The Prophets of Islam
This book is dedicated primarily to the seekers of Truth, to the Youth of Islam, and to the New Muslims who have adopted the Straight Path to ensure their salvation.
The translation of this book is dedicated to my late mother who salvaged the Manuscript from the closet and had it published in the Urdu language.
Syed Haider H. Shamsi, M.D. Acknowledgments
I must thank my wife Dr. Adiba K. Shamsi for her total support in my efforts to translate this book. She cheerfully put up with my late hours at the home computer after her long and strenuous day at work, She read the translated manuscript for errors of typography and syntax, so that the readers of this book may enjoy it without the annoying interruptions.
I also thank Br. Nasir Shamsi for carefully screening the contents of the translation for their accuracy and authenticity. His scholarly knowledge of the religious literature has been fully utilized in the preparation of the English book.
Br. Aunali Khalfan gave me valuable technical advice and suggestions for the layout and the final shape of this book. I thank him for his time and assistance. Syed Haider H. Shamsi, M.D.
About the Author
Syed Muhammad Hussain Shamsi was born on December 24, 1878 at Narowal, District Sialkot, British India. He lost his father at an early age. Even at a young and tender age, he started to work to help his mother and younger sibs. He left home for the tiny State of Jammu for education, about thirty miles north of Narowal. He was a brilliant student of the oriental languages, English and Biblical Studies. He scored the second highest position in Biblical Studies in the Panjab University examination for the entire region.
He had a passion for the healing sciences, but the mundane need for survival took its priority. After matriculation, destiny took him to the newly opened territory of Kenya. He enrolled to work for the British Railways in Kenya. Here he found himself to be one of the few educated people. He saw a unique opportunity to serve a nascent Muslim Community in a strange new land. He led the ritual prayers for them, attended to their funerals, weddings and answered their questions on Islamic Fiqh related to their daily lives.
He led and participated in several interfaith debates and dialogues about Islam. All this essentially stimulated him to remain up-to-date in Islamic and other non- Islamic literature. In so doing, he built up a large personal library of reference books which people borrowed to read on their own.
He was committed to education, propagation and the defence of his faith. Towards this end, he started evening and week end schools for the young and the adults, and initially used his own premises for most activities.
As the community enlarged, he participated actively to build the first mosque in Nairobi, and to employ an alim (a Muslim minister and a jurist) to carry out the daily religious practices. However he continued his services at a personal level throughout his life.
He died in Mayo Hospital, Lahore on October 18, 1962 attended by his youngest son who was a medical student at that time. His passion came to fruition. He saw his son in the Medical School and in his service by his bed side.
He was buried besides his father in their family cemetary at Narowal, Pakistan.
A Humble Request from the Reader Dear Brother/Sister in Islam,
Please pray for my parents and grand parents, as well as for my husband Syed Muhammad Hussain Shamsi, the author of this book and his parents, and recite the Sum Fateha for their eternal benefit. May Allah protect you from evil and bless you with health and prosperity in this world, and make available means for your salvation in the hereafter. May Muhammad wa Ale Muhammad shower you with peace and tranquility in this world and the next, Amin. Sayyeda Begum Mumtaz Manzil, Narowal, Pakistan
It was generally felt that whereas there is a lot of written material available on the lives of the Prophets, the beginners, especially the young students are unable to benefit from these voluminous works. This problem became more obvious when I was teaching at Sunday School on Islam to young children of the Nairobi Muslim Community. Although no one is expected to know all the generally quoted number of the prophets of one hundred and twenty four thousand, the children were unfamiliar with even the names of those mentioned in the Qur'an. To fill this gap, it was therefore felt that a brief narrative be compiled about these prophets. This is how this booklet came to be compiled.
The beginning of the book has an abbreviated Table of Genealogy of the Prophets, starting with Adam and concluding with Muhammed. This should provide an historical perspective to these greart personalities.
The narratives are purposely kept brief to facilitate memorization and retention. It is hoped that this book will fulfil the need that was being felt.
