SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) - What are the Prophets' responsibilities towards God? What is the social, cultural and intellectual background in which the Prophets appear? To answer these questions, we analyze the following statements of the first Sermon of the Nahj-ul-Balagha. ”From his progeny (Adam), God chose (istafa) Prophets and took their pledge for His revelation and for carrying His message as their trust."
Istafa (to choose the best) is a very important and fundamental issue. In Arabic, not all selections are indicated by this word. Only when a pure element is recognized and chosen from amongst a collection of elements is the 'istafa' used. It is actually employed when the pure and the impure are separated in a collection of things and the pure portion is extracted.
As far as physical and spiritual aspects of humanity are concerned, the Prophets have been ordinary human beings but, at the same time, they have possessed the competence needed for gaining high ranks and positions.
Accordingly, they have been selected, distinguished individuals, born of parents none of whom have been involved in polytheism and human Corruption Thus 'istqfa' in its general sense implies that a trained and educated Generation deliver a more trained Generation to society.
As an example, the Prophet of Islam was born in a pure and holy family, from a father and mother who were, in turn, distinguished from the point of spirituality and morals (and not on the basis of race, blood, wealth and aristocratic privileges). In fact, 'Abdullah was superior to all fathers and Amina was superior to all mothers. These two spiritually trained beings married and provided society with a child nobler to all children, a better spiritually-trained being.
So much is certain that the Prophets who appeared before Moses; peace be upon him, enjoyed lesser spirituality than those who came after him and after Jesus Christ, peace be upon him, for every Prophet has been the product of the training and education brought by the Prophets before him, i.e. the prevailing divine and spiritual training provided by past Prophets have been quite influential for the growth of the coming ones. Thus, the Commander of the Faithful uses the word 'istafa' to indicate that God has appointed those beings to prophethood who have had this spiritual training.
”... and took their ledge for His revelation and for carrying his message as their trust." Here the Commander of the Faithful mentions the Prophets' commitments and says that they are committed in two respects: First they have a commitment towards the divine revelation, meaning that they are obliged to say merely what they receive as revelation and not to intermix their personal views with the divine message. Second, they are obliged to deliver the message they have received and not to bury it with themselves.
”in the course of time many people perverted God's trust with them and ignored his position and took partners along with Him. Satan turned them away from knowing him and kept them aloof from his worship." In five short sentences, the Commander of the Faithful provides us with a precise account of the mental, practical, social and cultural background of the people at the time of the Prophets' appearance.
In the first sentence he uses the Phrase 'aktharu khalqihi' (the majority of His creatures) to indicate that not all the people, but a great many of them, had perverted God's prescription and commands because absolute darkness or ignorance has never had dominance over a society, that is, in no age and era People have been left without heavenly guides, teachers and messengers who have themselves had some faithful followers. In tact he refers to a society and a time in which people ignored God's orders, changed the general principles delivered through the chain of prophethood and deviated the course and program of life determined by the Prophets through the application of prejudices, perversions and Personal grudges.