Duties and Responsibilities of the Prophets

In the previous lesson, it was concluded that the chosen Prophets of God have certain responsibilities towards God and the people. This lesson is aimed at discussing these responsibilities.
Our discussion here does not include such matters as the establishment of a monotheistic society and a prophetic government, not meaning that these matters have not been part of the Prophets’ missions. They have definitely been aimed for and the Prophets have come to establish the ideal society for mankind).

If fact, responsibility or mission here means the change that the Prophets bring about within the human being, for founding a just, monotheistic society is impossible without constructed human beings in the same way as a social revolution is inseparable from an inner revolution among people.
This change and provocation originate from the heart of the Prophet, encompass the hearts of people and finally lead to inner explosions among the arisen and faithful individuals. Should the means of such provocation be available (for which the Prophets are responsible) then it would be time to construct society and establish the monotheistic system.
Now, we will study the Prophets’ responsibilities in the following words of the Commander of the Faithful Imam Ali (A.S.) in Nahjul Balagha “Then God sent His Messengers and series of His Prophets towards them to help them to fulfill the pledges of His creation, to recall to them His bounties, to exhort them by preaching, to unveil before them the hidden virtues of wisdom and show them the signs of His Omnipotence…”
With this general policy, the Prophets connected themselves with the people and their inner selves. i.e., with these aims and manners of developing human beings in their mind, they began their missions and on these same bases they tried to establish the Islamic community. Thus, in all dimensions of the Islamic community such as education, economics, government, human relations, etc., nothing contradictory to these aims should be found.
For example, if in an Islamic community something creates forgetfulness instead of ‘recalling’, that is against the philosophy behind the Prophets’ appointment to prophethood. In fact, all the social signs of an Islamic system, i.e. all those things that constitute the minor and major structures of an Islamic community, should induce people to “fulfill the pledges of His creation”.
These five programs (to which the Commander of the Faithful Imam Ali (A.S.) refers in Nahjul Balagha) were compensatory for the deficiencies existent among people during the age of ignorance when Prophets were absent -deficiencies and short comings mentioned in this same Sermon, which we analyzed before under the title ‘mental, social and … backgrounds to prophethood’ (“In the course of time many people perverted God’s trust with them…”).
What is this ‘trust’ or ‘covenant’? It is the human being’s absolute servitude towards God, the human being has a commitment towards God and that is worshipping none but Him. Worshipping other than God means submission to others, whether it be mental, physical, doctrinal or practical. The human being is actually responsible to submit to no one except God but this does not mean that one has accepted this responsibility without having had power and a free will to reject it. The human being’s nature and one’s inner mechanism conform to the servitude and worship of God. These are, in fact, hidden in humanity’s primordial nature. The Holy Qur’an says:
“Made I not covenant with you, children of Adam, that you should not serve Satan – surely he is a manifest foe to you? And that ye should worship me, (for that) this was the straight way?” (36:60-61)
After appointment, the Prophets ask human beings to destroy the change and distortion which they have brought about in God’s trust and to make contact with God on the basis of their covenant with Him (“fulfill the pledges of His creation”. This is the very removal of deficiencies of the age of ignorance, the age in which ‘God’s position remains unknown’, the age when Prophets come to recall God’s bounties to people.
Asking people to fulfill their natural covenant with God is not a complementary matter. It has a general and, at the same time, absolute concept involving propagation through mere speaking, providing the addressee with final reasoning and teaching purification of the people through controlled behavior. In the Holy Qur’an we read”, Invite (all) to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best …”(16:125)
In this verse, God asks the Prophet to expose the simple minds of the people and the adversaries to wisdom at the beginning stages and after a firm foundation for reasoning is achieved, guide them by preaching. These results in the purification of the mind and soul and, as the final stage, prevent them from establishing wrong reasoning, argue with them and convince them.
Concerning their relationship with human beings, Prophets are obliged and responsible to remove mental obstacles. Thus, those individuals or regimes that bring about such obstacles are opposed and fought by the Prophets. Accordingly, the Prophet’s asking the people to fulfill their natural covenant ranges from wisdom and reasoning to the Islamic jihad (religious and spiritual struggle in the way of God for the removal of the obstacles.
The ‘natural covenant’ and humanity’s primordial nature (i.e. worshipping God alone) are in conformity with the natural structure of the whole universe. Therefore, all the decrees and regulations of the Divine Law, which are incumbent on human beings, conform to human nature. This is clarified in several verses of the Holy Qur’an. Examples are as follows,
“So set thou thy face steadily and truly to the faith: (establish) God’s handiwork according to the pattern on which He has made mankind: no change (let there be) in the work (wrought) by God. (30:30)
In Sura Ar-Rahman, some of the verses speak of humanity’s structure and Attributes and of the time of creation such as
“(God) most Gracious! It is He who has taught the Qur’an… He has created mankind…”
Some others refer to natural phenomena such as the following,
“ The sun and the moon follow, courses (exactly) computed; and the stars and the trees – both (alike) bow, in adoration. And the firmament hat He raised high, and He has set up balance (of justice…” (55:5-7)
It should be noticed here that by ‘bowing in adoration’ the Qur’an implies that natural phenomena are in a state of submission towards God and move according to specific rules and regulations. It should also be observed that the, balance, has nothing to do with plants, sun, moon, etc., but exclusively for humanity’s good and evil deeds to be recognized and measured.

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