SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Agency) –
The Philosophy of the Prophethood
We believe that God has sent a long line of prophets and Messengers for the guidance of mankind towards salvation and perfection. If not so, creation would fail to serve the Creator’s purpose, and man would be drowned in the whirlpool of aberrations.
“(Messengers) Who gave glad tidings as well as warning; so that mankind, after the coming of these Messengers, may have no plea against Allah, the exalted in power the wise.” (Holy Qur’an, 4:165)
We believe that among all the prophets there are five ‘archprophets’, who are the most prominent because they brought the law, divine books and new religions. The first was Noah, the second was Abraham, the third was Moses, the fourth was Jesus Christ; and the last of them all was Muhammad.
“And remember when We made a covenant with you, as we did with the other prophets: – with Noah and Abraham, with Moses and Jesus the son of Mary. We took from them a solemn covenant, so that Allah might question the truthful about their truthfulness. Allah has prepared for the unbelievers a grievous punishment.” (Holy Qur’an, 33:7)
“Bear up them with patience as did the Archprophets before you, and be in no haste about the unbelievers.” (Holy Qur’an, 46:35).
We believe that the Holy prophet Muhammad closed the long line of Messengers, and he is the last of the prophets, His Islamic law will cover all the mankind, and will remain until the end of the world. That is to say, the nature of his doctrine and Islamic commandments is so becoming, that they will satisfy all the needs of mankind up to the end. If after Muhammad, any one claims to be a prophet, such is a false claim.
“Muhammad is not the father of any of you men, but he is the Messenger of Allah, and the seal of the prophets. Allah has full knowledge of all things.” (Holy Qur’an, 33:40).
The Symbiosis Between The Followers of Divine Religions
Although we believe that Islam is at present the only official religion accepted by God, it does not mean that there cannot be a symbiosis between the followers of Divine Religions, whether they live in Islamic countries or elsewhere. This has an exception of those non-Muslims who are enemies of Islam and Muslims.
“Allah forbids you not, to be kind and equitable to those who have neither made war on your religion, nor driven you out from your homes. Allah loves the equitable.” (Holy Qur’an, 60:8)
We believe that we can make known the truthfulness of Islam to others, by logical and fair discussions. Islam is so logically attractive, that if it be presented clearly and purely, many will be attracted to it. Particularly nowadays, that we see so many eager ears ready to listen to Islam. This is why we believe that we need not to impose our religion on people by force.
“There is no compulsion in religion. The truth is distinct from error. Whoever rejects evil and believes in Allah, has grasped the most trustworthy hand, hold that which never breaks. Allah hears and knows all things.” (Holy Qur’an, 2:256)
We believe that if the Muslims do what their religion tells them to do; their deeds are enough to present and spread Islam. Neither force nor compulsion is needed.
The Prophets Are Innocent for Life
We believe that all the prophets are innocent throughout their lives. This means that by the grace of God they are always guiltless, before and after their prophetic mission. If not so, people would lose confidence in them, and would not know them as good mediators to act between them and God.
If in the Holy Qur’an, guilty acts are ascribed to prophets, it is only that they are: “preferring the better over the best.” In other word, the prophets may choose one of the two which is less good and not that which is bad. Sometimes a good work of a good believer might be a sin for the nearest to God and everyone is expected to do what is fitting to them.
They Are God’s Obedient Servants
We believe that it has been the greatest honor of the prophets to be the obedient servants of God. This is why we repeat in our daily prayers the following phrase: “I testify that Muhammad is the servant of God; and His messenger too.”
We believe that none of the prophets have claimed to be a god. “It is impossible that a man to whom is given the scriptures, wisdom, and prophethood; should say to people: “worship me instead of God.” On the contrary he would say: “Be you all devoted servants of God, who is truly the cherisher of all, for you have studied and taught the scriptures.” (Holy Qur’an, 3:34)
Also, Jesus Christ has never asked people to worship him: “Christ does not refuse to serve and worship Allah; Nor do the nearest angels feel contempt to do that. Those who disdain His worship and who are arrogant will be gathered together in front of Him (to answer)” (Holy Qur’an, 4:172)
The histories written today show that among the early Christians of the first century (A.D.), the ‘trinity’ did not exist among them at all; rather it is a concept which appeared later.
