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Prophecy - Islam

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Islam is also a prophetic religion, since the angel Gabriel revealed the divine message to the prophet Muhammad, who in turn communicated it to humankind. In the Koran every prophet of God is called a Muslim, and this is said to indicate that Islam is the true religion for the whole world. The prophet Muhammad is the last and most perfect of the prophets who preached Islam among different nations at various times. Islam is said to contain within itself all religions that came before it, all of which have been revealed by God. Consequently, Islam believes not only in the prophet Muhammad but in all the other prophets. The Koran is said to be a combination of all the sacred scriptures of all religions. In Islam revelation is seen as a factor necessary in human evolution and is the universal experience of humanity; in prophetical revelation God has bestowed this gift on all nations of the world. According to the Koran, prophets were sent to all nations and peoples. The Koran expresses the paths of devotion and the forms of worship and the means by which humankind may attain communication with God. The relationship between human beings in all their experiences on earth is also defined in the Koran, which establishes rules for the progress of individuals and for society at large. The aim of Islam is to unify humankind in a universal brotherhood, and religion is the most efficacious force in accomplishing this unity. "All men are a single nation" (Koran 2:213). The Koran teaches that divine revelation has three forms: "And it is not vouchsafed to any mortal that Allah should speak to him, except by revelation or from behind a veil, or by sending a messenger and revealing by His permission what He pleases" (42:51). The third mode is the highest form of revelation, exemplified by Gabriel's message to the prophet Muhammad, and is limited to the prophets of God.

Prophets also received the lower forms of divine revelation. Before Muhammad received the first revelation of the Koran, he had visions and heard voices. The details of the law were instilled in his mind as an "inner revelation." Revelation is granted to righteous people who follow the Prophet and also to others. The highest form of revelation, which only the prophets enjoy, requires a passing from one world to the other while the prophet is fully awake. This revelation works a profound change in the prophet that is visible to those who see the prophet. The Koran was revealed to Muhammad by Gabriel in stages, and its arrangement is considered part of the divine plan; the word Koran indicates "he collected together things" and also means "he read or recited." Islam teaches that God has sent to every nation prophets whose responsibility was to uplift the morals and regenerate the religion of each nation. In contrast, Muhammad was a prophet for the world.

According to Islam, a new age of prophecy was born with Muhammad. The Koran establishes the concept of world prophet when speaking of Muhammad: "We have not sent thee but as a bearer of good news and as a warner to all mankind" (48:9). (All scholars of Islam, however, are not in agreement about Muhammad as world prophet.) The Koran places prophecy as the greatest of all miracles and pronounces that Islam will be triumphant and spread to the farthest corners of the earth. Ultimately Islam would be supreme over all the religions of the world. In the tenets of Islam "prophethood" came to a close with Muhammad, but divine revelation continues as a gift of the righteous. The world does not need a new prophet, according to Islam, because there is the Koran, the perfect law. Still, in each century it is believed that a reformer will arise to remove any errors and to elucidate the religious truths of Islam in changing circumstances.

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