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SOME CHARACTERISTICS OF THE PROPHETS

Although every Prophet possessed brilliant intelligence, an overall capacity of understanding and a pure soul, Prophethood is not a position acquired through brilliance of intelligence or studying of books. Most Prophets, including the Last One, were unlettered. Their teacher was God. The Prophet Muhammad, upon him be peace and blessings, despite not being able to read, had knowledge of the past and the future, and insight into every branch of knowledge. Although he did not go to school, nor was taught by any human, he was, as admitted even by his enemies, past and present, the most just in family affairs, the most competent in state administration, and the best in the command of armies.

The Prophets were specially brought up by God. To cite an example, the Last Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, recalled:

I intended only twice in my childhood to attend a wedding ceremony. On both occasions, I was overpowered by sleep half-way.1

He also remembered:

During the restoration of the Ka’ba, prior to my Prophethood, I was carrying stones. As everyone did, I lifted the skirt of my garment over my shoulder to avoid injury, which left some part of my thighs uncovered. All of a sudden, the angel that I had seen several times in my childhood appeared to me in all his majesty. I fell down and fainted. That was the first and last time I uncovered any part of my body which God has ordered to be covered.2

The Prophets were protected by God against all kinds of sin, whether major or minor, because they were created for a special purpose. They were protected from falling, since their going astray even an inch could result in almost complete deviation of mankind.

Prophethood is distinguished by Divine Revelation, concerning which the Qur’an says:

And thus have We revealed to you a spirit of Our command. You did not know what the Scripture was, nor what the faith. But We have made it a light whereby We guide whom We will of Our servants. And you, surely you guide unto a straight path. (al-Shura’, 42.52)

The Prophets never spoke as a result of whims and fancies. The Qur’an declares:

Nor does he speak of (his own) desire. It is nought but a Revelation revealed. (53:3-4)

The Prophet Muhammad, when asked something related to, particularly, the essentials of belief, would not answer, rather he would wait for Revelation. There were times when he was asked by idolaters to make alterations in the Qur’an, but since the Qur’an is a Divine Scripture, whose wording and meaning completely belong to God, he responded to such wishes as commanded by God:

Say, ‘It is not for me to alter it of my own accord. I follow nothing, except what is revealed to me.’ (Yunus, 10.15)

And it is because of the Qur’an being the Word of God that he bore all kinds of hardship and opposition.

The Prophets submitted themselves wholly to God and fulfilled their mission solely because God commanded them to. They never resorted to compromise in order to be successful and never deviated from their way. In the face of both threats and seductive offers, they always gave responses similar to what the Last Prophet gave on an occasion:

If you were even to put the sun in my right hand, and the moon in the left, I will never give up preaching my cause.3

 

1. I. Kathir, al-Bidaya, 2.350.

2. Bukhari, Hajj, 42; I. Kathir, ibid., 2.350.

3. Ibn Hisham, Sira, 2.285


Recommended Reading:
The Prophets were all trustworthy and asked no wage for calling to God

Last Updated on October 06, 2000

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