Miracles and the Knowledge of the Unseen
Being the servant of God does not prevent the prophet to know the unseen, or the future and the past by the leave of God.
“God alone knows the unseen, nor does He make any one aware of His Mysteries, Except a Messenger whom He has chosen.” (Holy Qur’an, 72:26)
We know that one of the miracles performed by Jesus was to inform people of some of the mysterious affairs.
“… And Jesus said I declare to you what you EAT and what you store in your houses…” (Holy Qur’an, 3:49)
Muhammad the prophet of Islam too, declared many secrets by the way of God’s inspiration.
“That is of the unseen reports which we reveal by inspiration unto you.” (Holy Qur’an, 12:102)
So the prophets may inform of the unseen through the inspiration of God. It is in the Holy Qur’an that the prophet says: “I do not tell you not that, with me are the treasure of Allah; nor do I know what is hidden, (the unseen) nor do I tell you that I am an angel. I only follow that which is revealed to me.” (Holy Qur’an, 6:50)
This, of course, refers to the substantial knowledge, and not the knowledge obtained by Divine teachings to the prophets.
We believe that these reverend prophets have performed miracles and supernatural acts by the leave of God; and because we believe in their miracles to be with the permission of God, we do not consider that to be a sort of polytheism. According to the Holy Qur’an; Jesus Christ raised the dead to life again and healed the incurable diseases, but only by the leave of God: “‘By Allah’s leave’, said Jesus; ‘I shall give sight to the blind, and heal the lepers, and I raise the dead to life, (with the permission of God.)’” (Holy Qur’an, 3: 49)
The Intercession of the Prophets
We believe that all the prophets, particularly Prophet Muhammad, are in a position to intercede with God on behalf of a certain group of sinners. This intercession must be, and is by the leave of God: “No intercessor can plead with Him, except after His leave.” (Holy Qur’an, 10:3)
“Who is there to intercede in His presence, except with His permission?” (Holy Qur’an, 2:255)
If in some of the Holy Qur’anic verses we see that intercession is rejected, it refers to the absolute intercession, and not that which is by God’s leave: “O, Believers! Bestow in alms a part of that which we have given you, before that day arrives in which there shall be neither trading, nor friendship, and nor intercession.” (Holy Qur’an, 2:254)
Here absolute intercession is meant which is without the permission of God. We have always repeated that some of Holy Qur’anic verses explain the others.
We believe that intercession is a good means for training and turning the sinners to the right path. It enjoins virtue and sanctity, and inspires hope in those who deserve it. It is also a notice to the sinners to not ruin the bridges behind themselves, and to leave a little way of return to their Merciful Lord.
The Question of Resorting
We believe that resorting too, is similar to intercession, which permits those who have problems and difficulties to resort to the prophets and saints for help; so that they may pray to God asking Him to solve the problems of the restorers: “When they oppressed themselves, would they have come to you (i.e. Muhammad) to ask Allah’s forgiveness for them; they surely would have found Allah an acceptor of their repentance and the Most Merciful.” (Holy Qur’an, 4:64)
In the story of Joseph the dreamer, found in the Holy Qur’an, when his brothers felt regret and repented, they resorted to their father (Jacob) to ask God to forgive them their sins. The old father agreed with their request, and promised to ask for their salvation in due time. In this respect the Holy Book says: “They said: O, our father! Ask forgiveness for our sins, for we were really at fault. He said, soon I shall ask my Lord to forgive you all, for He is indeed often forgiving and Merciful.” (Holy Qur’an, 12:97)
Of course one should not transgress the logical bounds by thinking that the prophets could do as they liked without the permission of God. One should not try to change a case of resorting or interceding into a case of worshipping the prophets and the saints which is then mere polytheism. They substantially can do nothing unless God permits them to do it.
“Say: I have no power over any good or bad to myself, except by the will of Allah. If I had the knowledge of the hidden, I would have availed myself of much goodness, and no harm would have touched me at all. I am only a Warner to all of you and a bringer of glad tiding to those who have faith.” (Holy Qur’an, 7:188).
