Prophets of Islam

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Prophets of Islam

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Prophets of Islam are human beings who are regarded by Muslims to be prophets. The term for prophet in Islam is nabi (pl. anbiyaa).

Islamic tradition dictates that prophets were sent by God to every nation. In Islam only Muhammad was sent to convey God’s message for the whole of mankind, whereas other prophets were sent to convey a message to a specific group of people or nation.

Unlike Judaism and Christianity, Islam distinguishes between a messenger of God and a prophet. Both are “divinely inspired” recipients of God’s revelation. However, in addition, messengers are given a divine message for a community in book form. [1] [2] [3] [4] and, unlike prophets, are assured success by God[citation needed].

  • While all “rasul” are “nabi”, not all “nabi” are “rasul”. [5]

[6] [7] [8]

All messengers and some prophets are mentioned in the Qur’an.

Muslims believe the first prophet was Adam, while the last prophet was Muhammad, thus his title Seal of the Prophets. ‘Isa (Jesus) is the result of a virgin birth in Islam as in Christianity, and is regarded as a nabi because he received a wahi from God. Jesus is also considered to be one of the messengers because God revealed the Gospel to him.[9] Contrary to Christianity, however, in Islam, it is heresy to claim that God had a son and Jesus is considered to have been human.

Ulul Azm (the Resolute)

All Rasul(Messenger) are Nabi(Prophet) but not all Nabi(Prophet) are Rasul (Messenger).

Muslims regard the five prophets as especially important[10]

Although it offers many incidents from the lives of many prophets, the Qur’an focuses with special narrative and rhetorical emphasis on the careers of the first four of these five major prophets. Of all the figures before Muhammad, Moses is referred to most frequently in the Qur’an. (As for the fifth, the Qur’an is frequently addressed directly to Muhammad, and it often discusses situations encountered by him. Direct use of his name in the text, however, is rare.)


The following table lists the prophets mentioned in the Qur’an. Biblical versions of names are given where applicable. However, it is clearly stated in Qur’an that this list is not comprehensive:

And certainly We sent messengers (rasul) before you: there are some of them that We have mentioned to you and there are others whom We have not mentioned to you…”

Qur’an, 40:78

Name (Arabic Translit.) Name (Biblical) Main Article(s) No. of verses with mention
Adam Adam

Main articles: Islamic view of Adam, Adam, and Adam and Eve

“Adam is the first prophet of Islam and the first human being. He was created by God but brought to life forty days after being kept as a dry body.” He is an important figure in Judaism and Christianity as well and he is best known for the story of Adam and Eve.
Idris Enoch

Main article: Idris

Idris lived during a period of drought inflicted by God to punish the people of the world who had forgotten God. Idris prayed for salvation and an end to the suffering, and so the world received rain.[citations needed]
Nuh Noah

Main article: Nuh

Although best known for the Deluge, Nuh was a primary preacher of monotheism at his time. Muslims believe his faith in God led to his selection for building the Ark. In contrast with Christian and Jewish traditions which say the Deluge was a global event, there is some difference in opinion in Islam over whether the flood associated with Nuh was localized or global.[citation needed]
Hud Eber

Main article: Hud

Muslims believe Hud, for whom the eleventh chapter of the Qur’an is named, was one of the few people to survive a great storm inflicted by God, similar to the Deluge five generations earlier, to punish the people of the `Ad who had forgotten about God. Hud, by comparison and records, is never mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible.[citation needed]
Saleh Shaloh

Main article: Saleh

According to the Qur’an God ordered Saleh to leave behind his people, the tribe of Thamud, after they disbelieved and disobeyed God’s order to care for a special camel and instead killed it. In Saleh’s and his followers’ (believers) absence, God punished the people with an utter cry from the skies that killed his people instantly. Note that Saleh is not Shelah mentioned in the Old Testament.
Ibrahim Abraham

Main article: Ibrahim

Abraham is regarded by Muslims today as one of the significant prophets, because he is credited with rebuilding the Kaaba in Mecca. His family, including his son Ishmael, is also credited with helping create the civilization around Mecca that would later give birth to the final prophet of Islam, Muhammad. Ibrahim is also noted for almost sacrificing his son Ismail (Ishmael) for Allah in an event now commemorated annually by Eid ul-Adha. He is also the first prophet to name the believers as “Muslims” meaning “those with full submission to Allah”.[citation needed]
Lut Lot

