The Quran about messengers
In the name of God, the Gracious, the Merciful
One of the most important themes in religions is the institution of God’s messengers. Around this phenomenon, a lot of controversy and speculation are set up.
Our world is not static, which also applies to the state of society. The development of mankind accumulated problems that the human experience could not solve independently, thereby experiencing an acute need for “an advice” coming from the Creator. To eliminate the arisen need, the institution of messengers of the Most High is formed.
Considering the word “messenger”, through the prism of the Quran, we inevitably come across with its Arab meaning. The root of the given word is “rasalun” – to send something, to send with something. Thus, the main point in understanding of the role of messengers is their function of informing something or sending them with something.
God chooses from the maintainers messengers and from the people. Indeed, God is Hearing and Seeing! (22:75)
The above passage points out two creations that can be fully considered as the messengers of the Creator: maintainers and people.
To start, let’s look at the activities of God’s maintainers. The Prescription shows us that the “front of their work” is quite wide: from the duty of “counter” to the execution of the task in the guise of a man.
And He is irresistibly supreme over His servants! He sends over you guardians until, when death comes to one of you, Our messengers take him, and they do not fail [in their duties]! (6:61)
When We give the people a taste of mercy after harm has touched them, at once they trick against Our signs.
Say, “God is swifter in trickery.” Indeed, Our messengers record that which you trick (10:21)
And certainly did Our messengers come to Ibrahim (Abraham) with good tidings; they said, “Peace.” He said, “Peace,” and did not delay in bringing [them] a roasted calf. But when he saw their hands not reaching for it, he distrusted them and felt from them apprehension.
They said, “Fear not. We have been sent to the people of Lut (Lot).” (11:69-70)
The maintainers said, “O Lut (Lot)! Indeed we are messengers of your Lord; [therefore], they will never reach you. So set out with your family during a portion of the night and let not any among you look back – except your wife; indeed, she will be struck by that which strikes them. Indeed, their appointment is [for] the morning. Is not the morning near?” (11:81)
Praise to God, Creator of the heavens and the earth, who made the maintainers messengers having wings, two or three or four. He increases in creation what He wills. Indeed, God is over all things competent! (35:1)
Or do they think that We hear not their secrets and their private conversations? Yes, [We do], and Our messengers are with them recording! (43:80)
At the same time, the Quran pronouncedly-separately narrates about the Spirit of God – Gabriel. According to the tradition, it is believed that the only mission that Gabriel is assigned to do is delivering the Prescription of the Almighty, but the Quran also narrates about the other assignments of its Creator.
And she took, in seclusion from them, a screen. Then We sent to her Our Spirit, and he represented himself to her as a well-proportioned man.
She said, “Indeed, I seek refuge in the Gracious from you, if you should beware!” He said, “I am only the messenger of your Lord to give you a pure boy.” (19:17-19)
In addition to maintainers and people, the Creator sent for certain purposes:
- natural disasters;
Have they not seen how many generations We destroyed before them which We had established upon the earth as We have not established you? And We sent [rain from] the sky upon them in showers and made rivers flow beneath them; then We destroyed them for their trespasses and brought forth after them a generation of others. (6:6)
But those who wronged among them changed [the words] to a statement other than that which had been said to them. So We sent upon them a punishment from the sky for the wrong that they were doing. (7:162)
And it is He who sends the winds as good tidings before His mercy, and We send down from the sky pure water (25:48)
So each We seized for his trespass; and among them were those upon whom We sent a storm of stones, and among them were those who were seized by the blast, and among them were those whom We caused the earth to swallow, and among them were those whom We drowned. And God would not have wronged them, but it was they who were wronging themselves! (29:40)
But if We should send a wind and they saw [their crops] turned yellow, the closed people would remain thereafter gloomy! (30:51)
But they turned away [refusing], so We sent upon them the flood of the dam, and We replaced their two gardens with gardens of bitter fruit, tamarisks and something of sparse lote trees. (34:16)
And it is God who sends the winds, and they stir the clouds, and We drive them to a dead land and give life thereby to the earth after its lifelessness. Thus is the resurrection! (35:9)
- representatives of the animal world;
Then God sent a crow searching in the ground to show him how to hide the disgrace of his brother.
