Was Muhammad a Lesser Prophet than Moses or Jesus?
When Royalty assign a task to someone in person, it is often denoted as a great privilege and is considered as an honor to whom it is the Royal addressed. Conversely, when a subject is deemed unfit to associate with in a personal manner, the undesirable task may be assigned to a servant.
With this in mind, it is surprising to learn that, according to the Qur'an, Musa and Isa (commonly identified with the Judeo-Christian Moses and Jesus Christ) received revelations directly from Allah while Prophet Muhammad did not.
The Qur'anic Evidence
Allah Spoke Directly to Moses
Pickthall: And messengers We have mentioned unto thee before and messengers We have not mentioned unto thee; and Allah spake directly unto Moses;
Shakir: And (We sent) apostles We have mentioned to you before and apostles we have not mentioned to you; and to Musa, Allah addressed His Word, speaking (to him):
Sher Ali: And WE sent some Messengers whom WE have already mentioned to thee and some Messengers whom WE have not mentioned to thee - and to Moses ALLAH spoke at great length -
Khalifa: Messengers we have told you about, and messengers we never told you about. And GOD spoke to Moses directly.
Palmer: Of apostles we have already told thee of some before; and of apostles some we have not told thee of;- But Moses did God speak to, speaking;-
Sale: [Some] apostles [have we sent], whom we have formerly mentioned unto thee, and [other] apostles [have we sent], whom we have not mentioned unto thee; and God spake unto Moses, discoursing [with him];
Rodwell: Of some apostles we have told thee before: of other apostles we have not told thee - And discoursing did God discourse with Moses -Transliteration: Warusulan qad qasasnahum AAalayka min qablu warusulan lam naqsushum AAalayka wakallama Allahu moosa takleeman
Allah Spoke Directly to Jesus
Pickthal: (And remember) when Allah said: O Jesus! Lo! I am gathering thee and causing thee to ascend unto Me, and am cleansing thee of those who disbelieve and am setting those who follow thee above those who disbelieve until the Day of Resurrection. Then unto Me ye will (all) return, and I shall judge between you as to that wherein ye used to differ.
Shakir: And when Allah said: O Isa, I am going to terminate the period of your stay (on earth) and cause you to ascend unto Me and purify you of those who disbelieve and make those who follow you above those who disbelieve to the day of resurrection; then to Me shall be your return, so I will decide between you concerning that in which you differed.
Sher Ali: Remember the time when ALLAH said' `O Jesus, I will cause thee to die a natural death and will raise thee to Myself, and will clear thee of the charges of those who disbelieve, and will exalt those who follow thee above those who disbelieve, until the Day of Resurrection; then to ME shall be your return, and I will judge between you concerning that wherein you differ.
Khalifa: Thus, GOD said, "O Jesus, I am terminating your life, raising you to Me, and ridding you of the disbelievers. I will exalt those who follow you above those who disbelieve, till the Day of Resurrection. Then to Me is the ultimate destiny of all of you, then I will judge among you regarding your disputes.
Palmer: When God said, 'O Jesus! I will make Thee die and take Thee up again to me and will clear thee of those who misbelieve, and will make those who follow thee above those who misbelieve, at the day of judgment, then to me is your return. I will decide between you concerning that wherein ye disagree.
Sale: When God said, o Jesus, verily I will cause thee to die, and I will take thee up unto me, and I will deliver thee from the unbelievers; and I will place those who follow thee, above the unbelievers, until the day of resurrection: Then unto me shall ye return, and I will judge between you of that concerning which ye disagree.
Rodwell: Remember when God said, "O Jesus! verily I will cause thee to die, and will take thee up to myself and deliver thee from those who believe not; and I will place those who follow thee above those who believe not, until the day of resurrection. Then, to me is your return, and wherein ye differ will I decide between you.Transliteration: Ith qala Allahu ya AAeesa innee mutawaffeeka warafiAAuka ilayya wamutahhiruka mina allatheena kafaroo wajaAAilu allatheena ittabaAAooka fawqa allatheena kafaroo ila yawmi alqiyamati thumma ilayya marjiAAukum faahkumu baynakum feema kuntum feehi takhtalifoona
Allah Did Not Speak Directly to Muhammad
Pickthal: Say (O Muhammad, to mankind): Who is an enemy to Gabriel! For he it is who hath revealed (this Scripture) to thy heart by Allah's leave, confirming that which was (revealed) before it, and a guidance and glad tidings to believers;
Shakir: Say: Whoever is the enemy of Jibreel -- for surely he revealed it to your heart by Allah's command, verifying that which is before it and guidance and good news for the believers.
Sher Ali: Say `Whoever is an enemy to Gabriel' - for he it is who has caused it to descend on thy heart by the command of ALLAH, fulfilling that revelation which precedes it, and is a guidance and glad tidings to the believers.
Khalifa: Say, "Anyone who opposes Gabriel should know that he has brought down this (Quran) into your heart, in accordance with GOD's will, confirming previous scriptures, and providing guidance and good news for the believers."
Palmer: Say, 'Who is an enemy to Gabriel?' for he hath revealed to thy heart, with God's permission, confirmation of what had been before, and a guidance and glad tidings to believers.
Sale: Say, whoever is an enemy to Gabriel - for he hath caused [the Koran] to descend on thy heart, by the permission of God, confirming that which was before [revealed], a direction, and good tidings to the faithful; -
Rodwell: SAY: Whoso is the enemy of Gabriel - For he it is who by God's leave hath caused the Koran to descend on thy heart, the confirmation of previous revelations, and guidance, and good tidings to the faithful -Transliteration: Qul man kana AAaduwwan lijibreela fa-innahu nazzalahu AAala qalbika bi-ithni Allahi musaddiqan lima bayna yadayhi wahudan wabushra lilmu/mineena
One possible explanation may be that Muhammad wanted people to think higher of Allah than the other Pagan deities, so he created a "secretary" that would act between Allah and himself. Allah was too important to talk directly to his people, making the people fear Allah more.
A report of Muhammad talking to Allah himself may have also been more vulnerable to being disbelieved than a claim of him talking to Allah through an intermediary; it makes the revelation more believable and more 'holy'.
As we have seen, the Qur'an itself says that Allah spoke directly to Moses, and Allah addressed Jesus directly in revealing his death, but the Qur'an also says that it was Jibreel, and not Allah, who gave the Qur'an to Prophet Muhammad.
From a Muslim perspective, the argument that Allah was too important to talk directly to his people does not hold water due to his personal interactions with previous prophets.
So we are still left with the questions; why would Allah give revelations directly to Moses and Jesus but would not do so for Muhammad? And why do Muslims consider Muhammad to be the last and greatest of all the prophets when Allah did not think him fit to speak directly to, and instead delegated this task to an Angel?
- Muhammad's Revelations - A hub page that leads to other articles related to Muhammad's Revelations