With Sincere Wishes Syed Muhammed Hussain Shamsi Nairobi, Kenya November 15, 1956
The present booklet on biographical sketches of the Prophets of Islam mentioned in the Qur'an is one of the three books compiled by my late father, when he was teaching Muslim youth at a Sunday School in Nairobi. Initially this consisted of notes and hand outs to the students. Later these materials were organized in the form of books. For many years after his death, these manuscripts remained unpublished. While spending her last days in Pakistan,
my late mother took the initiative to have the first of these manusripts published in Urdu language. She wished that the years of research and experience invested in these books should not go waste and the young and new Muslims should continue to benefit from his writings. Unfortunately, she did not live long enough to see the publication of the remaining manuscripts. All copies of the first print in Urdu have been distributed by now, and reprinting of the book is being planned for the continuation of this noble mission.
I most dearly cherish the memories of being associated by my father in the preparation of these teaching materials. I was then a teenager and enjoyed these assignments. I felt happy to carry out the research projects. It is a long time since my youth that I was again given an assignment to teach Muslim youth at a Sunday School in Englewood, New Jersey.
This has also gone on for several years now. I felt that the need for educational materials for young children is no different now than it was about half a century ago. This prompted me to embark on translating my father's works from Urdu to the English language.
I have tried to adhere to the style and the spirit of my father's original works. He tried to keep his narratives of all Prophets before Prophet Muhammad within the confines of information provided in the Qur'an. Occasionally he added information from the authentic Islamic traditions. His intention was to avoid confusion arising from controversial traditions, and to make the narratives brief enough for the children to memorize them. He did not quote the exact ayas of the Qur'an just to maintain the continuity of the text. He preferred to give references of the relevant Suras at the end of each narrative. In doing so, he intended to assist the curious reader towards personal research from the Qur'an.
Islam aims to bring out the best of the human being within an individual by strengthening the personality. The Qur'an is the guide for achieving this goal. It must be understood that the Qur'an as a book is neither an encyclopedia nor a compendium of any singular subject. However, the Qur'anic references cover enormous topics with precision and depth. Every one can get sufficient guidance and benefit from its contents according to his/her intelligence or search.
References to the prophets are made at various occasions as necessitated in illustrating a particular character or during the derivation of a lesson or moral conclusion. Qur'an is the only Holy Scripture that uses this unique methodology to teach man about his past and provide guidance for his present and his future.
All prophets were sent by the Creator to guide mankind. Some of them were charged with greater responsibility than the others, and were given the Cannonic code of conduct to be handed down to the people for their guidance. Consequently the references and narrative description of these prophets occurs with greater frequency in various Suras. Some prophets are named while others are only mentioned with a reference to an event, or when a lesson or message is intended.
Middle Eastern nations share a common ancestary and they trace their genealogy to the same patriarches. Two mainstream peoples have been identified in history. One of these people are the Israilites, the children of Prophet Ya'qub (a son of Prophet Ishaq), while the other are the Arabs, the children of Prophet Ismail, the elder brother of Prophet Ishaq.
While addressing the Arabs, the Qur'an makes frequent references to Bani Israil, the Jews. The Message of the Qur'an is however universal. Allah has sent prophets to all people wherever they dwell on Earth, and hence the Last Testament of Allah i.e. the Qur'an, brought by The Last Prophet, is intended for all mankind wherever they may dwell on Earth.
The Message of The Last Prophet is the same as that of The First Prophet, and for the entire humankind created by The One and The Only God. It is for this reason that the author of this book found it necessary to provide greater details on the life of the Last Prophet. He was more proximal to our time. The Qur'an proclaimed him to be the Seal of Prophecy. Which means there will be no prophet after him. He lends authenticity to all previous Holy Scriptures and completes the Divine Message for the human race. Allah has called him "Rahmatun-lil-aalameen", the Blessing for the Universe.
I have been fortunate to collaborate my efforts with brother Nasir Shamsi in reading, reviewing and editing the English content of the language and the text. I also sought the help of several youth to read the text and comment on the flow and readability of the narratives. At the suggestions received from most readers, the salutations after the names of prophets, that are traditional in Urdu (Persian and Arabic) language were dropped to ensure easy and uninterrupted reading.
