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2. He Speaks Through the Prophets

Abraham: The Patriarch Abraham, ancestor of the Semites, is seen in the Qur’ān as the prototype of the Muslim; it is implied that he arrived at monotheism by pure reason before the revelation came. With his first-born, Ishmael, he built the Temple of the Ka‘ba at Bekka, or Mecca, and instituted the rites of pilgrimage. While he has been claimed by both the Jews and the Christians, he did not belong to either of these religions, it is said; he was simply a man who submitted himself to God: a Muslim.

And mention in the Book Abraham;
surely he was a true man, a Prophet.
When he said to his father, "Father,
why worshippest thou that which neither
hears nor sees, nor avails thee anything?
Father, there has come to me knowledge
such as came not to thee; so follow me,
and I will guide thee on a level path.

p. 27

Father, serve not Satan; surely Satan
is a rebel against the All-merciful.
Father, I fear that some chastisement
from the All-merciful will smite thee,
so that thou becomest a friend to Satan."
Said he, "What, are thou shrinking
from my gods, Abraham? Surely, if thou
givest not over, I shall stone thee;
so forsake me now for some while."
He said, "Peace be upon thee!
I will ask my Lord to forgive thee;
surely He is ever gracious to me.
Now I will go apart from you
and that you call upon, apart from
God; I will call upon my Lord,
and haply I shall not be, in calling
upon my Lord, unprosperous."
So, when he went apart from them
and that they were serving, apart
from God, We gave him Isaac and
Jacob, and each We made a Prophet;
and We gave them of Our mercy,
and We appointed unto them
a tongue of truthfulness, sublime. (19:41-50)

Say: "God has spoken the truth; therefore follow
the creed of Abraham, a man of pure faith
  and no idolater."
The first House established for the people
was that at Bekka, a place holy, and a guidance
  to all beings.
Therein are clear signs--the station of Abraham,
and whosoever enters it is in security.
It is the duty of all men towards God to come
to the House a pilgrim, if he is able to
  make his way there.
As for the unbeliever, God is All-sufficient
  nor needs any being. (3:95-97)

p. 28

And they say, "Be Jews or Christians and
you shall be guided." Say thou: "Nay, rather
the creed of Abraham, a man of pure faith;
  he was no idolater."
Say you: "We believe in God, and
  in that which has been sent down on us
and sent down on Abraham, Ishmael,
Isaac and Jacob, and the Tribes,
and that which was given to Moses and Jesus
and the Prophets, of their Lord; we
make no division between any of them, and
  to Him we surrender."
And if they believe in the like of that you
believe in, then they are truly guided; but if
they turn away, then they are clearly in schism;
God will suffice you for them; He is
  the All-hearing, the All-knowing;
the baptism of God; and who is there
that baptizes fairer than God?
  Him we are serving. (2:135-138)

Moses: Moses is one of the most frequently mentioned of the prophets; he was sent to rescue the children of Ishmael's nephew Israel from Egypt. However, the Children of Israel became proud and disobeyed God; they regarded themselves as a Chosen People and wronged their brethren, and when God sent prophets to warn them, they refused to listen and put His messengers to death. They are People of the Book, since God gave them the scriptures, but they have perverted their revelation.

So when Moses had accomplished the term
and departed with his household, he observed
on the side of the Mount a fire. He said to his
household, "Tarry you here; I observe a fire.
Perhaps I shall bring you news of it,

p. 29

or a faggot from the fire, that haply
  you shall warm yourselves."
When he came to it, a voice cried from the right bank
of the watercourse, in the sacred hollow,
coming from the tree: "Moses, I am God, the
  Lord of all Being.
Cast down thy staff." And when he saw it
quivering like a serpent, he turned about
retreating, and turned not back. "Moses,
come forward, and fear not; for surely thou
  art in security.
Insert thy hand into thy bosom, and it will
come forth white without evil; and press to thee
thy arm, that thou be not afraid. So these
shall be two proofs from thy Lord to Pharaoh
and his Council; for surely they are an
  ungodly people."
Said he, "My Lord, I have indeed slain
a living soul among them, and I fear that
  they will slay me.
Moreover my brother Aaron is more eloquent
than I. Send him with me as a helper
and to confirm I speak truly, for I fear they
  will cry me lies."
Said He, "We will strengthen thy arm by means
of thy brother, and We shall appoint to you
an authority, so that they shall not reach you
because of Our signs; you, and whoso follows you,
  shall be the victors."
So when Moses came to them with Our signs,
clear signs, they said, "This is nothing but a
forged sorcery. We never heard of this among
  our fathers, the ancients."
But Moses said, "My Lord knows very well
who comes with the guidance from Him, and shall
possess the Ultimate Abode; surely the evildoers
  will not prosper."
And Pharaoh said, "Council, I know not that you
have any god but me. Kindle me, Haman,

