Belief in certain prophets who Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) chose to relay His message to humans is a required article of Islamic faith.
آمَنَ الرَّسُولُ بِمَا أُنْزِلَ إِلَيْهِ مِنْ رَبِّهِ وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ كُلٌّ آمَنَ بِاللَّهِ وَمَلَائِكَتِهِ وَكُتُبِهِ وَرُسُلِهِ [البقرة: 285]
”The Messenger has believed in what has been revealed to him from his Lord, and the believers as well. All have believed in Allah and His angels and His Books and His Messengers. .We make no division between any of His Messengers…….” (Al-Baqarah 2:285)
Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) conveys His message and relates His will through His chosen servants – the prophets. They form a link between the earthly beings and the heavens, in the sense that Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) has picked them to deliver His message to human beings. There are no other channels to receive Divine communications. It is the system of communication between the Creator and the created. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) does not send angels to every single individual, nor does He open the skies so people can climb up to receive the message. His way of communication is through prophets who receive the message through angels.
To have faith in the prophets (or messengers) is to firmly believe that Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) chose morally upright men to bear His message and pass it to humanity. Blessed were those who followed them, and wretched were those who refused to obey them. They faithfully delivered the message, without hiding, altering, or corrupting it. Rejecting a prophet is rejecting the One who sent him, and disobeying a prophet is disobeying the One who commanded to obey him.
Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) sent to prophets to all nations, mostly from amongst them, to call them to worship Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) alone and to shun false gods.
وَاسْأَلْ مَنْ أَرْسَلْنَا مِنْ قَبْلِكَ مِنْ رُسُلِنَا أَجَعَلْنَا مِنْ دُونِ الرَّحْمَنِ آلِهَةً يُعْبَدُونَ [الزخرف: 45]
”Ask Our messengers whom We sent before you whether We had appointed gods to be worshipped besides RaHmaan (Allah, the Compassionate).” (Az-Zukhruf 43:45)
Muslims believe in those prophets mentioned by name in Islamic sources, such as Hadhrat Adam, Hadhrat Nooh (Noah), Hadhrat Ibrahim (Abraham), Hadhrat Ismail (Ishmael), Hadhrat IsHaaq (Isaac), Hadhrat Daawood (David), Hadhrat Sulaiman (Solomon), Hadhrat Moosaa (Moses), Hadhrat Haaroon (Aaron), Hadhrat Eesaa (Jesus), and Hadhrat Muhammad, to name a few. A general belief is held in those not mentioned by name, as Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) says:
وَلَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا رُسُلًا مِنْ قَبْلِكَ مِنْهُمْ مَنْ قَصَصْنَا عَلَيْكَ وَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ لَمْ نَقْصُصْ [غافر: 78]
”We had sent messengers before you. Among them there are those whose history We have narrated to you, and of them there are those whose history We did not narrate to you…..” (Ghaafir 40:78)
Muslims firmly believe the final prophet was the Prophet of Islam, Hadhrat Muhammad (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam), and there will be no prophet or messenger after him.
To appreciate this fact, one must understand that the teachings of the last prophet are preserved in original language in their primary sources. There is no need for another prophet. In the case of earlier prophets, their scriptures were lost or their message was corrupted to the point that truth was hardly distinguishable from falsehood. The message of the Prophet Muhammad (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam) is clear and preserved and will remain so till the end of time.
We can identify the following main reasons for sending prophets:
(1) Guiding humanity from the worship of created beings to the worship of their Creator, from being in a state of servitude to the creation to the freedom of worshipping their Lord.
(2) Clarifying to humanity the purpose of creation: worshipping Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) and obeying His commands, as well as clarifying that this life is a test for each individual, a test of which its results will decide the type of life one will lead after death; a life of eternal misery or eternal bliss. There is no other definite way to find the true purpose of creation.
(3) Showing humanity the right path that will lead them to Jannah (Paradise) and to salvation from Jahannum (Hellfire).
(4) Establishing proof against humanity by sending prophets, so people will not have an excuse when they will be questioned on the Day of Qiyaamah (Resurrection). They will not be able to claim ignorance to the purpose of their creation and life after death.
(5) Uncovering the unseen ‘world’ which exists beyond the normal senses and the physical universe, such as the knowledge of Allah, existence of angels, and the reality of the Day of Qiyaamah.
(6) Providing human beings practical examples to lead moral, righteous, purpose-driven lives free of doubts and confusion. Innately, human beings admire fellow human beings, so the best examples of righteousness for humans to imitate are those of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa)’s prophets.
(7) Purifying the soul from materialism, sin, and heedlessness.
(8) Conveying to humanity the teachings of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa), which is for their own benefit in this life and in the Aakhira (Hereafter).
The single most important message of all prophets to their people was to worship Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) alone and none else and to follow His teachings. All of them, Hadhrat Nooh, Hadhrat Ibrahim, Hadhrat Ismai, Hadhrat IsHaaq, Hadhrat Moosaa, Hadhrat Haaroon, Hadhrat Daawood, Hadhrat Sulaiman, Hadhrat Eesaa, Hadhrat Muhammad (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam) and others, in addition to those we do not know – invited people to worship Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) and shun false gods.
Hadhrat Mooosaa declared: “Hear, O Israel The Lord our God is one Lord.” (Deuteronomy 6:4).
This was repeated 1500 years later by Hadhrat Eesaa, when he said: “The first of all the commandments is, ‘Hear, O Israel; the Lord our God is one Lord.’” (Mark 12:29).
Finally, the call of Hadhrat Muhammad some 600 years later reverberated across the hills of Makkah al Mukarramah:
وَإِلَهُكُمْ إِلَهٌ وَاحِدٌ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الرَّحْمَنُ الرَّحِيمُ [البقرة: 163]
”Your god is one God: There is no god but He…..” (Al-Baqarah 2:163)
The Holy Quraan states this fact clearly:
وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِنْ قَبْلِكَ مِنْ رَسُولٍ إِلَّا نُوحِي إِلَيْهِ أَنَّهُ لَا إِلَهَ إِلَّا أَنَا فَاعْبُدُونِ [الأنبياء: 25]
”We did not send before you any messenger but We revealed to him that there is no god but I, so worship Me.” (Al-Anbiyaa 21:25)
Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) chose the best among humanity to deliver His message. Prophethood is not earned or acquired like higher education. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) chooses whom He pleases for this purpose.
They were the best in morals and they were mentally and physically fit, protected by God from falling into cardinal, major sins. They did not err or commit mistakes in delivering the message. They were over one hundred thousand prophets sent to all mankind, to all nations and races, in all corners of the world. Some prophets were superior to others.
People went to extremes with the prophets. They were rejected and accused of being sorcerers, madmen, and liars. Others turned them into gods by giving them divine powers, or declared them to be His children, like what happened to Hadhrat Eesaa.
In truth, they were fully human and real worshipping slaves of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa). They ate, drank, slept, and lived normal human lives. They did not have the power to make anyone accept their message or to forgive sins. Their knowledge of future was limited to what Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) revealed to them. They had no part in running the affairs of the universe.
Besides all above mentioned points, most important is:
“Out of the Infinite Mercy and Love of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa), He sent His chosen characters – the prophets — to guide humanity towards salvation, entering Jannah avoiding Jahannum.” They guide their fellow human beings to that which is the best. He sent them as an example for humanity to follow, and if one does follow their example, they would live a life in accordance to the Will of Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa), earning His Love and Pleasure.