What is the role of the Prophets in our life? What is the necessity for it? Isn't it sufficient for us that we have intellect, we have a brain, and we have the inner guidance which helps us differentiate between what is good and what is evil? So what is the need for the Prophets? There is a Hadeeth from Imam Musa Al Kadhim (a.s.) that explains and answers this question. In that Hadeeth the seventh Imam says that there are two guides that Allah helps every human being to go on the path. One is internal and the other is external. The internal guide is the pure heart, the pure intellect which by nature leads people to go for virtues, to good practice, to whatever called ethical and moral and to warn from the inside people from doing injustice, from going wrong or from committing immorality. This is from the inner guide.
But of course the external guide or those who are guiding us from outside, these are none but the messengers of God, the Prophets and messengers. Later on we will explain the difference between Nabi and Rasool, the prophet and messenger but now we are trying to focus and to answer this question, why do we need the prophets to guide us? A Hadeeth form Imam Baqir (a.s.) answers this question again. He says that Allah has created the whole creation in three different categories with three different distinctive ways.
The first group Allah has given them wisdom, brain, intellect but no desires. These are the angels.
The second group is those creatures whom given all types of desires but no intellect, no ability to analyze or weigh or think about what is good and what is evil. These are the beasts and animals.
The third group is those who have been given both, the intellect, the wisdom and the desires. nbsp; nbsp;
Now, the Hadeeth goes on to say when human beings try to control their desires, their natural urges by their intellect, they become higher than angels. Why? Because when angels are always walking or acting in the right path, they have nothing to pull their leg, nothing to deceive them, nothing to take them astray, but if human beings in spite of their desires, in spite of their natural urges, in spite of the evil and devil both trying to mislead, they remain steadfast and continue in the path of guidance they become greater than the angels. But if they allow their intellect, the pure heart, that inner guidance to be forgotten and only the ill desires and natural urges to govern and overtake they become worse than the beasts (أُولَٰئِكَ كَالْأَنْعَامِ بَلْ هُمْ أَضَلُّ) Why? Because when the beasts in the jungle attack, kill or do whatever they want they fill their stomach regardless whether it is right or not, it is just or not. They don't have wisdom to stop them from doing so. But you human being, in spite of being provided with intellect, with brain but still you act like a beast, as an animal, as someone who does not recognize the right path then you are considered to be worse than animals.
In this way we answered the question. The question was that do we need the prophets to guide us to the right path or we have the ability to distinguish between what is good and what is evil? Of course if we have these natural urges, we have these desires that always try to make the disobedience something nice, or try to push us towards something wrong here we need a guide which helps the intellect to meet the challenge and try to avoid all those misleading and that is the need for the prophets that Allah sent human beings like us but inspired by divine wisdom are connected to the celestial being via the revelation and they are supported by what we call immunity against sin and that is (عصمة) which inshAllah in the following sessions we are going to open them up and see the role of these things of defining the messengers.
What is the difference between Nabi and Rasool? The prophet and messenger? We know that from the beginning of the human history which is recorded and we know that the first man who walked on Earth according to history recorded by Quran and Hadeeth, is Adam (a.s.) nbsp; nbsp;
Since Adam (a.s.) up to the time of Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h) there were many prophets sent by Allah to guide mankind to the right path.8:58
In one Hadeeth there are mentioned to be as many as 124,000 prophets which sometimes people would imagine that too many prophets have been sent. But if we keep in mind that sometimes these prophets were only sent to a village, to a small group, to a family, so it wasn't necessarily that they were sent to the whole humanity.
The prophet in English which is taken from Nabi in Arabic. Nabi is the one who brings news from Allah and when Allah orders someone to go and convey a certain message certain morality, a certain teaching to a particular group to this village or that community, he is bringing news from Allah so he is a Nabi or prophet.
But when we talk about the messenger, especially the messengers are described in the Quran as (اولوا العزم) those who have the universal message to the whole mankind and according to Islamic theology these are only five. Prophet Nuh, Prophet Ibrahim, Prophet Musa, Prophet Isa and the fifth is Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h) these all were conveying a Shari'a, a full Shari'a which contains all the laws, all the do's and don'ts, and they were not sent to a particular group or a particular nation, their messages were universal.
So if we know little about Prophet Nuh (a.s.) but of course we can relate the three Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam to three prominent messengers. These are Musa (a.s.), Isa (a.s.) and Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h) all relate themselves to Ibrahim that’s why they are called the Abrahamic religions.
In brief the Nabi or the prophet is only bringing news from the divine to people not necessarily the complete religion but the Rasool is the one who is concerned with every single issue of both whatever is related to this life and whatever deals with the hereafter. Whatever is related to the materialistic aspect of life and the spiritual aspect of life. Whatever deals with do's and don'ts, what is lawful and what is unlawful.
Having said that we conclude that the messengers were many but the prominent ones were five. The prophets are mentioned in some Ahadeeth are counted as 124,000.
When we read the ayat of the Quran regarding children of Israel ((بني اسرائيل we see many ayat in the Quran that they were always continuously provided with prophets but all of them were tortured by them, by the nation, denied or killed. (أَفَكُلَّمَا جَاءَكُمْ رَسُولٌ بِمَا لَا تَهْوَىٰ أَنفُسُكُمُ اسْتَكْبَرْتُمْ فَفَرِيقًا كَذَّبْتُمْ وَفَرِيقًا تَقْتُلُونَ) whenever a prophet was sent to you, you reject them, deny them, killing them, massacring them. So it means that some nations were always rejecting the divine law and the divine guides as they did towards their prophets and those who were carrying the message from God to them.
What are the essential elements or requirements for such a person to be appointed as a prophet? There are four very important elements.
The first one is revelation. As every ambassador goes to a country he wants to prove that he has been appointed by his own country to represent his country in another country. So what is prove for a prophet who is like any other person but claims that he has been sent from God to guide people so the people must listen to him. Of course people think that is odd but the main quality, the main proof for such a person is that he is connected to the divine by revelation. And the revelation can be presented to the prophet as it happened to Musa (a.s.) when Allah communicated with him the first step as the voice was heard around a tree. When you go to mount Sinai you see that traditionally the Jews go there to a particular tree and consider it the sacred tree but that tree was only the way the voice of God ( إِنَّنِي أَنَا اللَّهُ ) I am God, was heard by Musa there.
The other type of revelation comes direct from the celestial sphere to the heart of the prophet and this is what we read in the Quran ( نزل به الروح الأمين على قلبك لتكون من المنذرين بلسان عربي مبين ) So that revelation descends on your heart and of course who brings that? The archangel Jabraeel.
To open it up further inshAllah we will discuss it in the next session.