What distinguishes Mohammad from the other Prophets?1. He was the last Prophet of God.
2. God revived through him the same genuine faith, which had been conveyed by all the Prophets.
3. This original message was corrupted, and split into various religions by people of different ages, who indulged in interpolations and admixture. God eliminated these alien elements and Islam, in its pure and original form, was transmitted to mankind through Mohammad.
4. Since there was to be no messenger after Mohammad, the Book revealed to him was preserved word for word2 so that it should be a source of guidance for all times.3
5. The life of Mohammad, and the manner in which he conducted himself, was also recorded in a unique manner by his companions and by later compilers of the Tradition. A more complete and authentic account of the life, sayings, and actions, of any Prophet or historical personage, has never been compiled.4
6. In this way, the Qur'an and the authentic Sunnah of the Prophet together became a reliable source of knowing what is Islam, what it stands for, what guidance it provides, and what obligations it places upon us.
As Muslims, we believe in all the Prophets who preceded Mohammad- not only those who are mentioned in the Qur'an, but also those who are not so mentioned and this is such an integral part of our faith that if we were to abandon it we should cease to be Muslims. But for instruction we turn to Prophet Mohammad alone Not on account of any prejudice, but because
a). As the last of God's Prophets he brought us the latest divine dis-pensation,
b). The Word of God which reached us through Mohammad is pure divine language, free of human admixtures, and preserved in its original form Its language is a living language, spoken, written and understood by millions of people, and whose grammar, vocabulary, idiom, pronunciation, and script have remained unchanged from the time of revelation till today
c). As 1 have said earlier, we have a complete historical record of the life, character, conduct, sayings, and actions of the Prophet Mohammad, preserved with meticulous care, accuracy and detail since this cannot be said of other prophets we can believe in them but we cannot emulate them
It is our belief that Mohammad's mission was for the world as a whole and for all times, for,
1. Its universality has been clearly confirmed by the Qur'an,
2. It is a logical consequence of the finality of his prophet hood. A prophet, after whom there was to be no other, had to be a guide and leader for all men and for all ages,
3. God has provided through him a complete code which man needs to follow the right path, and this in itself, supports the concept of finality, because without completeness the need for other prophets would remain
4. It is a fact that during the last 1400 years no man has arisen whose life and work bears even the slightest resemblance to that of a prophet. Nor has anyone presented a book, which could be remotely considered as divine communication. Still less has there been a man to claim legitimate authority as a lawgiver for mankind.
It must, at this point, be understood why the need arose for God to communicate with man through His prophets. This has to be examined in the context of the sources of human knowledge .At the preliminary stage we gain knowledge through empirical observation. At higher levels comes deductive reasoning accompanied by scientific investigation. Man is sufficiently well equipped in these fields not to require direct divine assistance. Though, no doubt, there is an ever present divine will help man in his research and innovative endeavors and revealing to him progressively the mysteries of His creation. Some gifted individuals achieve, in moments of rare inspiration, new insights or discover new laws of nature. But there is another type of knowledge, which is beyond the reach of our senses or scientific study. This sphere of knowledge does not submit to any instrument of scientific examination. Philosophy and science can only speculate about it. Human theories about ultimate realities, based on reason, never achieve the level of certainty, and their authors, conscious of their limitations do not present them as conclusively proved. In respect of these realities man is dependent on whatever knowledge is communicated to him by God. How is this knowledge conveyed? Not through the operations of some publishing house, where books are printed and handed over to each man, with instructions to read them, and to discover the truth about himself, about the universe, and about the manner in which he should organize his life. To convey this knowledge to mankind, God chooses prophets as His messengers. He reveals the truth to them and they communicate it to the people.
The work of a prophet is not limited to communication of the knowledge alone. He has to explain, according to what is revealed to him, the relationship between God and man and man and man as it factually is, and, as it actually should be He has to prescribe a moral code, enunciate the principles of culture and civilization, lay down the mode of worship, establish a frame-work of belief, and define the moral imperatives, which must govern our life. The Prophet determines the rules, which should form the basis of social and cultural relationship, economic. Judicial, and political dealing, matters of war and peace, and international affairs. The Prophet does not transmit merely a code of rituals commonly regarded as 'religion'. He brings with him a whole system of thought and action, which is called Al-Deen (a complete way of life) in Islamic terminology.
The mission of a prophet does not end with the announcement of this way of life to the world at large. He has to guide the people who follow him, explaining to them the implications of the Islamic creed, the moral code, the divine injunctions and commandments, and the form of worship that sustains the whole system. He has to demonstrate, by practice, the faith he preaches, and his life should be a model which people may be able to follow to organize his own lives. He must give training to the individuals and the Muslim society as a whole to prepare them for practical participation in the evolution of Islamic culture and civilization. The believers must grow under his guidance into an organized community engaged in establishing the Islamic system of life so that God's word should prevail upon all other words.
