‘Maqasid-e-Bi’that-e-Ambia’

The 11h meeting of Majlis-e-Basirat took place at Albasira Office in Islamabad on 16 March 2017. The theme was ‘Maqasid-e-Bi’that-e-Ambia’ (purpose of honouring prophets with the office of prophethood). The meeting started with the recitation of the verses from the holy Quran after which Dr Murtaza Mughal gave a detailed talk on the subject. Afterwards, other participants also took part in the discussion. Abstracts of what Dr Murtaza Mughal and others said are given below:

Dr Murtaza Mughal

There is difference between Nabi (prophet) and Rasul (messenger). Nabi speaks to Allah and gives information about the Qayamah (Judgment Day), whereas Rasul comes as Hujjat (proof, evidence) of Allah. They (Rasul) do the Itmam-e-Hujjah (completion of proof). It means that they completely clarify the religious truth and make it available to people. So, there is no escaping without following them. They say they can bring down calamity with the permission of Allah. Nabi were frequently killed, crucified and would have also been put into prisons. But, the Quran says about Rasul: كَتَبَ اللَّـهُ لَأَغْلِبَنَّ أَنَا وَرُسُلِي إِنَّ اللَّـهَ قَوِيٌّ عَزِيز [God has decreed, "I and My messengers shall most certainly prevail." Truly God is Powerful and Almighty. (58:21)]. The Quran also says: وَلِكُلِّ أُمَّةٍ رَّسُولٌ فَإِذَا جَاءَ رَسُولُهُمْ قُضِيَ بَيْنَهُم بِالْقِسْطِ وَهُمْ لَا يُظْلَمُونَ [Every nation has a messenger. Once their messenger has come, judgment will be passed upon them in all fairness and they will not be wronged. (10:47)]. The Rasul remains fair and impartial in administering justice and Allah has given domination and authority to His Rasuls (messengers).

The following verse is of utmost importance when talking about the purpose of honouring prophets and messengers with the office of prophethood:

هُوَ الَّذِي بَعَثَ فِي الْأُمِّيِّينَ رَسُولًا مِّنْهُمْ يَتْلُو عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتِهِ وَيُزَكِّيهِمْ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَإِن كَانُوا مِن قَبْلُ لَفِي ضَلَالٍ مُّبِينٍ۔ (سورہ جمعہ آیت 2)

It is He who has raised among the unlettered people a messenger from among themselves who recites His revelations to them, and purifies them, and teaches them the Book and wisdom, for they had formerly been clearly misguided. (62:2)

They (Nabi and Rasul) warn and give glad tidings. They say that the world is a place of trials and tribulations. They tell about the death. They call people towards the way of Allah. They are the guides and leaders. The Quran says:

قُلْ أَيُّ شَيْءٍ أَكْبَرُ شَهَادَةً قُلِ اللَّـهُ شَهِيدٌ بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَكُمْ وَأُوحِيَ إِلَيَّ هَـٰذَا الْقُرْآنُ لِأُنذِرَكُم بِهِ وَمَن بَلَغَ أَئِنَّكُمْ لَتَشْهَدُونَ أَنَّ مَعَ اللَّـهِ آلِهَةً أُخْرَىٰ قُل لَّا أَشْهَدُ قُلْ إِنَّمَا هُوَ إِلَـٰهٌ وَاحِدٌ وَإِنَّنِي بَرِيءٌ مِّمَّا تُشْرِكُونَ۔ (سورہ انعام آیت 19)

Ask them, "What carries the most weight as a witness?" Tell them it is God. He is a witness between you and me. Say, "This Quran has been revealed to me so that through it I may warn you and whoever it reaches. Do you really bear witness that there are other deities beside God?" Say, "I do not bear witness to this." Say, "He is only one God, and I disown whatever you associate with Him." (6:19)

The prophets are sent to guide people. Ambia (prophets) and Rasul (messengers) used the Quran to warn and provide guidance to people. The prophets will preach by employing the word of Allah. Now this very Quran will be utilized till the Day of Judgment to invite people to the righteous path.

