PROPHETS IN ISLAM
Prophets of Islam are those humans chosen by Allah (Glory be to Him) and given revelation to deliver to mankind. Muslims believe that every prophet was given a belief to worship the only God i.e., Allah (Glory be to Him) and their respective followers believed it as well. Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: Allah has sent 1lakh and twenty four thousand prophets and from them 315 were the Messengers, Ibn Hibban 361 and Musnad Ahmad 21552, 21546.
We can identify the following main reasons for sending prophets:
(2) Clarifying to humanity the purpose of creation: worshipping Allah (Glory be to Him) and obeying His commands, as well as clarifying that this life is a test for each individual, a test of which its results will decide the type of life one will lead after death; a life of eternal misery or eternal bliss. There is no other definite way to find the true purpose of creation.
(3) Showing humanity the right path that will lead them to Paradise and to salvation from Hellfire.
(4) Establishing proof against humanity by sending prophets (Peace be upon them), so people will not have an excuse when they will be questioned on the Day of Judgment. They will not be able to claim ignorance to the purpose of their creation and life after death.
(5) Uncovering the unseen ‘world’ which exists beyond the normal senses and the physical universe, such as the knowledge of Allah (Glory be to Him), existence of angels, and the reality of the Day of Judgment.
(6) Providing human beings practical examples to lead moral, righteous, purpose-driven lives free of doubts and confusion. Innately, human beings admire fellow human beings, so the best examples of righteousness for humans to imitate are those of Allah’s prophets.
(7) Purifying the soul from materialism, sin and heedlessness.
(8) Conveying to humanity the teachings of Allah (Glory be to Him), which is for their own benefit in this life and in the Hereafter.
Allah (Glory be to Him) has send all the messengers and prophets with a common message i.e., to believe in Allah (Glory be to Him) and avoid worshiping other things. “And We did not send any Messenger before you (O Muhammad (May Allah honor Him and grant Him Peace) but We revealed to him (saying)): La ilaha illa Ana [none has the right to be worshipped but I (Allah)], so worship Me (Alone and none else)."Qur’an.Surah Anbiya 21:25. Muslims believe that all prophets gave guide lines and instructions to their people about how to properly worship Allah (Glory be to Him) and live their lives. Since God is One, His message has been one and the same throughout time. In essence, all prophets taught the message of Islam - to find Peace in your life through submission to the One Almighty Creator i.e., to believe in Allah (Glory be to Him) and to follow His guidance.
"The Messenger believes in what has been revealed to him from his Lord, as do the men of faith. Each one of them believes in God, His angels, His books, and His Messengers. They say: 'We make no distinction between one and another of His Messengers.' And they say: 'We hear, and we obey. We seek your forgiveness, Our Lord, and to you is the end of all journeys.'”Qur’an.Surah Baqrah 2:285.
There are 25 prophets mentioned by name in the Qur'an:
Here is a list of Prophets in Islam whose people did not listen and received the punishment of Allah (Glory be to Him):
Noah (Peace be upon Him) – He exhorted his people to stop worshipping idols and only worship Allah (Glory be to Him) according to true Monotheism. Nuh [Noah in English] (Peace be upon Him) called his people towards Islam for nine hundred and fifty years. In all that time, only few people accepted his call. Even Noah’s (Peace be upon Him) own son rejected the truth. Allah (Glory be to Him) punished them with a great flood that is still spoken of to this day in almost every civilization.
Hud (Peace be upon Him) – He was sent to the people of Ad in what is now Yemen. Hud (Peace be upon Him) also tried to guide his people towards Islamic monotheism. The Ad mostly derided and insulted Hud (Peace be upon Him) and continued to worship idols. Allah (Glory be to Him) punished them by causing a severe drought, then sending a great cloud. The Ad thought this cloud would bring rain but it only brought a mighty wind that destroyed their entire civilization.
