A verse and its meaning:
وَإِن كُنتُمْ فِي رَيْبٍ مِّمَّا نَزَّلْنَا عَلَى عَبْدِنَا فَأْتُواْ بِسُورَةٍ مِّن مِّثْلِهِ وَادْعُواْ شُهَدَاءكُم مِّن دُونِ اللّهِ إِنْ فَإِن لَّمْ تَفْعَلُواْ وَلَن تَفْعَلُواْ فَاتَّقُواْ النَّارَ الَّتِي وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ أُعِدَّتْ لِلْكَافِرِينَ *كُنْتُمْ صَادِقِينَ
" And if you are in doubt as to what We have revealed from time to time to Our servant, then produce a Surah like thereunto; and call your witnesses or helpers (if there are any) besides Allah, if your (doubts) are true. But if you cannot and of a surety you cannot then fear the Fire whose fuel is Men and Stones, which is prepared for those who reject Faith. " (al-Baqara, 2/23-24)
1. MEANING AND SIGNIFICANCE OF PROPHETHOOD
In the Glorious Quran, prophethood is expressed with the words nubuwwa, bi'sa, risalah and irsal. Prophet is expressed with the words nabi, mab'uth, rasul, mursal or their plurals.
Nubuwwa; is prophethood. It is the duty of conveying the orders of Allah to men; it is being an envoy between Allah and His slaves.
Rasul; means apostle or messenger. He is a person who was sent by Allah to a nation or to the humankind with a new book and a new Shariah (law) as a prophet.
Nabis; are prophets who were not sent by a new book and a new Shariah but continue the book and the Shariah brought by the rasul before them.
Prophethood cannot be obtained by working; it is a grant of Allah to His selected slaves. Prophets were honored with revelation. They were equipped with superior characteristics that are not present in other men; their prophethood was confirmed by Allah through miracles that were granted to them.
In fact, the Quran points to it as follows: Such is the Bounty of Allah, which He bestows on whom He will... (al-Jumua, 62/ 4).
According to the Quran, Prophets convey the orders and prohibitions of Allah to men without decreasing or increasing anything; they know and inform them about things that they do not know and will not know through the revelation they receive from Allah. They recite the verses of Allah to men and teach them the book and wisdom; they advise them to follow the straight path and ask Allah for their forgiveness.
The most perfect men among human beings are the prophets in the chain of prophethood. They are the representatives of good deeds and beauty; their opponents are the representatives of evil and ugliness.
Doubtlessly, prophethood is a heavy load. Allah burdened people who are capable of carrying it with that load. It is stated in the Glorious Quran pointing to the heavy burden of the prophethood and the divine words as follows; Soon shall We send down to you a weighty Message (al-Muzzammil, 73/5). That the expression " a weighty Message " is used for the Quran here is an indication that it is a hard task to carry out its orders, to serve an example in accordance with its instructions and to bear the burden of its revelation.
Zaid bin Sabit says the following regarding the issue: "The Messenger of Allahs knee was leaning on my knee once when he received a revelation. I felt such a heavy burden on my knees that I thought my knees would be broken."
Hazrat Aisha reported the following regarding the issue: "On an intensely cold winter day, I saw sweat dripping from the hand of Messenger of Allah when he received revelation." 1
In another report Hazrat Aisha says the following; The Messenger of Allah was on a camel when he received revelation. The chest of the camel remained on the ground until the revelation ended. It could not move until the revelation ended ". 2
1.2. NECESSITY OF PROPHETHOOD
Reasons that necessitates Prophets to be sent:
1. To Know the True nature of the Beings in the Universe is Only Possible through an instructor.
It is necessary to know the true nature, the reason and wisdom of the creation of the beings from atoms to galaxies that were created with a wisdom, purpose, plan and art. In order to understand the beings in the universe that denote many meanings like a book, we need an instructor. If an incomprehensible book is without a teacher, it will be a bundle of meaningless paper. Thus, prophets are the teachers of this book of the universe. They free the book of the universe from being an incomprehensible book; each of them teaches humanity the wisdom and purpose of the creation of each being.
2. Prophets are Necessary for us to know the Existence of Allah and the Hereafter.
Mind cannot comprehend the attributes of Allah, the existence of the hereafter and the events that will take place there. Prophets are necessary in order to know them.
