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What Did Intellect Mean for the Mission of Prophethood?


Intellect is another important attribute of Prophethood. We mean by intellect, as attributed to the Prophets, a composite of reasoning power, sagacity, intelligence, sound judgment and wisdom far-exceeding the capacity of ordinary people. The intellect of a Prophet is a faculty that overpasses ordinary reasoning through a sublime power of understanding; it encompasses and co-ordinates all human abilities, whether of the heart and soul or of the mind.

Under the influence of some passing trends, some take a reductive view of Islam as a rationalistic system. They regard reason as the ultimate authority without distinguishing between the judgement of a sound reason and the excesses and shortcomings of rationalism. All the principles of Islam, being a revealed religion originating in an All-Encompassing Knowledge, can certainly be confirmed by reason. But it should never be forgotten that a full understanding of Islam as revealed by God requires Prophetic intellect able to grasp the meaning of the universe and man overall and in detail. Islam does, indeed, admit the ultimate authority of reason, not the mortal reason of each individual, limited by his particular capacity and, in most cases, conflicting with the reason of other individuals, but of the universal reason of the Prophet, for Islam is the name of the Divine universal order.

God manifests His Names through veils. Although His absolute Unity demands that we attribute the effects directly to His creative Power, His Transcendence, Grandeur and Majesty require ‘natural’ causes to veil His acts, so that people should not ascribe to Him some things and events seeming un-agreeable to them. He therefore raised the Prophets as ‘the means’ by which to communicate His Revelations to people. As it is impossible for everyone to receive His Revelations directly from Him, the Prophets functioned as a ‘prism’ to receive and reflect the Divine Revelations. They modulated them according to the understanding capacity of individuals in different ages and under different circumstances. That is, the Prophetic intellect through which a Prophet understands people in their diverse characters, mental capacities, moods and other personal distinguishing traits and so answers the questions and solves the problems put to him. If we study the achievement of the Last Prophet, upon him be peace and blessings, in all the diverse aspects of his life and mission, we see that he was both a statesman and commander of the highest order. As the embodiment or most comprehensive manifestation of the Divine Attribute of Speech, he is the most influential orator of all times; one whose words strike everyone and, however simple they may appear at first sight according to the mental capacity of the persons hearing them and the scientific level of the time, they are, in fact, like an ocean, whose depth is only appreciated the more deeply one dives into it, or like a rose with petals one within the other, each full of meanings. Also, his level of understanding was such that Wahb ibn Munabbih, who knew the Torah and Gospels very well, said:

When compared to that of God’s Messenger, the total mental capacity and perception of all people is like a single particle of sand as compared to all the sand in a vast desert.1


1. Qadi Iyad, Shifa’, 1.67.


This article has been adapted from Risale- i Nur Collection.