What is Islam?

What is Islam?


Belief in the Messengers of Allah
Mohamed Helal 1691

Belief in the Messengers of Allah

Belief in the Prophets of Allah[1]

     All the prophets are human beings chosen to receive revelation and deliver it to humankind. Allah the Most High says regarding the wisdom in sending them:

“They were messengers bearing good news and warning so that the humankind would have no excuse before Allah, after receiving the messengers. Allah is Almighty and All Wise.” (Qur’ān, 4:165)

Allah the Most High also says,

“For every community a warner has been sent.” (Qur’ān, 35:24)

In another verse, He says,

“We have sent messengers before you, some of whom We have mentioned to you and some We have not.” (Qur’ān, 40:78)

And those prophets whom Allah the Most High has spoken about in the Qur’ān are twenty five:

     Adam, Enoch, Noah, Hūd, Şāliḩ, Abraham, Lot, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Shu‛aib, Moses, Aaron, David, Solomon, Job, Elijah, Jonah, Ezekiel, Elisha, Zechariah, John the Baptist, Jesus, and Muḩammad, peace upon them all. Belief in all of them is obligatory, as stated in the Glorious Qur’ān:

“So [you believers], say, ‘We believe in Allah and in what was sent down to us and what was sent down to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and what was given to Moses, Jesus, and all the prophets by their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and we devote ourselves to Him.” (Qur’ān, 2:136)

     That is because they are brethren in the call to the religion of Allah, even though every one of them belonged to a particular people, and a particular epoch, with the exception of Prophet Muḩammad, peace be upon him, who said,

"The prophets are brothers in faith, having different mothers. Their religion is, however, one." (Hadith by Al-Bukhāri and Muslim)

     All of them were human. They were not different from the rest of humankind, except that they received revelation from Allah. They are infallible who never do anything which would contravene the obligations of conveying the message, as stated in the Glorious Qur’ān:

“[Prophet], all the messengers We sent before you were simply men to whom We had given Revelation.” (Qur’ān, 16:43)

Allah the Most High also says,

“Say, ‘I am only a human being, like you, to whom it has been revealed that your God is One.” (Qur’ān, 18:110)

In another verse, He also says,

“Say [Prophet], ‘Glory be to my Lord! Am I anything but a mortal, a messenger?” (Qur’ān, 17:93)

     None of them rose above the position of prophethood, with messages to call people to believe in Allah. Allah the Most High says, regarding Jesus Christ in particular:

“The Messiah, son of Mary, was only a messenger; other messengers had come and gone before him. His mother was a virtuous woman; both of them ate food [like other mortals]’.” (Qur’ān, 5:75)

     What is mentioned about some of the prophets in previous books of stories denies their infallibility, a case which contravenes their message. So, it is obligatory upon us to vindicate them of such denials. The Noble Qur’ān took the responsibility of refuting most of these false claims, in recognition of the prophets’ position and in corroboration with the truth, which is in line with the message of Islam.

     Allah the Most High has honored His messengers and His prophets, peace be upon them. Those were sent to people as informants and warners so that there may be no excuses for humankind after the messengers. He praised them and named a chapter in the Qur’ān after them, called “The Prophets,” and chapters in the name of some of them, such as the chapters named Jonah, Hūd, Joseph, Abraham, Muḩammad, and Noah. The Almighty Allah said in favor of Adam, Noah, Abraham, and the father of Mary (‛Imrān):

“Allah has chosen Adam, Noah, Abraham’s Family, and the Family of ‛Imrān, over all other people.” (Qur’ān, 3:33)

He said in favor of Abraham:

“Abraham was truly an example: devoutly obedient to Allah and true in faith. He was not an idolater; he was thankful for the blessings of Allah who chose him and guided him to a straight path. We gave him blessings in this world, and he is among the righteous in the Hereafter.” (Qur’ān, 16:120-122)

He said in favor of Moses:

“He said, ‘Moses, I have raised you above other people by [giving you] My messages and speaking to you: hold on to what I have given you; be one of those who give thanks.’” (Qur’ān, 7:144)

He said in favor of Jesus the son of Mary, peace be upon them both:

“He will be held in honor in this world and the next, and will be one of those brought near to Allah.” (Qur’ān, 3:45)

He said in favor of Prophet Muḩammad, peace be upon him:

“Prophet, We have sent you as a witness, as a bearer of good news and warning, as one who calls people to Allah by His leave, as a light-giving lamp.” (Qur’ān, , 33:45-46)

Allah the Most High also says to him:

“Truly you [Prophet Muḩammad] have sublime morals” (Qur’ān, 68:4)

     Allah the Most High also praises Job, David, Solomon, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Enoch, Elisha, Ezekiel, Şāliḩ, Lot, and many others, peace be upon them all.