The first duty of prophets is to inform and teach man about Allah. It is to call men to the reality of oneness (tawheed), which is one of the Fundamentals of the Quran. The following verse points to it:
وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِن قَبْلِكَ مِن رَّسُولٍ إِلَّا نُوحِي إِلَيْهِ أَنَّهُ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا أَنَا فَاعْبُدُونِ
"Not a messenger did We send before you without this inspiration sent by Us to him: that there is no god but I; therefore worship and serve Me" (al-Anbiya, 21/25).
As it is understood from that verse, the first duty of prophets is to tell people that Allah is unique (one) and there is no god but Him.
In another verse, Almighty God states that He sent each community a prophet and that that prophet called them to worship Him:
وَلَقَدْ بَعَثْنَا فِي كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ رَسُولًا أَنِ اُعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ وَاجْتَنِبُوا الطَّاغُوتَ فَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ هَدَى اللَّهُ وَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ حَقَّتْ عَلَيْهِ الضَّلَالَةُ فَسِيرُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ فَانْظُرُوا كَيْفَ كَانَ عَاقِبَةُ الْمُكَذِّبِينَ
"For We assuredly sent amongst every People a messenger, (with the Command) "Serve Allah, and eschew Evil": of the people were some whom Allah guided, and some on whom Error became inevitably (established). So travel through the earth, and see what was the end of those who denied (the Truth).!" (an-Nahl, 16/36).
We understand from a verse in Chapter al-Araf that one of the aims of prophets to be sent is to warn people about Hell torture, to avoid them from doing bad things and consequently to ensure them to receive the mercy of Allah.
أَوَعَجِبْتُمْ أَنْ جَاءَكُمْ ذِكْرٌ مِنْ رَبِّكُمْ عَلَى رَجُلٍ مِنْكُمْ لِيُنْذِرَكُمْ وَلِتَتَّقُوا وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ
"Do you wonder that there has come to you a reminder from your Lord through a man of your own people, to warn you― so that you may fear Allah and happily receive His Mercy?" (al-Araf, 7/ 63).
Allah explains the reasons why He sent prophets through the words of prophets in the book that He sent, the Quran. There are many examples; let us have a look at a few of them. In the Quran, prophets are mentioned as people who convey men what they receive from Allah and who give people advice:
أُبَلِّغُكُمْ رِسَالَاتِ رَبِّي وَأَنْصَحُ لَكُمْ وَأَعْلَمُ مِنَ اللَّهِ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ
"I but fulfill towards you the duties of my Lord's mission: sincere is my advice to you and I know from Allah something that you know not (al-Araf, 7/62).
In that verse, prophets are described as people who teach men what they do not know along with being responsible for conveying the truth and the right path to men.
Saleh (PBUH) was a prophet who was sent to the nation of Thamud. He said to them: «O my people! worship Allah: you have no other God but Him. It is He Who has produced you from the earth and settled you therein: then ask forgiveness of Him, and turn to Him (in repentance): for my Lord is (always) near, ready to answer.» (Hud, 11/61)
The last prophet Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) states in a hadith that he is a person who tries to prevent people from going to Hell using the following words:
"My situation and your situation are like the situation of a man when locusts and luna moths start to jump into the fire. I hold you in your belts so that you will not fall into the fire. However, you try to break loose."
The fact that all of the prophets, primarily, the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) and saints always say in their prayers and supplication protect us from fire, free us from fire, rescue us from fire that is, protect us from Hell shows that the most important problem of mankind is protection from Hell. Thus, the people who show that great danger and the way of liberation from it are prophets.
3. The Aim in the Creation of Man can only be understood through Prophets
When man comes to the world, he is in need of learning everything and he is ignorant of the laws of life. However, animals are sent to the world in a perfect form in accordance with their abilities as if they were made perfect in another world. They learn all of the conditions of life and their relation with the universe, the laws of life and they acquire necessary skills in two hours, two days or two months. In twenty days, an animal like a sparrow and a bee obtains the life experience that a man obtains in twenty years, that is, they are inspired.
As for man, he cannot learn the conditions of life fully in twenty years. He is in need of learning until he dies. He is sent to the world in a weak and feeble form; he can stand on two after a year or two. He can discriminate between what is harmful and what is useful for him only after fifteen years; He can obtain what is useful for him and avoid what is harmful for him only through the help of the community. That is, the natural duty of man is to become perfect through knowledge and science, and to carry out the duty of worship through prayer and supplication.
Thus, man has come to this world in order to become perfect through knowledge, science, prayer and supplication. The development of all talents and abilities depend on knowledge and science. And the essence, core, light and spirit of all of the real knowledge and science is to know Allah, and the base of knowing Allah is belief in Allah.
