It is believed that Allah (SWT) selected a number of prophets to recite His teachings, and this is widely known, but two of the main questions surrounding them are how many Islamic prophets were there, and who are they? If you have any questions surrounding the prophets, read on as we explain everything you need to know about them.
What is a Prophet in Islam?
Islamic prophets are messengers sent by Allah (SWT) to demonstrate ideal behaviour and spread the word and teachings of Allah (SWT) to people on Earth.
How many Islamic Prophets are there?
Allah (SWT) selected 25 prophets to spread His messages.
Who is the first Prophet of Islam?
Adam is the first Islamic prophet. He and Hawwa (Eve) were the first humans on Earth, and Adam is considered the father of the human race. It is said that Allah (SWT) created Adam and Eve from clay and gave them free rein in Paradise. He told them that they might have anything they wanted, but He forbade them from eating the fruits of one tree in Paradise, but they disobeyed Him and sinned. As a punishment, Allah (SWT) sent them to Earth, where Adam had to learn how to grow crops, bake and survive – skills which he passed down to his descendants.
Adam and Eve had many children, including Abel, Cain, and Seth. Abel and Cain were both asked by Allah (SWT) to present a suitable sacrifice. Allah (SWT) accepted Abel’s effort but rejected Cain’s. In a fit of rage and jealousy, Cain threw a rock at Abel and killed him, resulting in the first murder on Earth. Following this, when the time came for Adam to choose a successor, he chose Seth, who became the second prophet.
Who are the Prophets?
Following Adam, who is the first prophet of Islam, and his son Seth, there were 23 further prophets who came in the following order:
Idris – Idris (also called Enoch) was born in Babylon. He adhered to the rules and teachings of Prophet Seth, and when he came of age, he received the Revelation, and Allah (SWT) bestowed prophethood upon him. Idris left Babylon after he witnessed the people committing sins despite his warnings not to. Some people joined Idris, and they left Babylon, arriving in Egypt. Idris spent a great deal of time preaching, worshipping, and researching his ancestors, Adam and Eve. He is believed to have possessed great wisdom and was the first man to use a pen to write.
Nuh – Nuh (also called Noah) received the message from Allah (SWT) that unless people started to recognise Him as the one true God, a great disaster would happen. Nuh dutifully spread the word of Allah (SWT) and attempted to warn people that if they continued to worship several gods, they would be punished. The people didn’t listen, so in an attempt to preserve life – including those who did eventually listen to him – Nuh built an ark. He admitted a pair of each type of animal and awaited the arrival of the Great Flood, which Allah (SWT) warned would happen, and it did.
Hud – Hud lived in ʿĀd and was devoted to Allah (SWT) as the only deity, but at this time, he was alone in his views. He tried desperately to get people to listen to him when he said that there was only one God, but the people of ʿĀd refused to listen, instead mocking Hud and Allah’s (SWT) message. Eventually, after all the mocking, Allah (SWT) imparted a thunderous storm and destroyed ʿĀd.
Saleh – Saleh was sent by Allah (SWT) to spread His teachings and preach against the Shirk’s wealth and selfishness in Thamud. The people of Thamud refused to believe him until he performed a miracle. Allah (SWT) gifted the people of Thamud a she-camel, but the people of Thamud hamstrung the camel, and Saleh warned them that as a consequence of their actions and disbelief, Allah (SWT) imparted punishment in the form of an earthquake.
Ibrahim – Ibrahim is one of the most highly regarded prophets, and it is his devotion to Allah (SWT) that is revered at Qurbani, celebrated during the festival of Eid. Eid al-Adha 2023 takes place from 28 June to 1 July 2023. Ibrahim was commanded by Allah (SWT) to sacrifice the thing he held dearest – his son, Ismail. Ibrahim discussed the command with Ismail, and it was agreed as an act of obedience to Allah (SWT). At the very last moment, Allah (SWT) swapped Ismail for a ram and spared his life, revealing the whole thing to be a test.
Lut – Lut was sent by Allah (SWT) to the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to promote monotheism and to inform the people of how homosexuality and acts of violent lust are sinful. He warned the people of the city about how they were sinning, but they did not listen, and as such, the two cities were destroyed.
Ismail – Ismail was the son of Ibrahim and followed in his father’s footsteps, promoting the word of Allah (SWT).
Ishaq – Ishaq (also called Isaac) was the son of Ismail and, like his father, Ismail, continued on the path to spreading the name of Allah (SWT).
Yaqub – Yaqub (also known as Jacob) is an important prophet and is mentioned 16 times in the Qur’an. He is the father of the 12 tribes and is revered as a man of might.
Yusuf – Yusuf (sometimes referred to as Joseph) was the son of Yaqub. His father loved him dearly, and this caused jealousy amongst his brothers, so they threw him in a well. He was picked up by travellers and used as a slave, finally being imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. Despite his hardship, he did not give up his faith in Allah (SWT).
Ayyub – Ayyub (also called Job) was sorely tested by Allah (SWT) for many years, but he did not relinquish his faith in the Almighty and was rewarded for his unwavering belief and obedience.
