Personally, the one thing that has assisted me greatly in my understanding of Islam and in living my life with contentment, joy, and comfort is the fact that I can always turn to the Qur’an for my questions. Upon exploring and understanding the position and prominence of the Prophet (SAW) as a Messenger, his role in Islam, and in understanding his real message, I was blessed with a new found tranquility in my contentment with this beautiful religion. As I promised in our last issue of Lanterns, this particular piece will be a reflection on the Prophet (SAW)’s position in the Qur’an.
The Prophet (SAW)’s position in the Qur’an and his role as a Messenger is not just as a deliverer. This is explained clearly and without ambiguity. The Prophet (SAW) was not only sent to deliver the message of Islam, but was also sent to teach that message with all the wisdom it requires. More importantly, he was sent to purify the believers and anyone who accepts the message of Islam. Allah (SWT) told us what the Prophet (SAW) repeatedly said: “I was sent as an answer to a prayer made by my father Ibrahim (AS).”
In Surat Al-Baqarah (Chapter 2, Verse 129), when Allah (SWT) commanded Prophet Ibrahim (AS) and his son, Prophet Ismail (AS), to rebuild the Ka’bah (the house of Allah SWT), they made a long prayer:
“Our Lord, and send among them a messenger from themselves who will recite to them Your verses and teach them the Book and wisdom and purify them. Indeed, You are the Exalted in Might, the Wise.”
This clearly highlights four specific roles that the messenger should have:
1) To recite the book (i.e., to deliver the Qur’an to the believers)
2) To teach the book (i.e., to explain the Qur’an to the believers)
3) To teach them wisdom that they need to understand and apply the Qur’an
4) To purify the believers
Then in Surat Ali ‘Imran (Chapter 3, Verse 164), the prayer was answered by Allah (SWT), when He said:
“Certainly did Allah confer [great] favor upon the believers when He sent among them a Messenger from themselves, reciting to them His verses and purifying them and teaching them the Book and wisdom, although they had been before in manifest error.”
In response to the prayer made by Prophet’s Ibrahim and Ismail (AS), Allah (SWT) changed the order of the request they made. He (SWT) revealed how important the role of the Prophet (SAW) as a purifier was above everything else. His first role – to recite the book – remained the same. However, his second role was now to purify the believers (which had previously been his fourth role). Subsequently, to teach the book became his third role; and to teach them wisdom became his fourth. The Qur’an maintains this order in future verses.
This became clearer in two more verses. For instance, in Surat Al-Baqarah (Chapter 2, Verse 151), Allah (SWT) made this assertion:
“Just as We have sent among you a messenger from yourselves reciting to you Our verses and purifying you and teaching you the Book and wisdom and teaching you that which you did not know.”
The most significant verse regarding this issue of over emphasizing the four roles of the Prophet (SAW) came in Surat Al-Jumu’ah (Chapter 62, Verse 2):
“It is He who has sent among the unlettered a Messenger from themselves reciting to them His verses and purifying them and teaching them the Book and wisdom – although they were before in clear error.”
To demonstrate how important the role of the Prophet (SAW) is, Allah (SWT) gave commands in the Qur’an without telling us how to implement them. He (SWT) then gave the Prophet (SAW) full authority to explain to the believers how to implement the command of Allah (SWT) – i.e. explaining the book, his third role. For instance, in the Qur’an, there is only one chapter titled Al-Jumu’ah and in it there is only one verse that speaks about Salat Al-Jumu’ah where Allah (SWT) commands the believers to pray Salat Al-Jumu’ah:
“O you who have believed, when [the adhan] is called for the prayer on the day of Jumu’ah [Friday], then proceed to the remembrance of Allah and leave trade. That is better for you, if you only knew.”
This command to all the believers was not qualified by any details about the prayer in the Qur’an. None of the following is mentioned: the time for Jumu’ah, the number of rakah’s to perform, whether one should recite loudly or silently, how many people are required for Salat Al-Jumu’ah, whether the khutba is before or after the prayer, whether it is required to be in a mosque, etc. All these rulings were left to the Prophet (SAW) to explore and explain.
I began with emphasizing the role of the Prophet (SAW) in all aspects of our life because this is what Allah (SWT) began with: telling us who the Prophet (SAW) is and explaining his role. Insha Allah, in the coming pieces, we will elaborate further on this particular topic that shows the importance of the Prophet (SAW) and his central role in delivering the message of Islam.