Understanding Islam – Abul Al\’a Maududi
In the last chapter we discussed that God\’s Messengers had been raised among every people, and that they all brought essentially that very religion-Islam-which Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) propagated. In this respect all the Messengers of God belong to the same category and stand on a stand on a par with each other. If a man confirms and believes in one of them, he must and ought to confirm all. The reason is quite simple. Suppose ten men make one and the same statement; if you admit one of them to be true, you ipso facto admit the remaining nine of them as true, and if you belie anyone of them, by implication you belie all of them. It is for this reason that in Islam it is necessary to have implicit in anyone of the prophet would be a Kafir, though he might profess faith in all the other Prophets.
It occurs in traditions that the total number of all the prophets sent to different peoples at different times is 124,000. If you consider the life of the world since it was first inhabited and the number of different peoples and nations that have passed on it, this number will not appear too great. We have to believe positively in those of the prophets whose names have been mentioned in the Qur\’an Regarding the rest we are instructed to believe that all Prophets sent by God for the guidance of mankind were true. Thus, we believe in all the prophets raised in India, China, Iran, Egypt, Africa, Europe, and other countries of the world, but we are not in a position to be definite about a particular person outside the list of prophets named in the Qur\’an, whether or not he was a Prophet, for we have not been told anything definite about him. Nor are we permitted to say anything against the holy men of other religions. It is quite possible that some of them might have been God\’s Prophets that some of them might have been God\’s Prophets, and their followers corrupted their teachings after their demise, just as the followers of Moses and Jesus (God\’s blessings be upon them) have done. Therefore, whenever we express any opinion about them, it would be about the tenets and rituals of their religions; as for the founders of those religions, we will remain scrupulously silent, lest we should become guilty of irreverence towards a Prophet.
As for the fact of being Prophets of God and having been deputed by Him for teaching the same straight path of \’Islam,\’ there is no difference between Muhammad and other Prophets (God\’s blessings be upon them all), we have been ordered to believe in all of them alike. But in spite of their equality in this respect, there are the following three differences between Muhammad and other Prophets (God\’s blessings be upon them all):
The Prophets of the past had come to certain people for certain periods of time, while Muhammad (God\’s blessings be upon him) has been sent for the whole world and for all times to come.
The teachings of those Prophets have either disappeared altogether from the world, or whatever of them remains is not pure, and is found intermingled with many erroneous and fictitious statements. For this reason, even if anyone wishes to follow their teachings, he cannot do so. In contrast to this, the teachings of Muhammad (God\’s blessings be upon him), his biography, his discoursed, his ways of living, his morals, habits, and virtues, in short, all the details of his life and work, are preserved. Muhammad (God\’s blessings be upon him), therefore, is the only one of the whole line of Prophets who is a living personality, and in whose footsteps it is possible. To follow correctly and confidently.
The guidance imparted through the Prophets of the past was not complete and all embracing. Every Prophet was followed by another who effected alterations and additions in the teachings and injunctions of his predecessors, and, in this way, the chain of reforms and progress continued. That is why the teachings of the earlier Prophets, after the lapse of a certain period of time, were lost in oblivion. Obviously, there was no need of preserving former teachings when amended and improved guidance had taken their place. At last, the most perfect code of guidance was imparted to mankind through Muhammad (God\’s blessings be upon him) and all previous codes were automatically abrogated, for it is futile and imprudent to follow an incomplete code while the complete code exists. He who follows Muhammad (God\’s blessings be upon him) follows all the Prophet, for whatever was good and eternally workable in their teaching has been embodied in his teachings. Whoever, therefore, rejects and refuses to follow Muhammad\’s teachings and chooses to follow some other Prophet, only deprives himself of that vast amount of useful and valuable instruction and guidance in Muhammad\’s teachings, which never existed in the books of the earlier Prophets and which was revealed only through the Last of the Prophets.
That is why it is now incumbent upon each and every human being to have faith in Muhammad (peace be upon him) and follow him alone. To become a true Muslim (a follower of the Prophet\’s way of life) it is necessary to have complete faith in Muhammad (peace be upon him) and to affirm that:
a. He is a true Prophet of God;
b. His teachings are absolutely perfect, free from any defect or error;
c. He is the Last Prophet of God. After him, no Prophet will appear among any people till the Day of Judgment, nor is any such personage going to appear in whom it would be essential for a Muslim to believe