Shu-ayyb – Shu-ayyb (also known as Jethro) was sent to the Midianite community as a prophet and spread the word of Allah (SWT), warning the people that if they did not change their fraudulent ways, they would be punished. When the people did not listen, their community was destroyed. Shu-ayyb is revered as the most eloquent prophet.
Musa – Musa is also known as Moses and is mentioned more than any other person in the Qur’an. He and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) are said to have shared a number of parallels.
Harun – Also referred to as Aaron, Harun was the first high priest of the Israelites and was the brother of Musa.
Dhu’l-Kifl – After Harun came to Dhu’l-Kifl, who is the Islamic equivalent of Ezekiel, although he is sometimes associated with Isaiah, Joshua, or Obadiah instead of Ezekiel. Dhul-Kifl was mentioned twice in the Qur’an and preached the word of Allah (SWT) extensively throughout Iraq.
Dawud – Dawud (also known as David) was a soldier for King Talut and defeated the giant Jalut (Goliath). He is a notable figure because he received the Zabur – biblical psalms – and was one of only a handful of prophets to have done so.
Sulaiman – Sulaiman (Solomon) was the son of Dawud and took over his prophecy when he died. Sulaiman was the king of Israel, and it is said he could communicate with animals and jinn. He is hailed as one of the greatest rulers of all time, and it is said that no king before or after him was able to reach his level.
Ilyas – Occasionally spelt as Elijah or Elias, Ilyas resided in the northern kingdom of Israel, which was, at the time, inhabited by people who worshipped the ancient God, Baal. Ilyas spoke to the worshippers of Baal and told them about Allah (SWT). He defended Allah’s (SWT) name and remained loyal to the one true God.
Al-Yasa – Al-Yasa (Elisha) succeeded Ilyas as one of Allah’s (SWT) elected prophets. He is mentioned briefly in the Qur’an but is regarded as having miracle powers, including being able to walk on water, revive the deceased and cure the diseased. He was said to have been raised by Ilyas.
Yunus – Prophet Yunus was sent to the city of Nineveh in north Iraq by Allah (SWT) as the city was resided in by idol worshippers. Allah (SWT) is the only God, and Yunus was sent to inform the people of Nineveh of this and to guide them on the right path. He was met with rejection and, against Allah’s (SWT) will, Yunus left Nineveh in search of a community that would accept Allah (SWT). Allah (SWT) turned the sky red above Nineveh, and a fierce storm brewed. The people of the city dropped to their knees and begged for mercy, which Allah (SWT) granted. Meanwhile, Yunus was travelling by boat, and a storm came. One man had to be sacrificed for the sake of the others, and Yunus knew this was Allah’s (SWT) punishment for leaving Nineveh, so he dived in and was swallowed by a whale. He repented to Allah (SWT) and spat out to return to Nineveh.
Zakariyya – Zakariyya (or Zechariah) fathered Yahya (John the Baptist), who went on to become the guardian of Mary, the mother of Isa.
Yahya – The son of Zakariyya, Yahya was told by Allah (SWT) about the arrival of Isa (Jesus). He was known as a merciful man who was committed to Allah (SWT), and he was described as a gentle being – so much so that it is said he did not do one thing against the will of Allah (SWT) in his life.
Isa – For those wondering, ‘Is Jesus a prophet in Islam?’ he is, but in the Qur’an, his name is spelt as Isa. He was the penultimate prophet, and Allah (SWT) sent him to guide the people of Israel on the straight path. Isa differs from Jesus in the Christian Bible because in the Qur’an, he is not considered the son of God, nor was he crucified. Isa holds much significance in Islam because he is mentioned 93 times in the Qur’an. It is said that Allah (SWT) revealed the Gospel to Isa.
Muhammad – Finally, we come to Muhammad (PBUH), who is the last prophet of Islam. He was sent by Allah (SWT) to confirm the teachings of the prophets before him, and he is often regarded as the father of Islam. Muhammad (PBUH) recited the exact words of Allah (SWT) in the form of the Qur’an, and the Angel Jibril revealed to him Allah’s (SWT) teachings over the course of 23 years. Muhammad (PBUH) originally lived in Mecca, but after spreading the word of Allah (SWT) to the people of Mecca, who – at the time believed in multiple Gods – he and his followers were persecuted, and so they left for Medina. Some years later, Muhammad (PBUH) returned to Mecca and was respected by those who had previously persecuted him, and he and his followers were allowed to practice their beliefs without persecution.
Were there any female Prophets in Islam?
There are no female prophets in Islam, but females are held in high regard because they are the mothers of the prophets and play a pivotal role in raising them to greatness.
Was Muhammad the final Prophet?
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is known in the Qur’an as Khatam-un-Nabiyeen, which translates as ‘seal of the prophets’. This is generally taken to mean that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was the last prophet, and no more shall come after him.
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If you have questions about any of the prophets and their teachings, you should consult your local imam for guidance. You can also support our Islamic charity work by donating to Orphans in Need here today – anything that you can give will go a long way to making a difference to those most in need.