(D) Belief in the Messengers

The next article of faith is belief in Allah’s Messengers. A messenger is any human who was chosen by Allah to receive revelation from Him and who was commanded to pass that revelation on. The first of the messengers was Noah (Nooh).158 Every people was sent messengers and these messengers came with the same fundamental teaching:

“And verily, We have sent among every nation a Messenger proclaiming, ‘Worship Allah [alone] and avoid all false deities’” (16:36). The final messenger and prophet is the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Allah has said, “Muhammad is not the father of any man among you, but he is the Messenger and the Seal of the Prophets” (33:40).

It is important to note that all of these messengers and prophets were simply human beings. They did not have any divine status or attribute.159 They had no knowledge of the unseen except for that which Allah revealed to them. Their loftiest attribute is that of being a servant of Allah. Such is Allah’s description of them in the Quran. Indeed, with respect to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), in reference to three of the greatest events in his life, Allah refers to him as His servant.160

Correct belief in the messengers comprises four aspects161:

First, one must believe that the message of all of them is the truth from Allah. If a person today denies any single one of them who is confirmed in the Quran or authentic hadith, then he is in fact denying all of them. Allah says about the people of Noah, “The people of Noah belied the messengers” (26:105). However, Noah was the first messenger. This implies that, in essence, if a person denies one messenger, he is in fact denying all of them since their message is essentially one and consistent. Hence, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “By the One in whose Hand is the soul of Muhammad, there will be no Jew or Christian of this nation162 who hears of me and then dies without believing in that with which I have been sent except that he will be one of the inhabitants of the Hell-fire.”163

This is one of the aspects that distinguishes Muslims from the earlier peoples. Muslims believe in all of the prophets. However, the others refused some— whether it be the Jews rejecting Jesus (peace be upon him) or the Jews and Christians rejecting the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)— although, in reality, they had no grounds whatsoever to refuse the later prophet. Each messenger came with clear signs and evidence. Their rejection by the people could only be based on arrogance, ignorance or hostility to the truth.

Second, one must believe in all of the Messengers mentioned by name in the Quran or Sunnah. As for those not mentioned, one must believe in them at a general level164, knowing that Allah has sent many messengers although not all of them are mentioned by name in the Quran or hadith. Allah has stated in the Quran, “And indeed We have sent messengers before you. Of them, some We have related to you their story and some We have not related to you their story” (40:78).

Third, one must believe in everything that they stated. They communicated their messages from Allah completely and properly. They exerted themselves to propagate Allah’s message. They strove for the sake of Allah in the most complete manner. They were most knowledgeable of Allah and the best worshippers and servants of Allah.165 The messengers “have been protected from attributing to Allah something of their own invention, judging according to their own desires, falling into major sins, and adding to or diminishing from the religion.”166

Fourth, one must submit to, accept and act in accord with the law of the messenger who has been sent for his guidance. Allah says in the Quran, “We sent no messenger but to be obeyed by Allah’s leave” (4:64). With respect to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), Allah says in the verse after the verse quoted above, “But no, by your Lord, they can have no faith until they make you judge in all disputes between them, and find in themselves no resistance against your decisions, and accept them with full submission” (4:65).

The believer should realize that the sending of messengers for the benefit and guidance of humankind is a great blessing from Allah. The knowledge that they conveyed is knowledge that is beyond the grasp of the human intellect by itself since it deals with matters of the unseen. Indeed, humankind is in more need of their guidance than they are in need of food and drink. If they are void of food and drink for any period of time, they will die, implying loss of this life. But if they are refusing Allah’s guidance through the messengers, they will lose the everlasting bounties of the Hereafter.

158 As for Adam, he was a prophet and not a messenger. Every messenger was a prophet but not vice-versa. For the differences between a prophet (nabi) and messenger (rasool), see the author’s “Questions and Answers,” Al-Basheer (Vol. 2, No. 1,May-June 1988), pp. 5-7.

159 This is obviously one of the ways by which the Christians strayed. They raised their Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) to a divine status while it is clear from their own book that he was simply a human being who prayed and beseeched God on a number of occasions.

160 See 25:1, 17:1 and 72:19.

161 Cf., ibn Uthaimeen, Sharh Usool al-Imaan, pp. 36-38.

162 Meaning everyone from the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him) until the Day of Judgment. They are all the Prophet’s Nation because they are all obliged to believe in him and follow him.

163 Recorded by Muslim.

164 At the same time, no one can claim that a person, for example, Buddha, was a prophet because there is no evidence from the Quran and Sunnah to affirm such a claim.

165 Abdullah al-Muslih and Salaah al-Saawi, Ma La Yasa’ al-Muslim Jahluhu (Islamic Foundation of America, 1995), p. 59.

166 Abdur-Rahmaan Abdul-Khaliq, The General Prescripts of Belief in the Quran and Sunnah (The Majliss of al-Haqq Publica on Society, 1986), p. 18.