God says about the Quran:

كِتَابٌ أَنزَلْنَاهُ إِلَيْكَ مُبَارَكٌ لِّيَدَّبَّرُوا آيَاتِهِ وَلِيَتَذَكَّرَ أُولُو الْأَلْبَابِ۔ (سورہ ص، آیت 29)

This is a blessed Book which We sent down to you [Muhammad], for people to ponder over its messages, and for those with understanding to take heed. (38:29).

The prophets and messengers train and educate people. They make their point recognized with logic and reasoning. They solve societal problems faced by people. They respond to the queries posed to them after seeking their answers from Allah. The Quran says: لَّسْتَ عَلَيْهِم بِمُصَيْطِرٍ۔ (you are not their keeper). (88:22)

The prophets and messengers come with clear and sound evidence. The Quran says:

یاأَيُّهَا النَّاسُ قَدْ جَاءَكُم بُرْهَانٌ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ وَأَنزَلْنَا إِلَيْكُمْ نُورًا مُّبِينًا۔ (سورہ النساء، آیت 174)

Men, you have received clear evidence from your Lord. We have sent down a clear light to you. (4:174)

Let us look at another verse, which says:

إِنَّ اللَّـهَ يَأْمُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالْإِحْسَانِ وَإِيتَاءِ ذِي الْقُرْبَىٰ وَيَنْهَىٰ عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنكَرِ وَالْبَغْيِ يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ۔ (سورہ انحل، آیت 90)

God commands justice, kindness and giving their [due to] near relatives, and He forbids all shameful deeds, and injustice and transgression. He admonishes you so that you may take heed! (16:90)

The basic teachings of all the prophets and messengers were same and what changed were the ways and methods employed by these holy figures due to the change in time.

The intellectual level of the people belonging to the modern era was high and so the Quran was revealed as the last book of Allah. Now there are admonitions for going against the teachings of the holy Messenger (pbuh). The Quran says:

وَمَن يَعْصِ اللَّـهَ وَرَسُولَهُ وَيَتَعَدَّ حُدُودَهُ يُدْخِلْهُ نَارًا خَالِدًا فِيهَا وَلَهُ عَذَابٌ مُّهِينٌ۔ (سورہ نساء، آیت 14)

But anyone who disobeys God and His Messenger and transgresses His limits shall be cast into a Fire, wherein he will abide forever. And he shall have a humiliating punishment. (4:14)

All the prophets and messengers came for salvation of mankind from anyone other than God. Thus the Quran says about Hazrat Noah (AS):

لَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا نُوحًا إِلَىٰ قَوْمِهِ فَقَالَ يَا قَوْمِ اعْبُدُوا اللَّـهَ مَا لَكُم مِّنْ إِلَـٰهٍ غَيْرُهُ إِنِّي أَخَافُ عَلَيْكُمْ عَذَابَ يَوْمٍ عَظِيمٍ۔ (سورہ اعراف، آیت 59)

We sent Noah to his people. He said, "O my people, worship God; you have no other god but He. I fear for you the punishment of a dreadful Day," (7:59)

Same things are said in the Quran about other prophets. For example:

وَإِلَىٰ عَادٍ أَخَاهُمْ هُودًا قَالَ يَا قَوْمِ اعْبُدُوا اللَّـهَ مَا لَكُم مِّنْ إِلَـٰهٍ غَيْرُهُ أَفَلَا تَتَّقُونَ۔  (سورہ اعراف، آیت65)

To the people of 'Ad We sent their brother, Hud. He said, "O my people, worship God, you have no other god but He. Then will you not be God-fearing?" (7:65)

