Belief in the Prophets of God
God communicates His guidance to mankind through human prophets. Muslims believe that it is through Allah's grace and benevolence that He sent prophets and messengers to every nation, in order to guide people to the straight path.
All prophets have been human beings who received divine revelations in order to be role models, teachers, and advisers to their people. Each prophet had different strengths and was born in a different time, place, and culture. However, the prophets' message has always been the same: calling people to worship the One Supreme God and to obey His commandments.
The Qur'an mentions by name nearly thirty different biblical prophets, including Adam, Noah, Abraham, Lot, Jonah, Moses, Aaron, David, Solomon, and Jesus. Their stories are mentioned when relevant to illustrate a certain teaching or value and to serve as inspiration to others. The Qur'an is clear that each of the prophets communicated the essential message of Islam — that is, to believe in One Almighty God and to follow His guidance. Muslims honor and revere all of the prophets, understanding that in their own time and place they were exemplary servants of God.
The word “Muslim” means “a person who submits to God.” Under this definition, all of the prophets were Muslims. The Qur'an makes specific mention of the Prophet Abraham in this regard: “Abraham was not a Jew, nor yet a Christian, but he was true in faith, and bowed his will to Allah's [which is Islam], and he did not join gods with Allah” (Qur'an 3:67).
Muslims are advised to respect all of Allah's messengers, and not to distinguish or elevate one above another. “Say: ‘We believe in Allah, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to all prophets from their Lord. We make no difference between one and another of them, and we submit to Allah’” (Qur'an 2:136). The Qur'an also acknowledges that there were many more prophets, sent to all peoples through time, whose stories have not been told (Qur'an 4:164).
Muhammad, the Last Prophet
As God continued to send prophets to guide His people, they were rejected by their people, and their messages were either distorted or lost. Then Allah would send another prophet to renew and repeat the message of guidance. Muslims believe that after Muhammad, there was no need for Allah to send another prophet, because he left behind the protected scripture of the Qur'an to remain as a guide for mankind. According to the Qur'an, “Muhammad … is the messenger of God and the seal of the prophets” (Qur'an 33:40). The life and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad will be explored in more detail in Chapter 19.