- Islam teaches that God has sent prophets to humanity, in different times and places, to communicate His message.
- Since the beginning of time, God has sent His guidance through these chosen people.
- They were human beings who taught the people around them about faith in One Almighty God, and how to walk on the path of righteousness. Some prophets also revealed God’s Word through books of revelation.
The Prophets’ Message
Muslims believe that all prophets gave guidance and instruction to their people about how to properly worship God and live their lives. Since God is One, His message has been one and the same throughout time. In essence, all prophets taught the message of Islam – to find peace in your life through submission to the One Almighty Creator; to believe in God and to follow His guidance.
The Quran on the Prophets
“The Messenger believes in what has been revealed to him from his Lord, as do the men of faith. Each one of them believes in God, His angels, His books, and His Messengers. They say: ‘We make no distinction between one and another of His Messengers.’ And they say: ‘We hear, and we obey. We seek Thy forgiveness, Our Lord, and to Thee is the end of all journeys.'” (2:285)
The Prophets’ Names
There are 25 prophets mentioned by name in the Quran, although Muslims believe that there were much more in different times and places. Among the prophets that Muslims honor are:
- Adam or Aadam, was the first human being, the father of the human race and the first Muslim. As in the Bible, Adam and his wife Eve (Hawa) were cast out of the Garden of Eden for eating the fruit of a certain tree.
- Idris (Enoch) was the third prophet after Adam and his son Seth and identified as the Bible’s Enoch. He was devoted to the study of the ancient books of his ancestors.
- Nuh (Noah), was a man who lived among unbelievers and was called on to share the message of the existence of a single god, Allah. After many fruitless years of preaching, Allah warned Nuh of coming destruction, and Nuh built an ark to save pairs of animals.
- Hud was sent to preach to the Arabic descendants of Nuh called ‘Ad, desert traders who had yet to embrace monotheism. They were destroyed by a sandstorm for ignoring Hud’s warnings.
- Saleh, about 200 years after Hud, was sent to the Thamud, who were descendants of the ‘Ad. The Thamud demanded that Saleh perform a miracle to prove his connection to Allah: To produce a camel out of rocks. After he had done so, a group of unbelievers plotted to have his camel killed, and they were destroyed by an earthquake or volcano.
- Ibrahim (Abraham) is the same man as Abraham in the Bible, and widely honored and revered as a teacher and father and grandfather to other prophets. Muhammad was one of his descendants.
- Isma’il (Ishmael) is Ibrahim’s son, born to Hagar and an ancestor of Muhammad’s. He and his mother were brought to Mecca by Ibrahim.
- Ishaq (Isaac) is also Abraham’s son in the Bible and the Quran, and both he and his brother Ismail continued to preach after Ibrahim’s death.
- Lut (Lot) was of Ibrahim’s family who was sent to Canaan as the prophet to the doomed cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
- Ya’qub (Jacob), also of the family of Ibrahim, was the father of the 12 Tribes of Israel
- Yousef (Joseph), was Ya’qub’s eleventh and most beloved son, whose brothers threw him in a well where he was rescued by a passing caravan.
- Shu’aib, sometimes associated with the Biblical Jethro, was a prophet sent to the Midianite community who worshipped a sacred tree. When they would not listen to Shuaib, Allah destroyed the community.
- Ayyub (Job), like his parallel in the Bible, suffered long and was sorely tested by Allah but remained true to his faith.
- Musa (Moses), brought up in the royal courts of Egypt and sent by Allah to preach monotheism to the Egyptians, was given the revelation of the Torah (called Tawrat in Arabic).
- Harun (Aaron) was Musa’s brother, who stayed with their kinsmen in the Land of Goshen, and was the first high priest to the Israelites.
- Dhu’l-kifl (Ezekiel), or Zul-Kifl, was a prophet who lived in Iraq; sometimes associated with Joshua, Obadiah, or Isaiah rather than Ezekiel.
- Dawud (David), king of Israel, received the divine revelation of the Psalms.
- Sulaiman (Solomon), son of Dawud, had the ability to talk to animals and rule djin; he was the third king of the Jewish people and considered the greatest of world rulers.
- Ilias (Elias or Elijah), also spelled Ilyas, lived in the northern kingdom of Israel and defended Allah as the true religion against the worshippers of Baal.
- Al-Yasa (Elisha) is typically identified with Elisha, although the stories in the Bible are not repeated in the Quran.
- Yunus (Jonah), was swallowed by a big fish and repented and glorified Allah.
- Zakariyya (Zechariah) was the father of John the Baptist, the guardian of Isa’s mother Mary and a righteous priest who lost his life for his faith.
- Yahya (John the Baptist) was a witness to the word of Allah, who would herald the arrival of Isa.
- ‘Isa (Jesus) is considered a messenger of truth in the Quran who preached the straight path.
- Muhammad, the father of the Islamic empire, was called to be a prophet at the age of 40, in 610 CE.
Honoring the prophets
Muslims read about, learn from, and respect all of the prophets. Many Muslims name their children after them. In addition, when mentioning the name of any of God’s prophets, a Muslim adds these words of blessing and respect: “upon him be peace” (alayhi salaam in Arabic)