The common human enterprise requires a manual that delineates how to accomplish it. We received the manual through the divine revelation from Allah (SWT) to His Prophets and Messengers from Adam to Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Them). These messengers are also prophets who showed their target audiences how to apply the revelation in time and space.
Collectively they constitute one project, and I will refer to it as “the project of prophecy.” This project extended over thousands of years. Prophet Mohammad (S) made a beautiful analogy to bring the project of prophecy closer to our understanding. He said: “The similitude of myself and the Prophets who preceded me is like a beautifully built structure. People passing by it will say how beautiful is this structure except for one missing block. And I am this missing block.”
The project consisted of different phases, and each phase was represented by a prophet with a specific mission dictated by his time, space, circumstances, and challenges. In this regard, they were distinct. However, their overarching vision remained the same. Each and every one of them did his best to show his people how to get closer to Allah (SWT) and fulfill their human enterprise. We believe in them the same way we believe in Allah who sent them as role models committed to the realization of His beautiful names in time and space. From this perspective, we do not separate among them. In Surah Al-Nisa’ we read: “To those who believe in Allah and His Messengers and do not separate among them We shall soon give their rewards.” [4:152]
For those who want to terminate the project of prophecy before its appointed time, or believe in certain prophets and deny others, they must revisit their position and ask Allah for forgiveness: “For Allah is oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.” [4:152]
Symbolically, Prophet Ibrahim can be viewed as the architect of the project of Prophecy. He had the opportunity from the early periods of human history to draw the map of the future Messages through his travels. Starting from today’s Iraq, he travelled to Egypt where Prophet Moses later appeared. He travelled to today’s Palestine where Prophet Jesus appeared, and he travelled to a valley in Arabia and built there the first House for the people where the City of Mecca emerged on the map, and Prophet Mohammad appeared centuries later in Mecca.
The dynamicity of the project of prophecy and its movement through time towards its seal with Prophet Mohammad is best expressed by Prophet Jesus. Prophet Jesus described himself as the link between Moses and Mohammad: “And remember, Jesus, the Son of Mary, said: O children of Israel! I am a messenger of Allah to you, confirming the Torah which came before me, and giving glad tidings of a messenger to come after me whose name shall be Ahmad.” [61: 6]
On one hand, Jesus endorsed the Torah and made amendments and adjustments to the Message of Moses: “I have come to you to attest the Torah which was before me. And to make lawful to you some of what was forbidden to you.” [3:50]
On the other hand, Jesus realized the need for a future Prophet who will take the message to a higher and overarching horizon. Interestingly, Jesus would refer to Mohammad by his other name “Ahmad” which linguistically carries the connotation of something higher that is needed for the new time and space.
By Dr Walid Khayr