He said, “O woe to me! Have I failed to be like this crow and hide the disgrace of my brother?” And he became of the regretful. (5:31)
So We sent upon them the flood and locusts and lice and frogs and blood as distinct signs, but they were arrogant and were a criminal people! (7:133)
- the invisible army of God directed to support the believers;
O you who have believed! Remember the favor of God upon you when armies came to you and We sent upon them a wind and armies you did not see. And ever is God, of what you do, Seeing! (33:9)
- Ones disobedient to God.
Do you not see that We have sent the disobedient ones upon the ones, who closed themselves, inciting them with incitement? (19:83)
Illustrative examples from the Quran show that not all the creations sent by God are considered, in the generally accepted sense, as His full-fledged messengers to people. In the proposed topic, it is necessary to understand the function of the messengership among people. What do we know about messengers in the sense that is common to all?
The most reliable source for believers – the Quran narrates that, according to the promise of the Most High, even earlier the messengers of the Lord were sent to the people of the earth from among people themselves.
And certainly were messengers denied before you, but they were patient over denial, and they were harmed until Our help came to them. And none can alter the words of God. And there has certainly come to you some information about the [previous] messengers. (6:34)
O children of Adam! If there come to you messengers from among you relating to you My signs, then whoever was aware and corrected himself – there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve! (7:35)
And for every headship is a messenger. So when their messenger comes, it will be judged between them in balance, and they will not be wronged (10:47)
And We did not send any messenger except [speaking] in the language of his nation to state clearly for them, and God sends astray whom He wills and guides whom He wills. And He is the Exalted in Might, the Wise! (14:4)
By God, We did certainly send to the leaders before you, but the disobedient beautified their deeds to them. And he will be their patron on that day and they will have a painful punishment! (16:63)
And We have already sent messengers before you.
Among them are those [whose stories] We have related to you, and among them are those [whose stories] We have not related to you.
And it was not for any messenger to bring a sign except by permission of God. So when the command of God comes, it will be concluded in truth, and the falsifiers will thereupon lose! (40:78)
The Prescription tells not only general information about the messengers, but also gives the history of specific people who are rightfully considered prophets for their peoples.
Has there not reached them the message of those before them – the nations of Nuh (Noah) and ‘Aad and Thamud and the nation of Abraham and the companions of Madyan and the towns overturned? Their messengers came to them with clear proofs. And God would never have wronged them, but they were wronging themselves. (9:70)
The Quran claims to be the warner to all people on earth, and the majority of the world’s population are mostly familiar with the biblical characters, who also found their reflection in the last Prescription.
Those messengers – some of them We caused to exceed others. Among them were those to whom God spoke, and He raised some of them in degree. And We gave Isa (Jesus), the son of Maryam (Mary), clear proofs, and We supported him with the Pure Spirit. If God had willed, those succeeding them would not have fought each other after the clear proofs had come to them. But they differed, and some of them believed and some of them closed themselves. And if God had willed, they would not have fought each other, but God does what He intends. (2:253)
And [We sent] messengers about whom We have related [their stories] to you before and messengers about whom We have not related to you. And God spoke to Moses with speech. [We sent] messengers as bringers of good tidings and warners so that mankind will have no argument against God after the messengers. And ever is God Exalted in Might and Wise. (4:164-165)
The undoubted fact, even for the opponents of Islam, is that the person who transferred the Quran to the people is Muhammad.
Indeed, We have sent you, with the truth as a bringer of good tidings and a warner, and you will not be asked about the companions of hellfire. (2:119)
Muhammad is not but a messenger. [Other] messengers have passed on before him. So if he was to die or be killed, would you turn back on your heels? And he who turns back on his heels will never harm God at all; but God will reward the grateful! (3:144)
It is He who has sent His Messenger with guidance and true duty to manifest it over all duties, although they who associate others with God dislike it. (9:33)
Muhammad is not the father of [any] one of your men, but [he is] the messenger of God and last of the prophets! And ever is God, of all things, Knowing! (33:40)
As we understand, the prophets were sent with a specific purpose. The main mission of the prophet, picked out of the entire mass of the population, was to report the Lord’s messages.