وَإِلَىٰ ثَمُودَ أَخَاهُمْ صَالِحًاقَالَ يَا قَوْمِ اعْبُدُوا اللَّـهَ مَا لَكُم مِّنْ إِلَـٰهٍ غَيْرُهُقَدْ جَاءَتْكُم بَيِّنَةٌ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ هَـٰذِهِ نَاقَةُ اللَّـهِ لَكُمْ آيَةً فَذَرُوهَا تَأْكُلْ فِي أَرْضِ اللَّـهِ وَلَا تَمَسُّوهَا بِسُوءٍ فَيَأْخُذَكُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ۔  (سورہ اعراف، آیت73)

To the Thamud We sent their brother Salih. He said, "O my people, worship God; you have no other god but Him. A veritable proof has come to you from your Lord: this is God's she-camel, a sign for you, so let her feed in God's land and do not harm her in any way, or you will be overwhelmed by a painful punishment. (7:73)

وَإِلَىٰ مَدْيَنَ أَخَاهُمْ شُعَيْبًاقَالَ يَا قَوْمِ اعْبُدُوا اللَّـهَ مَا لَكُم مِّنْ إِلَـٰهٍ غَيْرُهُ قَدْ جَاءَتْكُم بَيِّنَةٌ مِّن رَّبِّكُمْ فَأَوْفُوا الْكَيْلَ وَالْمِيزَانَ وَلَا تَبْخَسُوا النَّاسَ أَشْيَاءَهُمْ وَلَا تُفْسِدُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ بَعْدَ إِصْلَاحِهَا ذَٰلِكُمْ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ۔ (سورہ اعراف، آیت85)

To Midian We sent their brother Shu'ayb. He said, "O my people, worship God; you have no other god but Him. A clear Sign has indeed come to you from your Lord. So give full measure and full weight, and do not deliver short. Do not corrupt the land after it has been set in order. This is for your own good, if you are true believers. (7:85)

The prophets and messengers tell people to turn back to Allah and obey Him. They stop people from amassing wealth through unfair means. They prevent people from killing others or indulging in fornication. They advise people to be kind to their parents. They instruct us to exhibit unity and be fair in measuring and weighing. They teach us how to supplicate. They invite people to good deeds in a way that is better. They inform people about the state of Jannah (paradise) and Dozakh (hell). They have been telling people as is said in the Quran:

يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ اتَّقُوا رَبَّكُمْ إِنَّ زَلْزَلَةَ السَّاعَةِ شَيْءٌ عَظِيمٌ۔ يَوْمَ تَرَوْنَهَا تَذْهَلُ كُلُّ مُرْضِعَةٍ عَمَّا أَرْضَعَتْ وَتَضَعُ كُلُّ ذَاتِ حَمْلٍ حَمْلَهَا وَتَرَى النَّاسَ سُكَارَىٰ وَمَا هُم بِسُكَارَىٰ وَلَـٰكِنَّ عَذَابَ اللَّـهِ شَدِيدٌ  (سورہ حج، آیت 2،1)

O People! Fear your Lord. The catastrophe of the Last Hour shall be terrible indeed: when that Day comes, every suckling mother shall forsake her infant and every pregnant woman shall cast her burden and everyone will appear intoxicated, although they are not: the punishment of God will be severe indeed. (22:1, 2)

The prophets and messengers don’t come for enhancing their wealth, rather, they serve and provide food for the needy and deprived people. They come to provide guidance to mankind. They come to create a culture of responsibility among people. It is very well said by Allama Iqbal:

خرد نے کہہ بھی دیا لاالا تو کیا حاصل

دل و نگاہ مسلمان نہیں تو کچھ بھی نہیں

The God says:

وَمَنْ أَظْلَمُ مِمَّن ذُكِّرَ بِآيَاتِ رَبِّهِ فَأَعْرَضَ عَنْهَا وَنَسِيَ مَا قَدَّمَتْ يَدَاهُ إِنَّا جَعَلْنَا عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِهِمْ أَكِنَّةً أَن يَفْقَهُوهُ وَفِي آذَانِهِمْ وَقْرًا وَإِن تَدْعُهُمْ إِلَى الْهُدَىٰ فَلَن يَهْتَدُوا إِذًا أَبَدًا۔ (سورہ کہف، آیت 57)

Who is more wicked than he who has been reminded of the revelations of his Lord, then turns away from them and forgets what his own hands have done? We have cast veils over their hearts lest they understand Our words, and made them hard of hearing. Call them as you may to the right path, they shall never be guided. (18:57).