A Brief Biography of the Prophet, Muḩammad (pbuh) [2]

     Prophet Muḩammad, peace be upon him, was born in Mecca in the year 571 after Christ to the noble Arab clan of Banu Hāshim, whose lineage is traced back to Ishmael, son of Abraham, peace upon them both. When Prophet Muḩammad was a fetus in the womb of his mother ˀᾹmina, his father ‛Abdullah died. His mother was left to rear him until she died while he was only six years of age.

     Then, his grandfather, ‛Abdul-Muţţalib, took over his guardianship, yet he too died only two years later. Following this, his uncle ˀAbu Țālib became his guardian.

     Prophet Muḩammad, peace be upon him, began his adulthood as a shepherd and this is in keeping with the tradition of the prophets, as rightly said in the hadith. (Hadith by Al-Bukhāri) He was also engaged in trade, where he used to accompany his uncle to Syria. He was later engaged in a trade venture for the lady Khadijah, whom he shortly afterwards married while he was only twenty-five years of age. The Prophet joined his people in important missions such as the Pact of the Noble for the relief of the oppressed, and he took part in the rebuilding of the Ka‛bah.

     After taking Khadijah as a wife, he took to seclusion, away from where he used to see his people worshipping idols and other such deviant behaviors. He would go to the cave Ḥirāˀ, overlooking the Ka‛bah, for contemplation for several nights at a time. During one of these seclusions, Archangel Gabriel descended with revelation. This was when he was forty years of age. Archangel Gabriel recited to him, and he recited after him, the words of Allah the Most High,

“Read in the name of your Lord who created. He created man from a leech-like clot. Read! Your Lord is the Most Bountiful One who taught by the pen; who taught man that which he did not know.” (Qur’ān, 96:1-5)

     Returning from this meeting in great fear, his wife consoled him. He was also consoled by Waraqah ibn Nawfal, who had known something about Christianity. Among the first who believed him was his wife Khadijah, his servant Zaid ibn Ḥārithah, his cousin Ali Ibn Abu Talib who was under his guardianship, and Abu Bakr Al-Şidīq. When he called his tribe Quraish, to Islam, they disbelieved and obstructed him to their utmost ability. Thereafter, some of the Muslims were forced to immigrate to Abyssinia. The ill treatment by Quraish became severe after the death of his wife Khadījah, and his uncle ˀAbu Țālib in the same year, which was ten years into his prophethood. So, he set out for the city of Țāˀif calling the people to Islam, though they turned him down in a hostile manner. So, Allah graced him with the Night Journey (to Jerusalem) and Ascension (to Heavens), a journey during which Allah ordained the five obligatory prayers. Prophet Muḩammad, peace be upon him, presented himself to the tribes during the pilgrimage season in the market places, and in doing so the call reached the city of Yathrib, and in it many companions were gained for him. When Quraish was determined to get rid of him by killing him, Allah ordained the immigration to Madinah (Yathrib) to which most of the Muslims had already immigrated. The people of Madinah, who came to be called ‘the Helpers,’ welcomed them in a hospitable way, and they all cooperated in founding the Muslim society. They stood as one, hand in hand, united against antagonistic trends from the Jews of Madinah, the polytheists of Mecca, and others like them. Armed confrontations took place, the most important of which were the battles of Badr, Uḩud, Aḩzāb, and Khaibar, ending with the conquest of Mecca in the eighth year of Hijrah (Migration). This made the religion and its followers victorious, and the people began to embrace Islam in great leaps and bounds.

