Why do people need the Prophets?
The Prophets are the
Messengers of Allaah to His slaves; they convey His commands, and give them
glad tidings of the delights that Allaah has promised them if they obey His
commands, and they warn them of the abiding punishment if they go against
His prohibitions. They tell them the stories of the past nations and the
punishment and vengeance that befell them in this world because they
disobeyed the commands of their Lord.
These divine commands and prohibitions cannot be known
through independent thinking, hence Allaah has prescribed laws and enjoined
commands and prohibitions, to honor mankind and protect their interests,
because people may follow their desires and thus transgress the limits and
abuse people and deprive them of their rights. So by His wisdom Allaah sent
among them from time to time Messengers to remind them of the commands of
Allaah and to warn them against failing into sin, to preach to them and to
tell them the stories of those who came before them. For when people hear
wondrous stories it makes their minds alert, so they understand and increase
in knowledge and understand correctly. For the more people hear, the more
ideas they will have; the more ideas they have, the more they will think;
the more they think, the more they will know; and the more they know, the
more they will do. So there is no alternative to sending Messengers in
order to explain the truth. (A’laam al-Nubuwwah by ‘Ali ibn Muhammad
al-Maawardi, p. 33).
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) –
Ahmad ibn ‘Abd al-Haleem ibn ‘Abd al-Salaam, who is well known as Ibn
Taymiyah, born in 661 AH and died in 728 AH, one of the greatest scholars of
Islam who wrote many valuable books – said:
Messengership is essential to guide mankind to that which is
best for them in this world and in the Hereafter. Man cannot follow what is
best for him with regard to the Hereafter unless he follows the Message and
he cannot be guided to what is best for him in this world unless he follows
the Message. Man needs the sharee’ah because he has two motives, to bring
that which will benefit him and to ward off that which will harm him. This
sharee’ah is the light of Allaah on this earth, and His justice among His
slaves, and the refuge which whoever enters it will be safe.
Sharee’ah does not mean distinguishing between what is
beneficial and what is harmful on a physical basis, because even animals are
able to do this. Donkeys and camels are able to differentiate between barley
and dust. Rather the distinction is between deeds which will harm a person
in this world and the Hereafter, and deeds which will benefit him in this
world and in the Hereafter, such as faith, Tawheed, justice, righteousness,
kindness, trustworthiness, chastity, courage, knowledge, patience, enjoining
what is good and forbidding what is evil, upholding the ties of kinship,
honouring one’s parents, treating neighbours well, recognizing people’s
rights, sincerely doing things for the sake of Allaah, putting one's trust
in Him, seeking His help, accepting His decree, submitting to His will,
believing in Him and in His Messengers in all that they have told us, and
other deeds which are of benefit to a person in this world and in the
Hereafter. The opposite of that leads him to misery and doom in this world
and in the Hereafter.
Were it not for the Messengers, our minds could not guide us
to differentiate between the beneficial and the harmful in this life in a
detailed manner. One of the greatest blessings that Allaah has bestowed upon
His slaves is that He sent Messengers to them and revealed books to them,
and showed them the Straight Path. Were it not for that, they would have
been like cattle, and even worse off. So whoever accepts the Message of
Allaah and adheres to it is one of the best of mankind, and whoever rejects
it and ignores it is one of the worst of mankind, even worse off than dogs
and pigs, and the vilest of the vile. The people of this world could not
survive except by virtue of the Messengers’ teachings, traces of which are
still extant amongst them. If these traces of the Messengers vanished from
the earth and their teachings were wiped out, Allaah would destroy the upper
and lower realms and the Hour would begin.
The need of the people of the earth for the Messengers is not
like their need for the sun, moon, wind and rain, or like a man’s need for
his life, or like the eye’s need for light, or like the body’s need for food
and drink. Rather it is greater than that, greater than his need for
anything you could think of. The Messengers (peace and blessings of Allaah
be upon them) are intermediaries between Allaah and His creation, conveying
His commands and prohibitions. They are ambassadors from Him to His slaves.
The last and greatest of them, the noblest before his Lord, was Muhammad
(peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him, and upon all of them).
Allaah sent him as a mercy to the worlds, guidance for those who want to
draw closer to Allaah, proof which left no excuse for all people. He
enjoined the people to obey him, love him, respect him, support him, and
acknowledge his rights. Allaah took the covenant from all the Messengers and
Prophets that they would believe in him and follow him, and He commanded
them to take the same covenant from the believers who followed them. He sent
him just before the Hour as a bringer of glad tidings and a warner, calling
people to Allaah by His leave and as a brightly shining lamp. He concluded
the line of Messengers with him. Through him He guided people and dispelled
misguidance, taught them and dispelled ignorance. Through his Message He
opened blind eyes, deaf ears and hard hearts. Through his message He filled
the world with light after it had been in darkness, He brought people
together after they had been divided, He straightened the crooked path of
mankind and showed them the clear way. He opened his heart for him and
removed from him his burden, and raised high his fame (cf. al-Sharh 94:1-3).
He inflicted humiliation and shame on those who went against his command. He
sent him (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) at a time when
there had been no Messengers for a long while and when the Books had
vanished, when words had been distorted and laws changed, when all peoples
referred to their own unfair opinions, developed their own ideas about
Allaah and judged among people by their own corrupt ideas and whims and
desires. Through him Allaah guided mankind and clarified the different means
of drawing closer to Allaah. Through him, He brought the people forth from
darkness into light. Through him, He differentiated between those who will
prosper and those who are immoral. So whoever follows his guidance is truly
guided, and whoever turns away from his path is misguided and has deviated.
May Allaah send blessings and peace upon him and upon all the Messengers and
(This list is from Wujoob al-I’tisaam bi’l-Risaalah by
Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him), vol. 19, p.
99-102; and from Majmoo’ al-Fataawa. See Lawaami’ al-Anwaar
al-Bahiyyah, vol. 2, p. 216, 236)
We may sum up man’s need for the Messengers as follows:
Man is created and subjugated,
and he has to know his Creator and what He wants of him, and why he was
created. Man cannot come to know that independently. He has no way of
finding that out except through knowing the Prophets and Messengers, and the
guidance and light which they brought.
Man is composed of body and
soul, His body is nourished by his food and drink, but the nourishment of
his soul is that which was explained by its Creator, namely the true
religion and righteous deeds. The Prophets and Messengers brought the true
religion and taught them to do righteous deeds.
Man is religious by nature; he
has to have a religion to follow, and this religion has to be correct. There
is no way to the true religion except through believing in the Prophets and
Messengers and believing in the message they brought.
Man needs the way through which
he may attain the pleasure of Allaah in this world, and reach His Paradise
and bliss in the Hereafter. No one can show these ways and guide people to
them apart from the Prophets and Messengers.
Man is weak by nature, and
there are many enemies lying in wait for him, such as the Shaytaan who wants
to lead him astray and bad companions who make evil things attractive to
him, and his own self which is inclined towards evil. Hence he needs
something to protect himself from the plots of his enemies. The Prophets and
Messengers guide him towards that and show it to him clearly.
Man is sociable by nature. In
human meetings and interactions, there have to be laws to guide people in a
fair and just manner – otherwise the law of the jungle would prevail. This
guiding law must protect the rights of all those who have rights, without
neglecting or exaggerating in any way. No one can produce a perfect law
except the Prophets and Messengers.
Man needs something that will
give him security and peace of mind, and guide him to the means of true
happiness. This is what the Prophets and Messengers guide people towards.