Dr Murtaza Mughul concluded his speech with Qateel Shifai’s couplet:

اب جس کے جی میں آئے وہی پائے روشنی

ہم نے تو دل جلا کے سر عام رکھ دیا

Saqib Akbar

Expressing his views on the subject, Saqib Akbar said the need is to deeply analyze the purpose of honouring prophets with the office of prophethood (Maqasid-e-Bi’that-e-Ambia). It is to be searched what is common among Ambia (prophets) when we say that all the prophets came with the same religion. By doing this it will also be proved what has remained unchanged and what has altered. It is apparent the changes in different things would have taken place due to change in time and space. It means such things would have improved and attained perfection with the passage of time. The Din actually is what has not changed throughout from Hazrat Adam (AS) to Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh). The profundity and perfection of various religious Ma’arif (fields of knowledge) is a different thing. For example, what is the reality of Wahy (revelation)? What is the reality of Batin (inner, spiritual dimension) of the universe and what are its stages. Some may have reached to a certain stage while some others to a different state, but the reality of the universe remains unchanged.

The need is to know about the Din which we say has remained the same all the way through. If I put it into words we can say that the origins of all Aqaid (beliefs) were the same. Similarly, the moral and social foundations were also the same. You would also agree with that there was synergy among all the prophets in this regard. As far as Ibadah (worship) is concerned, I don’t think that anything has changed regarding its essence. Knowing Allah, wishing to gain His gnosis and worshipping Him are the essence of Ibadah. Now there are different ways and forms of it. Some read four Rakahs. Likewise, there is Ruku or there is no Ruku in one’s Namaz (Salat). There may also be difference as far as language of Namaz is concerned. These and other such things were alterable and as a result change occurred in them with the passage of time. The essence of the matter is that all the prophets were devout worshippers of Allah. If we get this point, then we will be able to reach to the bottom of creating harmony among religions and such a thing will connect the whole humanity. There is space to talk more on this.

The other thing that I want to submit is that many religious terminologies have been formed later. Perhaps, we may have deduced these technical terms from the Quran and Sunnah. The Sunnah itself is a term as is Shariah and Fiqh. What are the things that we deal in as being religious? Taklif Shar’i (religious obligations) and Taklif Imani (faith-based obligations) are other terms. Such words and expressions come to the fore with the passage of time. When a researcher comes to know about something, he uses a word (term) to give expression to what he has discerned. This is how terms like atom, molecule were formed. Similarly, ulama have put forward certain terms. The point is that the technical terms have developed with the passage of time.

It has also happened that a particular person, who is an expert in Ilm al-Kalam, uses a word in a particular meaning and in case the same word is used by other person, who is an expert in Usul al-Fiqh, he will use it in a different meaning. This is how meanings of different terms have changed when they have been used at different places.

 We have tried to apply terms like Sharia, Fiqh and Din on the life of holy Prophet (pbuh). I say that we should learn and perceive the Sirah of the Prophet (pbuh) by remaining above these terms. This is my opinion.

All the prophets would adopt some, reject some and amend some customs and contracts in vogue during their time and the same course was adopted by the holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) too during his lifetime. We should see what were those practices and covenants which were in force before the coming of the Prophet (pbuh) but still were allowed to persist after his prophethood. We should also take a review of the things that were allowed to keep going and see if their continuation was forever.

When we say that the doors of Ijtihad are open, then it is through this Ijtihad that such types of questions are answered. The Prophet (pbuh) persisted with the practice of enslaving people and also gave instruction in this respect. Does it mean the Prophet (pbuh) wanted that this custom of slavery should continue to exist? If your answer to this question is ‘no’, then my point is that you need to also adopt the same formula at other places. Therefore, continuing with some customs, practices and contracts and letting them pass through a process of evolution should be kept in mind.