I sincerely hope that this book will find its place in every home with children and be read and memorized as intended by the author. This book will also provide a stimulus to young people to carry out research on their own, frequently referring to the Qur'an and improving their lives through proper understanding of the Divine Message.
Syed Haider H. Shamsi Demarest, New Jersey, USA (1994) Editor's Comments
The genesis of this book lies in the author's abiding interest in the comparative study of the Monotheistic Faiths Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Having majored in the Biblical Studies, with distention, he continued to benefit from the wisdom (Hikma) of the Revealed Word through regular study of the Qur'an. A few years ago, Br. Haider Shamsi and myself were teaching the young students in the Sunday School in Englewood, NJ. I was to teach about the Prophets mentioned in the Qur'an and there was no English book available on the subject.
When Br. Haider Shamsi told me that his late father had written a book on the Prophets in Urdu language, I knew that we will have its translation available some day. Br. Haider is man of his word. By the Grace of Allah, he has translated the book in English. I sincerely hope this will meet the need of the young as well as the New Muslims in particular, and students of religion in general.
This excellent work will also help the readers to recognize the essential link and commonality of belief in the Oneness of God, the Prophesy and the Day of Judgement among the followers of the three Monotheistic Faiths. May they learn to live in peace, and endeavour to make this world a better and safer place for their children.
Nasir Shamsi Jackson, NJ Sunday, February 6, 1994 Prophet Adam The Creation of Adam
The most widely held belief about the origin of Adam has been that Allah created him from non-existence by His Will using the earth materials. This did not involve the biological processes of evolution or reproduction. Allah created Man and Woman from clay in the form and shape, the way they are today. Any belief or controversy to the contrary is only a speculation.
Different peoples in the world have stories concerning the origin of Man, which point towards the spontaneous arrival of the patriarch with his family. The Hindu believe that man's original parents were Mahadev and Parwati and that they looked like human beings, but were the image of Parinishwar (God Himself). The Jews and the Christians also believe that God created Adam in His own image.
Most people believe that God has no physical form, then how could He create Man in His own image! This riddle was solved by the last Prophet of Islam when he said "Allah had created Adam with His quality, not His form. " Allah can be recognised by His qualities alone. So the saying of the Prophet makes it clear that the image of Allah refers to His qualities.
The Prophet further said "Adopt the qualities of Allah." This becomes clear from the Qur'an where Allah says that He created Adam on this earth as His representative. A representative follows orders. Only one who can execute the orders properly can be a true representative or vicegerent, otherwise there would be effors. Thus, according to the Prophet, assuming the responsibilities of a worthy representative requires the acqisition of the conduct of the master. This, then is what is meant by "God created Man in His image."
Adam, the Caliph of Allah
When Allah desired to create Adam He addressed the angels and said that He was going to create Man and appoint him as His representative on earth. As soon as the creation was accomplished and He had bestowed Adam with His spirit, He told them to bow down in obedience to Adam. The angels who considered themselves to be superior to Adam on account of their closeness to the Creator Himself, were surprised at this instruction to bow down in obedience to a creature that was molded from earth materials. They said to Allah, "You are appointing a being as your vicegerent who would bring unrest and blood shed on earth, whereas we, who have been immersed in your worship were more deserving to receive this honor.
Allah said to them that what was known to Him could not be in their knowledge, and that Adam was specifically suited for the position He had designed for the earth. He offered them a chance to compete in an open contest of knowledge and wisdom with Adam. The angels failed in the contest and Adam emerged superior to them in knowledge and wisdom. All of them except Iblis (Satan) obeyed Allah's commandment and bowed down in obedience to Adam.
Eblis & Adam
It is said that before the creation of Adam, the earth was inhabited by Jinn, a creation from the elements of fire. They were mutually disruptive and indulged in senseless bloodshed. The angels had referered to their mischief. Iblis was also a Jinn. He was knowledgeable about matters of the earth. By virtue of his devotion and service to Allah, he had secured a high position in the Celectial existence. Iblis had started living with the angels. When Allah ordered all of them to prostrate before Adam, he refused. When asked why he had refused the divine ordinance, he said that he was superior to Adam on several counts. Firstly, his creation came from finer elements.