     The Prophet, peace be upon him, had seized the opportunity of a truce which was concluded by the Treaty of Hudaybiah, in the sixth year of Hijrah. He sent letters to kings and leaders calling them to Islam, in keeping with its universality. The most distinguished of the contents of those letters was epitomized in the citation of a verse of the Qur’ān showing faith in the Oneness of Allah alone, portraying the dignity of man for whom it was not proper to adopt a god from among members of his race, and for people to come to terms on a common word. If they did not respond to the call, they should at least accept the new situation and acknowledge the Muslim society that was formed in the Arabian Peninsula and allow them to deliver the trust of the call to all people.

Allah the Most High says,

“Say, ‘People of the Book, let us arrive at a statement that is common to us all: that we worship Allah alone, ascribe no partner to Him, and none of us takes others beside Allah as lords.’ If they turn away, say, ‘Witness our devotion to Him.” (Qur’ān, 3:64)

     In the tenth year of Hijrah, Prophet Muḩammad (pbuh) went out to perform the pilgrimage. With him were one hundred thousand Muslims. After exhausting the resistance on the part of the Jews and others, the Prophet, peace be upon him, began to secure the boundaries of the Arabian Peninsula against the two great powers of the time, the Persians and the Byzantines. He proposed an army under the command of Osamah Ibn Zaid. However, during this time, the Prophet passed away at the age of sixty-three after an eventful life of glorious deeds and continuous struggle for the sake of delivering the message. The responsibility fell to the rightly-guided caliphs (the Prophet’s four immediate successors) and the succeeding generations who followed in his footsteps, called people to the religion, and whose tenets Allah the Most High has laid down in the following words,

“[Prophet] call [people] to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good teaching and argue with them in the most courteous way,” (Qur’ān, 16:125)

     The result of this activity was a vast Islamic empire with boundaries from China in the east to Europe in the west. Islam now has followers in almost all parts of the globe, numbering more than two billions.

His wives

     After the death of Khadijah, the Prophet, peace be upon him, married several wives. Only one, Zainab bint Khozaimah, died during his life time. Nine wives survived him, namely, Sawdah bint Zam‛ah, ‛Aisha bint Abu Bakr Al-Sidiq, Hafşah bint ‛Umar, Umm Habibah bint Abu Sufyān, Umm Salamah bint Umayyah, Zaynab bint Jahsh, Maimūnah bint Al-Ḥārith, Jowairiyyah bint Al-Muştalq, and Şafiyah bint Ḥuyayy. The Prophet’s marriages were never due to passion overpowering him. Had it been so, he would have married virgins, and he would not have refused those who offered themselves to him in marriage. Indeed, the marriages had noble humanitarian values and purposes, for by this he honored faithful female believers who significantly contributed to the armed struggle, and whose families were either killed or separated from them. He sometimes contracted such marriages as a link with his dearest friends, or compromised by them the hearts of his enemies, or nullified with them the pre-Islamic custom of adoption of children. Behind his marriages are other aspects of sublime values. The Prophet, peace be upon him, lived with all of his wives to the noblest example of honorable life, and they attained from him the most refined married life. Allah dignified them and made them mothers of the believers, forbidding their marriage after the Prophet, peace be upon him.

Allah the Most High says,

“The Prophet is closer to the believers than they are to themselves, while his wives are their mothers.” (Qur’ān, 33:6)

He also says,

“It is not right for you to offend Allah’s Messenger, just as you should never marry his wives after him. That would be grievous in Allah’s eyes.” (Qur’ān, 33:53)

His Children

     Except Khadijah, the Prophet, peace be upon him, did not have children from any of his wives. She gave birth to his two sons, Al-Qāsim and ‛Abdullah, who were nick-named "the Good", and "the Clean." She also gave birth to him four daughters, Zainab, Ruqayyah, Umm Kulthūm, and Fāţimah. Allah also blessed him with Abraham, born to him by Maria the Coptic. All of these children died during his lifetime except for Fāţimah, who died six month after his death.


[1] Shaikh ‛Aṭiya Ṣaqr, Former Chairman of Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee, “Understanding Islam”, Al-Azhar Center for Translation (ACT), 2017, p. 25.

[2] Shaikh ‛Aṭiya Ṣaqr, Former Chairman of Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee, “Understanding Islam”, Al-Azhar Center for Translation (ACT), 2017, p. 113.



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