A Prophet's Diligence In Worship & Superiority Of The Prophets
A Prophet’s diligence in worship:
Keeping in view the obligation of prophets, at times they are required to be more extensive in their worship. The purpose of this is to provide them with peace of mind and by means of dedicated devotion to God, bless them with purity of emotions and intellect and perseverance on what they believe and what they do. About Moses (sws), the Quran (7:142-145) says that when it was decided that he be given the tablets of the Torah, then, prior to this, in order to train and instruct him to bear this heavy burden he was made to station himself in seclusion at the mount of Sinai for forty days. John (sws) and Jesus (sws) to the extent of monasticism took to intense devotion to God and did not even marry because they wanted to spend every moment of their lives in the effort to communicate the truth to their people whose fate was being decided to the extent that they were left with no excuse to deny the truth. For this very reason, prophet Muhammad (sws) would sit in itikaf every year and keep fasts from time to time. When he was directed to embark upon openly warning his people, besides the five obligatory prayers, another prayer was made obligatory on him. The time of tahajjud was fixed for this prayer and he was asked to read the Quran in this prayer for less than half the night or a little more. In Surah Bani Israil, this directive is stated in the words وَمِنَ الَّيْلِ فَتَهَجَّدْ بِه نَافِلَةً لَك (17: 79) (and at night time, pray the tahajjud; this is a further [obligation] on you, (17:79)). Similarly, in Surah Muzzammil, it is stated:
يَاأَيُّهَا الْمُزَّمِّلُقُمْ اللَّيْلَ إِلَّا قَلِيلًانِصْفَهُ أَوْ انْقُصْ مِنْهُ قَلِيلًا أَوْ زِدْ عَلَيْهِ وَرَتِّلْ الْقُرْآنَ تَرْتِيلًا إِنَّا سَنُلْقِي عَلَيْكَ قَوْلًا ثَقِيلًاإِنَّ نَاشِئَةَ اللَّيْلِ هِيَ أَشَدُّ وَطْئًا وَأَقْوَمُ قِيلًاإِنَّ لَكَ فِي النَّهَارِ سَبْحًا طَوِيلًا وَاذْكُرْ اسْمَ رَبِّكَ وَتَبَتَّلْ إِلَيْهِ تَبْتِيلًا(73: 1-8)
O you enfolded in your shawl! Stand [in prayer] by night, but not all night. Half the night, or even less or a little more and [in this prayer of yours] recite the Quran in a slow measured tone. Because soon We shall lay on you the burden of a heavy word [the burden of open warning]. Verily, this rising by night is very suitable for the mind’s peace and the heart’s resolve and for the speech’s correctness. Because during the daytime you will be hard-pressed with [this task; so pray at this time] and remember the name of your Lord and [in this loneliness of the night] devote yourself entirely to Him. (73:1-8)
Superiority of the Prophets:
Prophets hold a general degree of superiority over all human beings. Consequently, the Quran, at one place, after mentioning some prophets has said: ) وَكُلاًّ فَضَّلْنَا عَلَى العَالَمِيْنَ (6: 86(and to each We bestowed superiority over mankind, (6:86)). However, at another place, the Quran has clarified that these prophets amongst themselves – specially, the messengers (rusul) among them also hold relative superiority over one another in some aspect:
تِلْكَ الرُّسُلُ فَضَّلْنَا بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَى بَعْضٍ مِّنْهُم مَّنْ كَلَّمَ اللّهُ وَرَفَعَ بَعْضَهُمْ دَرَجَاتٍ وَآتَيْنَا عِيسَى ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ الْبَيِّنَاتِ وَأَيَّدْنَاهُ بِرُوحِ الْقُدُسِ (2: 253)
Among these messengers We have exalted some above others such that to some God spoke directly, others He raised to a lofty status [in some other capacity] and [at the end] gave Jesus, son of Mary, manifest signs and helped him through the Holy Spirit. (2:253)
It is evident from this that God conversed with Moses (sws). In this particular aspect, he was superior to other prophets. Jesus (sws) was given manifest signs and was helped through the Holy Spirit and in this aspect was superior to others. In a similar manner, other prophets were blessed with some aspects of relative superiority. About himself, Muhammad (sws) is reported to have said:
فُضِّلْتُ على الْأَنْبِيَاءِ بِسِتٍّ أُعْطِيتُ جَوَامِعَ الْكَلِمِ وَنُصِرْتُ بِالرُّعْبِ وَأُحِلَّتْ لِيَ الْغَنَائِمُ وَجُعِلَتْ لِيَ الْأَرْضُ طَهُورًا وَمَسْجِدًا وَأُرْسِلْتُ إلى الْخَلْقِ كَافَّةً وَخُتِمَ بِيَ النَّبِيُّونَ
“I have been given superiority over other prophets in six things: (1) I have the ability to say what is comprehensive and concise; (2) I have been helped by means of striking awe [in my enemies]; (3) Spoils of war have been allowed to me; (4) The earth has been made a mosque for me and a means to obtain purity also;  (5) I have been sent as a prophet to all mankind; (6) The chain of prophethood has culminated on me.”