The most persuasive, acceptable and correct answers to the three astonishing, difficult and terrifying questions that man faces; Who are you? Where are you coming from? And where are you going? What is your duty in this world? can only be given by prophets.
Thus, a guide who will direct men to the right path is needed. They need a teacher who will direct them to perfection that they are seeking. Those guides and teachers are definitely prophets.
4- Prophets Can Describe How to Worship
The forms and parts of worships and how to perform them are given in detail in heavenly books. They can only be conveyed and taught by prophets.
5. Prophets are guides for people
There is a need for people with high ethics and good manners who will serve as examples in the community. They are prophets.
Allah, who encompasses everything with His mercy and knowledge, who grants endless bounties and blessings to His creatures, did not deprive men of the divine guidance of prophets.
1.3- ATTRIBUTES OF PROPHET
Prophets have superior attributes related directly to their mission. The three most important attributes among them are as follows:
1- Ismah (Innocence): It is the protection of prophets by Allah from committing sins, disobedience and harams (forbidden things). Prophets never approach a secret or open sin, they are away and liberated from all faults, mistakes and blemishes. Prophets were kept away from sins before the prophethood and during the prophethood.
2- Amanah (Trust): It is the reliability of prophets. No doubt, a person who cannot assure men cannot succeed in his cause. That attribute is stated in several verses:
وَمَا هُوَ عَلَى الْغَيْبِ بِضَنِينٍ
Neither does he (Muhammad - PBUH) withhold grudgingly a knowledge of the Unseen (at-Takwir, 81/24).
إِنِّي لَكُمْ رَسُولٌ أَمِينٌ: I am to you an messenger worthy of all trust (ash-Shuara 26/107).
3- Sidq (Loyalty): That attribute is related to prophets telling the truth. They never tell lies. That attribute is, like the others, obligatory and necessary for prophets. The opposite of it, telling lies, is impossible for prophets. That attribute is so clear and obvious in prophets that even their enemies had to appreciate that attribute although they denied their prophethood. For instance, Makkan polytheists gave Hazrat Prophet (PBUH) the nickname al-Amin (the Trustworthy) before his prophethood. While the Glorious Quran orders Hazrat Prophet to be honest (straight), it described Hazrat Idris (Eunuch), Hazrat Ibrahim (Abraham) and Hazrat Yousuf (Joseph) as siddiq (loyal) (Hood 11/112;Yousuf 12/46).
4- Fatanah (Intelligence): It is quick apprehension and comprehension. That attribute expresses that prophets are clever and intelligent.
5- Tabligh (Conveying): It is the conveying of Prophets the orders they received from Allah to people exactly. The attribute of tabligh is mentioned in several places in the Glorious Quran. Some of them are as follows:
يَا أَيُّهَا الرَّسُولُ بَلِّغْ مَا أُنْزِلَ إِلَيْكَ مِنْ رَبِّكَ وَإِنْ لَمْ تَفْعَلْ فَمَا بَلَّغْتَ رِسَالَتَهُ وَاللَّهُ يَعْصِمُكَ مِنَ النَّاسِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَهْدِي الْقَوْمَ الْكَافِرِينَ
O Messenger! proclaim the (Message) which has been sent to you from your Lord. If you did not you would not have fulfilled and proclaimed His Mission: and Allah will defend you from men (who mean mischief). For Allah guides not those who reject Faith. (al-Maeda, 5/67).
أُبَلِّغُكُمْ رِسَالَاتِ رَبِّي وَأَنْصَحُ لَكُمْ وَأَعْلَمُ مِنَ اللَّهِ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ
(Hazrat Nooh went on as follows :) I but fulfill towards you the duties of my Lord's mission: sincere is my advice to you and I know from Allah something that you know not (al-Araf, 7/62).
وَمَا عَلَى الرَّسُولِ إِلَّا الْبَلَاغُ الْمُبِينُ
The Messenger's duty is only to preach the clear (Message) (an-Noor 24/54).
The Messenger of Allah (PBUH), who is the absolute teacher and perfect guide, adopted the above-mentioned order of Allah as a guide for him, worked, and endeavored more when people did not listen to him and obey him. He understood it with the message of the verse, you will not be able to guide everyone whom you love: but Allah guides those whom He will and He knows best those who receive guidance (al-Qasas, 28/56) that to make people listen and to guide them are the duty of God Almighty. He could not interfere with the duty of God Almighty.
1. Bukhari, Muslim, Muwatta, Tirmizi, Nasai.
2. Musned-i Ahmad, Hakim, Ibn Jarir.