O messenger! Announce that which has been revealed to you from your Lord, and if you do not, then you have not conveyed His message. And God will protect you from the people. Indeed, Allah does not guide the closed people! (5:67)
There is not to be upon the prophet any discomfort concerning that which God has imposed upon him the established law of God with those who have passed on before. And ever is the affair of God a destiny decreed for those who convey the messages of God and fear Him and do not fear anyone but God. And sufficient is God as Accountant. (33:38-39)
Now we will try to understand what the message of the Creator is. Relying solely on the word of God, any believer can conclude that the message can be considered only if it is the information, which is hidden from people or distorted or forgotten.
God would not leave the believers in that state you are in [presently] until He separates the evil from the good. Nor would God reveal to you the hidden. But God chooses of His messengers whom He wills, so believe God and His messengers. And if you believe and be circumspect, then for you is a great reward! (3:179)
[He is] Knower of the hidden, and He does not disclose His [knowledge of the] hidden to anyone Except whom He has approved of messengers, and indeed, He sends before each messenger and behind him observers That he may know that they have conveyed the messages of their Lord; and He has encompassed whatever is with them and has enumerated all things in number!” (72:26-28)
Reliance on the direct meaning of the word “messenger” leads to the question, but what is contained in the message? The following passages give an answer – these are clear proofs from the Lord.
We tell you the message about those cities. And certainly did their messengers come to them with clear proofs, but they were not to believe in that which they had denied before. Thus does God seal over the hearts of the closed ones! (7:101)
And if they deny you – then already have those before them denied. Their messengers came to them with clear proofs and written Scripture and with the enlightening Prescription! (35:25)
All the messengers came with clear proofs from the Creator, which are integral components of the Prescription. Clear proofs carried certain information to its addressees, i.e. in fact, they were a message for the people. The Quranic concept of the message of the Most High is His Prescription; therefore it is the main distinguishing feature of the messengers sent by God.
Mankind was on one basis. God sent the prophets as bringers of good tidings and warners, and sent down with them the Prescription with truth to judge between the people concerning that in which they differed. And none differed over the Prescription except those who were given it – after the clear proofs came to them – out of jealous animosity among themselves. And God guided those who believed to the truth concerning that over which they had differed, by His permission. And God guides whom He wills to a straight path. (2:213)
We have already sent Our messengers with clear evidences and sent down with them the Prescription and the scales that the people may maintain [their affairs] in balance!
And We sent down iron, wherein is great military might and benefits for the people, and so that God may make evident those who support Him and His messengers unseen. Indeed, God is Powerful and Exalted in Migh! (57:25)
The message that comes from the Almighty cannot be invented by anyone other than Him; therefore, the mechanism of its “delivery” to people in fuller explanation is suggestion. The theme of suggestion is considered separately, and in our case it turns out that the suggested message to the prophets of God is the Prescription itself.
And We sent not before you except men to whom We suggested from among the people of cities. So have they not traveled through the earth and observed how was the end of those before them? And the home of the hereafter is best for those who circumspect! Then will you not reason? (12:109)
And We sent not before you except men with clear proofs and Scripture to whom We suggested! So ask the holders of the reminder if you do not know! And We revealed to you the reminder that you may make clear to the people what was sent down to them and that they might give thought! (16:43-44)
In addition, on the example of the messengers directed to the holders of the Prescription, Muhammad as the messenger has also got the Prescription suggested into him.
Indeed, We have suggested to you, as We suggested to Nuh (Noah) and the prophets after him. And we suggested to Ibrahim (Abraham), Ismail (Ishmael), Ishaq (Isaac), Yaqub (Jacob), the descendants, Isa (Jesus), Ayub (Job), Yunus (Jonah), Harun (Aaron), and Suleiman (Solomon), and to Daud (David) We gave the Scripture. (4:163)
Thus have We sent you to a headship before which headships have passed on so you might recite to them that which We suggested to you, while they closed themselves from the Gracious!