Saleh (Peace be upon Him) – This prophet was sent to the people of Thamud who also worshipped idols. The Thamud lived in magnificent buildings hewn into the sides of mountains and hills. They refused to worship Allah (Glory be to Him) unless Saleh (Peace be upon Him) brought them a miracle. So Allah (Glory be to Him) caused a huge rock to split and brought a she-camel out of it. Most of the Thamud still disbelieved so they were punished with a series of violent earthquakes.
Lut (Peace be upon Him) – The people of Sodom and Gomorrah practiced homosexuality openly and in secret. The Prophet Lut [Lot in English] (Peace be upon Him) was sent to them to warn them of the punishment of Allah (Glory be to Him). Lut (Peace be upon Him) encouraged them to repent for their sins and worship Allah (Glory be to Him) alone. When they refused, Allah (Glory be to Him) sent two angels to warn Lut (Peace be upon Him) of the pending destruction. Lot and his family (except his wife who was not a believer) fled the town. Allah (Glory be to Him) sent a storm of stones and earthquakes. The entire city was destroyed. Today, the town is beneath the Dead Sea in Palestine and nothing can live or grow there.
Shuaib (Peace be upon Him) – Shuaib (Peace be upon Him) was sent to the people of Midian. The Midianites were excellent tradesmen but resorted to cheating and lying about their wares. They were also bandits who would rob travelers on the roads. Shuaib (Peace be upon Him) tried to guide them towards Islamic monotheism but they refused. When Allah (Glory be to Him) decreed their punishment, Shuaib (Peace be upon Him) and his few followers fled the city. Allah (Glory be to Him) sent a mighty blast that flattened all of Midian killing everyone and leaving them in a prostrating position.
Musa (Peace be upon Him) – Musa (Peace be upon Him) was sent to his people the Israelites, who were enslaved to the Egyptians at that time. Musa (Peace be upon Him) and his brother Haroon [Aaron] (Peace be upon Him) had a mission to guide the Pharaoh of Egypt towards Islam, and encourage him to free the Israelites. Pharaoh, believing he was a god, refused on both counts. Allah (Glory be to Him) sent several punishments to the Egyptians including drought, flooding, locusts, frogs and lice. When it became apparent that Pharaoh would not relent, Musa (Peace be upon Him) and the Israelites fled Egypt in the middle of the night. When Pharaoh found out his slaves were running away, he led an army in pursuit. The Israelites stopped in front of a sea that could not be crossed. Allah (Glory be to Him) caused the sea to split apart and Musa (Peace be upon Him) and his people crossed on dry land. When Pharaoh saw this he tried to cross also. But when his army reached the middle of the sea, Allah (Glory be to Him) brought the waters together, drowning them all. When Pharaoh saw that his death was imminent, he said: “I believe in the God of Musa.” But it was too late by then. He will be in one of the deepest levels of Hell.
In Islam, there is a difference between a prophet and a messenger. All of the messengers of Allah (Glory be to Him) were prophets. But not all of the prophets were messengers. The Arabic word for messenger is Rasul. The Arabic word for prophet is Nabi. The prophets or Nabiyun (plural of prophets) acted as guides and reminders for man. They were usually sent to a specific group of people who indulged in specific sins. The prophets would encourage their people to live righteously and worship Allah (Glory be to Him) alone.
The prophets were sent to their people to teach them and judge them according to a previous law or message. The messengers were prophets that were sent with a new message and law (Shariyath in Arabic).
However, Musa (Moses) (Peace be upon Him) brought a new law (The Tawrah), so he was a messenger. And The Prophet Muhammad (May Allah honor Him and grant Him Peace) brought the Qur’an, so he was a messenger and prophet as well.
However, it should be noted that according to a hadith, Allah has sent 1,24,000 Prophets (Peace be upon them All) and from them 315 were the Messengers, Musnad Ahmad 21552, 21546. Muslims believe in all the prophets and messengers (Peace be upon them All).
Tafseer Ibn Kathir
Stories of the Prophets by Ibn Kathir