Prophets in the Quran

Prophets in the Quran

Table of Contents

Have you ever wondered who prophets are and what their mission is? Why should Allah send prophets to guide mankind? Why not do it Himself? How many prophets are there in Islam and what are the names of the prophets in the Quran? This and many other questions will be answered in this article, here on Islam4u.

The topics that will be discussed are as follows:

How Many Prophets in the Quran Have Been Mentioned?

It is stated in our narrations that Allah sent 124,000 prophets in total to different nations, with Prophet Adam being the first one, and Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him and his progeny] being the last. However, the Quran has not mentioned the names of all of them. Only the names of 25 of them have been mentioned in the Quran. Allah says to the Noble Prophet in the Quran:

وَرُسُلًا قَدْ قَصَصْنَـٰهُمْ عَلَيْكَ مِن قَبْلُ وَرُسُلًا لَّمْ نَقْصُصْهُمْ عَلَيْكَ

And the messengers We have told you about before and the messengers We have not told you about [are all God’s messengers]. 1

According to the above verse, Allah tells the stories of or mentions the names of certain prophets in the Quran, but not all of them. In fact, Allah has told the stories of the most prominent prophets in the Quran such as Adam, Noah, Hud, Saleh, Shuaib, Jesus, Moses, David, Solomon, Joseph, Ibrahim, Muhammad, and others. The story of Prophet Joseph that is in surah Yusuf is known by the Quran as the best of stories. The entire surah tells his story.

Names of the 25 Prophets in the Quran

There are five major prophets that their stories are told in the Quran. They are in chronological order: Noah, Ibrahim, Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad. Here is a complete list of all 25 prophets mentioned in the Quran. To read the stories of each of the below prophets in detail, click on their names.

  1. Adam
  2.  Idris (Enoch)
  3.  Noah (Nuh)
  4.  Hud (Eber)
  5.  Saleh
  6.  Lot (Lut)
  7.  Ibrahim (Abraham)
  8.  Ismail (Ishmael)
  9.  Isaac (Ishaq)
  10.  Jacob (Yaqub)
  11.  Joseph (Yusuf)
  12.  Shuaib (Jethro)
  13.  Ayyub (Job)
  14.  Dhul-kifl (Ezekiel)
  15.  Moses (Musa)
  16.  Aaron (Harun)
  17.  David (Dawud)
  18. solomon (Sulayman)
  19.  Elijah (Ilyas)
  20. Elisha (Alyasa)
  21. Jonah (Yunus)
  22.  Zechariah (Zakariyya)
  23.  John the Baptist (Yahya)
  24. Jesus (Isa)
  25.  Muhammad

Who Are the Four Arab Prophets in the Quran?

Prophet Muhammad was not the only Arab prophet whose name is mentioned in the Quran and has a surah named after him. The Quran mentions three other Arab prophets and tells their story. Of course, perhaps there were more than just these four Arab prophets but we do not know the names of all of them. In any case, the four prophets in the Quran in chronological order are:

1. Hud

2. Salih

3. Shu‘ayb

4. Muhammad

There are entire surahs named after the first and last prophets in the above list, that is, Hud and Muhammad. Surah Hud is a chapter in the Quran that tells the story of many prophets including:

  • Noah
  • Hud
  • Saleh
  • Lot
  • Shuaib

The Story of Hud as One of the Arab Prophets in the Quran in Brief

وَإِلَىٰ عَادٍ أَخَاهُمْ هُودًا ۚ قَالَ يَـٰقَوْمِ ٱعْبُدُوا۟ ٱللَّـهَ مَا لَكُم مِّنْ إِلَـٰهٍ غَيْرُهُۥٓ ۖ إِنْ أَنتُمْ إِلَّا مُفْتَرُونَ ﴿50﴾

And [we sent] their brother Hūd, toward the [tribe of] ‘Ād. He said, “O my people! Worship God [because] you have no god beside Him. Only, you are a people who fabricate lie.” 2

Hud was a prophet that was sent to the tribe of ‘Ād, an Arab tribe who took its name from their ancestor whose name was ‘Ād, one of the descendants of Noah. They were extremely mighty people who were incredibly tall and well-built. They would build extremely large and beautiful cities out of stone that had large pillars. Hud’s main prophetic mission was inviting his people to monotheism and dissuading them from idolatry and polytheism. However, like the people of Noah, his people refused to believe and were ultimately punished by a fierce and strong wind.