One more point being raised is about perversity and non-perversity of human being. The actual thing about the life of the holy Prophet (pbuh) is that a good and pleasing human being is found in his Wujud both before as well as after his Bi’that. What to talk of his own followers, outsiders too could never find any fault in him.

We should remember that a process of gradual development has been taking place viz-a-viz Ahkam. Among the later commandments to which you can call Shariy Ahkam, the final one would be followed. This, perhaps, is the real concept behind Nasikh (abrogating, canceller) and Mansukh (abolished, cancelled).

I think that the holy Prophet (pbuh) also offered himself when he stood up on Mount Safa and said, ‘`O people! Will you believe me if I tell you that your enemies intend to ambush you at dawn or at night?'

They all answered, `We have not heard a lie from you throughout your life'.

This aspect of his life that the holy Prophet (pbuh) presented before the Quraish while standing on the Mount Safa is the real aspect of human life. The actual beauty of any person lies in this very aspect.

The holy Prophet (pbuh) has also talked about some things related to him before Bi’that. For example, he said I still hold to a particular thing done by me at so-and-so time in the past (before Bi’that). Similarly, he said if somebody, who had done a virtuous thing for me in the past, comes to me I am committed to it even today. The Prophet (pbuh) mentioned some things about the era before Bi’that and his commitment towards them remained unwavering even after the Bi’that and there is no doubt in it. But the holy Prophet (pbuh) spoke about such few things whenever he got the opportunity.

 Some things are such that our mental capacity or our way of thinking fails to accept them. I think that we should not mess about such things and instead we should say, o’Allah it is good enough if it unmasks before me and in case it remains hidden then You and Your Prophet (pbuh) know better. The event of the Shaq al-Sadr (splitting of the chest) and various matters relating to Mi’raj (ascension of the Prophet into heaven) fall in this category of things as far as I am concerned. It is ok if in some way the hidden truth is unmasked before me and incase it doesn’t happen so, then I say o’Allah You and Your Prophet (pbuh) know better about the true character of these things and I failed to get to the bottom of them. It is not right, I think, to claim to have knowledge of everything and we could acknowledge it.

 One more point I want to say is how much matter we have in the narrated form related to the pre-Bi’that era. Besides, it is to be remembered what we have done with the matter related to post-Bi’that era when it comes to narrators and Asnad (texts). If we apply the same yardstick to the earlier matter, then its ill-effects will also reach to it more than protecting it. We didn’t swallow up later things (related to post-Bi’that era) easily. We have fixed the priorities regarding the Sahaba as well. For example, a particular thing is said by this or that Sahabi. Therefore, it is a good thing in one respect that our access to the record related to pre-Bi’that era is much less. It is stated than an angel used to be with the holy Prophet (pbuh) when he was 4 years old. Through which Sanad will we prove this. There are much bigger issues and it is not so easy to provide proof in each and every case. Thus, we must accept as Hujjah (proofs, arguments) only those things related to the past which the holy Prophet (pbuh) himself described as Hujjah and must not move beyond it.

 The last thing is the greatness and superiority of the holy Prophet (pbuh) over all the past prophets. This is a hidden secret of Allah and there are such arguments supporting it that I don’t want to discuss them yet. We are not equivalent to the dust of the feet of the prophets and what is our worth to discuss things like this. What to talk about the supremacy of prophets when we don’t know about the nature and reality of the Nubuwwah (prophethood) and Wahy (revelation), about the nature and reality of Jibrail and about the nature and reality of the seven skies. However, I think there are such arguments and proofs about the greatness of holy Prophet (pbuh) over all the other prophets that could be advanced. Even then all the prophets are our sir ka taj and they are of very high in status and rank.

