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Is Prophet Muhammad Superior to Other Prophets?

Is Prophet Muhammad superior to all other Prophets or is it just a prejudice?

This is a question worthy of examining for the sake of giving clarity and assurance to the Muslims who believe as such and an answer to the orientalists’ unfounded criticism of over-zealous Muslims’ prejudice toward their Prophet.

Examining some verses of the Quran, one may think that there are contradictions in this matter. We will examine these verses and attempt to answer them, mainly according to the Quran itself and some prophetic traditions.

The verse commonly used by those who argue that God has made clear the status of all prophets’ equality is as follows:

{Say we have believed in Allah and what has been revealed to us and what has been revealed to Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the Descendants [al-Asbat] and what was given to Moses and Jesus and what was given to the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and we are Muslims [in  submission] to Him.} (2: 136)

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Then we have a different verse, seemingly contradictory to the above verse:

{Of those messengers, some of whom We have caused to excel others, and of whom there are some unto whom Allah spoke, while some of them He exalted (above others) in degrees …} (2: 253)

Muslims firmly believe that there are no contradictions in God’s statements. Therefore, we must understand that the first verse contains generality and the universality of the main message of God which was inviting people to worship only one God, while the second specifies certain favors God bestowed upon some Prophets over others.

Proofs of the Prophet’s Superiority

There is no other Prophet by whose life God swore. {By thy life (O Muhammad)!} (15: 72)

{And who is better in his discourse than he who calls unto Allah and does good and says: I am (Muhammad) one of the Muslims?} (41: 33), i.e. who is better in speech than the Prophet Muhammad? {Lo! the noblest of you, in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct…} (49:13), i.e. the Prophet Muhammad is the noblest of those to whom the Quran is addressed in the sight of God; {And lo! you (Muhammad) are [I swear] of a magnificent nature} (68: 4)

The reality of this compliment – khuluqin `azim (magnificent nature) – can be declared only by the Creator Himself; {And we preferred some of the Prophets above others} (17: 55)

{It may be that thy Lord will raise thee to a praised estate} (17: 79), a Station which the Prophet said none but he would receive –and this is the Station of Intercession on the day of Judgment.

{Truly, Allah and His angels send praise and blessings [forever] upon the Prophet. O ye who believe! Praise and bless the Prophet with utmost laud and blessing} (33: 56)

{That you (mankind) may believe in Allah and His messenger, and may honor him, and may revere him, and may glorify Him at early dawn and at the close of day} (48:9)

An-Nawawi, a well known Muslim scholar, said that the scholars of Quranic commentary have given this verse two lines of explanation, one group giving the three personal pronouns “him” a single referent, namely, either Allah (“Him”) or the Prophet (“him”); the other group distinguishing between two referents, namely, the Prophet for the first two (“honor and revere him”), and Allah for the last (“glorify Him”). Those of the first group that said the pronouns all refer to the Prophet explained “glorify him” (tusabbihuhu) here to mean: “declare him devoid of inappropriate attributes and pray for him.”

Furthermore, Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Uthaymeen, a respected Muslim scholar, said:

“The Prophet (peace be upon him) is undoubtedly the beloved of Allah; he loves Allah and Allah loves him. But there is a better description than that, which is Khaleel-Allah (the Close Friend of Allah). The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was the Close Friend of Allah, as he (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Allah has taken me as a close friend (khaleel) just as he took Ibrahim as a close friend.” 

Prophet Muhammad was known by many names such as: Khayru-l-Khalq or “Best of Creation.” Other similar names of his with identical meaning are Khayru-l-Bariyya, Khayru Khalqillah, Khayru-l-`Alamina, Khayru-n-Nas, Khayru Hadhihi-l-Umma, and Khiratullah. These titles refer to his high status not given to other human before him.

{…and We have not sent you except as a mercy to mankind} (21:107)

This mercy is not transmitted to all mankind except through the uncorrupted message and the exalted messenger. Thus this verse, clearly states that the Prophet is to be not only the witness over his own nation, but over all mankind.

Other verses further confirm this position such as (2:143 and 4: 41). He was also gifted with maqaman Mahmudan (a station of praise and glory, i.e. the highest degree in Paradise).

God says: {And We never sent a messenger save with the language of his folk} (14: 4)

He further said: {And We have not sent thee (O Muhammad) except as a giver of glad tidings and a Warner unto all mankind but most of them know not} (34: 28)

The Prophet said:

“I have been given five (things) which were not given to anyone else before me. Among these were the right of intercession (on the Day of Resurrection), and that, “every prophet was sent to his nation, but I have been sent to all mankind.” (Al-Bukhari)

Also, the Prophet is reported to have said:

“My similitude in comparison with the other Prophets before me is that of a man who has built a house nicely and beautifully, except for a place of one brick in a corner. The people go around about it and wonder at its beauty, but say: ‘Would that this brick be put in its place!’ So I am that brick, and I am the last (end) of the Prophets.” (Al-Bukhari)

{Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but he is the Messenger of Allah and the last (end) of the Prophets …} (33: 40)

We know that from the creation of Adam, God sent many Prophets. In fact Muslims believe their number was about 125,000. Each came with the message of monotheism and specific instructions to his own people. Some came with written instructions and a holy book, and others only carried the message. Over time, all these messages and books were lost, corrupted and so was much of the original pristine messages. The only Divine Book preserved to this day is the Quran, unaltered with a promise by the Creator that it will be preserved forever.

Should we not think that the Preserver of this message would only choose the best of Creation to carry this message with whom ends the succession of prophets as well as the messages?

{…this day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion …} (5:3)

About Raya Shokatfard
Raya Shokatfard holds an MA in Journalism/Mass Communications and an M.A.D. in TV journalism. BA in Communication and BA in Islamic Studies. She has been Islamic propagator in the U.S and Egypt for many years and academic lecturer, writer, international presenter, consultant, foreign correspondent. She can be reached at: [email protected]