The Story of Saleh as One of the Arab Prophets in Brief

وَإِلَىٰ ثَمُودَ أَخَاهُمْ صَـٰلِحًا ۚ قَالَ يَـٰقَوْمِ ٱعْبُدُوا۟ ٱللَّـهَ مَا لَكُم مِّنْ إِلَـٰهٍ غَيْرُهُۥ ۖ هُوَ أَنشَأَكُم مِّنَ ٱلْأَرْضِ وَٱسْتَعْمَرَكُمْ فِيهَا فَٱسْتَغْفِرُوهُ ثُمَّ تُوبُوٓا۟ إِلَيْهِ ۚ إِنَّ رَبِّى قَرِيبٌ مُّجِيبٌ ﴿61﴾

And [We sent] their brother Ṣāliḥ to [the tribe of] Thamūd. He said [to them], “O my people worship God [because] you have no god beside Him. It is He who has originated you from the earth and has settled you there, so pray to Him for forgiveness then turn to Him [and repent]. Indeed, My Lord is near, the responsive.” 3

Saleh was another Arab prophet after Hud who was sent to the Arab tribe of Thamud. They were very similar to the people of ‘Ād. They lived long lives and were extremely strong and resilient. They would make houses out of mountains. Perhaps the most marked similarity they had with the tribe of ‘Ād was that they too were idolaters and refused to obey their prophet. The mission of Prophet Saleh was also to invite them to monotheism and stop them from worshipping idols instead of Allah. They asked for a miracle. Therefore, Prophet Saleh made a she-camel emerge from the heart of the mountain. He said to them:

وَيَـٰقَوْمِ هَـٰذِهِۦ نَاقَةُ ٱللَّـهِ لَكُمْ ءَايَةً فَذَرُوهَا تَأْكُلْ فِىٓ أَرْضِ ٱللَّـهِ وَلَا تَمَسُّوهَا بِسُوٓءٍ فَيَأْخُذَكُمْ عَذَابٌ قَرِيبٌ ﴿64﴾

“And O my people! This is the camel of God. It is for you, so allow it to graze [freely] in the field, and do not harm it [if you do so,] God will punish you with a quick punishment.” 4

They did not listen, and hamstrung the camel and were punished.

The Story of Shuaib as One of the Arab Prophets in the Quran in Brief

Prophet Shuaib was an Arab prophet who lived in Midian and was sent as a prophet to the Midianites. The Midianites worshiped a large tree. Prophet Shuaib warned them that if they do not stop worshipping it instead of Allah, they would be punished. Moreover, the Midiniates used to cheat people when measuring food with their scales and balances. They also refused to follow their prophet and were punished by a destructive cry.

A Surah Named “Prophets” in the Quran

There is a surah in the Quran that has been given the name Anbiya (الاَنبياء) which means prophets. In this surah, the story and name of several important prophets are mentioned. The prophets mentioned in this surah are the following:

1. Ibrahim

2. Isaac

3. Jacob

4. Moses

5. Aaron

6. David

7. Solomon

8. Zechariah

9. John

10. Ayyub (Job)

11. Ismail

12. Idris (Enoch)

13. Dhulkifl (Ezekiel)

14. Jonah (Dhul al-Nūn [the one who was swallowed by the fish])

Suran Anbiya tells a fragment of the story of Prophet Ibrahim in detail and provides brief accounts of the other aforementioned prophets as well. It praises them, for instance, by saying how they were righteous and patient such as in the following verse:

وَإِسْمَـٰعِيلَ وَإِدْرِيسَ وَذَا ٱلْكِفْلِ ۖ كُلٌّ مِّنَ ٱلصَّـٰبِرِينَ ﴿85﴾

And [mention] Ishmael, and Idris, and Dhu’l-Kifl [who were all] patient. 5

A Fragment of the Story of Ibrahim: One of the Prophets in the Quran

Surah Anbiya tells a part of the story of Prophet Ibrahim who dissuaded his people from worshipping idols and instead invited them to the same God who created them. They said, “We found our ancestors worshipping them.” Ibrahim said, “Both you and your ancestors are in manifest error.” Finally, Prophet Ibrahim decided to break their idols and even announced his intention of doing so. He went to their temple and broke all the idols except the biggest one. When his people came and saw the broken idols, they asked, “Who has done this to our gods.” Prophet Ibrahim said, “The biggest one has done so if he speaks; ask him.”