Secondly, he had been in proximity to the Creator in direct servitude. He had vast work experience on the earth where the novice Adam was being sent as a representative. He contended that this was his coveted position and should have been given to him instead to an undeserving novice. Allah rebuked and down graded Iblis for his disobedience and told him to immediately remove himself from His divine presence and his eternal abode will be reserved in hell inferno.
Iblis said that Man was a poor choice for such an important position. He said that he would take every opprtunity to haul all mankind with him to hell. He would like to be granted eternal opportunity to test and tempt this representative and prove that Man may not be such a worthy khalifa.
Allah said that only He commands eternity, but He will give him his desired opportunity to the Time known only to Himself. He said that His obedient servents will remain steadfast in all his' tough tests and temptations throughout Time, and prove that He created a wise and knowledgeable khalifa on earth. Allah warned Adam about the evil designs of Iblis against him and his progeny throughout Time. But He also assured that those that remain firm in their faith on Truth shall be victorious and will return to Him on the Day of Judgement for a Life of Contentment in close proximity to the Creator.
The Garden of Eden
Allah brought Adam to the Garden of Eden and gave him education towards carrying out the intended functions of Khalifa on Earth. Allah created Eve from the substance of Adam as his partner in life and gave them total freedom to enjoy the benevolence of the Provider and Sustainer of Life with prohibition only for a particular tree. The two were not even to go near the tree let alone to taste of its fruit.
Iblis saw his opportunity to tempt Adam and Eve and invoke their curiosity to get closer to the prohibited tree and taste its fruit. No sooner they had done what had been prohibited by the Lord, the Innocense of the Garden of Eden changed to the reality of Life. They heard the voice of their Lord calling. He reminded them of the prohibition He had invoked, which they had clearly transgressed. He reminded them of the open enemosity of Iblis towards them. They were to leave the Garden of Eden and make their abode on the Earth till the end of a period of Time known only to Him.
The Almighty said," There you will procreate of your kind in numbers and will colonise the land provided, and eat and drink from that you will procure from the bounties of your Lord. This is where you will spend your lives, and die, and be raised on the Day of Judgement on your conduct on the Earth. Beware of the damaging evil counsel of Iblis who will continue to attempt rift between bretheren, disrupt your lives, cause death and destruction on Earth through those who will listen to him.
" Both Adam and Eve felt sorry for what they had done, and begged for their forgiveness. Allah reminded them of their role in Life and said that they will return to Him once again to enjoy His bounties in paradise upon their successfully completing the mission on the earth. Thus Adam descended to the earth as a representative of Allah.
The Life and Progeny of Adam
In the beginning, Adam had two sons from Eve named Habeel (Abel) and Qabeel (Cane) followed by Sheeth and others. It is said that Adam lived for almost 930 years.
References : al Qur'an: Surah Baqrah, Maidah, Aaraf, Hajj, Bani Israel, Kahaf, Taha, Sabaa, Yaseen, Jinn and Hajrat.
The Story of Habeel and Qabeel
It is said that from their first harvest, the two sons of Adam, Habeel and Qabeel, each offered a sacrifice to Allah. The offering of Habeel was accepted for his being " the first among the muttaqeen (the God fearing). " A fire descended from the heaven and consumed the offering of Habeel. The offering of Qabeel was spared. He thought that his offering was rejected. This made him jealous of Habeel and he murdered him.
Qabeel felt deep remourse over this act and carried the dead body of his brother over his shoulder, not knowing what to do with it. Then he saw a crow burying a dead crow in the ground. Qabeel followed suit and buried his brother's dead body by digging a hole in the ground.
This was the first criminal act on Earth and it was caused by jealousy. Jealousy is the root cause of many sins, including the murder of fellow human beings. It therefore behoves mankind to avoid this terrible emotion which leads to a lot of sins.
References : al Qur'an: Sura Maidah.