Introduction: (Revelation & Perfection)
A belief in revelation and prophecy is driven from a divine conception of the world which involves a belief in the universality of Divine guidance. According to this doctrine the entire universe is proceeding towards its perfection and promotion. No existing thing in this world is at rest. Everything is moving towards its goal. Everything is being pushed to its goal by a mysterious force existing within it. It is this force that is called Divine guidance. This is why the Holy Quran has used the term ‘revelation’ in connection with the guidance of inorganic material, plants and animals as it has been used in connection with the guidance of man. All that may be said is that revelation and guidance have degrees which vary in accordance with the degree of the perfection of different beings. The highest degree of revelation is that which is made to the Prophets. This kind of revelation is based on man’s need for Divine guidance so that he may proceed towards a goal beyond the material world to which he must go, in any case. [The Quran 84:6] The issue of prophecy therefore comes in conjunction with the philosophy of creation. God the Almighty has dispatched many Messengers from among humans to lead and guide them to the destination they are created for. Creation of man would otherwise be in vain.
We may prove the necessity of the need for the Prophets in another way. God the Almighty has blessed all types of beings with all they need for their perfection. Since He created birds to fly, He has provided them with wings and a light body suitable for flying. He created eyes to observe objects and hence made them muscles so they can rotate to all directions. Numerous examples from nature can be cited in this regard. In short, Allah has blessed all beings in nature with whatever they need for their perfection. Is it possible that Allah has ignored the issue of Prophet-hood which plays a grave role in the perfection of humans?
Thus, if God has blessed nature with all its requirements, He must have surely blessed mankind with His Messengers.
Why did God send the Prophets?
1. Responsibility necessitates Prophets
God has blessed man with the freedom of choice and holds him responsible for his belief and behaviour. The responsibility involves a Shari’a (divine law). The Shari’a will not be accomplished unless by sending Prophets.
2. To teach mankind their duty before God:
Safwan Ibn Yahya; one of the distinguished students of Imam Sadiq (a.s) in theology reported one of his debates about the necessity of the need for the Prophets as follows:
“Surely, once one knows he has a Creator, then it is expected from him to also know that his Lord has Satisfactions and Dissatisfactions and that they will not be understood except through a revelation or a Messenger. Thus, those who do not receive the revelation should seek the knowledge from the Messengers (of God) for they are the proof of God and their obedience is obligatory.”
3. Punishment without education is unjust
God will punish the sinner in the Hell-Fire and will rewards the righteous ones with variety of blessings in Paradise. In order for man to refrain from sins and offer the virtuous deeds, he needs to firstly know them. Man’s intellect does not suffice to gain this knowledge. Therefore, it would be unjust for God not to send any Messenger to educate man on Divine dos and don’ts.
4. Regulating man’s worldly life
Man is a gregarious (social) being. No healthy man enjoys a hermit’s life-style. Nevertheless, social life, in many instances, causes social conflicts and struggle. To establish a law under which the rights of all peoples are respected is the only solution.
The question is who is going to be the law maker; man or the Creator of man?
A perfect law maker ought to meet the following criteria:
1. He should know mankind in all his physical and mental aspects including emotions, desires, innate, etc.
2. He should be aware of the past, present and future of man to be able to find out the roots of the present problems in the past, and to foresee the impacts of the present issues in the future.
3. He should be so knowledgeable to be able to make a law that provides the utmost benefit to the people with the least damage.
4. He should be infallible himself and away from any type of error.
5. He should be powerful and not to be influenced or frightened from or by any power.
6. He should not have any personal benefit in the society.
Overall, the law itself ought to be practicable, not fantasy, as it should be easy to understand for everybody.
No doubt, the above conditions would not be found in anyone except Allah the Almighty.
Objectives of the Prophets
1. Divine knowledge (Divine Education):
In order for human beings to reach the goal for which he is created, he needs to know which path to follow and which one to refrain from. If there were no prophets how did we know about the Hereafter which is beyond man’s knowledge?! This type of knowledge is what man has no access to, except through revelation.
In short, the prophets are the messengers of God to educate man about the facts which they need to know but are beyond their knowledge.
2. Theoretical Purification [The Quran 62:2]:
Purifying the soul of humans is another mission of the prophets. Purification means to purify man’s soul from all types of rusts which are misleading him. Those rusts are of selfishness, racism, and all evil deeds and intentions. God is absolutely Pure, rather He is the source of all that is pure. In order for mankind to reach that Pureness he must purify himself as much as he can.
