What are the attributes of prophets in islam? What are the qualities of prophet?
Although prophets are human beings, they are equipped with a number of quite different attributes. This is a natural consequence of them being selected as messengers, guides, and leaders. The attributes of the prophets are five: amānah, ṣidq, fatānah, iṣmāh, and tablīgh.
- Amānah: It means “to be reliable, trustworthy”. All prophets are truthful and reliable people. They never betray their trust. The following is stated in a Qur’anic verse: “No prophet could (ever) be false to his trust.” It is known that before the prophethood of Muhammad, he was given the epithet “Muhammad al-‘Amīn (Muhammad in whom one can trust)” by the Meccan polytheists.
- Ṣidq: It means “to be truthful”. All prophets are truthful and honest people. They never lie, and their words reflect the truth. The truth of their words is supported by miracles when it is deemed necessary. It is unthinkable to assume kidhb (lying) about the prophet since it is the opposite of ṣidq. A prophet is a messenger of Omnipotent Allah on earth. And therefore He does not allow His prophets to be ineffective and fruitless through lies and treachery.
- Fatānah: It means “the prophets are able, intelligent and wise”. The Prophet is truly the wisest and knowledgeable of people. Naturally, a nonsensical, foolish, and retarded person could not be sent as a prophet. In order to persuade his people and lead them, a prophet must be wise. Therefore, “ignorance” and “heedlessness”, which are the opposites of fatānah, are inconceivable for the prophet.
- Iṣmāh: It means “not committing a sin, and being protected from sin”. Prophets have never committed a sin that is considered shirk and blasphemy in any period of their lives, nor did they deliberately commit a sin during their prophetic period.
In the Qur’an, it is mentioned that Adam, Moses, and some other prophets made errors and that Allah Almighty forgave them their mistakes. It is even stated that Muhammad was guided to the right path through revelation in some matters. However, these mistakes are little slips called “zalla” and take place unintentionally. For example, Adam eating from the forbidden tree was due to his trust in Iblīs, and not yet knowing through experience what evil means. Later, Almighty Allah forgave him and he became a prophet to his generation.
We can give another example of “zalla” with the incident in which Muhammad was warned through the Qur’anic chapter of Abasa. While the Messenger of Allah (saw) was delivering the message of Islam to a committee of the notables of Quraysh, Abdullah Ibn Ummi Maktum (ra), who was a blind man, entered the room unaware of his counseling of guidance. He said loudly to the Messenger, “Teach me what Allah has taught you,” and repeated his words several times. The Messenger of Allah (saw), dissatisfied with this situation, grimaced and turned his face to the other side. Thereupon, the chapter of Abasa was revealed, and the Messenger of Allah (saw) was informed that this behavior was not appropriate.
Although the attribute of iṣmāh is not explicitly mentioned in the Qur’an, it is stated that prophets are under the complete protection of Allah. We can give the case of Yusuf as an example. When Zulayha wanted to seduce Yusuf by using her feminine charm, the protection of Almighty Allah was clearly observed as shown in the following Qur’anic verse: “And (with passion) did she desire him, and he would have desired her, but that he saw the evidence of his Lord…”
Ahmed ibn Mubarak said about the interpretation of this verse: “I asked my illiterate mentor Abdulazīz al-Dabbāgh, “What was Yusuf’s (as) intention for that woman?” He replied: “It was to beat her.” Thereupon, I told him about the explanations of some commentators on this subject. He vehemently denied them and said: “Where was the innocence of the prophets? When the fatḥ (the state of opening the heart) happens to a friend of Allah, Allah removes his seventy-two veins of darkness. From some of that darkness emerges the lies, from some others it is arrogance, from some others hypocrisy, from some of them a love of the world, from some of them the lust and love of adultery, and from others similar evils. When this is the case with the friends of Allah, think about what a prophet should be like, who was created with the attribute of iṣmāh and is under divine protection!”
- Tablīgh: It means that the prophets conveyed all the message that they received from Allah to their people without concealing any part of it. Concealment (kitmān), the opposite of conveying, cannot be thought of about prophets. A prophet cannot make an addition or a subtraction in the message of revelation. The following is stated in the Qur’an regarding this matter, “O Messenger! Proclaim the (message) which has been sent to you from your Lord. If you did not, you would not have fulfilled and proclaimed His mission…”
According to the Islamic belief, all prophets are considered equal in that they are prophets and no distinction is made between them. However, there may be a degree of difference between them in terms of the size of duty and status in the eyes of Allah Almighty. The following is stated in the Qur’an on this subject, “Those messengers We endowed with gifts, some above others: To one of them Allah spoke; others He raised to degrees (of honor)” It has been interpreted that the person whom Allah raised with degrees is Muhammad (saw).
According to a narration from Jabir ibn Abdullah (ra), Allah’s Messenger (saw) said: “I have been given five things which were not given to any amongst the Prophets before me. These are 1. Allah made me victorious by awe (by His frightening my enemies) for a distance of one month’s journey. 2. The earth has been made for me (and for my followers) a place for praying and a thing to perform Tayammum. Therefore, my followers can pray wherever the time of a prayer is due. 3. The booty has been made Ḥalāl (lawful) for me (and was not made so for anyone else). 4. Every Prophet used to be sent to his nation exclusively but I have been sent to all humankind. 5. I have been given the right of intercession (on the Day of Resurrection.)” However, despite these superiorities, the Prophet did not like to boast nor did he like to be unduly praised. Actually, when he heard Ibn Abbas expressing his superiority and the superiority of some prophets in the mosque, he said, “No one can be superior to Zakariyya’s son Yahya. He did not even think of sin, just as he did not sin.”
Accordingly, the distinguishing features of Muhammad from other prophets can be summarized in the following points:
- a) He is the most superior of the creation and the most beloved servant of Allah. b) His prophethood encompasses all human beings and jinn.
- c) He is the last prophet and his duty will continue until the Day of Judgment.
- d) The religion he brought is the last religion and the most perfect.
In terms of degree after the Prophet stand the other ‘ulu al-‘aẓm prophets, including Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Isa, and then follow other rasūls and nabīs.
The prophets who fulfill the duty of conveying the divine message to people without showing intimidation in the face of their heavy-duty and responsibility, and who show patience and perseverance in overcoming all difficulties are called “‘ulu al-‘aẓm”. The Qur’anic verse in which the names of these prophets are mentioned collectively is as follows, “The same religion has He established for you as that which He enjoined on Noah – the which We have sent by inspiration to you – and that which We enjoined on Abraham, Moses, and Jesus: …”
 Āl ʿImrān, 3: 161. See al-Aʿrāf, 7: 23; al-Qaṣaṣ, 28: 16; Muḥammad, 47: 19; Al-Tawba, 9: 43. See al-Abasa, 80: 1-20; H. Basri Çantay, ibid, III, 1146, footnote 2. Al-Anʿām, 6: 89-90; al-Anbiya, 21: 73. Yusuf, 12: 24. Çantay, ibid, I, 350, footnote: 34, quoted from the book titled Ibrīz. Al-Mā’ida, 5: 67. Al-Baqara, 2: 253 Al-Bukhari, Salat, 56, Çağrı pub., I, 113. See al-Tirmidhī, Tafsiru Sūra, 17/ 18; Ibn Maja, Zuhd, 37. See Āl ʿImrān, 3: 39; Elmalılı, ibid, II, 150. Āl ʿImrān, 3: 110. Saba, 34: 28. Al-Aḥzāb, 33: 40. Al-Mā’ida, 5: 3. Al-Shūrā, 42: 13; See al-Aḥzāb, 33: 7.