Main article: Lut

Lot is most notable in Islam for attempting to preach against homosexuality in Sodom and Gomorra in addition to preaching for his people to believe in the Oneness of Allah, only to be mocked and ignored by the people who lived there. Islam also denies the acts attributed to Lut that are mentioned in the Old Testament, like drinking and being drunk, and having intercourse with and impregnating his two daughters.
Ismail Ishmael

Main article: Ismail

Ishmael, first-born son of Ibrahim, is a notable prophet in Islam for his near-sacrifice in adulthood. As a child he and his mother Hagar‘s search for water in the region around Mecca led Allah to reveal the Zamzam well, which still flows to this day.
Ishaq Isaac

Main article: Ishaq

According to Islamic tradition, Isaac, second-born son of Ibrahim, became a prophet in Canaan. He, along with his brother Ismail, carried on the legacy of Ibrahim as prophets of Islam.
Yaqub Jacob

Main article: Yaqub

Jacob, according to the Qur’an was “of the company of the Elect and the Good”[11] and he continued the legacy of both his father, Isaac, and his grandfather, Abraham. Like his ancestors, he was committed to worshipping Allah exclusively.
Yusuf Joseph

Main article: Yusuf

Yusuf, son of (Yaqub) and great-grandson of Ibrahim, became a prominent advisor to the king of Egypt since the king was believed to have seen a dream, which was interpreted by Yusuf that predicted the economic state of Egypt. He spent a large part of his life away from his eleven brothers, who were jealous of Yusuf because their father favored him. They took him one day, telling their father that they where going to play and have fun, but they planned to kill him. Instead, they threw him down a well and told their father Yaqub that he was eaten by a wolf.
Ayub Job

Main articles: Ayub and Job (Biblical figure)

According to Islamic tradition, Ayub was rewarded by a fountain of youth, which removed all illnesses except death, for his service to Allah in his hometown outside Al Majdal. Ayub is believed to have suffered an illness for 18 years as test of patience by Allah.
Shoaib Jethro

Main articles: Shoaib and Jethro

Jethro was a direct descendant of Abraham. According to Islam, he was appointed by Allah to guide the people of Midyan and Aykah, who lived near Mount Sinai. When the people of the region failed to listen to his warnings, Allah destroyed the disbeliever’s villages. Although it is mentioned in the Qu’ran, and by the reported speeches from the prophet Muhammad that Musa married one of Shoaib‘s daughters, and the same thing is mentioned in the Old Testament for a man named Jethro, some scholars believe that Jethro in the Old Testament is not the same person as Shoaib in the Qu’ran.
Musa Moses

Main articles: Musa and Moses

Moses, referred to in the Qur’an more than any other prophet, is significant for revealing the Tawrat (Torah) to the Israelites. The Qur’an says Musa realized his connection with Allah after receiving commands from him during a stop at Mount Sinai. He later went on to free the enslaved Hebrews after the Egyptian pharaoh denied Allah‘s power. Musa subsequently led the freed Hebrews for forty years through the desert after they refused to obey Allah‘s command and enter the Holy Lands, saying to Moses (as mentioned in Qur’an 5:24 O Moses! We will never enter (the land) while they are in it. So go thou and thy Lord and fight! We will sit here. During this long journey, Musa received the Tawrat and the Ten Commandments during another trip to Mount Sinai. At the end of his life, according to Islamic tradition, Musa chose to die to be closer to Allah instead of taking an offer that would have extended his life.
Harūn Aaron

Main articles: Harun and Aaron

Harun (Aaron) served as an assistant to his older brother Musa (Moses). In Islam, he, like Musa, was given the task of saving the Israelites from the Egyptian pharaoh. He would often speak for Musa when Musa’s speech impediment prevented him from doing so himself.
Dhul-Kifl most likely Ezekiel

Main articles: Dhul-Kifl and Ezekiel

The status of Dhul-Kifl as a prophet is debatable within Islam, although both sides can agree that he was indeed a righteous man who strived in the way of Allah. Some studies also note that Dhul-Kifl can be also Obadiah, who is mentioned in the Old Testament to be the one that took care of 100 prophets.
Dawood David

Main articles: Dawood and David

In Islam, the Zabur (Psalms were revealed to Dawood (David) by Allah. He is also significant as he is the one who defeated Goliath. It is worth to note that the story of King David with Uriah according to the Islamic tradition is different, thus the acts attributed to King David in the Old Testament like sending Uriah to be killed for a purpose of marrying his wife is denied in Islam.
Sulaiman Solomon

