Prophethood 1 – Need For Prophets
Channel: Jamal Badawi
Series: Jamal Badawi - Prophethood
File Size: 6.79MB
Salam Alaikum Peace be upon you ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to another
episode of Islamic focus. This is going to be the ninth of our episodes on Islamic teachings, and the first episode on Prophethood in Islam. Our guest today is Dr. Jamal Badawi, Salaam Alaikum fisherman and welcome to our show.
I was wondering if we could start by establishing the relationship just to keep continuity of the program to establish the relationship between profit within Islam, and the concept of monotheism that we have been covering in the last eight lectures. In the last eight programs, our focus,
in a way he was on the creed, Islamic creed. And we said that the creed
is that there is no deity but Allah, which is God, capital G. And Muhammad is His Messenger. So the first eight programs dealt with the first half only of the creed, that is the concept of monotheism, we're talking about the oneness of God, the errors in his perception
in our perception of him to be more accurate, we talked about that formative side or the divine attributes and how that affects our lives.
If we take the second half of the creed, and Muhammad is His Messenger, that is the really the focus of this new series.
That is to say, after believing in God, in Allah, it follows also that you have to believe in prophets who communicated that message from God. So in essence, it is the second half of the Muslim creed. You'll notice here that we say
that the second half starting with Mohammed, His Messenger, summarizes the whole concept of prophethood, even though it mentioned only the name of Prophet Mohammed, there isn't as for that is quite simple. That Muhammad himself recognized all previous prophets who came before him. In fact, not only Muhammad the Quran itself, the Word of God, asserts, and clarifies that all prophets were sent from Adam to Muhammad. So by believing in Muhammad as the last of those messengers or prophets, it follows that a Muslim also must believe in all prophets throughout history, so he symbolizes really Prophethood
in himself, the second way that we can say that this series, also relevant to the previous series, is that one thing that we emphasized in the discussion of the oneness of God, is this whole notion of exclusive lordship of God, the fact that he has infinite knowledge and wisdom. And if this is true, then the there must be some purpose behind creation, there must be some purpose behind our presence here as humans on this planet. And if this is the case, then As humans, we need to know what our roles should be. What kind of guidance Do we need in order to conduct our lives in accordance with his will? And the only source of authentic information about such universal
questions would be the revelation of God's own message? And that can only take place through prophets or prophets, or apostles, okay.
Well, some people may sort of raise the facetious quest question of saying, okay, granted that we need guidance and granted that we need sort of a path to follow. But why should we reach for prophets? Why do we need Prophethood? To give us that guidance? Why don't we just rely on our own brains on science, the scientific method to
see there are at least four basic reasons why science cannot provide answers to these questions. We're not belittling science because science and revelation each of them has its own sphere. But to start with, when we talk about science, we know that science describes certain facts or phenomena.
which we call a scientific law. And this laws we use in order to predict or to help us predict things that may occur in the future. However, the kind of description that science provides for us depends after all, on individual perception, the way a person look at things. And we know that this perception varies a great deal between individuals depending on their own background, predisposition and even biases. Of course, there may be certain facts concerning which there would be very little difference. However, we know that most of the things that everybody has says that this is factual, it is a fact. Still, again, it's a fact for him, like people say beauty is in the eye of the
So what we're saying here is that individual perception even though it may be useful, in a certain way, it is neither foolproof, nor is it final.
A second problem with total dependence on science is that even if our perception supposed to be accurate, science explains only partial aspects of life. Science cannot explain the totality of life. And this is an area where we as human beings are very eager to know, we're not just interested to know about lights, sound and electronics, we want to have some good explanation of the total life.
A third difference between science elevation, is that science, by definition, focuses largely on physical phenomena.
Truly matter, or material is real.
But it is not reality.
material is not reality. It's part it's real, but itself does not constitute higher reality, or ultimate reality or even home reality. So when we focus on science and this particular sphere, we find that science is incapable, for example of prescribing rules for human life, nor can it explain the ultimate aim
in nature. Questions like, where did we come from?
What are we supposed to do on earth?
Where are we going? What is our destiny? And what is the destiny of the universe even at large?
What are the inner motives
which make our activities meaningful? These are all questions whose answers does not fully lie within the scope of science. The fact that the fourth and final difference between science and revelation is that science by itself cannot achieve human happiness. nor can it inculcate in us a sense of purpose.