For a moment, they came to their senses and said that they have been doing wrong. However, they quickly changed their mind and said, “Ibrahim you know well that they do not speak.” Ibrahim said, “Why do you worship pieces of stone that bring no benefit or harm to you? Woe to you and what you worship! Why do you not reason?!” So, they decided to burn Ibrahim. However, Allah saved him and the fire became cool and did not harm Ibrahim by Allah’s leave. This was but one fragment of the story of Ibrahim that is told in surah Anbiya. Some other surahs of the Quran tell different parts of the story of this noble prophet.

Surahs Named After Prophets in the Quran

There are several surahs in the Quran that are named after prophets. They are:

1. Surah Yunus (Jonah no. 10)

2. Surah Hud (no. 11)

3. Surah Yusuf (Joseph no. 12)

4. Surah Ibrahim (no. 14)

5. Surah Muhammad (no. 47)

6. Surah Nuh (no. 71)

These surahs do not necessarily tell detailed stories of the prophets the surah is named after. For example, surah Yunus mentions Prophet Jonah only in one verse:

فَلَوْلَا كَانَتْ قَرْيَةٌ ءَامَنَتْ فَنَفَعَهَآ إِيمَـٰنُهَآ إِلَّا قَوْمَ يُونُسَ لَمَّآ ءَامَنُوا۟ كَشَفْنَا عَنْهُمْ عَذَابَ ٱلْخِزْىِ فِى ٱلْحَيَوٰةِ ٱلدُّنْيَا وَمَتَّعْنَـٰهُمْ إِلَىٰ حِينٍ ﴿98﴾

Why has not a town believed to benefit from its belief [before receiving punishment] except the people of Jonah? When they believed, We avoided imposing punishment of disgrace on them in the world, and We let them enjoy [life] for a while. 6

On the other hand, a surah like surah Yusuf is all about the story of Prophet Joseph.

Why Did Allah Send Prophets?

Allah has said in the Quran that He sent a prophet and warner to every nation. Allah says this quite emphatically by saying:

إِنَّآ أَرْسَلْنَـٰكَ بِٱلْحَقِّ بَشِيرًا وَنَذِيرًا ۚ وَإِن مِّنْ أُمَّةٍ إِلَّا خَلَا فِيهَا نَذِيرٌ ﴿24﴾

Indeed, We have sent you with the truth as a giver of good news and a warner. And indeed, there is not a [single] nation but a warner passed among it. 7

So first of all, every single people in the world had a prophet who came to them and invited them to monotheism and the religion of God. However, cannot human beings know this themselves? The truth is, Allah has placed a God-given nature known as fiṭrah (فِطرَة) in all human beings that causes them to be inclined to worshipping one God. It has many other qualities such as liking perfections and beauties, among others. However, this nature and disposition can weaken or even die. The duty of the prophets is to awaken and revive this inclination that exists in all human beings to worship one God and invite them to the laws of Allah. Their duty is to give them the good news of paradise if they do good deeds, and warn them of hell if they sin. Moreover, they are the ones who explain all the laws of Allah. How do they do this? This takes place through an angel who reveals to them and conveys Allah’s messages to them:

وَمَا كَانَ لِبَشَرٍ أَن يُكَلِّمَهُ ٱللَّـهُ إِلَّا وَحْيًا أَوْ مِن وَرَآئِ حِجَابٍ أَوْ يُرْسِلَ رَسُولًا فَيُوحِىَ بِإِذْنِهِۦ مَا يَشَآءُ ۚ إِنَّهُۥ عَلِىٌّ حَكِيمٌ ﴿51﴾

God only speaks to human beings through revelation, [producing sounds from] behind a curtain, or He sends [an angelic] messenger to reveal what God desires, with His permission. Indeed He is All-Exalted, All-Wise. 8

Prophets are also people who have guardianship over others. That is, they are political leaders as well and are the worthiest individuals for leading people both spiritually and materially. Of course, only a couple of prophets were able to rule over their people such as Joseph, Moses, David, Solomon, and the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad [peace be upon him and his progeny]. This is because people did not accept the rulership of the other prophets. Furthermore, prophets do not use force to come to power or use their miracles to do so unless they have enough supporters and Allah commands them to do so. Finally, believing in prophets is one of the roots and principles of religion. In other words, if someone does not believe in them, he has not believed in Allah and his faith is compromised.

