Almighty God did not leave man alone; he sent guidance in the form of prophets and messengers. According to the common belief of all Muslims, God sent 124,000 prophets and messengers to guide mankind in all parts of the world. The first was Prophet Adam and the last was Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon them both).
The basic faith of all the prophets was the same: to call people to the One and Only God (tawhīd) and bring peace in human society; the differences are only in the codes of law. However, not all the 124,000 prophets were of the same rank and status; some were greater than the other; some were sent as assistants to those messengers who came before them; some were given a holy scripture while others were not.
There were some prophets who came with divine laws which their followers were to implement. Such prophets were higher in rank over the others, and are known as ulu 'l-`azm prophets. Ulu 'l-`azm means “those who possess great responsibility”. The ulu ’l-‘azm prophets are five:
1. Prophet Nuh (a.s.) known in English as Noah.
2. Prophet Ibrahim (a.s.) known in English as Abraham.
3. Prophet Musa (a.s.) known in English as Moses. A person who believes in the message of Prophet Musa (a.s.) is known as a Jew.
4. Prophet ‘Isa (a.s.) known in English as Jesus. A person who follows the message of Prophet ‘Isa (a.s.) is known as a Christian.
5. Prophet Muhammad (a.s.). A person who follows the message of Prophet Muhammad (a.s.) is known as a Muslim.
The divine laws brought by Prophet Nuh were followed till the advent of Prophet Ibrahim and the more advanced divine laws were sent by God through him. Then Prophet Musa was sent with a new set of laws which were even more elaborate; Musa was followed by Prophet `Isa who modified the laws of Musa. Last of all came Prophet Muhammad with the most perfect and comprehensive divine law. No prophet or holy scripture is to be sent after Muhammad (a.s.).
Many prophets were also given scriptures—God commandments sent to mankind through His prophets and messengers. The scriptures that were revealed to Prophet Nuh and Prophet Ibrahim are not well-known. The Qur'ān talks about scrolls (suhuf) of Ibrahim which shows that many books were revealed to him.
The most famous scriptures revealed to the prophets are the following:
1. The Tawrāt (Torah) revealed to Prophet Musa.
2. The Zabūr (Psalms) revealed to Prophet Dawud (a.s.) known in English as David.
3. The Injīl (Gospel) revealed to Prophet `Isa.
4. The Qur'ān (pronounced as Qur-aan) revealed to Prophet Muhammad.
This lesson has been prepared by S. M. Rizvi.
Question 1: [1.5 points for each answer]
Fill in the blanks from the pool of words given below by simply placing the number of the correct word in the blank space.
(a) According to Islamic belief, God sent ____ prophets in all parts of the world.
(b) In Qur'anic terminology, all prophets were Muslims and their fundamental mission was to preach ____ of God and ____ on earth.
(c) The name of the first prophet was ____ (a.s.) and the name of the last prophet was ____ (a.s.).
(d) All prophets were not ____ in status and rank.
(e) The prophets who came with a divine law are called ____ prophets.
(f) Christians are those who believe in ____ known in Arabic as ____.
(g) ____ are the people who believe in Prophet Musa known in English as ____.
(h) Prophet Nuh (a.s.) is known in English as ____.
(i) Zabur, known in English as ____, was given to Prophet Dawud (a.s.) known in English as ____.
(j) Torah, known in Arabic as ____, was given to Prophet ____ (a.s.).
(k) Prophet `Isa (a.s.) was given the book called ____ in Arabic and ____ in English.
(l) The Qur'ān was revealed to Prophet ____ (a.s.).
(m) The Qur'ān talks about certain scrolls called ____ revealed to Prophet ____ (a.s.).
5. Ulu 'l-`azm
Question 2: [10 points]
Listed below are some of the Prophets mentioned in the Qur'ān. Circle the letter before the names of those who came with a divine law.
(a) Prophet Ya`qub (Jacob).
(b) Prophet Ayyub (Job).
(c) Prophet Musa (Moses).
(d) Prophet Yahya (John).
(e) Prophet Muhammad (a.s.).
(f) Prophet Yunus (Jonah).
(g) Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham).
(h) Prophet Yusuf (Joseph).
(i) Prophet `Isa (Jesus).
(j) Prophet Nuh (Noah)
(k) Prophet Ismail (Ishmael).
(l) Prophet Zakariyya (Zacharia).
Question 3: [10 points]
(a) Specify the names of the Divine Books in the order in which they were revealed, and also write the names of the Prophets who received those Books.
(b) Which Divine Book contains the most comprehensive and eternal laws?