I often get into these very bizarre situations at times when people confront me for explanations about 'religious' matters as if I am some kinda theologian :) And so it was last week that a 14 year old wanted me to explain (through Facebook of course LOL) a question that she has to prepare for ahead of her exams.
The question was "How were pROPHETs different from other Humans?" - and here was my longish answer - which I thought may have been appropriate.
To be honest, it would seem towards the end that I am 'glorifying' mUHAMMAD - but while the student studies in a Christian public school here in Dhaka, the question she had to prepare for is in the mandatory Islamic studies - so most unfortunately the end emphasis had to be Islam and mUHAMMAD.
I trust everybody will enjoy this attempted 'lesson' or "Sabaks'.
jOI gURU /\
My Darling Elms!
To be entirely honest, I have never ever have come across this question in my life...so I am not too sure if this will be sufficient or even help you get any points in school :(
Here are my thoughts:
pROPHETS were as much human as any in the world. They had the same basic characteristics that we do, had the same limitations and frailties in their day to day existence like us.
Where they were different is possibly - all scriptural and/or oral religions in the world believed and gave enough indicators of who the pROHETs would be..sometimes even coming close to naming them - or exactly where in the geographical locations of the world they would be placed - and what they would be doing, and how the cumulative destiny of mANKIND will thus be shaped. These were 'prophesies' at the time - and the pROPHETs were born and came in to confirm them.
For instance about pROPHET mUHAMMAD it was indicated in The Vedas, the Shonaton (Hindu) script in India that the 'last pROPHET', would not suckle his mothers milk (mUHAMMAD was raised by a wet nurse as his mother was in ill health), that he would be an only child, that he would leave behind no male heir, and that he would not ride a Horse or Elephant - but a Camel (and mUHAMMAD rode a camel).
The kO'RAN mentions that over 2,40,000 pROPHETS preceded mUHAMMAD - thus from aBRAHAM, to mOSES and jESUS - pROPHETS they were aplenty - and as a mUSLIM you are 'commanded' to believe the pROPHETS of the Jews and Christians are also our pROPHETs - in fact Jews and Christians are our 'first cousins'.
aBRAHAM (Ibrahim) is the founding father of all monotheist/scriptural religions (i.e believer in One gOD - the All in All..aLLAH) in the world......the iNJIL, tORAH, bIBLE and the kO'RAN were also 'revelations'.
I am inclined to believe that in our part of the world rAMA, kRISHNA, bUDDHA etc - too were pROPHETs..although we have no proof that they were so - cause they never claimed it themselves and the books written then were based on hearsay and myths - i.e they were not scientifically placed for pointed guidance of mANKIND - and have been edited and/or revised time after time - and that includes the iNJIL, tORAH, and the bIBLE.
The kO'RAN fortunately remains intact after that many years..surprising isn't it?
To repeat....pROPHETs were different in the sense that there were enough indications available in 'holy books' and oral traditions since times immemorial to suggest that such great men would come and by the sheer dint of their intellect and personality change the course of humanity. Thus each of our monotheist pROPHETS came with a special mission as direct 'messengers of gOD' and this they weren't aware themselves until a certain point in their life and usually after lots of trials and tribulation.
The 'message' had always been the same... 'see no evil, speak no evil, do no evil, love mankind, stay away from hatred, lies, stealing, cheating and bloodshed' - but mAN neither listened nor obeyed. So many pROPHETs to convince mANKIND also preformed miracles: jESUS for instance could feed thousands with a loaf of bread, could restore sight to the blind and even raise men and women, and make them walk - years after their death!
Yet in mUHAMMAD we find that he was not given any miraculous or supernatural powers - because gOD realized he couldn't convince man of hIS existence by merely demonstrating things. If mankind had to change they had all to do things for themselves....like only you can and have to prove it to your teachers how good you are in studies- than the rest in your class - which ultimate makes your grade!
Therefore the only 'miracle' mUHAMAMAD possessed (or was blessed with) was the kO'RAN which was 'revealed' to him through the arch aNGEl gABRIEL and which were written down by his followers as he was 'unlettered' - by which is not to be confused as being 'illiterate'.
The first words in the kO'RAN therefore commands ..'read in the name of aLLAH the most gracious the most merciful'. So it is only in reading and understanding that mankind could reach his or her own conclusive judgment about the existence of the mAKER - the supreme being and do it on their own terms.
iSLAM is the only religion in the world that encourages a direct communion with the mAKER. What is between you and your mAKER, is entirely personal, pure, secret and sacred. How you feel gOD in you is your business...and if you need examples - the kO'RAN commands you to 'follow the messengers' - meaning from aBRAHAM down to mUHAMMAD and how they lived their life and made use of their times.
It was mUHAMMADs all encompassing personality, the trait of his character, his judgment and his limitations that is the foundation of the kO'RAN. Each of the verses were revealed at critical junctures in his life and all of it gives us enough indications of the relationship (the ultimate relationship if we may) between mAN and his Creator (mABOOD/pARWARDIGAR) and the way to go about.
No - pROPHETs were not ordinary men, neither were they magicians or soothsayers. Their experience were human - and where they were different is how the used their intellect, charisma and the times in their lifetime, to set examples that billions all across the world would emulate and replicate and thus benefit from..... in the case of mUHAMMAD for over 1500 years since his death, for jESUS nearly 2,500 for aBRAHAM- 10,000 + years.
In a nutshell pROPHETs were 'extra ordinary humans' (not supernatural or SUPERMAN), for they had the capacity to show us the way..not only towards gOD - but indeed how we should conduct ourselves in our day to day lives - importantly live in pEACE.
Yes and you have understood the universal nine,
You have placed your footprints on the everlasting sands of time,
Yes so tell me why can't you understand'
That there ain't no such thing as a superman?"
Gil Scott Heron
Best of luck for your 'egg-jams' my love :)