Say, “He is my Lord; there is no deity except Him. Upon Him I rely, and to Him is my return!” (13:30)
The unbiased analysis of the above passages shows that all messengers directed to the holders of the Prescription were prophets and there was no separate division between the messenger and the prophet.
In turn, even in the description of Muhammad, there is also no difference between the status of the messenger and the prophet.
As can be seen from the Quran, all prophets sent were in one group elected by the Most High and came with messages from the same divine source. In this regard, people are not recommended to reject or deny any of them.
Indeed, those who closed themselves from God and His messengers and wish to discriminate between God and His messengers and say, “We believe in some and closed ourselves from others,” and wish to adopt a way in between, – those closed themselves, truly. And We have prepared for the closed ones a humiliating punishment!
But they who believe God and His messengers and do not discriminate between any of them – to those He is going to give their rewards. And ever is GodForgiving and Merciful. (4:150-152)
No messenger has relied on his own personal qualities or merits in the declaration of the subject of the message. On the contrary, they all argued that they only convey the accepted revelation from God, and not their own achievements of reason.
And those who associate others with God say, “If God had willed, we would not have worshipped anything other than Him, neither we nor our fathers, nor would we have forbidden anything through other than Him.” Thus did those do before them. So is there upon the messengers except [the duty of] clear notification? (16:35)
Since Muhammad’s death, and up until now, there have been people who periodically appeared and declared themselves to be God’s messengers or were considered to be such. One of the reasons for giving someone the status of the messenger is the following passage:
When God took a covenant from the prophets, “This is what I give you of the Prescription and judgement. Then there comes to you a messenger confirming what is with you. You will surely believe him and help him”, He asked, “Have you acknowledged and taken upon that My obligation?”
They said, “We have acknowledged it!”
He said, “Then bear witness, and I am with you among the witnesses.” (3:81)
And as its logical continuation, there is one more passage:
And We made a covenant with the prophets: with you (Muhammad), with Noah, with Abraham, with Moses and Jesus, the son of Mary. We concluded rigid covenant with them. (33:7)
The traditional logic is that not all the messengers were the prophets. The covenant was only taken from the prophets, including Muhammad. Therefore, after the last prophet, the messenger should appear, otherwise this covenant will not apply to Muhammad, which will be a contradiction to the first of the last two passages.
However, having carefully examined the terms of the covenant, we see that the prophets were obliged to believe and help the messenger who came to them. It turns out that the messenger should appear during the life of any of the prophets. On the example of the dynasty of Abraham, the terms of the contract were evident. Abraham’s son was a prophet; his grandson was also a prophet, etc. But we know from the Quran that there were prophets, during whose life there were no other messengers sent. How in this case to understand the ayat?
Some of the above shown excerpts present to us maintainers as the messengers. The Creator in the Quran insists on believing in His maintainers. This is one of the fundamental prescriptions of the Supreme concerning faith:
O you who have believed! Believe God and His messenger and the Prescription that He sent down upon His messenger and the Prescription which He sent down before. And whoever closes himself from God, His maintainers, His Prescription, His messengers, and the last day has certainly gone far astray! (4:136)
Thus, maintainers can rightfully be considered as the Lord’s MESSENGERS. In such an ALL-IN-ONE understanding of the theme of “messengership,” the excerpts are quite understandable. To each prophet sent, during his lifetime, the maintainers of the Creator came to serve as the messengers.
The main confusion in the use of the term “messenger” lies in the initiator of messengreship. It is necessary to separate the messengers by the source of their departure. The fact is that people can also send messengers with this or that assignment.
And God presents an example of two men, one of them dumb and unable to do a thing, while he is a burden to his patron. Wherever he directs him, he brings no good. Is he equal to one who commands justice, while he is on a straight path? (16:76)
People who carry out a mission to transfer a particular assignment can be fully called messengers. It remains only to clearly define the status of such people: either it is God’s messenger or human’s one.
The result of all that has been said above is that the only person, who can be considered as a full-fledged messenger of God, is the one who is inspired by the message – the Prescription.