They bore a message from their Lord to call people to the truth and guide them along the way. Throughout history, various nations were sent Messengers. God, in His Mercy and Justice, does not hold people accountable until they have been given the chance for guidance. Those who did not receive the divine message are excused while those who wilfully reject or deny the message are taken to account. God says:
Messengers are pure and noble humans sent by God to different communities and nations
“For every nation, there is a Messenger. And when their Messenger comes, justice is done among them; they are not wronged.”
He also says:
“Nor do We punish until We have sent a Messenger.”
The Messengers were sent to people in their own language, yet they all bore the same essential moral and credal message. God says:
“We have raised in every nation a Messenger, [proclaiming:] Worship God and avoid false gods!”
And He says:
“We sent no Messenger before you, but that We revealed to him: There is no god but I, so worship Me!”
Although they bore a divine message, the Messengers were nonetheless human beings who ate food, slept, married, had children, grew old, and passed away like all other humans. God says:
“And We never sent Messengers before you but who did eat food and walk in the markets.”
However, each of these chosen men possessed certain essential characteristics in their special role as Messengers. They are:
They were truthful and did not lie. They were trustworthy, divinely protected from sin, and did not betray their trust. They were highly intelligent and free of repulsive traits or features. They also conveyed their messages completely to their people.
Many Prophets and Messengers are mentioned in the Quran. Twenty-five Messengers are explicitly named in the Quran and many others were sent who remain unnamed. God says,
“And Messengers We have mentioned to you before and Messengers We have not mentioned to you.”
The twenty-five prophets mentioned by name in the Quran are, in chronological order: Adam, Enoch (Idrīs), Noah (Nūḥ), Hūd, Ṣāliḥ, Abraham (Ibrāhīm), Lot (Lūt), Ishmael (Ismāʿīl), Isaac (Isḥāq), Jacob (Yaʿqūb), Joseph (Yūsuf), Job (Ayyūb), Jethro (Shuʿayb), Moses (Mūsā), Aaron (Hārūn), Ezekiel (Dhul-kifl), David (Dāwūd), Solomon (Sulaymān), Elijah (Ilyās), Elisha (Il-Yasaʿ), Jonah (Yūnus), Zechariah (Zakarīyyah), John the Baptist (Yaḥyā), Jesus (ʿĪsā), and finally, their paragon, seal, and final prophet, Muḥammad — God’s blessings and peace be upon them all.
THE SEAL OF PROPHECY
God says describing the Prophet Muhammad:
“He is the Messenger of God and the Seal of the Prophets”
The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said that prophecy is like a house that had one brick remaining to complete the structure and that he was that last brick by which the house of prophethood was completed and perfected. He is the Seal of Prophethood. As the last and final Messenger, the Prophet Muhammad was not sent to a specific group of people, but to the whole of humanity, a Mercy from God, Who says:
And We have only sent you universally to all people as a herald and a warner.”
The Revealed Law which he brought completes what came before it, confirms or abrogates previous laws, and remains validated by God until the end of time for all people.
In addition to being sent to teach people the Quran and guide them to a balanced and God-centred way of life, he purified them of their bad habits and previous false beliefs. Furthermore, he brought wisdom and came to complete good character with his noble example for those who aspire to follow his path. God confirms the Prophet’s lofty and beautiful character, saying,
“And indeed, you have an exalted standard of character.”
A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO THE PROPHET MUHAMMAD
Peace be upon him
The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, was born of noble lineage in the city of Mecca in 570 AD. His father passed away just before he was born, and his mother passed away when he was six years old. Thus, he was orphaned from an early age and was raised first by his grandfather and then by his uncle Abu Talib. The Prophet, peace be upon him, was handsome, of medium height, and slim with broad shoulders. His eyes were large with long lashes; his hair and beard were thick, dark and slightly curled. There was a light and radiance in his face from his aquiline nose to his wide and finely shaped mouth. His people knew him for his noble character and truthfulness. He was known as al-AmÏn, the Trustworthy, even before receiving revelation. He also had a reputation for being reliable and was valued for his advice and intelligence. The Prophet, peace be upon him, was warm and welcoming and was often seen with a smile on his face. He was gentle to his family. As a husband, he treated his wives kindly and fairly, and he often helped them around the house. He taught his Companions, “The best of you is the best towards his wife, and I am the best of you towards my wives.” As a father, the Prophet, peace be upon him, loved children and would play with them. He would even allow his granddaughter Umama to sit on his shoulders while he prayed. He was sensitive and compassionate to the needs of others. Once, when visiting a home, he saw a little boy sitting with a sad expression on his face. Upon finding out that the little boy’s pet parrot had died, the Prophet, peace be upon him, sat and consoled him.
As he began to call others to Islam, the Prophet, peace be upon him, suffered insults and opposition from those who rejected his message. Despite his struggles, he remained patient and continued to treat his enemies well. He was eventually given permission by God to leave Mecca and migrate to Medina. But even after his victorious return to Mecca ten years later, he did not take revenge on his opponents; on the contrary he treated them with utmost benevolence and mercy. In Medina, the Prophet, peace be upon him, became the leader of a quickly growing community. He was supported by the Muslims of Medina, known as the Ansar (the Helpers), who welcomed him and put themselves and their possessions at his service. After a lifetime of successfully conveying his message and teaching his followers by example to submit themselves wholeheartedly to God, the Prophet, peace be upon him, passed away in Medina at the age of sixty-three. He left the Quran, the example of his life in the Sunnah, his prayers, his love, and the effects of his companionship in the believers who continued after him.