the Meccan passages there are instances where the Meccan people demand visual proofs of Muhammad's divine connection to Allah to which Muhammad replies "The signs are only with Allah, and I am only a plain warner." (Q.29:50)[circular reference] This instance makes clear that prophets are only mortals who can testify to Allah's omnipotence and produce signs when He wills it. Furthermore, the Qur’an states that visual and verbal proofs are often rejected by the unbelievers as being sihr ("enchantment") The Qur’an reads: "They claim that he tries to bewitch them and make them believe that he speaks the word of God, although he is just an ordinary human being like themselves. (Q 74:24-25)[circular reference]
There are patterns of representation of Qur'anic prophecy that support the revelation of Muhammad. Since Muhammad is in Abraham's prophetic lineage, they are analogous in many aspects of their prophecy. Muhammad was trying to rid the Pagans of idolatry during his lifetime, which is similar to Abraham. This caused many to reject Muhammad’s message and even made him flee from Mecca due to his unsafety in the city. Carl Ernest, the author of How to Read the Qur’an: A New Guide, with Select Translations, states, “The Qur’an frequently consoles Muhammad and defends him against his opponents.”  This consolation can also be seen as parallel to Abraham's encouragement from Allah. Muhammad is also known to perform miracles as Abraham did. Sura 17 (Al-Isrā) briefly describes Muhammad's miraculous Night Journey where he physically ascended to the Heavens to meet with previous prophets. This spiritual journey is significant in the sense that many Islamic religious traditions and transformations were given and established during this miracle, such as the ritual of daily prayer. (Q. 17:78-84)[circular reference] Muhammad is a descendant of Abraham; therefore, this not only makes him part of the prophetic lineage, but the final prophet in the Abrahamic lineage to guide humanity to the Straight Path. In Sura 33 (Al-Ahzāb) it confirms Muhammad and states, “Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but is the Messenger of Allah and the seal of the Prophets. Allah is Cognizant of everything.” (Q. 33:40)[circular reference]
The Quran emphasizes the importance of obedience to prophets in Surah 26 Ash-Shu'ara, in which a series of prophets preaching fear of God and obedience to themselves.
The revealed books are the records which Muslims believe were dictated by God to various Islamic prophets throughout the history of mankind, all these books promulgated the code and laws of Islam. The belief in all the revealed books is an article of faith in Islam and Muslims must believe in all the scriptures to be a Muslim. Muslims believe the Quran, the final holy scripture, was sent because all the previous holy books had been either corrupted or lost. Nonetheless, Islam speaks of respecting all the previous scriptures, even in their current forms.
The Quran mentions some Islamic scriptures by name, which came before the Quran:
Muhammad was given a divine gift of revelation through the angel Gabriel. This direct communication with the divine underlines the human experience but the message of the Qur'an dignifies this history of revelation with these select people in human history the foundation for Mohammad's prophetic lineage.
The Qur'an mentions various divinely-bestowed gifts given to various prophets. These may be interpreted as books or forms of celestial knowledge. Although all prophets are believed by Muslims to have been immensely gifted, special mention of "wisdom" or "knowledge" for a particular prophet is understood to mean that some secret knowledge was revealed to him. The Quran mentions that Abraham prayed for wisdom and later received it. It also mentions that Joseph and Moses both attained wisdom when they reached full age; David received wisdom with kingship, after slaying Goliath; Lot (Lut received wisdom whilst prophesying in Sodom and Gomorrah; John the Baptist received wisdom while still a mere youth; and Jesus received wisdom and was vouchsafed the Gospel.
During the time of the prophet Muhammad's revelation, the Arabian peninsula was made up of many pagan tribes. His birthplace, Mecca, was a central pilgrimage site and a trading center where many tribes and religions were in constant contact. Muhammad's connection with the surrounding culture was foundational to the way the Qur'an was revealed. Though it is seen as the direct word of God, it came through to Muhammed in his own native language of Arabic, which could be understood by all the peoples in the peninsula. This is the key feature of the Qur'an which makes it unique to the poetry and other religious texts of the time. It is considered immune to translation and culturally applicable to the context of the time it was revealed. Muhammad was criticized for his revelation being poetry which, according to the cultural perspective, is revelation purely originating from the jihn and the Qurash but the typology of duality and its likeness to the other prophets in the Abrahamic line affirms his revelation. This likeness is found in the complexity of its structure and its message of submission of faith to the one God, Allah. This also revels that his revelation comes from Allah alone and he is the preserver of the Straight Path as well as the inspired messages and lives of other prophets, making the Qur'an cohesive with the monotheistic reality in the Abrahamic traditions.