3. Practical Purification; (Healthy Models) [The Quran 33:21]:
Imitation and copying others, especially the one someone loves, is a human characteristic. The easiest way to adopt a habit or character is to imitate someone who is the crystallisation of that character.
To this end, the Prophets who are the best and the healthiest models of purified humans are dispatched to be the practical role models to humanity. Had Angels been sent to humans as the messengers of God, man would not have had a practical model from his own nature to adopt his characters.
4. Developing Society to Social Justice [The Quran 57: 25]:
In order for man to enjoy a healthy life in this world and be able to worship God freely, there must be a social justice in which no one oppresses the other, all enjoy equal rights, and submit to their duties.
To practice social justice man is in need of three factors:
a. A law in which all humans with no exceptions enjoy their rights, and the right of no-one is ignored.
b. Acquaintance with all aspects of humans, being his needs, his talents, characteristics and so forth, to be able to establish the law accordingly.
c. Enforcing the law correctly.
Prophets have played a grave role in this field. They came with Divine Books (law), from He who is fully acquainted with mans requirements, and finally they themselves enforced the divine law thoroughly.
Unfortunately man-made law has never been inviolable from human tendencies of the Law Makers. And hence, they are in many instances in favour of a particular group and against the others. The slogan of all governments is, ‘To Safeguard National Interest’. Such a world, no doubt, becomes the world of Might Is Right, for different nations may have opposite interests and bloody wars are the natural result of that.
Washington used its veto 32 times to shield Israel from critical draft resolutions between 1972 and 1997. This constituted nearly half of the total of 69 U.S. vetoes cast since the founding of the U.N. The Soviet Union cast 115 vetoes during the same period! [http://www.ifamericansknew.org/us_ints/p-neff-veto.html]
The right of Veto [in Latin: I forbid], in which five permanent members over measure the proposed of other members, is absolutely against human justice, yet in the century of democracy, man is still suffering from this violation. This will indicate that human justice will not be obtained by human law.
5. Freedom from the Bondage of Humans [The Quran 7:157]:
History of mankind is almost universally from the ancient time to the present, coincided with types of slavery, human ownership, dominance and exploitation of one group of people by another. Bondage of humans varies from the simplest type of slavery as in ancient Greece to the modern type of slavery which undertakes its task under the mask of so called freedom and liberation.
Types of human bondage:
1) Slavery, 2) Superstitions, 3) Idolatry, 4) Ignorance, 5) Caste Systems, 6) Ethnic and Tribal Fanaticism, 7) Autocracy (dictatorship), 8) Exploitation, etc.
Submission to God and servitude to Him only is the only way to liberate man from all types of human bondage. This is the central task of the prophets.
6. Providing a Peaceful Life [The Quran 8:24]:
The shortest, as well as the most comprehensive, word to express the mission of the prophets is to overwhelmingly provide a peaceful and tranquil life to humanity at large. The Holy Quran suggests that the mission of the prophets provides ‘LIFE’ to humanity in all aspects, being material, spiritual, educational, economic, political, moral and social. Believing in Allah and Divine Reward and
Punishment will provide a peaceful life to man, for he is going to have a reason for all difficulties of life as he is expecting a reward for whatever good he has earned, as he will refrain from whatever is bad lest he will be punished. These two divine characteristics will provide individuals as well as human society a peaceful life in which no-one dares violate others rights.
The claim of denying Prophets
Despite the previous facts regarding the necessity of prophecy, there are some schools of thought such as Hinduism where they not only deny the issue of divine prophecy but also consider the matter illogical and irrational. They hold that the mental perception is good enough to lead mankind to his perfection. They argue that whatever the messengers of God may bring to humans is either what they can comprehend with their own mind or it is going to be beyond their mentality. On the first theorem, as long as human beings are able to understand the matter, the message of the prophets will be of no use. Also, as for the second theorem, if the message is going to be beyond their logic, which in one way or the other means it is illogical, then it can’t be acceptable, for that which is illogical belongs to the kingdom of animals.”
This false argument is like saying no-one is in need of any teacher. For, whatever the teacher is going to teach is either according to the logic of the students or is against their logic. In any case, the students do not need the teacher.
The fallacy of the above argument is that they did not distinguish between what is against logic and what is not fully comprehensible by human logic. Thus, man is in need of the Divine Instruction.