Science may help us to build a material civilization with spectacular type of material or scientific achievement.
However, this civilization is often not responsive to our nature. It's based on the wrong information on the lack of knowledge, of the true nature of the human and as such cannot be totally responsive to his or her needs.
As a result, we find that this civilization fails to address the problems of mind and soul.
This leads to alienation, anxiety, absence of real happiness,
peace, tranquility, and ultimately, even the collapse of the entire civilization, as we have seen, over and over again throughout human history. After all, we must remember that human is not just physical existence, or a reflex. mechanism, a human is much more than that a human possesses freedom, he possesses well, and above all, possesses moral consciousness. So to conclude, the this particular question, science, while quite useful, should not be deified or worshipped in itself. It could not be taken as God in place of the true the one true God. By itself, science isn't capable of giving us this moral discipline, the peace of mind, the sense of purpose, and balance in our lives.
For sure, science is incapable of giving us final answers to high realities questions about God who revelation from and right and things like Prophethood, which is part of that series.
Can we elaborate a little bit on the concept of
Revelation through a medium or through
a query phrase that I'm sorry, let me rephrase that. You've talked basically about science Now, can we jump to another mode that sometimes pops up in situations like that? And people say, Yes, we can get guidance through mystical experience looking at the eastern philosophies and say, okay, the mystical experience is the only way meditation contemplation and tm and things like that.
What do you have to say about that? Where does mystical experience fit into an Islam see, as as we distinguish between science and Revelation, we have also distinguish between mystical experience and Revelation, they're not the same thing. Actually, there are six basic differences between mystical experience and prophetic revelation or revelation given to chosen prophets of God. First of all, mystical experience by its nature, defies expression, it is not as favorable, you cannot transfer a mystical experience from one person to another.
It is a sort of illumination or insight into reality. Now,
as far as the genuine prophet receiving revelation from, from God, this revelation given to him is not only individualized, it's not only for himself, it is something that he has to communicate and thus actually communicate fully and completely to his people as as was the case with all profits or to the entire humanity, as is the case with Prophet Mohammed being the last of all prophets, but at least there is some duty to communicate that message to others, to quote the Quran on this.
In 570, addressing Prophet Muhammad, it says, All apostle, proclaim the message which has been sent to you from your Lord, if you didn't, you would not have fulfilled and proclaimed his mission. And God will defend you from people who mean mischief for God guides, not those who reject faith. In other words, that's part and parcel of the duty of the Prophet is to communicate it. And that's different from the mystical experience. A second way of distinguishing between both, is that the mystical experience by its very nature is highly individualized, it is something that's restricted to one particular person at a time at least.
From that, we realize that that experience depends in the first place upon the feeling, temperament,
eat subjectivity, and even bias of the individual who claims to have gone through this mystical experience.
Obviously, each person can claim that his or his experience is ultimately a unique it is the ultimate judge, how many times you had so many people, almost anybody following any faith, or even any culture and say, Oh, my belief is the best migrators why, because I feel this way, it gives me peace I, you know, I feel very happy. And I just have a strong feeling that this is the truth. So again, this claim is made by people holding so many contradictory sets of beliefs. So how, how dependable with individualized,
mystical experiences like that
would be, of course, it's quite different again, from Revelation, which by its very nature, as a revelation coming from God directly through a genuine Prophet, it must be true. In other words, it's not just something of a private
person and feeling of one particular person, actually, the Quran emphasize that, this question of generality of the message of the prophet or revelation, it says, Well, my son them in Russellville, in Illinois, Utah, Bismillah translation of meaning in 464, we sent not an apostle,
but to be obeyed in accordance with the will of Allah, so the prophets not speaking of his own, he's actually communicating directly, what God commanded him to communicate to other people. A third, the distinction is that there is a good possibility of extremism and even errors, if we depend totally on individualized mystical experience. And that, perhaps, would be an explanation of the existence of so many cults with all kinds of strange type of beliefs, because
where do you draw the line between truth and falsehood? It's very difficult.