This then is the correct attitude in expressing superiority of the prophets. At times, the Prophet (sws) has also warned people about it. Once a Companion (rta) addressed him as: يَا خَيْرَ البَرِيَّة (O the best of mankind!). At this, he replied: “Such is Abraham.”  Once, someone asked him: “Who is the most honourable of men?” He replied: “Joseph, the Prophet, who is son of a Prophet who is the son of another Prophet who is the son of Abraham.”  Once when a Muslim mentioned in his oath the superiority of Muhammad (sws) over the rest of the world, a Jew responded: “I swear by the Being who blessed superiority to Moses over the rest of the world.” When the Muslim heard these words, he got infuriated and slapped the Jew. When the Jew complained to the Prophet (sws), the latter said: “Do not regard Moses to be inferior to me. At the Day of Judgement, when I will come out of the state of unconsciousness, he will be holding one corner of the throne. He would perhaps not be unconscious or would come to senses before me.” 
So clear is the guidance of religion on this issue; however, followers of prophets have seldom adhered to it; in fact, they adopted an entirely wrong attitude in place of it because of which biases and prejudices estranged them from one another. So much so, severe animosity developed between them which resulted in clashes and conflicts.
Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:
… the attitude adopted by the followers of their respective prophets is that whatever prophet they professed belief in they regarded him alone to possess all qualities in their ultimate form which a human being can possibly have, and accepting any degree of pre-eminence for other prophets was deemed contrary to their beliefs. As a result of this bigotry and bias, each nation of prophets became confined in its own shell and the means of benefiting from the guidance and blessings of other prophets were closed on it. If people had adopted the right attitude, then every prophet would have been their prophet and every guidance would have been their guidance and they would also have benefited from the final guidance which was revealed in the form of the Qur’an. The following verse of Surah Bani Israil also alludes to this fact: ) وَ لَقَدْ فَضَّلْنَا بَعضَ النَّبِيِّن عَلَى بَعْضٍ وَ اتَيْنَا دَاؤدَ زَبُوْرَا (17:55 (and We also made certain prophets superior to others and to David We gave the Psalms, (17:55)).
(Javed Ahmed Ghamidi)
(Translated by Dr. Shehzad Saleem)
.The implication is that in the shari‘ah given to Muhammad (sws), the prayer cannot be offered only in places of worship but anywhere on earth and if water is not available, then dry ablution is enough both in place of wudu and ghusl.
.Muslim, Al-Jami‘ al-sahih, 213, (no. 1167).
. Ibid., 1040-1041, (no. 6138).
.Al-Bukhari, Al-Jami‘ al-sahih, 559, (no.3353); Muslim, Al-Jami‘ al-sahih, 1045, (no. 6161).
. Al-Bukhari, Al-Jami‘ al-sahih, 388, (no. 2412).
.Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 1, 583.
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