Universal Prophethood

Universal Prophethood

قولوا آمنا بالله وما أنزل إلينا وما أنزل إلى إبراهيم وإسماعيل وإسحاق ويعقوب والأسباط وما أوتي موسى وعيسى وما أوتي النبيون من ربهم لا نفرق بين أحد منهم ونحن له مسلمون
Say: “We believe in Allah and that which has been sent down to us, and that which was sent down to Ibrahim and Isma‘il and Ishaq and Ya‘qub and the Tribes, and that which was given to Musa and ‘Isa, and that which was given to the Prophets from their Lord. We do not make distinction between them, and we
have submitted ourselves to Allah.”

In this Ayah, the basic creed of Islam is outlined: (1) To believe in Allah, (2) to believe in the Revelation of the Qur’an, and (3) to believe in the previous Prophets and Messengers who were sent by Allah.

Allah has mentioned several of these previous Prophets and Messengers in this Ayah, categorising them into three groups: (1) Ibrahim, Isma‘il, Ishaq and Ya‘qub ‘alayhimus-salam, the forefathers of the other Prophets, (2) Musa and ‘Isa ‘alayhimus-salam who came with the Tawrah and the Injil respectively, although these books have been changed by human hands over time, and (3) the rest of the Prophets and Messengers.

No differentiation is made between any of them. Their Message was the same, the Message of Islam: To worship Allah alone and to obey Him entirely by following His Commandments.

When the Messenger of Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa-sallam made Hijrah to Al-Madinah, there were many Jews who were opposed to the Message of Islam. The opposition eventually led to confrontation between the Muslims and the Jews. The Jews desired the Muslims to submit to their authority and to classify themselves as followers of the Jewish religion. Allah ta‘ala describes their attitude thus in His Words:

وقالوا كونوا هودا أو نصارى تهتدوا
And they say: “Be Jews or Christians, and you will be rightly guided.”

And He instructs us to reply:

قل بل ملة إبراهيم حنيفا وما كان من المشركين
Say: “Rather, (we follow) the way of Ibrahim, who was pure in faith (to Allah Alone); and he was not one of the Mushrikin.”

Thus, the identity of the Muslims is made distinct from that of the Jews, Christians and Mushrikin. It is the Muslim Ummah alone that walks in the footsteps of Ibrahim ‘alayhis-salam and the other Prophets whom Allah ta‘ala sent to mankind.

The Jews and the Christians had manipulated and altered the content of the Divine Books revealed to them such as the Tawrah and the Injil, twisting the religion to suit their own desires and fancies. So, Allah sent down the Qur’an as the final testament and He promised to preserve it. And Allah never goes back on His Promise.

The Qur’an is the ultimate witness and testimony against those Jews and Christians who corrupted and distorted the purity of the Message of Islam as it was revealed through Musa and ‘Isa ‘alayhimus-salam. The Qur’an is the final seal of all previous Revelations, and the final argument and proof which distinguishes truth from error. It is the completion and consolidation of the Prophetic Message in its entirety from the first Prophet Adam ‘alayhis-salam up to the Final Messenger Muhammad sallallahu ‘alayhi wa-sallam.

In a Hadith narrated in Al-Bukhari on the authority of Jabir ibn Abdillah, the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa-sallam said: “Before me, Prophets were sent to their own people only. But I have been sent to all of mankind.”

Before the advent of the Last Prophet Muhammad sallallahu ‘alayhi wa-sallam, the previous Prophets had been sent to their own communities in order to establish Allah’s Din amongst them. But the advent of the Mission of the Last Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa-sallam is by necessity directed to all of mankind, as there are to be no more Prophets to come after him.

Therefore, it would not be entirely accurate to think of the Messenger of Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa-sallam as the Prophet of the Muslim community. The reality is that every single person on earth from the time of the Messenger of Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa-sallam until the Day of Resurrection is a member of the community to which Muhammad sallallahu ‘alayhi wa-sallam was sent. Allah refers to this unique characteristic of the Messenger of Allah sallallahu ‘alayhi wa-sallam by mentioning that he has been sent as Rahmatan lil-‘alamin – a Mercy to the nations. And since there are to be no more prophets after him, it is the duty of those that have accepted and believed in the Message brought by the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa-sallam to convey it to those who have not yet accepted it. From the time of the advent of Muhammad sallallahu ‘alayhi wa-sallam until the Day of Resurrection, it is incumbent upon every person who hears of the Message of Islam to believe and follow it. No other religion will be acceptable to Allah on the Day of Judgement. Whoever accepts the Guidance of Allah will succeed in this life and in the Hereafter, and whoever rejects it after it has been clearly shown to him will be doomed.

One major difference between Islam and most of the other prominent religions is that it was not altered after its advent, as was the case with Christianity and Judaism. Truly speaking, what became Christianity and Judaism was originally Islam but was so corrupted and changed by human hands that it eventually lost all connection to true Islam. But the final form of Islam as revealed through the Prophet Muhammad sallallahu ‘alayhi wa-sallam has been preserved by Allah until the final Hour.

Allah has gathered all people together in this time shortly before the coming of the Hour, and has called them to one Prophet, one Book, one Shari‘ah as the final and ultimate test for humanity. Now there are no barriers separating groups of people. The Guidance has reached every corner of the earth. The Truth has been made clear, and the proofs have been established. The Qur’an stands as a witness to the past nations and their Prophets, and it admonishes and warns the people of today with clear arguments and evidence. It affirms and confirms the Mission of all the previous Prophets, and it points out the deviations that mankind made after them. It calls all people to embrace Iman and enter the brotherhood of Islam, a brotherhood based on faith alone, and not upon race, culture, ethnicity, economic status, class, or anything else. A poet said:

الصين لنا والعرب لنا والهند لنا والكل لنا
أضحى الإسلام لنا ديناً، وجميع الكون لنا وطناً
China is ours; the Arab lands are ours; India is ours; everything is ours:
Islam shines as our Din, and the whole world is our homeland.

Because of this universality and brotherhood established by Islam, the Muslims were able to turn the tide of history and change the world. During the Khilafah of Abu Bakr, the Muslim lands encompassed 1,300,000 square miles. During the time of ‘Umar, they reached 2,500,000 square miles, and during the time of ‘Uthman, they extended from the east to the west. And had the Muslims held fast to this quality of universality, the Khilafah would not have fallen away.

Despite the example that the Prophet sallallahu ‘alayhi wa-sallam gave, the Muslims of today have shattered into many factions often influenced to a great degree by ethnicity. Today in this country we find “Turkish Mosques” and “Lebanese Mosques” and “Egyptian Mosques” and “Albanian Mosques”. Why do we need such distinctions to be made? Where is the pure and universal Message of Islam that transcends ethnicity and culture?

Today, our Masjids are the centres of dispute and conflicts, rather than being places of unity and cohesion. Is it not a strange and frightening point to note that our enemies are all united against us, but we are so internally divided among ourselves?

May Allah give us the Tawfiq to read the Qur’an, to understand the Qur’an and to practice the Qur’an in our lives.