Have the Prophets in the Quran Sinned?

Most people think that some of the deeds performed by some prophets mentioned in the Quran were sins, and that is why they repented. The fact of the matter is, prophets are infallible and Allah protects them from committing any kind of sin. If they are sinful, then how can people trust them when they say they have been sent from Allah? Therefore, they have to be infallible from both committing sins and error. Then, how come Adam was tempted by Satan and ate from the forbidden tree? Did not Allah forbid him from eating from the tree? The answer to this question is that Allah did forbid him, but He did not say he would have sinned. He said it would make things difficult for him. Therefore, it was an irshādī (اِرشادی) command. Irshādī command means one that is for one’s own good and if not obeyed, the individual would not have committed a sin. For example, if all dentists tell us that not brushing your teeth will cause tooth decay, and we do not do so, have we committed a sin? No, we only might make things difficult for ourselves.

Furthermore, Satan does not only tempt us to commit sins and perform unlawful acts. He sometimes tempts us to do things that would cause us trouble and difficulty. For example, he tempts us to delay our prayers, remember Allah less, or tries to lead us to unlawful acts by tempting us to perform the disliked or makrūh (مَکروه) acts. What prophets such as Moses, Jonah, and Adam did were definitely not sins, but acts that were better avoided. This is a concept known as tark al-awlā (ترك الاولی). Nevertheless, some religious experts say prophets did not even do tark al-awla, let alone commit sins or make mistakes with the reasons they give.

Prophet Muhammad as the Final Prophet of Allah

Prophet Muhammad is the final prophet of Allah who gave him the title “Seal of the Prophets.” Khātam (خاتَم) or seal was a ring that in the olden days was used at the end of a letter. It was like a stamp and it functioned as a signature to end a letter. Prophet Muhammad, therefore, was the prophet who ended the line of prophets. Such a person must have a perfect religion and a perfect holy scripture so that there is no need for another prophet and religion. This was achieved by his everlasting miracle, the Noble Quran. The Quran is a scripture and holy book that is immune to alteration and distortion and possesses unmatched eloquence. Prophet Muhammad was not a prophet only for the Arabs, but also a prophet and mercy for all nations:

وَمَآ أَرْسَلْنَـٰكَ إِلَّا رَحْمَةً لِّلْعَـٰلَمِينَ ﴿107﴾

And indeed, We have sent you [O Muhammad] [as] a mercy for mankind. 9

Furthermore, such an individual must be the most perfect human being who possesses the best character and moral integrity:

وَإِنَّكَ لَعَلَىٰ خُلُقٍ عَظِيمٍ ﴿4﴾

Indeed, you truly have an exalted [ethical] quality. 10

That is why among all other prophets, Prophet Muhammad has the highest spiritual rank and status before Allah.

Conclusion

Prophets in the Quran are human beings who receive Divine revelation and convey Allah’s messages to people. They invite people to monotheism, doing good deeds, refraining from sins, enjoining what is good, and forbidding evil. They are the medium between Allah and mankind. Allah has chosen prophets for every nation and tribe. The Quran mentions the names of 25 outstanding prophets and tells the story of some of them. It tells us that they were all righteous individuals who never committed sins and always obeyed Allah. It is our religious duty to believe in all the 124,000 prophets in Islam and follow the rulings of our own prophet, that is, Prophet Muhammad [peace be upon him and his progeny].


References

  1. Quran 4:164 (Foroutan).
  2. Quran 11:50 (Foroutan).
  3. Quran 11:61 (Foroutan).
  4. Quran 11:64 (Foroutan).
  5. Quran 21:85 (Foroutan).
  6. Quran 10:98 (Foroutan).
  7. Quran 35:24 (Foroutan).
  8. Quran 42:51 (Foroutan).
  9. Quran 21:107 (Foroutan).
  10. Quran 68:4 (Foroutan).

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Abu Mahdi
Abu Mahdi
I'm Abu Mahdi, one of the writers of this blog. I have a BA in English literature and an MA in English language teaching. I am also a teacher and reciter of the Quran in the field of reading the Quran, tajweed, and maqamat. Currently, we are working on a course for learning tajweed of the Quran here on Islam4u.

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