Ruling on making distinctions between the prophets and deeming one of them to be superior to others


I would like to inquire about making distinctions between the messengers of Allah and who has the highest position (in the sight of Allah)?


We should believe in the mission of any messenger that has been authentically reported in the Qur’an or Sunnah to have had a mission. Whoever believes in some of them and disbelieves in others is considered a Kafir (disbeliever), for Allah’s Saying (Exalted be He): “The Messenger (Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) believes in what has been sent down to him from his Lord, and (so do) the believers. Each one believes in Allâh, His Angels, His Books, and His Messengers. (They say), “We make no distinction between one another of His Messengers”“[Al-Baqarah: 285]

Verily, those who disbelieve in Allâh and His Messengers and wish to make distinction between Allâh and His Messengers (by believing in Allâh and disbelieving in His Messengers) saying, “We believe in some but reject others,” and wish to adopt a way in between. They are in truth disbelievers. And We have prepared for the disbelievers a humiliating torment. And those who believe in Allâh and His Messengers and make no distinction between any of them (Messengers), We shall give them their rewards; and Allâh is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [al-Nisa: 150-152]

However, making distinction between messengers in rank, position, merits and levels is true according to the Qur’an. Allah (Exalted be He) says: “Those Messengers! We preferred some of them to others; to some of them Allâh spoke (directly); others He raised to degrees (of honour)” [al-Baqarah: 253]

The best among them are Ulu Al-‘Azm (Messengers of inflexible purpose); Nuh (Noah), Ibrahim (Abraham), Musa (Moses), ‘Isa (Jesus) and Muhammad (peace be upon them). The best of these five are Ibrahim and Muhammad for being honored with Al-Khillah (friendship) which is the perfection of love.

The best of messengers ever is the last of the prophets, Muhammad (peace be upon him) for the Hadith which states: “I shall be pre-eminent amongst the descendants of Adam on the Day of Resurrection; the first one to emerge from his grave and I will be the first intercessor and the first whose intercession will be accepted (by Allah).” Related by Muslim in his Sahih and Abu Dawud in his Sunan. 1

He also said: “I am the leader of Messengers without boasting and I am the last of Prophets without boasting.” Related by Al-Darimy in his Sunan. 2

There is a third Hadith in this regard which states: “Amongst the prophets I will have the largest number of followers on the Day of Resurrection, and I will be the first to knock on the door of Paradise.” Narrated by Muslim in his Sahih.3 Besides, there are Hadiths regarding his entitlement to the great intercession and his willingness to ask for it after all the other prophets refuse to do so, and to save people from the horror of this situation by his intercession for their sake.

There are other Hadiths with respect to his precedence, besides the consensus of the Ummah (Islamic nation) on this. Yet, a Muslim should be courteous towards the prophets and refrain from involving in arguments about preference among the prophets except in the case of learning, guidance and the like, lest this should lead to undesirable arguments and boasting, which may lead to debasing any of the prophets. Al-Bukhari and Muslim related on the authority of Abu Hurayrah that he said: “A Muslim and a Jew quarreled, the Jew said: “By Him Who has preferred Musa (Moses), over all people.” The Muslim at that time raised his hand, slapped the Jew and said: “You vicious! And over Muhammad too (peace be upon him).” The Jew then went to the Prophet (peace be upon him) to complain about the Muslim. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Do not give me superiority over Prophets…4

So, the Prophet (peace be upon him) has forbidden involvement in comparing between him and the prophets, lest this should lead to bad consequences, even though preference among them is authentically reported in the Qur’an and Sunnah as well as identifying the best of them is well-established in clear texts.

May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.

  1. Ahmad, vol. 5, p. 540; Muslim, no. 2278; Abu Dawud, no. 4673; and Ibn Khuzaymah, Al-Tawhid, no. 362.’ 

  2. Al-Darimi, vol. 1, p. 31; and Al-Bayhaqy, Al-Dala*il, vol. 5, p. 480, from the Hadith narrated by Jabir ibn `Abdullah. 

  3. Ahmad, vol. 2, pp. 341 and 451; Muslim, no. 196; Ibn Majah, no. 4356; and Ibn Abu Shaybah, Al-Musannaf, vol. 11, p. 503. 

  4. Ahmad, vol. 3, p. 41, its wording reads: “Do not make distinction between the Prophets,” from the Hadith narrated by Abu Sa’id Al-Khudry; Al-Bukhari, Fat-h-ul-Bary, no. 3414; Muslim, Book on virtues, no. 159; and Al-Bayhaqy, vol. 5, p. 482, its wording reads: “Do not differentiate between the Prophets.” 

  • Date: Muharram 8, 1442 AH
  • Source: Fatawa Al-Lajnah Ad-Da'imah no. 1000-6
  • Muftis: Shaykh Ibrahim ibn Muhammad Aal Al-Shaykh , Shaykh Abdul-Razzaq al-Afify , Shaykh Abdullah ibn Ghudayyan , Shaykh Abdullah ibn Mani'