All messengers mentioned in the Quran are also prophets, but not all prophets are messengers.
|Judeo-Christian Equivalent||Prophet||Messenger||Ulul'Azm (Archprophet)||Book||Sent to||Law (Sharia)|
|Noah||✓ ||✓ ||✓ ||The people of Noah ||✓ |
|Eber||✓ ||✓ ||ʿĀd |
|Salah||✓ ||✓ ||Thamud |
|Abraham||✓ ||✓ ||✓ ||Scrolls of Abraham ||The people of Iraq ||✓ |
|Lot||✓ ||✓ ||The people of Lot |
|Ishmael||✓ ||✓ |
|Joseph||✓ ||✓ |
|Jethro||✓ ||✓ ||Midian |
|Moses||✓ ||✓ ||✓ ||Tawrah (Torah) Suhoof Musa (scrolls of Moses)||Pharaoh and his establishment ||✓ |
|Aaron||✓ ||Pharaoh and his establishment|
|17||Dawud||دَاوُد \ دَاوُود
|David||✓ ||Zabur (Psalms) |
|Elijah||✓ ||✓ ||The people of ilyas |
|Jonah||✓ ||✓ ||The people of Younis |
|John the Baptist||✓ |
|Jesus||✓ ||✓ ||✓ ||Injil (Gospel) ||The Children of Israel ||✓ |
|✓ ||✓ ||✓ ||Quran ||Mankind, Jinn and all that exists ||✓ |
To believe in God's messengers (Rusul) means to be convinced that God sent men as guides to fellow human beings and jinn (khalq) to guide them to the truth.
The Ahmadiyya Community does not believe that messengers and prophets are different individuals. They interpret the Quranic words warner (nadhir), prophet, and messenger as referring to different roles that the same divinely appointed individuals perform. Ahmadiyya distinguish only between law-bearing prophets and non-law-bearing ones. They believe that although law-bearing prophethood ended with Muhammad, non-law-bearing prophethood subordinate to Muhammad continues. The Ahmadiyya Community recognizes Mirza Ghulam Ahmad also known as Mirza Qadiani (1835–1908) as such a “prophet” of gods and the promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi of the latter days. The Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement rejects his status as a prophet, instead considering him to be a renewer of the faith. However, all other Muslims and their scholars argue and firmly establish that the Ahmadiyya community are not even Muslim due to the fact their beliefs violate the Muslim belief in Muhammad as the "Seal of the Prophets" (Khatam an-Nabiyyin).
The Quran mentions 25 prophets by name but also tells that God (Allah) sent many other prophets and messengers, to all the different nations that have existed on Earth. Many verses in the Qur'an discuss this:
Regarding the issue of the prophets being sinless or infallible, there is an agreement among scholars that prophets are protected from sins. The protection of all prophets from sins is an Islamic belief, which is a precondition to trusting the prophets’ message and following their example. However, there is a debate among scholars on whether prophets (peace be upon them all) are subject to error in judgments in “human” matters. The word `issmah (literally: protection) is mentioned in the Quran in the context of the Prophet being protected from people’s whims and Satan’s delusions while he conveys the message of God. However, the Quran did correct Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) on a few occasions in matters of human judgment (Quran 8:67; 9:43; and 80:1-3). Nevertheless, some scholars rejected the possibility of erring in any prophetic decision whatsoever (for example, Al-Amedi, Al-Ihkaam fi Usul Al-Ahkam, vol.4, p. 99, Dar Al-Kitab Al-Arabi, Beirut, AH 1404
The Prophets were infallible in conveying the message from Allah, may He be exalted, so their words could not be but true and they did not make any mistake, whether deliberate or otherwise, in conveying the message. They were also infallible and protected from committing major sins such as zina (adultery) and theft. They were also infallible and protected from committing minor sins that are indicative of baseness, such as stealing a morsel of food or giving short measure.
Daniel is not mentioned by name in the Qur'an but there are accounts of his prophethood in later Muslim literature...