p. 30

a fire upon the clay, and make me a tower, that I
may mount up to Moses' god; for I think that he is
  one of the liars."
And he waxed proud in the land, he and his hosts,
wrongfully; and they thought they should not be
  returned to Us.
Therefore We seized him and his hosts, and cast them
into the sea; so behold how was the end
of the evildoers!
And We appointed them leaders, calling to the
Fire; and on the Day of Resurrection they
  shall not be helped;
and We pursued them in this world with a curse,
and on the Day of Resurrection they shall be
  among the spurned.
And We gave Moses the Book, after that We had
destroyed the former generations, to be examples
and a guidance and a mercy, that haply so
  they might remember. (28:29-43)

Children of Israel, remember My blessing
wherewith I blessed you, and that I
have preferred you above all beings;
and beware of a day when no soul for another
shall give satisfaction, and no intercession
shall be accepted from it, nor any counterpoise
be taken, neither shall they be helped.

And when We delivered you from the folk of Pharaoh
who were visiting you with evil chastisement,
slaughtering your sons, and sparing your women;
and in that was a grievous trial from your Lord.
And when We divided for you the sea
and delivered you, and drowned Pharaoh's fold
  while you were beholding.
And when We appointed with Moses forty nights
then you took to yourselves the Calf after him
  and you were evildoers;

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then We pardoned you after that, that haply
  you should be thankful.
And when We gave to Moses the Book
and the Salvation, that haply
  you should be guided. (2:40-53)

And when Moses sought water for his people,
so We said, "Strike with thy staff the rock";
and there gushed forth from it twelve fountains;
all the people knew now their drinking-place.
"Eat and drink of God's providing, and
mischief not in the earth, doing corruption."
And when you said, "Moses, we will not endure
one sort of food; pray to thy Lord for us, that He
may bring forth for us of that the earth produces--
green herbs, cucumbers, corn, lentils, onions."
He said, "Would you have in exchange what is meaner
for what is better? Get you down to Egypt;
you shall have there that you demanded."
And abasement and poverty were pitched upon them,
and they were laden with the burden of God's anger;
that, because they had disbelieved the signs of God
and slain the Prophets unrightfully; that,
because they disobeyed, and were transgressors.
Surely they that believe, and those of Jewry,
and the Christians, and those Sabaeans,
whoso believes in God and the Last Day, and works
righteousness--their wage awaits them with their Lord,
and no fear shall be on them, neither shall they sorrow. (2:60-62)

Jesus: John and Jesus are seen as members of the righteous family of ‘Imrān, among the Children of Israel. Jesus holds a place unique among the prophets in Islam. He is born of a virgin "purified above all women," he is the promised Messiah, "The Word of God and a Spirit from Him," an almost superhuman figure who spoke from the

p. 32

cradle and worked great wonders by the power of God; but the central doctrines of Christianity are set aside. The idea that he is the Son of God is sternly rejected, the doctrine of the Trinity is held to contradict God's Oneness, and since Jesus did not die on the cross and there was no collective guilt of man for which he could atone, there was no Atonement and no Resurrection. While also People of the Book, the early Christians are held to have deliberately falsified the scripture he brought, and to have worshiped the Messiah blasphemously. Later generations have been perhaps sincere but certainly misguided, so that a new revelation became necessary. As for Jesus, God took him to Himself when the Jews rejected him, and will justify him before the end of the world.