While when we talk about divine revelation, we're talking about something that's reliable, that in itself must be free from error. There could be no error in God's revelation or else we're assuming that God
and like we discussed in a previous sessions, the attribute of divinity precludes this kind of assumption that God could make
Can error. Nor could there be any error on the part of the Prophet chosen prophet of God in honestly and accurately transmitting God's message, and this is a method that we'll elaborate on as we go on.
On the other hand, the only problem really that arises with respect to Revelation is not the accuracy of the message the in it the internal accuracy of the message itself, or how the Prophet honestly communicated it. But the problem of preservation.
any errors that may arise is simply people adding their own philosophical or theological speculation and complications and theories, which might somehow change the original revelation or the problem also of not having the original revelation given to the prophets intact. And as far as, as I know, the own description in world history of major monotheistic religion that remained intact, written down in the life of its prophet is the Quran. So the errors actually could not be from the revelation given to Mohammed Moses or Jesus May peace be upon them all, the problem may arise in terms of preservation of the message itself, intact. The first distinction is that mystical
experience is also attained by personal effort, a person goes through a certain discipline and spiritual training or exercise until he attained that particular state. Prophethood, on the other hand, is not something that anybody can say, All right, let me try to be a prophet. In other words, it cannot be achieved exclusively just by personal effort. It is more of a gift, a gift from God, to a very chosen very selective type of people that would be qualified to carry his message to other human beings. And that's such, it's very important to realize that a prophetic consciousness is not derived or emanate from the Prophet himself, it is not dependent upon his own inherited tendencies,
which may be clouds, or bias, his particular experience as he receives revelation from God, for a fifth distinction is that
by and large, the mystical experience is passive.
It's contemplated, a person was going through this trance, if you will, would not wish to come back. He would regard that trance, or that spiritual feeling that is overwhelmed with as the ultimate goal. And it says, it doesn't want to come back to just conscious life.
Whereas when you talk about the divine revelation, talk about the Prophet, a prophet is never passive. Indeed, he is anxious to get back after he receives revelation, after he goes through that experience of getting the word of God is very anxious, to get back to life, to communicate it to other people, to teach it to them, and even to fight against the forces of evil as part and parcel of his duty as a prophet. And finally, a sixth difference, if I may, is that unlike some mystics, God is not only the one to be perceived,
admired or loved, like mystics fields are mostly focused on God, for the Prophet, in addition to this is the one who should be recognized, not only recognized by way of his existence, but recognized as Lord as sovereign, as one in whose hands the right to command and guide
is there, one, to whom unqualified submission and unwavering commitment, argue, and in fact, you can compare any mystical figures in history, which would very easily dwarf as you compare it with the towering figures of great prophets and messengers of God like Abraham, Moses, Jesus, or Muhammad, may peace be upon them.
At this point, we have clarified the difference between science and revelation as well as mystical experience and Revelation. But what we haven't done yet is really the Find the very word revelation in an Islamic context. What does the religion mean exactly? Or connote answer the most difficult question. All right.
Let me say in all humbleness, and hopefully frankness, that when you talk about revelation, communication, of message of God or Word of God to a prophet, is a very difficult question which defies our conventional way of perception and understand we have to be very honest and starting with this.
But basically, to put it in a simple form, Revelation is
Essentially, the sort of communication, some form of communication between God as the creator, Allah and His chosen prophets, messenger or apostles as whatever you call them.
Perhaps this could be understood by making some analogy. Even though this is a very rough analogy, like I said before, it's not exactly the same
between our communication process as humans and the communication of the Word of God to prophets.
As you know, there are at least there could be more at least four basic elements or components in any communication process,
there is the sender,
there is the receiver of the message. And then there is the message itself. And Firstly, there is the channel through which the message is communicated. I'm talking about the skeleton
model of communication. Now, in the matters of faith, or revelation, the sender of the message in this case, is God Himself, is God as the ultimate source of guidance, the ultimate source of knowledge and wisdom.
The receiver in this case is a righteous model human being, I emphasized more than human being not any human being. And this we can discuss later on when you compare the concept of profit, and Islam, these are the other faiths. But in Islam, a prophet is the most righteous, the most modern person, most honest person in order to really to qualify to carry the message of God to the rest of humanity. The third component then is the message itself. And the message, or revelation covers a wide variety of subjects. But basically, it must cover Above all, knowledge of the unseen, the area of knowledge, which is not within the realm of science, or human perception, how the universe of the
universe came about, where are we going to go after this basic truth like that truth about divinity Prophethood.
