By S. Arshad, New Age Islam
16 October 2019
All prophets were beloved slaves of God. God made them Superior to men in respect of knowledge and attributes. Though they were from among human beings, they were given miracles to make them distinguished among human beings. The purpose behind bestowing miracles and special attributes to them was that ordinary human beings should be able to recognize them and accept them as prophets because the disbelievers would often say to the prophets that since they were also human beings, looked like them, and ate and went around in market, they would not accept them as prophets.
However, all the prophets were not given the same miracles and attributes but were endowed with different miracles and attributes and were made distinct from one another. For example:
God gave Prophet Noah a.s. the knowledge of building a huge arc not built before.
God gave Prophet David excellent voice and knowledge of making weapons and goods of iron.
God gave prophet Solomon a.s. the power to fly in the air at will and gave him control over human beings, animals and djinns.
God gave prophet Khidhr a.s. the secret of immortality.
God spoke directly to Prophet Moses a.s. and gave him nine miracles.
God gave Jesus a.s. miracles to cure lepers and bringing the dead alive.
God gave Prophet Mohammad pbuh ascension (Meraj).
The prophets were endowed with the above-mentioned miracles and qualities so that their community should not consider them ordinary human beings like them. The Quran also mentions the special attributes and blessings bestowed on the prophets:
"The Messengers ___some of them we caused to exceed others. Among them were those to whom Allah spoke, and he raised some of them in degree. And we have Jesus son of Mary clear proofs and we supported him with Pure Spirit. (Al Baqarah: 253)
"We have made some of the Prophets exceed others and to David we gave Zabur."((Bani Israil: 55).
The above quoted verses do not indicate that prophet Moses a.s. is superior to Prophet Jesus a.s. or vice versa. Both the prophets are great in their own right and distinct from one another. The verse of Surah Bani Israil also does not mean that prophet David is superior to other prophets. The verses only mean that all the Prophets were made distinct from one another by dint of miracles and attributes. For example, among ordinary human beings someone is a good footballer while someone is a good cricketer; someone is good at mathematics while someone is good at physics; someone is a good guitarist while someone is a good singer. No one among them can be considered superior to others. They are all distinguished in their respective fields. Therefore, when the Quran says that God has made some prophets exceed others, it only means that it has made prophets distinct from others. Every prophet was given knowledge, miracles and attributes so that he could guide his community and deal with the opponents according to the challenges of the age. Therefore, the Quran asks Muslims to give all the prophets equal respect and not to discriminate among them.
"The messenger believed in what was revealed to him from his Lord and (so have) the believers. All of them have believed in Allah and his angels and his books and his Messengers, (saying), we make no distinction between any of his Messengers."(Al-Baqarah-285)
Another verse reiterates the same stance:
"We make no distinction among them all"(Al Baqarah: 136)
The above quoted verses make it clear that believers do not make any distinction among the prophets. They respect all the prophets equally. Some Muslim scholars cite the example of the Jews and the Christians who according to them considered their respective prophets superior to all the other prophets. So Muslims should also consider their prophet superior to all the other prophets. But Quran repudiates the arguments of these scholars in the following verse:
"The Jews said, Uzair is the son of God and the Christians said Jesus was the son of God; but those are merely the words of their mouth that they utter imitating the saying of those who disbelieved before. May Allah destroy them, how deluded they are "(9:30?)
That the Quran accords equal status to all the prophets is also corroborated from the verses which say 'Salam' to some previous prophets. In one verse the Quran exhorts Muslims to send 'Salam' to their prophet Mohammad pbuh but it also sends 'Salam' to other prophets as well. And millions of Muslims who recite those verses daily send 'Salam' millions of times to other prophets as well.
"Salamun Ala Nuhun Fil Alameen"(As Saffat: 79)
"Salamun ala Ibrahim":(As-Saffat:109)
"Salamun ala Musa wa Harun":( As Saffat: 120)
"Salamun ala Il Yasin" As Saffat: 130)
The wisdom behind these verses is that Muslims should express reverence to other prophets as well.
The root cause of the belief of superiority of some prophets over others or of one prophet over all lies in the translation (or mistranslation) of the verse "Fazzalna Ba'dhahum Ala Ba'dh". It has been translated as "We caused some of them to exceed others". "Fazzalna" may also be translated as "We blessed". So the sentence may also be translated as:
"We blessed them and made some of them (prophets) distinct from others." Therefore, we can say that God blessed Prophet Moses and spoke to him; God blessed Jesus a.s. and gave him clear miracles; God blessed prophet David a.s. and gave him Zabur; God blessed Prophet Mohammad pbuh and granted him Ascension. This way He made all the prophets distinct from one another. While translating this verse we should keep the fact in mind that in Arabic language one word may have as many as twenty meanings and we should not take that particular meaning which contradicts the meaning of the verses of the same purport elsewhere. The meaning of the verse Al Baqarah:253 contradicts the meanings of the verses Al Baqarah:285 and 136 because the word "Fazzalna" has been translated without taking the latter two verses into consideration.
The stance of that Quran has also been reiterated by two Hadiths:
"Abu Sayid Khudri reported, the Messenger of Allah pbuh said, Do not make prophets better than one another."
There is another Hadith:
"The prophet pbuh said, "Do not say that anyone is better than Jonah son of Maya a.s.(Sahih Bukhari 2281; Sahih Muslim:2374)
From the above discussion it becomes clear that the holy Quran and Hadith Accord equal respect and status to all the prophets and asks Muslims to make no distinction among the prophets.
S. Arshad is a regular columnist for NewAgeIslam.com
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