And when the angels said,
"Mary, God has chosen
thee, and purified
thee; He has chosen
thee above all women.
Mary, be obedient to
thy Lord, prostrating
and bowing before Him."
(That is of the tidings
of the Unseen, that We
reveal to thee; for thou
wast not with them, when
they were casting quills
which of them should have
charge of Mary; thou
wast not with them, when
they were disputing.)
When the angels said,
"Mary, God gives thee good
tidings of a Word from Him
whose name is Messiah,

p. 33

Jesus, son of Mary;
high honoured shall he be
in this world and the next,
near stationed to God.
He shall speak to men
in the cradle, and of age,
and righteous he shall be."
"Lord," said Mary,
"how shall I have a son
seeing no mortal has touched me?" "Even so,"
God said, "God
creates what He will.
When He decrees a thing
He does but say to it
'Be,' and it is." (3:42--47)

So she conceived him, and withdrew with him
  to a distant place.
And the birthpangs surprised her by
the trunk of the palm-tree. She said,
"Would I had died ere this, and become
  a thing forgotten!"
But the one that was below her
called to her, "Nay, do not sorrow;
see, the Lord has set below thee
  a rivulet.
Shake also to thee the palm-trunk,
and there shall come tumbling upon thee
  dates fresh and ripe.
Eat therefore, and drink, and be
comforted; and if thou shouldst see
  any mortal,
say, 'I have vowed to the All-merciful
a fast, and today I will not speak
  to any man.'
Then she brought the child to her folk
carrying him; and they said,
"Mary, thou hast surely committed
  a monstrous thing!

p. 34

Sister of Aaron, thy father was not
a wicked man, nor was thy mother
  a woman unchaste."
Mary pointed to the child then;
but they said, "How shall we speak
to one who is still in the cradle,
  a little child?"
He said, "Lo, I am God's servant;
God has given me the Book, and
  made me a Prophet.
Blessed He has made me, wherever
I may be; and He has enjoined me
to pray, and to give the alms, so
  long as I live,
and likewise to cherish my mother;
He has not made me arrogant,
Peace be upon me, the day I was born,
and the day I die, and the day I am
  raised up alive!"
That is Jesus, son of Mary,
in word of truth, concerning which
  they are doubting.
It is not for God to take a son
unto Him. Glory be to Him! When he
decrees a thing, He but says to it
  "Be," and it is.
Surely God is my Lord, and your
Lord; so serve you Him. This is
  a straight path. (19:22-36)

And when Jesus perceived their unbelief, he said,
"who will be my helpers unto God?"
The Apostles said: "We will be helpers of God,
We believe in God; witness thou that we [are Muslims]. 3
Lord, we believe in what Thou hast sent down,
And we follow thy Messenger.
Inscribe us with those who witness to the truth." (3:52-53)

p. 35

Then (his enemies) devised against him,
And God devised.
And God is the best of devisers! (3:54)

And for their unbelief, and their uttering
against Mary a mighty calumny,
and for their saying, "We slew the Messiah,
Jesus son of Mary, the Messenger of God"--
yet they did not slay him, neither crucified him,
only a likeness of that was shown to them.
Those who are at variance concerning him surely
are in doubt regarding him; they have no knowledge
of him, except the following of surmise;
and they slew him not of a certainty--
no indeed; God raised him up to Him; God is
  All-mighty, All-wise.
There is not one of the People of the Book
but will assuredly believe in him before his
death, and on the Resurrection Day he will be
  a witness against them. (4:154-159)

People of the Book, go not beyond the bounds
in your religion, and say not as to God
but the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary,
was only the Messenger of God, and His Word
that He committed to Mary, and a Spirit from
Him. So believe in God and His Messengers,
and say not, "Three." Refrain; better is it
for you. God is only One God. Glory be
to Him--that He should have a son!
To Him belongs all that is in the heavens
and in the earth; God suffices
  for a guardian.
The Messiah will not disdain to be a servant
of God, neither the angels who are near
  stationed to Him. (4:171-172)

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Muhammad: Muhammad is the chosen instrument by which God sent the Eternal Message in its definitive form, "the prophet" par excellence. The Qur’ān addresses him directly, to assure him that he is not insane, and to encourage him against men's doubts; it solemnly confirms as true the visions he has seen. Finally, it is suggested that the truth of his message may be seen from the faith of the Muslims.


