To every nation that has passed on, Allah sent a messenger who summoned them to His true path. Messengers are those who communicate the existence and oneness of Allah, spread His religion, and inform them about what Allah demands from them, in other words, things that they should do and things that they should abstain from. They also warn them against the punishment of Hell and give them the glad tidings of Paradise.
The lives and struggles of the messengers are abundant in lessons for believers who think and are inclined to learn from them. In the Qur'an, Allah describes in detail the subjects they communicated to their peoples, the methods they employed to persuade them and many other aspects of the messengers themselves. There is instruction in their stories for people of intelligence... (Surah Yusuf, 111)
Believers should not differentiate between any of the messengers and should take their virtuous manners and behaviour as described in the Qur'an as their model. They should follow their advice, and act on it and hold in very high regard their warnings. Again, in accordance with Allah's command, the Prophet (saas) revealed that we should not discriminate between the prophets sent by Allah, and in one hadith, said, “Don't give superiority to any prophet amongst Allah's prophets.” (Sahih Bukhari)
That is because Allah narrates the stories of these distinguished servants of His in the Qur'an not merely as historical facts, but also in order to encourage believers to reflect on, and pay heed to these superior people so that they may take them as their models.
The stories and actions of the messengers as described in the Qur'an contain examples and lessons for believers. This is a fact that is particularly stated in the Qur'an. For instance, it is stated that there is a good example for the believers to follow in Ibrahim (as), and those who adhered to him and their exemplary attitudes are described in the following verses:
You have an excellent example in Ibrahim and those who followed him, when they said to their people, “We wash our hands of you and all that you worship apart from Allah, and we reject you. Between us and you there will be enmity and hatred for ever unless you believe in Allah alone.” But do not emulate Ibrahim’s words to his father: “I will ask forgiveness for you, but I have no power to help you in any way against Allah.” “Our Lord, we have put our trust in You and have repented to You. You are our final destination. Our Lord, do not make us a target for those who disbelieve. Forgive us, our Lord; You are the Almighty, the All-Wise.” There is an excellent example in them for you to follow, that is for those whose hope is in Allah and the Last Day. But if anyone turns away, he shall know that Allah is the Rich Beyond Need, the Praiseworthy. (Surah Mumtahana, 4-6)
In the same way, all other messengers are also chosen servants of Allah; they should be taken as models by the believers in every respect. Those who believe make no distinction between any of the messengers and believe in what has been revealed to each of them. This is a command of Allah which should be carried out meticulously as all other commands:
Say, “We believe in Allah and what has been sent down to us and what was sent down to Ibrahim and Isma‘il and Ishaq and Ya‘qub and the tribes, and what Musa and ‘Isa were given, and what all the prophets were given by their Lord. We do not differentiate between any of them. We are Muslims who have submitted to Him.” (Surat al- Baqara, 136)
All messengers have called people to accept the true religion and the most upright way. This call, as well as being for their peoples, is also for us. The basic religious and moral facts that they all invited others to accept, and the characteristics of virtue that they displayed should be followed and taken as a model by us too as in ages past.
As a matter of fact, Allah sets forth in the Qur'an the facts which messengers have invited their people to accept, and provides a detailed account of the excellent character traits they possessed. He commanded all believers in the personality of our Prophet (saas) to submit themselves to the true path:
They are the ones to whom We gave the Book, judgement and prophethood. If these people reject it, We shall entrust it to others who will not. They are the ones Allah has guided, so be guided by their guidance. Say, “I do not ask you for any wage for it. It [the Qur'an] is simply an admonition to all mankind.” (Surat al-An'am, 89-90)
That being so, the responsibility of believers is to give careful consideration to the life stories of messengers related in the Qur’an, and make their best efforts to follow the path they indicate, and comply with their admonitions and warnings. The purpose of this book is to assist such efforts on the part of believers.