Divine religion is the name of “the system of laws imposed by Allah,” and the sole religion in the world today that protects its quality as a “divine religion” is Islam. As Judaism and Christianity were unable to protect their original identities for various reasons, they became “corrupted religions.”
The word peygamber (messenger) means “bearer of news” in Farsi. The terms “nabi” and “rasul” are used in Arabic to convey the same meaning. The phrase “bashir” has been used in the Qur’an to mean “bearer of good news.” In Islamic terminology, “nabi” is a messenger who perpetuates an old religion, and has not been given a new book, while “rasul” denotes a messenger who has been given a new shariah (canon). Islam has reached us from two sources alone: 1. the word of Allah, 2. Allah’s messengers. Along with this, the duty of messengers does not end at spreading the word of Allah and conducting the necessary explanations. It is also their mission to demonstrate how Allah’s commands and prohibitions are to be applied. Thus it is ordained, “Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for any one whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in the Praise of Allah.” (al-Azhab, 33:21)
The concepts of the Qur’an and the prophets are like two inseparable parts of one whole. It is difficult to get anywhere when we separate the Qur’an from the Messenger of Allah. A messenger without a book is like a guide without light.
The general meaning of Islam is the name of a religion based upon Allah’s sovereignty which aims to regulate human life. The standard-bearers of this religion are the messengers of Allah. The advancement of the Islamic movement is possible through the guidance of these leaders.
Our knowledge of the lives and works of the messengers before Prophet Muhammad is rather limited and incomplete. For example, some of the statements attributed to Prophet Jesus in the Gospel are both far from trustworthy, and go no further than providing superficial information on how to advance the Islamic movement. The only light shed upon this topic for us is the life of the Holy Prophet. As a messenger, he has three important characteristics:
- He is the last of the prophets (khatmu’l-anbiya),
- His messengership and prophetic mission were gathered in his person,
- While all the [other] messengers were sent to the People of the Book, he was sent to an idolatrous tribe to which no prophet had been sent before.