By the Pen, and what they inscribe,
thou art not, by the blessing of thy Lord,
  a man possessed.
Surely thou shalt have a wage unfailing;
surely thou art upon a mighty morality.
So thou shalt see, and they will see,
  which of you is the demented.

Surely thy Lord knows very well
those who have gone astray from
His way, and He knows very well
  those who are guided. (62:1-7)

By the Star when it plunges,
your comrade is not astray, neither errs,
  neither speaks he out of caprice.
This is naught but a revelation revealed,
taught him by one terrible in power,
  very strong; he stood poised,
  being on the higher horizon,
then drew near and suspended hung,
two bows'-length away, or nearer,
then revealed to his servant what he revealed.
His heart lies not of what he saw;
what, will you dispute with him what he sees?

Indeed, he saw him another time
by the Lote-Tree of the Boundary

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nigh which is the Garden of the Refuge,
When there covered the Lote-Tree that which covered;
  his eyes swerved not, nor swept astray.
Indeed, he saw one of the greatest signs of his Lord. (53:1-18)


Nay, but they marvel that a warner has come to
them from among them; and the unbelievers say,
  "This is a marvellous thing!
What, when we are dead and become dust? That
  is a far returning!"
We know what the earth diminishes of them;
  with Us is a book recording.
Nay, but they cried lies to the truth
when it came to them, and so they are
  in a case confused.
What, have they not beheld heaven above them,
how We have built it, and decked it out fair,
  and it has no cracks?
And the earth--We stretched it forth, and cast on it
  firm mountains,
and We caused to grow therein of every joyous kind
  for an insight
and a reminder to every penitent servant.
  And We sent down out of heaven
  water blessed,
and caused to grow thereby gardens
  and grain of harvest
and tall palm-trees with spathes compact,
  a provision for the servants,
and thereby We revived a land that was dead.
  Even so is the coming forth.

Cried lies before them the people of Noah
  and the men of Er-Rass, and Thamood, and
Ad and Pharaoh, the brothers of Lot, the
men of the Thicket, the people of Tubba’.

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Every one cried lies to the Messengers,
  and My threat came true.

What, were We wearied by the first creation?
No indeed; but they are in uncertainty
  as to the new creation.

We indeed created man; and We know
what his soul whispers within him,
and We are nearer to him than the
  jugular vein. (50:1-17)

And We sent Noah, and Abraham,
and We appointed the Prophecy and
the Book to be among their seed; and
some of them are guided, and many of
  them are ungodly.

Then We sent, following
in their footsteps, Our
Messengers; and We sent,
following, Jesus son of
Mary, and gave unto him
  the Gospel.
And We set in the hearts of those who
followed him tenderness and mercy.

And monasticism they invented--We
did not prescribe it for them--only
seeking the good pleasure of God; but
they observed it not as it should be
observed. So We gave those of them
who believed their wage; and many of
  them are ungodly.

O, believers, fear God, and believe
in His Messenger, and He will give you
a twofold portion of His mercy, and
He will appoint for you a light whereby
you shall walk, and forgive you; God is
  All-forgiving, All-compassionate;

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that the People of the Book may know
that they have no power over anything
of God's bounty, and that bounty is in
the hand of God; He gives it unto
whomsoever He will; and God is of
  bounty abounding. (57:26-29)

Muhammad is the Messenger of God,
and those who are with him are hard
against the unbelievers, merciful
one to another. Thou seest them
bowing, prostrating, seeking bounty
from God and good pleasure. Their
mark is on their faces, the trace of
prostration. That is their likeness
in the Torah, and their likeness
in the Gospel: as a seed that puts
forth its shoot, and strengthens it,
and it grows stout and rises straight
upon its stalk, pleasing the sowers,
that through them He may enrage
the unbelievers. God has promised
those of them who believe and do deeds
of righteousness forgiveness and
  a mighty wage. (48:29)



39:3 Since all who submit themselves to God's will are Muslims, Abraham and the twelve apostles are Muslims. It would appear preferable to call those Muslims who have followed Muhammad by the earlier term "Muhammadans," were it not that they resent the term as implying some sort of idolatrous relationship with their prophet.

Next: 3. He Reveals Himself