What is prophethood? Were prophets sent in every period?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Prophets are distinguished people that Allah chooses among people. They inform people about His religion, that is, His commands and prohibitions. They give the glad tidings of reward both in the world and hereafter to those who believe and do good deeds; they warn unbelievers who do bad deeds of torture of hell…

The following is stated in the Quran:

“We send the Messengers only to give good news and to warn: so those who believe and mend (their lives)”. (al-An’am, 48)

Prophets are distinguished slaves of Allah. A person cannot be a prophet by working, trying hard and asking. Prophethood is an endowment of Allah.

Prophets are the leaders of the humankind. We are ordered in the Quran to accept them as models, to tread in their footsteps and to resemble them since they are in the highest level of servitude to Allah, away from acting in accordance with the desires of their souls and from committing sins:

“Those were the (prophets) who received Allah's guidance: Follow the guidance they received.” (al-An’am, 90)

 “Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in the praise of Allah.” (al-Ahzab, 21)

In this dua (prayer), which Muslims recite in every salah (prayer),

“Show us the straight way. The way of those on whom Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace”, ‘prophets’ are in the first place among those that have been bestowed grace. Muslims accept prophets as models and follow their guidance. 

Prophets were chosen among human beings not among other beings because of being accepted as models.

It is clear that the one that can serve as the best model for human beings can only be a human being.

Humanity did not remain away from the light of prophethood in any period.

“Prophethood is a high rank. It is a branch of the self-loftiness of man that is inclined towards God, and a tongue in nature that lives beyond nature and is in love with it. It includes both being elected and promoted, and being sent with a duty. As it is the case with geniuses, a Prophet is not only a lofty brain and an ability that penetrates into things and events. He is the ideal being who is active with all his faculties, new, continuously surging and with every surge drawing a new arch of ascension, and the point of meeting for the things waiting for analyses through divine solutions.

In him, the body is dependent on the soul, and the mind on the heart; vision is within the realm of the names and attributes; steps reach wherever the vision may be are and always together.

In prophets, senses are developed and go beyond the natural boundaries of sight, hearing and knowledge. Not only are we unable to measure their vision in wavelengths, we are also unable to expound their hearing with soundwaves. Especially within the measures we use to analyze and synthesize, it is impossible for one to reach their knowledge, which forces the boundaries of nature’s walls.

Humanity can understand beings and their secrets only through them. It will never be possible to perfectly embrace things and events and to intervene in nature appropriately without them.

Their first mission is to teach man nature and the divine laws in it; it is a lesson for beginners. In addition, they teach man the names and attributes of the Sublime Creator, who makes the realm of existence a witness for His existence; they also teach man to be careful and cautious about the Creator, who is beyond perception.  

If it were not for the clear statements of the prophets about the Being with magnificent power and will, who controls all the realms, dominates everything from particles to nebula, manages, changes and transforms them, and about His titles and attributes, it would not be possible to say anything true about him or to have a clear thought about the creed of Divinity.

Thus, a prophet teaches us the whole life by entering into things and events; it is also he who tells us the first lesson in everything and every event, which is the magnificent creator, the owner of the magnificent power and will, with respect to the fine balance and secret relationship between His names and attributes and His Divine Essence.

It is unlikely for any continent of the earth and any period of time to be deprived of their knowledge and light. How can it be possible since no clear judgment has been made about the realm of existence so far outside of their guiding circles and since it has not been possible to surpass the foggy atmosphere of philosophy, which is full of doubt, hesitation and contradiction?

As a matter of fact, intellect, wisdom and the Quran jointly confirm that every time and every place are under the guardianship of a prophet in a way that makes the opposite of it impossible.

What is the number of the prophets?

The first prophet is Hz. Adam, who is the ancestor of humanity and the last prophet is Hz. Muhammad (pbuh). Many prophets came between them. Only some of those prophets’ names and stories are mentioned in the Quran. (an-Nisa, 164; al-Mu’min, 78)

The Messenger of Allah states in a hadith narration that 124 thousand and in another narration 224 thousand prophets came before him. (See Taftazani, Sharhul-Aqaid, 169. See also: Muhittin Bahçeci, Âyet ve Hadîslerle Peygamberlik ve Peygamberler, 63-64)

The number of the prophets mentioned in the Quran is 25. It is disputable whether three people mentioned in the Quran are prophets or saints. Imam Rabbani explains the reason why so few prophets are known by people though the number of the prophets is so high as follows: “Numerous prophets appeared in India, but some of them had no followers or only a few people, so they did not become well-known or were not called prophets. (Mektubat, 361)
That explanation by Imam Rabbani explains the reason why so many prophets were forgotten in history.

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