Did the great personalities that advanced in spirituality reach those high ranks by worshipping day and night? Or were they (saints and prophets) given those ranks by birth?

Details of the Question
Did the great personalities that advanced in spirituality reach those high ranks by worshipping day and night? Or were they (saints and prophets) given those ranks by birth?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The great personalities that advanced in spirituality did not do so because they had holy souls. They also had the same souls that desire bad things. As a matter of fact, their souls are more disobedient, rebellious and ferocious than the souls of the other people. However, they always struggled against their souls and managed to be the leaders of spirituality as a result of their struggle.


As there is a price for everything, there is a price for becoming a leader of spirituality. The people who are at the zenith in the fields of sports and art have reached the zenith as a result of their hard work. It is not possible to reach the zenith without a certain program, intensive work and permanent discipline.
When we have a look at the Quran, we see that the prophets also underwent tough tests and trials. For instance, look at this verse:
 

And remember that Abraham was tried by his Lord with certain commands, which he fulfilled; He said: "I will make thee an Imam to the nations.". (al-Baqara, 124)


As it is seen, Hazrat Hz. Ibrahim (Abraham) became a leader to people after passing the hard tests. In fact, prophethood is not something that can be achieved through hard work; it is completely a divine grace. However, this grace corresponds with the hard work and worthiness of the prophets. “Allah knoweth best where (and how) to carry out His mission.” (al-An’am, 124)
Doubtlessly, the difficulty of climbing a mountain of one thousand-meter high is not the same as climbing Mount Everest. It is necessary to undergo professional training and have certain abilities in order to climb to the peak of Everest. Besides, it is a well-known reality that not everyone that tries to climb Everest can reach the peak. So many people who started to climb Everest abandoned climbing half-way and so many people died while climbing.


The qualification of prophethood is not something that can be achieved; it is a divine grace; the qualification of ismah (innocence) is a special gift of Allah and an indispensable criterion of the prophethood.


As human beings, we have no right to share the qualification of the prophethood of the prophets; we do not have the right to demand to have innocence and other special qualifications that are necessities of their special position, either.


Not everyone is a prophet; not everyone can be innocent. Besides, Allah does not want innocent people because the existence of angels, who are innocent, does not leave place for the innocence of human beings. The reason why human beings have been created is to know Allah, to worship Him and to repent when committing a sin. If everybody were innocent, how would the manifestations of the names of Allah like al-Afuww (the Pardoner), al-Ghafur (the Forgiver), at-Tawwab (the Acceptor to Repentance) that show the pardoning, forgiving and accepting to repentance be known? We get to know His name, ash-Shafi (the Healer) through illnesses; similarly, we get to know His names denoting forgiveness through our sins.


However, it is a reality that prophets underwent more troubles, problems, misfortunes than anybody else and they endured them through their free will and welcomed those trials of Allah with consent. The trials of great people are great.
Prophets are not angels; they are human beings. Like other human beings, they also have souls and satans They always struggled against them. For instance, they got angry and annoyed due to the disrespect of people but they managed to overcome their anger. Our Prophet said the following in a hadith: “I had a satan, too, but he surrendered willy-nilly.” (Tirmidhi, Rada 17; Musnad, III. 309).


It is a wrong judgment to attribute the excuse of our sins to not being an innocent being; if we were innocent, we would not be tested, just like the angels.
 

That Day will man be told (all) that he put forward, and all that he put back. Nay, man will be evidence against himself.” (al-Qiyama, 75/13-14).


Allah gives the duty of prophethood to whomever he wishes. However, He gave the duty to those who had the qualifications bear it. If somebody else had had been appropriate to bear it, He would have given the duty to him. That is, those who were not given prophethood did not have those qualifications.


The load that everyone can carry is certain. Why should a man who can carry 50 kilos be given 500 kilos to carry? Why should the burden of a plane tree be given to a young shoot? Allah gives that duty whomever He wishes. However, it is the necessity of His wisdom to give it to those who can do it.


The duty of prophethood is a grace of Allah but the prophets accepted it with their own will. They were not given it by force.

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