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Prophets of Islam

The Qur'an identifies a number of men as prophets of Islam. Such individuals are believed by Muslims to have been assigned a special mission by God (called Allah in Arabic). In the Qur'an, prophets such as Moses, Jesus and Muhammad are appointed to spread the word of God. Many of these prophets are also found in the holy texts of Judaism and Christianity (see Similarities between the Bible and the Qur'an.)

Each of these prophets is believed to have been instructed by God to warn his community against evil and urge his people to obey God; however, only some are believed to have been sent holy books (such as the Tawrat, Zabur, and Injil), and those prophets are considered "messengers". Of all the thousands of prophets, a tiny minority of these are believed to be messengers, or rasool. Only Muhammad is regarded as having undertaken a prophetic mission addressed to all of humanity.

Although only 25 prophets are mentioned by name in the Qur'an, a Hadith (no. 21257 in Musnad Ibn Hanbal) mentions that there were 124,000 of them in total throughout history, and the Qur'an says that God has sent a prophet to every people.

In general, Muslims regard the stories of the Qur'an as historical. Modern secular historians generally take the skeptical view that no religious story, whether from the Qur'an, the Bible, the Hindu scriptures, or any similar source, can be assumed to be completely accurate. Some Muslim liberals take a compromise stance by claiming that stories of the prophets are primarily illustrations of Islamic ethics, and as such their historicity is irrelevant.

The first prophet is Adam, while the last prophet is Muhammad, and thus his title Seal of the Prophets. Jesus is the result of a virgin birth in Islam as in Christianity, and is regarded as a prophet like the others, and as the Messiah. In the Bahá'í Faith, which arose from Islam, it is believed that with the mystic unity of the Prophets (as reference has been made in Islam to Muhammad being the same in spirit with earlier Prophets as well), the term "seal of the prophets" could apply to all of the prophets and as such does not restrict God from sending further revelations to humanity through subsequent prophets, any of whom could be considered the "seal of the prophets." Mainstream Muslims, however, regard this as heresy.

Traditionally, five prophets are regarded as especially important in Islam: Nuh (Noah), Ibrahim (Abraham), Musa (Moses), Isa (Jesus) and Muhammad. Although it offers many incidents from the lives of many prophets, the Qur'an focuses with special narrative and rhetorical emphasis on the careers of the first four of these five major prophets. (As for the fifth, the Qur'an is frequently addressed directly to Muhammad, and it often discusses situations encountered by him. Use of his name in the text, however, is rare.)


Prophets in the Qur'an

The following are listed as prophets in the Qur'an; their Biblical names are given in parentheses when possible:

Other Possible Prophets

Al-Khidr is not mentioned by name, but is traditionally assumed to be referred to in Qur'an 18:66.

Biblical prophets Danyal and Ishaia are not mentioned in Qur'an but often revered as prophets.

Dhul-Qarnayn is mentioned in the Qur'an, and often regarded as a prophet.

Luqman is mentioned in the sura named after him but it is unclear whether he is a prophet or a wali.

There are numerous historical figures that may have been prophets, but this is a source of debate. Among them are Zoroaster, Gautama Buddha and Krishna. An argument often used in support of the prophethood of such men is that they came with the word of God, but it was later corrupted, this accounting for the differences between Islam, and the respective religions with which each man is associated.

Mary the mother of Jesus is not normally regarded as a prophetess, but is regarded as having been sent a message from God via an angel. Some scholars (eg Ibn Hazm) have argued that she was a prophetess, but she is not mentioned in the Quran as one, and thus it cannot be definitely established if she is or isn't. The majority position among Islamic scholars is that no woman has received a prophetic mission from God.

Index of Verses

Adam آدم

Idris (Enoch) ادريس

Nuh (Noah) نوح

Hud (Heber) هود

Saleh (Shelah) صالح

Ibrahim (Abraham) ابراهيم

Lut (Lot) لوط

Ismail (Ishmael) اسماعيل

Ishaq (Isaac) اسحاق

Yaqub (Jacob) يعقوب

Yusuf (Joseph) يوسف

Shoaib (Jethro) شعيب

Musa (Moses) موسى

Harun (Aaron) هارون

Daud (David) داود

Sulayman (Solomon) سليمان

Ayub (Job) أيوب

Ilyas (Elias) إلياس

Zulkifl (possibly Ezekiel) ذو الكفل

Al-Yasa (Elisha) اليسع

Yunus (Jonah) يونس

Zakariya (Zechariah) زكريا

Yahya (John the Baptist) يحيى

Isa (Jesus) عيسى

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Last updated: 06-01-2005 22:34:09
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