It also provides various laws that regulates the basic guidance and our pursuits in life, whether it be their social, economic, or political. So that's the summary of the message itself. And then you get the channel. And that's perhaps the area which is quite relevant to the question of the relation, right, the channels through which that revelation is communicated, all the knowledge that is coming to us. Now, this is an area where no speculation could be useful, perhaps we can refer directly to the Word of God, Himself. And we refer to the Quran and we find that there are three basic channels of communication of his message, all of them are summarized in one single passage,
that is in 40, to 51, let me read the translation might give some idea. It is not fitting for men that God should speak to him, except by an expression or behind a veil. What is meant here is not physical veil, but perhaps like mystical veil,
or by sending a messenger to reveal with God's permission what God wills, for he is most high, most wise. Now, you'll notice from this particular passage, that first of all, there is no possibility so long as we are still human sight, so long as we are still living here on Earth, that we'd have the state where God could talk or communicate with any of us directly, it just beyond our perception and our ability and our
nature, as human beings, even for profits themselves, whether this could happen in the Day of Judgment, this is a matter that we can cover also at a later time.
But the first is by inspiration, that is to inspire the truth or knowledge into the heart of that chosen prophet. It this and especially could simply even by meaning, could be by meaning. So the Prophet is inspired that knowledge and he could use his words to express it.
behind the veil as the literal word use it or behind some kind of barrier,
is also mentioned in the Quran. In, for example, in the instance of God talking to Prophet Moses, may peace be upon him, but again, not direct on Mount Sinai. Similarly, it is known also that this happened with Prophet Mohammed in the night of the Nigerian ascension, Mirage, non Muslim also, where again, he was addressed by God but again, not in any direct form, just like Prophet Moses. The third that the the passage mentioned is that God could send a messenger to reveal what Godwin's messenger he is, does not have access to human messenger he is referring in fact to messenger from among the engines
And for Muslims, and I presume for Jews and Christian also the name Gabrielle or gibreel. And Islam is well known as the engine or archangels engine of Revelation. In fact, this the Quran itself mentioned that to clarify the issue, it says that God chooses messengers, messengers, from agents and from mankind, for God is He who hears and sees all things that's 20 to 75.
The Quran also indicate that this whole notion of a prophet receiving message of the holy book is nothing new. In fact, addressing Prophet Mohammed, in one verse, the Quran says that's in for 163,
we have sent you that is sent to Mohammed in expression, as we sent to Noah, Prophet north, and the messengers after him, we sent an inspiration to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the tribes to Jesus, Jonah, Aaron, Solomon, and to David we give the sons just to conclude this some interesting point here is that even though some of those forms of revelation or channels of communication
might have not combined in one Prophet, in the case of Prophet Muhammad, all three forms have combined have been used. So he talks directly to God. But again, like I said, behind the veil or not, not a very direct but he God spoke to him as he spoke to Moses and the, and the night ascension. Secondly, he received revelation through Gabrielle, by meaning and word, and that's the Quran. So the Quran is verbatim the Word of God, Mohammed didn't even use his own words. So that's the second form. He also received revelation in the third form by God inspiring him knowledge and wisdom, and truth. And then he expresses that in his own words, and that's separate from the Quran,
even though Muhammad had it, but it's totally separate from the Quran, in what is known as the prophetic tradition. So as the last messenger of God, God chose to give through him. All three methods of revelations or communication use all the methods that were used with each and every one of the prophets before him that was given that revelation culminating the whole
spectrum. Well, Dr. Jamal, I wish we had much more time to elaborate on some of those points, but I'm sure he will be with us next time and we will have lots of time to discuss some of the more esoteric aspects of the concept of profit within Islam. We hope ladies and gentlemen that you will join us next time should be the second
in our series of prophethood. And again, let me reiterate that if you have any questions, any queries, whether they be on the issues that are raised in the program, or personal questions that you may have reading articles on Islam or reading books on Islam, or even things that pops up in your minds
in in any way, shape or form regarding our faith, we would welcome such questions and queries and please address them to post office box 116 Dartmouth, Nova Scotia in the name of the program, and till we meet you next time, peace be upon you all Salaam Alaikum wa