Islam: beliefs and teachings 3 – PROPHETHOOD

Risalah – Guidance to mankind through angels, prophets and holy books

 

Prophethood

 

Adam

Adam was the first prophet appointed by Allah, ‘Indeed I am going to set a vicegerent (earthly representative of Allah) on Earth’ (Qur’an 2)

 

Adam was created from clay and given a soul by Allah. Everything was created for Adam and he was to be caretaker of the earth. Adam was taught everything by Allah, given the ability to give names to all of creation, learn language and the ability to make choices. Allah created Eve for company for Adam. Iblis (a Jinn or supernatural creature) tempted Adam & Eve to eat from the tree that Allah commanded them not to. They became aware of their nakedness and asked Allah for forgiveness. Allah forgave them but they now had to live as normal human beings. Allah gave Adam guidance on how to live and teach others. Adam and Eve had many children.

 

Why is Adam important?
  • Father of all mankind
  • Was the first prophet of Allah
  • He taught that this life was temporary and a test for the life to come
  • He built the Kaba as the first place of worship once sent to earth
  • Shows Muslims that if they ask for forgiveness from Allah then it will be granted. Iblis did not ask Allah for forgiveness and is viewed as a negative force similar to the Devil in Christianity

 

  

Ibrahim (Abraham)

In Abraham’s early life he sold idols. One day he tested the power of the idols by throwing them into the river. They were unable to save themselves so he started to search for answers beyond the worship of the idols. Allah called him to be a prophet and Abraham accepted Him as the one true God, ‘For me I have set myself towards the One who created the skies and the Earth. I will never make partners of Allah” (Qur’an 6)

His father and many others did not accept him and called for him to be burned. Miraculously, Allah rescued him from the fire with only the chains burning. Abraham wrote down the messages given to him by Allah. These would become known as the Scrolls of Abraham, now lost but still considered holy by Muslims. Abraham was tested by Allah when commanded to sacrifice his son Ismail. Just as he was about to kill his son God intervened and a ram was sacrificed instead. Abraham’s wife Hagar took Ismail into the desert where they ran out of water. Allah saved them by creating the well of Zam Zam, a place Muslims still visit today when on pilgrimage to Mecca. In thanks for their lives Abraham rebuilt the Kaba in Mecca.

                                                             

  

Muhammad – ‘The Seal of the Prophets’

Muhammad was orphaned at an early age. His early struggles made him stronger and developed characteristics of responsibility, determination and resilience. Muhammad was to deliver the final message of Allah. A message that corrected the previous messages brought by earlier prophets and had been ignored or distorted.

 

The Night of Power

Muhammad saw terrible things in Mecca. There was much violence, cheating and worship of idols. He began to meditate in a cave on Mt Hira. When alone the Angel Jibril appeared to Muhammad and commanded him to ‘Read’. Muhammad said he could not read. Again the angel commanded him to read until Muhammad felt like the words were engraved on his heart. This was the first revelation of many that would eventually become the Qur’an.

 

Why was it important for Muhammad to be called as a prophet?

  • It shows Allah has a plan for all mankind. Muhammad was a very normal man called to deliver a special message. Muslims have to trust that Allah knows best. Muhammad was a role model that people could follow. He was a leader, loyal husband and friend.
  • Mecca had become a centre for idol worship despite the previous messages of Adam and Abraham. The people had strayed away from Allah’s original message.
  • Previous holy books had been lost or changed so a new message was required

 

Muhammad’s Sunnah & Hadith

For Muslims, the Qur’an is the most important source of authority. The second place a Muslim will look for guidance is the Sunnah and Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad.

The word Sunnah means the actions and example of Muhammad in terms of behaviour and the Hadith are sayings or pieces of advice given by Muhammad to the early Muslim community on issue such as marriage or employment.

Why are the Sunnah & Hadith important?
  • They allow Muslims today to follow in the example of Muhammad. He is a role model
  • The Qur’an is a complicated and detailed text. Although it will always be the most important source of guidance for a Muslim the Sunnah and Hadith are much clearer and easier for the majority of Muslims to follow.
  • The Sunnah & Hadith cover many ordinary areas of life such as marriage, charity, treatment of animals etc

 

What influence does Muhammad have on an individual Muslim today?
  • Viewed as the ultimate role model. Muhammad had a difficult start in life and was simply an ordinary man who achieved extraordinary things. His life is viewed as an inspiration for others when facing difficult times.
  • He had absolute trust in Allah and was faithful to Him. He destroyed the idols and established monotheism in Mecca. Muslims seek to follow this in their daily lives.
  • Muslims respect him as a leader. Others followed him. He established a religion, which spread rapidly and is now the second largest faith in the world.
  • Muhammad was a respected family man. He cared for his wife and their children as well as his future wives after Khadijah’s death. He educated his daughters and stressed how important family was for the good of society.
  • Muhammad was also considered a great teacher. His Sunnah and Hadith give guidance daily to millions of Muslims.
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