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Prophets of Islam
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Prophets of Islam

The Qur'an identifies a number of men as prophets of Islam. Such individuals are believed by Muslims to have directly communicated with the Judeo-Christian-Islamic God (called Allah in Arabic). In the Qur'an, prophets such as Moses, Jesus and Muhammad are appointed to spread the word of God. Many of these prophets are also found in the holy texts of Judaism and Christianity (see Similarities between the Bible and the Qur'an.

The traditional Islamic view is that all these prophets originally preached the same message, most recently exemplified by the revelation of the Qur'an to Muhammad. However, various sects such as the Mu'tazilis and the Ismailis, as well as liberal movements in Islam have speculated that divine revelations such as the Qur'an and Bible are created by God according to the needs of particular times and circumstances. This would allow for a legitimate diversity of revealed truths (accounting for the differences between Biblical and Qur'anic stories of prophets).

Traditionally, Muslims have believed the stories of the Qur'an to be history. Modern historians generally take the skeptical view that no religious story, whether from the Qur'an or Bible, can be assumed to be completely historically accurate. Some Muslim liberals try to make a compromise by claiming that stories of the prophets are primarily illustrations of Islamic ethics, and as such their historicity is irrelevant.

Although only 25 prophets are mentioned by name in the Qur'an, a Hadith mentions that there were 124,000 of them in total throughout history, and the Qur'an says that God has sent a prophet to every people.

Only those prophets who were sent with holy books are considered "messengers". Of all the thousands of prophets, only 313 are believed to be messengers, or rasool; others are prophets or nabi.

The first prophet is Adam, while the last prophet is Muhammad, and thus his title Seal of the Prophets. Jesus is the result of a virgin birth in Islam as in Christianity, and is regarded as a prophet like the others, and as the Messiah. In the Bahá'í Faith, which arose from Islam, it is believed that there is no seal of the prophet, and that there are ongoing revelations.

Traditionally, five prophets are regarded as especially major: Nuh (Noah), Ibrahim (Abraham), Musa (Moses), Isa (Jesus) and Muhammad.

Prophets in the Qur'an

The following are listed as prophets in the Qur'an; their Biblical names are given in parentheses when possible:

Other Possible Prophets

Al-Khidr is not mentioned by name, but is traditionally assumed to be referred to in Qur'an 18:66.

Dhul-Qarnayn is mentioned in the Qur'an, and often regarded as a prophet. His identity is controversial; many medieval Arabs identified him with Alexander the Great, while others disagree. The many differences between his accomplishments as described in the Qur'an and the history of Alexander the Great (and the fact that the latter was described as homosexual) lead many to believe that he is not the individual spoken of in the Qur'an. Some have speculated that Dhul-Qarnayn is actually Cyrus the Great, or even linked him with Gilgamesh.

There are numerous historical figures that may have been prophets, but this is a source of debate. Among them are Zoroaster.

Mary the mother of Jesus is not regarded as a prophet, but is regarded as having been sent a message from God via an angel.