Prophets in Every Age

The Qur’an testifies to the fact that God’s messengers came in every age and in every region. According to a hadith, more than one lakh messengers were sent to guide the people. However, the prophets mentioned by name in the Qur’an are two-dozen in number, the Prophet Muhammad being the last of them. In the past, the need for new prophets had always arisen because God’s religion, suffering from the vagaries of time, had frequently been distorted from its original form. New prophets had to come to the world time and time again in order to revivify the true spirit of religion, which had been lost when nations in ancient times, entrusted with the guardianship of the divine scriptures, had repeatedly betrayed their trust, allowing the book of God to be laid waste. They had to right the wrongs done by human interpolations in the books they brought with them. But after the Prophet Muhammad, the world will see no further prophets, for the Book which the Prophet gave to the world – the Qur’an – is still perfectly preserved in its original state. In the divine scheme of things, no further prophets are then required. It is not only the Prophet Muhammad’s Scripture which is preserved in its pristine state, but his very spirit, for his utterances, the events of his life, the struggle of his prophetic mission, have all been fully recorded and have remained intact. The Qur’an tells us that when the Prophet Muhammad proclaimed his prophethood, people found it difficult to believe in him. They asked, “What kind of messenger is this? He eats and drinks and moves about in the markets. If God had to send a prophet, why didn’t He send an angel?” In reply the Qur’an had this to say: ‘If the earth had been inhabited by angels, We would have sent an angel as a prophet, but since it is human beings who live on earth, a man has been selected as God’s Messenger.’ The Prophet then, as the bearer of God’s message, had to project himself as a model for other human beings. The Qur’an, indeed, describes the Prophet as a model character. It was on this consideration that a messenger was selected from amongst human beings. He experienced all that was experienced by others: grief and solace, advantages and disadvantages, pain and pleasure, etc. Yet he never wavered from the truth, thus setting an example of how others must abide by the truth on all occasions. This deprived wrongdoers of the excuse that they had no role model to show them the path which God desired them to follow. The messenger of God was born just like any other human being. He led his life just as others did. In this way, he dearly demonstrated that the way of life which he exhorted others to lead was entirely practicable. His words and deeds thus became a realistic example of how God’s servants should conduct themselves on earth and what path they must opt for to avert God’s displeasure and earn God’s blessings.