Main articles: Sulaiman and Solomon

Sulaiman (Solomon) learned a significant amount from his father Daud before being made a prophet by Allah. According to Islamic tradition, Sulaiman was given power over all things, including the jinns. Known for his honesty and fairness, he also led a kingdom that extended into southern Arabia.
Ilyas Elijah

Main articles: Ilyas and Elijah

Ilyas (Elijah), descendant of Harun (Aaron), took over control of the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula after Sulaiman‘s (Solomon)kingdom collapsed. Islamic tradition says he attempted to convince the people of the Peninsula of the existence of only one Allah, but when the people refused to listen they were smitten with a drought and famine.
Al-Yasa Elisha

Main articles: Al-Yasa and Elisha

Al-Yasa (Elisha) took over the job of leading the Israelites after Ilyas‘s (Elijah) death. He attempted to show the king and queen of Israel the powers of Allah, but was dismissed as a magician. Subsequently, the Assyrians were able to make people burn and inflict significant damage on them.
Yunus Jonah

Main article: Jonah

Islamic tradition shows that Yunus (Jonah) was commanded by Allah to help the people of Nineveh towards righteousness. However, after Nineveh’s people refused to listen to Allah, he became disgruntled and became angry for Allah (NOT as some people say, angry against Allah or ignored Allah. After an incident where Yunus was spared death, he decided to re-commit himself to striving for Allah, attempting to lead the people of Nineveh to righteousness. But after returning to evil, illicit ways, the Scythians conquered them.[12]
Zakariya Zacharias

Main articles: Zakariya and Zechariah (priest)

A descendant of Sulaiman, Zakariya (Zachariah was a patron of Maryam (Mary) the mother of ‘Isa. According to the Qu’ran, he prayed to Allah asking for a son, since his sterile wife al-Yashbi could not provide one. Allah granted his wishes, temporarily lifting his wife’s sterility and allowing her to give birth to Yahya (John).[13]
Yahya John the Baptist

Main articles: Yahya and John the Baptist

Yahya (John) was cousin to ‘Isa and Islam says that, throughout his lifetime, Yahya captivated audiences with his powerful sermons that preached Abrahamic monotheism. The Qur’an does not mention baptism.
Isa Jesus

Main articles: Islamic view of Jesus and Jesus

One of the highest ranked prophets in Islam, ‘Isa al-Maseeh, (Jesus the Messiah) was sent to guide the Children of Israel. The Qur’an makes it very clear that in Islam, Jesus is not the begotten (physical) son of Allah, but rather a nabi and rasul (messenger) of Allah.‘Isa performed many miracles with the permission of Allah. For example, raising the dead, creating a bird from clay, talking as an infant. Islamic traditions states that he abstained from drinking alcohol. It also states that he received a revelation, the Injil (Gospel), though according to Islam, it has been distorted. Muslims believe that ‘Isa was not crucified Islamic view of Jesus’ death, meaning he was not killed on the cross. Whether he was put on the cross or not is an issue of interpretation. Mainstream Muslims belief is that ‘Isa was raised up to Allah and will return to Earth to fight Dajjal during the time of the Mahdi (divinely guided one).
Muhammad Paraclete

Main article: Muhammad

Habib u’l A’zam, Imam u’l Anbiya Sayyidina Muhammad ibn ‘Abdullah,(53 B.H-11 A.H; 571-632 C.E) [14] is the last prophet in Islam (“seal of the Prophets”). Idolatry of any of the prophets should be avoided, as their messages from God hold the most weight. His father’s name was ‘Abdullah ibn ‘AbdulMuttalib and his mother’s name was Amina bint Wahb az-Zuhriyya. Muhammad is considered the most perfect creation by Allah. Born in Makkah in 53 B.H (571 CE), Muhammad spent the first part of his life as a well-travelled merchant. He would often spend his time in the mountains surrounding Makkah in prayer contemplating the situation with the city. At the age of forty, during one of those trips to the mountain, Muhammad began to, despite his illiteracy, receive and recite verses from Allah which today make up the Qur’an. He quickly spread the message he was receiving, converting a few others in the city, including his wife. He is the last (seal) of the prophets with a message to all humanity. When oppression became intolerable for his followers, Muhammad first asked his fellow Muslims to migrate to Medina and later himself migrated to Medina away from the oppressors in Makkah. Muhammad served not just as a prophet, but as a military leader who helped defeat the Makkans in 624 during the Battle of Badr. He continued to lead the Muslims as Islam spread across the Arabian Peninsula. He performed the first hajj in 629 and established Islam as it is still practiced by Muslims today. Others continued Muhammad’s legacy after his death in 632, having been given the position of caliph (or successor) to Muhammad. The Five Pillars were established after the prophet Muhammad‘s death.