The Principles of All the Prophet’s Missions Are One
We believe that all the prophets pursued the same aim which is the prosperity of mankind, through faith in God and the resurrection, and by religious training. This is why we respect all the prophets. We learn from the Holy Qur’an: “The Messenger (Muhammad) believes in that which is revealed to him from his Lord and so do men of faith they all believe in Allah, His angels, His Books, and in all His Messengers. They say: “We make no distinction between any of the prophets. They also say: we hear (The Prophets) and we obey. Our Lord! We seek thy forgiveness, that to you end all the roads.” (Holy Qur’an, 2:285)
By the elapse of time, man was prepared to have newer and better training. The religions too, gradually turned deeper and deeper, till at last Islam was revealed with that perfection needed to cover all purposes and all times.
“The unbelievers at this day have all abandoned to despair of vanquishing your religion. Have no fear of them, and only fear me. This day I have perfected your religion for you, and have completed my favor to you, and have chosen for you, Islam to be your religion.” (Holy Qur’an, 5:3)
Reports of the Former Prophets
We believe that many of the former prophets have informed their followers of the coming of the next prophet. For instance, Moses and Jesus have given a clear account of the mission of the last of the prophets, Muhammad.
“Those who follow the Messenger the unlettered prophet whom they find mentioned in their own scripture in the Law and the Gospel. He commands them what is just and equitable, and forbids them what is evil” (Holy Qur’an, 7:157)
This is why we read in history that a little while before the coming of Muhammad, a group of Jews came and settled in Medina, waiting for the prophet they expected to appear, as it was foretold in their scripture. (Duet.18:15; JOHN 14:16-25; 15:26; 16:7)
When the prophet came, some of them accepted his doctrine and converted to faithful believers, and some found their material benefits and political positions endangered and rejected the invitation to Islam.
The Prophets and Their Reforms in All Aspects of Human Life
We believe that the Divine Religions sent through the Messengers, particularly Islam, not only improves the social life of the individuals or heeds the moral and ethics of people, but it also covers all the different aspects of the human life. Even the roots of some necessary sciences are taken from them.
We believe that one of the main objects of the Divine leaders and Messengers is to achieve complete social justice: “We sent our Messengers with clear signs, and sent down with them the Book and the scale (of right & wrong) that man might do justice.” (Holy Qur’an, 57:25)
Racial and Tribal Advantages Rejected
We believe that all the prophets, especially our prophet Mohammad, admitted no racial or tribal advantages for any one. To them, all the races, nations, languages, and color of skin, were of equal value and at the same rank: “O mankind! We have created you all, from a male and a female; and made you into nations and tribes so that you may know each other. The most honored among you all, in the sight of Allah is the most virtuous one. Allah is All Knowing. All Aware.” (Holy Qur’an, 49:13)
We have a famous tradition that Muhammad was in Mina during the performance of the rites of the Islamic Holy pilgrimage (Hajj). He made a speech for an audience while he was on his camel. He said: “O People! Know that your God is only one; and all of you are the descendants of one father. No Arab has any superiority over a non-Arab and vice versa; Neither a black is better than that with a redskin, except for their Piety. Do you all follow me? “Yes we all understood,” said the audience. “Then let those who are present,” continued the Messenger of God, “convey this to those who are absent”.
Islam and Human Nature
We believe that monotheism, belief in God, and the commandments of the Messengers, are all natural, and based upon the human instinct. The prophets have only watered and grown this fruitful seed.
“So set your face steadily in devotion to the true religion the natural pattern on which God has made mankind. (Let there be) No change in this natural pattern created by Allah. That’s the standard religion which most people do not understand.” (Holy Qur’an, 30:30)
This is why throughout history; Man has had some sort of deity and religion. Even those nations, who bore the heavy pressures of anti-religion policies and propagandas, have returned back towards their religion as soon as they obtained some freedom.
Of course it can not be denied, man, for his low culture has often had his true religion mixed with superstitions, and the prophets’ main role was to remove that and clean the mirror of the hearts
By: Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi