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What are Muslims beliefs about the Prophets (Rusul) who were sent before Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH)

Islamic education Quran and sunnah

Belief in all the prophets and messengers from Adam to the Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad is one of the articles of faith in Islam, and for this reason, the 'Iman-i-Mufassal'(ایمان مفصل) says:

I believe in God, in His angels, in His books, in His messengers, in the Last Day (the day of judgement), and in the fact that everything, good or bad, is decided by Allah, the Almighty, and in life after death.

According to Islamic education, all the prophets and messengers were humans created and sent by God, led a normal human life, and were mortal. They were, however, distinct from the superior to ordinary humans in the way that they were chosen from God, had a specially ordained divine mission, and enjoyed special protection from God. Such distinguishing features of the prophets have been repeatedly mentioned in the Quran. The following Quranic verse is an example:

These (prophets or messengers) were then men to whom We gave The Book, and Authority and Prophethood... (6:89)

The verse indicates that the prophets and messengers were special people who received divine messages, and were gifted with authority and prophethood. Similarly, another verse describes the prophets as:

Before you (Muhammad ) also, the messengers We sent were but men, to whom We granted inspiration. If you realize this not, ask for those who possess the Message. Nor did We give them bodies that ate no food, nor were they exempt from death. (21:7-8)

This verse beautifully sums up the similarities and dissimilarities between ordinary men and the messengers of Allah Almighty.

All these prophets conveyed the same universal message to the nations to whom they were sent, and this was the message of Tauhid or Oneness of God and submission before Him:

Nor a messenger did We sent before you without this inspiration sent by Us to him: 'that there is no god but I, therefore, worship and serve Me'. (21:25)

This means that all the prophets had received and conveyed (to people) the common message of God's Oneness and man's responsibility and duty to obey His commandments. The commandments surely were related to leading a righteous life, being pious and modest, caring for others as well as remaining busy in other acts of worship like praying and fasting. Now if the people did not follow the Message conveyed by these prophets, then the same Surah 21 (Al-Anbiya or the Prophets) prescribes punishment for the disobedient in the following words:

... ... ... not one of the populations which We destroyed believed (in the Message). (21:6)

As for the special protection enjoyed by the prophets, this was mainly in the form of the prophetic signs awarded to these prophets. The Quran mentions some of these in different verses. Surah 21 describes the miraculous survival of Abraham when he was thrown in fire:

We said, "O Fire! Be you cool and (a means of safety for Abraham) (21:69)

This special distinction enjoyed by Moses is mentioned as:

...And to Moses God spoke directly (without the intervention of angles).(4:164)

The Quran also mentions the prophetic signs of Moses. For example, his staff would turn into a moving snake, as he put it down:

...but when he (Moses) saw it moving as if it had been a snake, he turned back in retreat... (28:31)

Then the Quran describes the miraculous birth of Jesus, and his ability to speak while he was just an infant in Surah 19. It says:

"He (Jesus) said, "I am indeed a servant of God; He has given me Revelation and made me a prophet.” (19:30)

Later, Jesus was awarded other prophetic signs such as his ability to treat the leper and the blind and give life to the dead. Other prophets and their stories that have been mentioned in the Quran include Hazrat Adam RayAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him), Hazrat Noah, Zakariya, Joseph (who could interpret dreams), David (in whose hands iron got softened), Jacob, Jonah (Yunus), Hud, Lot (Lut), Shoaib, Saleh and Aaron (Harun).

Read more:

  • Biography of Hazrat Talha bin Ubaidullah RaḍyAllāhu 'anhu
  • Biography of Hafsa bint Umar RaḍyAllāhu 'anha 
  • Biography of Hazrat Hasan Ibn Ali RaḍyAllāhu 'anhu

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According to Islamic terminology, there is some difference between a prophet and a messenger. A prophet (Nabi) is one who received divine revelation and a messenger or apostle (Rasul) is one who was awarded a divine book, and who had an Ummah or a Community.

Finally, the teachings and messages of all the prophets and messengers were perfected in the person of the Holy Prophet , as mentioned in the Quran:

This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you and have chosen for you Islam as your religion. (5:3)

This means that all the teachings contained in their original form in different scriptures have been combined in the Quran received by the Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad .

Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad confirmed the message of David's Zabur, Moses' Torah and Jesus Christ's Gospel (Injil). With the Holy Prophet Muhammad , the chain of prophets came to an end as the Quran says:

"Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but he is the Messenger of God, and the seal of prophets." (33:40)

For this reason, the Holy Prophet had repeatedly confirmed all the earlier prophets.

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