Were prophets born with the nature of prophethood?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Human nature cannot be changed. The nature of prophets cannot be changed either. There are two aspects in human nature: the animal and vegetal aspect, which tends to do evil and which can be called the soul, and the mental and conscientious aspect, which tends to do good deeds. The Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) also had those elements as a human being because the test of the great people is great too. He is also subject to testing as a prophet. However, since he was created as a candidate for a distinguished duty, his evil-commanding soul was transformed into tranquil soul, satisfied soul and soul causing satisfaction. The Prophet (pbuh) states the following in a hadith:

“I also had a Satan like everybody else but mine surrendered to me.” (Tirmidhi, Rada 17; Musnad, III/309)

- As Badiuzzaman Said Nursi’s statement, “willy-nilly my evil-commanding soul has had to follow my reason” expresses, the evil-tending aspects of not only prophets but also those who follow them sincerely and regard them as their sole guides can be transformed into goodness.

- The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was granted special equipment different from other people in accordance with his duty of prophethood. Therefore, all characteristics, feelings, lustful and furious emotions and mental faculties of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) were balanced. He combined dignity and modesty, frugality and generosity, and lenience and courage.  

The great people who made great progress in spirituality did not progress because they had blessed souls; they also had souls that demanded evil. As the saying “snow is sent down in accordance with the size of the mountain” expresses, their souls are more rebellious, harmful and extreme than those of other people.  

Everything has a price; greatness in spirituality has a price too. The people who are stars in sport and art have reached the peak by working very hard. It is not possible to reach the peak without a program, hard work and continuous discipline.

When we look at the Quran, we see that prophets underwent hard tests. Let us have a look at the following verse as an example:

“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, 2/124)

As it is seen, Hz. Ibrahim became a leader for the nations after passing hard tests. In fact, prophethood is not something that can be attained through hard work; it is a divine grant. However, that grant is a divine bestowal based on the hard work and merits of those prophets:

“... Allah knoweth best where (and how) to carry out His mission...” (al-An’am, 6/124)

The difficulty of climbing a mountain that is a thousand meters high and the summit of Mount Everest is not the same. It is necessary to undergo professional training and to have certain characteristics. Besides, it is a historical fact that not everybody who tried to reach the summit of Mount Everest reached there. So many people turned back half way and some died on the way.   

The attribute of prophethood is not something that is attained by working; it is a grace of Allah; similarly, the attribute of ismah (protection/infallibility) is a special grant of Allah to prophets and an indispensable criterion of prophethood.

As humans, we have no right to become partners with the attribute of the prophethood of prophets; we do not have the right to demand the attribute of ismah and similar attributes that are the requirements of their special position.

Not everybody can be a prophet and not everybody can be innocent (protected from sins). Besides, Allah does not want innocent people because the existence of angels as innocent beings does not leave any place for the innocence of human beings. The purpose of the creation of man is to know Allah, to worship Him and to repent and ask for forgiveness in case of sinning. If everybody were innocent, how would the manifestations of the names like Afuww (Pardoner), Ghafur (Forgiver) and Tawwab (Acceptor to Repentance), which show that Allah is the pardoner, forgiver and acceptor to repentance, be seen? We recognize Allah’s name Shafi (Healer) through illnesses; similarly, we recognize His names related to pardoning through our sins.

However, it is a fact that prophets experienced more troubles, problems and misfortunes than anyone else in their lifetimes, resisted them with their free will and accepted the tests of Allah with consent. The tests of the great people are great too.

Prophets are not angels; they are human beings. As human beings, they also have souls and Satans. They always struggled against their souls and Satans. For example, they got angry at the disrespect of people, but they managed to control their anger.

It is a very wrong thought to attribute the excuse of our own sins to the fact that we are not innocent (protected) beings. For, if we were innocent, we would not be subject to testing like angels.

“Nay, man will be evidence against himself, Even though he were to put up his excuses,” (al-Qiyamah, 75/14-15).

Allah gives the duty of prophethood to whomever He wishes. However, he gave this duty to those who had the characteristics to carry that burden. If someone else was suitable for carrying it, He would give the duty to him. It means the people other than prophets did not have those characteristics.

The burden one can carry is certain. Why should a person who can carry 50 kilos be loaded with 500 kilos? Or, why should the burden of a sycamore be placed on a sprout? Allah gives this duty to whomever He wishes with His will. However, it is a requirement of His wisdom to give it to those who can fulfill this task.

The duty of prophethood is a grant of Allah but the prophets accepted this duty with their own will; they were not forced to accept it.

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