Not all the Prophets completely succeeded in this mission. There were many who failed not because of any personal fault or inadequacy. They did not succeed because of the prejudice and intolerance of the people or because the circumstances were not favorable. But every prophet had the same mission, and it is a fact of history that Mohammad succeeded in establishing the Kingdom of God on earth, as it is in the heavens.
The audience of the Qur'an and the Prophet Mohammad was the whole of mankind from the very outset, and those who accepted the Word acquired the status of believers without any distinction. At no time was the invitation of the Qur'an addressed to the people of any particular area, race, tribe, colour or language. The Qur'an always calls upon the "progeny of Adam" or "the mankind" to accept Islam. The specific instructions and injunctions are meant for those who have come to believe in Islam, and they are always addressed as "those who believe" That the message of Islam was universal in character is proved by the fact that those who accepted the message acquired equal rights and status as believers, regardless of all differences of origin. The Qur'an says, "The believers are all like brothers". The Prophet said: "those who subscribe to our beliefs, and adopt the Islamic way of life, have the same rights and the same obligations as we have. The Prophet announced, "Listen! You have one God as you have one father (Adam). There is no distinction between an Arab and a non-Arab. There is no preference for the black over the fair, or the fair over the black. There is distinction only in submission to God. The most virtuous among you is the most honourable in the eyes of God".
Among the fundamentals of Islam, the most important is belief in one God, -not just the conviction that He exists or that He is one-but that He alone is the Creator, Master, Ruler, and Administrator of all that exists. The universe exists because God wills it to exist, it functions because God wills it to function, and God provides the sustenance and the energy, which everything of the universe requires for its existence and growth. All the attributes of Sovereignty reside in God alone, and no one else has a share in them in the slightest degree. He alone possesses all the attributes of Divinity, and no one other than God possesses any of those attributes. He views the whole universe, and all that it contains, in a single instantaneous glance. He has direct knowledge of the universe, and all that is there in the universe. He knows not only its present, but its past and its future as well. This omnipresence and omniscience is an attribute of God alone and of no other. There was no 'before' him and there is no 'after' him. He has been there always and will be there always-eternal and abiding. All else is transient. He alone is eternally living and present. He is no one's progeny and He has no progeny. Whatever exists, besides His self, is His own creation, and no other can identify himself in any manner with the Lord of the universe, or claim to be his son or daughter. He is man's single Deity. To associate anyone in His worship is as great a sin as it is an act of infidelity. He responds to man's prayers and He alone has the power to accept or reject them. Not to ask of him is senseless arrogance, and to turn to others is sheer ignorance. To seek of him and also of others, is to associate equals with him.
The sovereignty of God in Islam is not just a supernatural phenomenon. It covers all aspects of political and legal sovereignty also and in these too no one other than God has any share. In God alone vests the rightful authority to exercise power on this earth, and over those whom God has created in it. No monarch, no royal family, no elite class, no leader of any religious group, no demkcracy established on the basis of the sovereignty of the people, can participate in God's sovereignty. Whoever claims such a position is a rebel, as are those who leave God and turn to other people in obedience. Similarly, any institution or individual attempting to assume political and legal sovereignty and restrict the jurisdiction of God to spheres of personal law or religious duties is really a usurper and a rebel. The truth is that no one can claim to be a lawgiver on God's earth, and no one can challenge the supreme authority of God Almighty in any sphere.
Certain natural consequences flow from this Islamic concept of God.
a). God alone is the real Deity and no one other than God has any right to be worshipped by man.
b). God alone has authority over the forces of the universe, and he alone can fulfill or frustrate man's hopes. Man should turn to Him alone in prayer. He should never imagine that prayers could be addressed to anyone but God.
c). God is the Master of man's destiny and no one else can interfere with the fate of others or with his own fate. Manâ€™s hopes and fears must, therefore, be directed only to God. No one else should be an object of fear or source of favour.
d). God is the Creator of the world and He alone has complete and direct knowledge of the reality of man and of the world. Only He can guide man through the complicated course of life and instruct him regardÂing good and evil. Since God alone is the Creator and the Master He has exclusive authority over the universe and man. It is an act of blasphemy for man to become independent or claim authority over other men. For man to become his own lawgiver to accept the authority of any other individual or institution as such is equally blasphemous. The ultimate Lawgiver and Master of His creation on this earth is no other than God, and His law has the status of the supreme law. Man can legislate subject to his Supreme law. Beyond that he has no legislative authority.