 

Mufti Gulzar Naeemi

Speaking on the occasion, Mufti Gulzar Naeemi remarked it is generally said that the prophets are sent for preaching religious matters only. He said that the messengers and prophets had not come for only instructing things like the unity of God, believing in Qayamah and other such beliefs, rather, they have provided guidance relating to all spheres of life. If we regard that the holy Prophet (pbuh) had not come to reform our worldly life, then we have failed to correctly understand the purpose of honouring prophets with the office of prophethood.

 

Dr Rahat Abbas

Expresses his views, Dr Rahat Abbas said that the messengers and prophets have come to reform humanity and establish connection between the God and people. He said the prophets can be made role models in the modern era by following their way of preaching. 

 

Dr Sajid Khaqwani

Prominent columnist and scholar Dr Sajid Khaqwani while giving his inputs said the prophets have come as reformers and have been made as witness over mankind. He said had the prophets not come the human being would have behaved in a despotic manner on this earth. He said those societies are facing moral depravity where the teachings of prophets are not available and such societies have very badly hurt humanity. There is no fearing of God, no human qualities despite the fact luxuries of life are available there. The prophets were sent to preach Tawhid. The dangers that the humanity face are self-styled new gods like Watan (country), and all the prophets sent by Allah smashed this very idol, leaving their homes for this cause. Wealth, love for rank and status, wanting power are other idols. Just like Hazrat Ibrahim destroyed all the idols that were kept in the temple, we also need to break all the idols and turn to only One God and worship Him only.  

 

Naeem Akram Qureshi

Well-known journalist and writer Naeem Akram Qureshi while giving his views said that the Sirah of prophets is before us and we need to see how to follow the prophets in the present era. He said that the example of the noble Prophet (pbuh) is the best role model to follow. He said that the Prophet (pbuh) proved himself to be the best through his deeds and even his enemies regarded him to be the honest and truthful. He said Khutbah Hajjatul Wida (the farewell sermon of the Prophet) provide the best guiding principles for the humanity even today. In this sermon, he said, the Prophet (pbuh) described human rights in the most beautiful and comprehensive way and that this sermon provides the best charter of human rights. He said that the prophets came to connect humans and they (the prophets) brought the reformation by terming the whole humanity as one family.

 

Mufti Muhammad Imran

Mufti Muhammad Imran remarked the prophets of God came to earth as leaders of the community and they set best examples for others to follow through their actions and deeds. He said that Din is a code extending over the entire spectrum of life and that the prophets tried their best to bring reformation in every aspect of human life. He said Hazrat Shoaib (AS) rectified the evils of economy. The noble Prophet (pbuh) came as a leader and established a state in Medina. The prophets, he said, presented Din as a complete code of life.

 

Syed Rashad Bukhari

Syed Rashad Bukhari observed that we generally make mention of prophets in a way as if they have nothing to do with the world and the life in it. He said if the world is the cultivating land for the Hereafter, it never means that the success in the afterlife will only be possible by burning this cultivated soil in the world. He said we will have to pay attention to the worldly life, adding that the prophets also laid stress on reforming this earthly life as well. He said as ulama generally show no inclination for this world the same way they seem to avoid using Aql (intellect, reason) and appear to give preference to Ishq (love or intense love). He said discussions and debates should also be held on what is the concept of world in the prophetic teachings, besides also determining the statuses of Aql and Ishq.

 

Allama Farhat Hussain

Allama Farhat Hussain said the main purpose of Bi’that-e-Ambiya is self-purification and after it bring self-reformation and societal reformation. He said the prophets came to achieve these goals.

 

Mufti Amjad Abbas

Mufti Amjad Abbas remarked the prophets laid greater stress on welfare of society. He said that the noble Prophet (pbuh) gave prominence to human equality, besides endeavoring to remove social inequalities. The Prophet (pbuh), he said, put an end to such customs which were creating societal discord and disrupting social norms. Mufti Amjed Abbas said the Prophet (pbuh) called people to Tawhid along with paying full attention to social development and human welfare.