Why does Allah not address men directly? Why does He address men through His prophets and messengers?
It seems to me that what you imply in your question is that why did God choose some people as His prophets and messengers and then give mankind His guidance through these messengers and prophets. Why did He not, on the contrary, give his guidance to all individuals directly? The following answer is according to my stated understanding of your question.
Before answering your specific question, I would like to introduce you to some points that shall help in the appreciation of my subsequent answer to your question.
According to the Qur’an, the life of this world is a test for mankind. During this time, man is being tested from various aspects. He is being tested for whether or not he submits to and accepts what is right and for whether or not he acts according to what he believes to be correct.
For showing man the path of success in this test, God gave him information through two basic sources. Firstly, each and every individual has been given a part of this information directly from God. This part of the information primarily consists of the basic knowledge regarding the oneness of the Creator, on the one hand, and knowledge regarding the basic good and evil, on the other. Man, according to the Qur’an, is not dependent on any prophets to know and accept that God alone is His Creator and that He does not have any partners or associates and that He alone, therefore, deserves to be worshipped. Moreover, according to the Qur’an, man is not dependent on God’s prophets to know and accept that lying, defrauding, cruelty, injustice are all vices, while speaking and accepting the truth, honesty, mercy and justice are all virtues. Another aspect of the knowledge of the basic good and bad is the virtuous values that are sparked within the human hearts and souls, since the time of its inception. These basic values, besides others, include honesty, truthfulness, justice and Hayaa.1
Secondly, God selected the best of men among their respective generations to deliver His message to others. The men selected for this purpose are called ‘prophets’ or ‘messengers’. The purpose for selecting prophets and delivering the message through them, primarily consisted of:
Reminding people of the knowledge of the oneness of the Creator, and introducing them to the attributes of the Creator, which is an obvious prerequisite of establishing the correct relationship with the Creator;
Introducing man to the detailed directives of the Creator, which were based on and in keeping with the basic inborn values already entailed in the human heart and soul;
Setting a practical example of a life lived according to the basic inborn values and knowledge entailed in the human heart and soul and according to the guidance that comes through revelation. This aspect also includes establishing the correct and the balanced relationship with the Creator, on the one hand, and the correct and balanced relationship with fellow human beings on the other; and
Reminding man of the day when he shall have to face his Creator and shall have to face the consequences of his deeds performed during the test of this life.
In the light of the points mentioned above, let us now take up your specific question.
It seems that God, with His absolute Wisdom and Knowledge, decided to select the best of men as His prophets and to deliver His message through these prophets, rather than give His detailed directives to all men directly, to keep the life of this world a test for man. This test, it may be reminded consists of accepting realities by using our invaluable faculty of reasoning. Had God given His guidance to all mankind directly, no one would be left with the freedom and choice of accepting or rejecting the truth2 This would effectively have refuted the concept of the test that man has been put into. We know that the very concept of the ‘test’ requires man to have the freedom to accept as well as reject what is right and wrong. Just as no one would effectively have the choice of rejecting God’s presence on the Day of Judgment, direct guidance to all individuals would have had the same effect. Therefore, in keeping with the concept of the ‘test’ during the life of this world, God decided to give His detailed guidance to mankind through the select class of people called the ‘prophets’. However, it should be kept in mind that the information given by these prophets was not absolutely alien to man. This information was basically an extension of the basic values and knowledge that was inherent to the human heart and soul. It is for this reason that the Qur’an has termed the guidance that comes through the prophets of God as a ‘reminder’.
28th February 2000
- Hayaa is one of the basic values that Islam wants to inculcate among its adherents. Due to the lack of an accurate synonymous in the English language, I have used the Arabic word, which, over here, implies ‘the suppression of sexual interaction within certain limits and the avoidance of instigating sexual attraction or being instigated by a sexual attraction beyond those limits”. [↩]
- It should be remembered that Man rejects the unseen realities – sometimes even the very existence of God – because God has kept Himself hidden. [↩]