Other possible prophets

The following verses open up possibilities for prophets other than those mentioned in the Qur’an:

  • “And certainly We sent messengers before you: there are some of them that We have mentioned to you and there are others whom We have not mentioned to you…” [40:78]
  • “For We assuredly sent amongst every People a messenger…”[16:36]

The verses open up debate, and there is no strong consensus as to the other authentic Prophets.

Al-Imran (A:) is mentioned in Al-Quran, he was father of Maryam (A:).

Al-Khidr is not mentioned by name, but is traditionally assumed to be referred to in Qur’an 18:66.

Biblical prophets Danyal (Daniel), Ishaia (Isaiah), Armya (Jeremiah) are mentioned by Ibn Kathir in his book as prophets.

Luqman is mentioned in the sura named after him but it is unclear whether he is a prophet or a wali. According to the most wide-spread shiite belief, Luqman was a wiseman, not a prophet nor a wali. The reported news hold that Luqman had a dream, and in that dream he was asked to choose between being a King and a wiseman, and he chose the second.

Additional numerous historical figures may have been prophets, but this is a source of debate and contention, among them: Zoroaster, Gautama Buddha and Ram. However, Muslims will state that there is no way of knowing for sure since they are not mentioned by name in the Qur’an. An argument often used in support of the prophethood of such men is that they came with the word of God, but it was later corrupted, this accounting for the differences between Islam, and the respective religions with which each man is associated. The Hadith and Qur’an support such claims that say that a messenger was sent to every people.

Maryam (Mary) mother of ‘Isa

Main articles: Maryam and Mary

A few scholars (e.g. Ibn Hazm)[15] have argued that she was a nabi prophetess, since she was sent a message from Allah via an angel but the Qur’an does not specifically state that she is one, and thus it cannot be definitely established if she is or isn’t. The majority position among Islamic scholars is that no woman has received a prophetic mission from Allah. According to the Shi’a belief, she was a holy woman, but she is not a prophet. In the Qur’an, ‘Isa is usually referred to as ‘Isa bin Maryam (Jesus son of Mary), a matronymic, indicative of Jesus having no father. Not a human one nor taking Allah as his “heavenly father”, but that Mary conceived by the Will of Allah.

See also


  1. ^ see the Qur’an 13:38
  2. ^ Asma’ ul Husna by Bawa Muhaiyadeen
  3. ^ In The Unity of Religious Ideas, Inayat Khan
  4. ^ In The Way of Illumination, Inayat Khan
  5. ^ Itmam al-hujjah) by Inayat Khan
  6. ^ John Esposito(2005), Islam: The Straight Path, p.20
  7. ^ Amin Ahsan Islahi. Tadabbur-i-Qur’an, vol.8, p.273
  8. ^ Rasul and nabi
  9. ^ see the Qur’an 3:45
  10. ^ http://www.iqra.net/articles/muslims/persons.php Five Greatest Persons in All Human History]
  11. ^ Yusuf Ali‘s translation of the Qur’an, 38:47
  12. ^ Prophet Yunus. The Prophets. Islam101.com. Retrieved on 200605-06.
  13. ^ Prophet Zakariya. The Prophets. Islam101.com. Retrieved on 200605-06.
  14. ^ Great Muslims Of All Times
  15. ^ http://www.globalwebpost.com/farooqm/study_res/islam/gender/women_prophethood.html Ibn Hazm on women’s prophethood]

External links

Prophets of Islam in the Qur’an
Adam Idris Nuh Hud Saleh Ibrahim Lut Ismail Is’haq Yaqub Yusuf Ayub
آدم ادريس نوح هود صالح إبراهيم لوط اسماعيل اسحاق يعقوب يوسف أيوب
Adam Enoch Noah Eber Shelah Abraham Lot Ishmael Isaac Jacob Joseph Job

Shoaib Musa Harun Dhul-Kifl Daud Sulayman Ilyas Al-Yasa Yunus Zakariya Yahya Isa Muhammad
شعيب موسى هارون ذو الكفل داود سليمان إلياس اليسع يونس زكريا يحيى عيسى محمد
Jethro Moses Aaron Ezekiel David Solomon Elijah Elisha Jonah Zechariah John Jesus Paraclete

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