Mental Health & Developmental Policies

depression

Source: Pinterest

“I searched for a common goal amongst humankind, to which all would agree to strive for excellence. I have not found anything other than the vanquishing of anxiety [hamm]” – Ibn Hazm (d.  AH), famous Andalusian scholar of Islam.

The recent spate of deaths by suicide within the Maldivian community, both at home and abroad has sparked off the debate concerning illnesses of the mental health variety which includes depression, anxiety etc. and associated symptoms. While debate of this kind is healthy because it gives room for people to open up about their struggles concerning mental health issues, certain comments by authorities and public alike tends to do more harm than good. These statements often stem out of ignorance of what mental health issues are about, the root causes that drives them, and how at the end of the day it is the inadequacies of the government of the day that is on prominent display when all is said and done.

Linking and associating mental health disorders solely on one’s religiousness or irreligiousness as some put it, is one of the aspects of what I am talking about. While Maldives is constitutionally a 100% Islamic nation, where politicians spew rhetoric on a regular basis trying to portray a picture of harmony, peace and stability in the country, the truth is far from it. Underneath all the fairy tales that the government conjures up lies a country that is deeply divided on many central issues related to the government, governance itself, the political system, religion, and not to mention the fissures and divides that exists as deep wounds over what some call as the Male’-Raajjethere divide.

Developmental policies since the beginning of President Maumoon Abdul Gayyoom’s time which spanned a period of 30 years before he stepped down in 2008 after losing the first multi-party presidential elections that was held, is a pivotal reason behind the social inequities and imbalances that exists in the country even today. Factor in a coup that toppled a people elected government in 2012 and the upheaval that followed, the Presidential elections of 2013 which was “won” through the Supreme Court of Maldives, the incumbent regime in existence is merely following up and “expanding” on the groundbreaking policies laid by the now President Yameen Abdul Gayyoom’s half-brother himself.

Under President Maumoon’s leadership, the people that he wanted to keep close were fed from the state coffers and as a result got richer and more affluent, while the poor remained more or less at a level where they struggled to make ends meet; in a status of state controlled poverty, being thankful for the “generous” handouts that were given from the Presidential Palace or the President’s Office at the time.

President Maumoon practiced the art of the “benevolent and kind” leader that was generous to those that did not come into conflict with him about his policies and many atrocities. Those that did, bore the brunt of it, either being “reeducated” at the prisons that were notorious then for torture, death and prisoners that were often talked about to have gone missing.

It was President Maumoon’s developmental policies that saw the capital Male’ “developed” as a concrete city of national pride and prosperity while far lying atolls and islands got scraps and pieces of the developmental aid that poured into the country from left and right during his reign. A half constructed jetty here and there, a single storey building as a school on another and a less than adequately equipped health center somewhere else. In the meantime, “Atholhuge” or short-stay residences for visiting government officials were setup in islands considered as the “capitals” within the atolls, with every luxury that could be afforded at the time.

Meanwhile, people were forced to migrate to the greater Male’ that constitutes now of Male’, Vilingili and Hulhumale’, all designed to centralize power, which in the end meant easier control over the masses that the presidency ruled over. Families fell into hardship trying to make ends meet, living in small cramped spaces in the capital paying exorbitant amounts of money for rent, because there exists no rent control mechanisms enforced by the government on land owners even up till today. These families left behind spacious and airy homes in their islands where they could have led a more physically and mentally well rounded life, just because they wanted to give their children a chance at getting a better education and later on perhaps a better future than the ones they were stuck with.

In the islands, the eldest sons often were forced to leave school halfway through secondary education or even before in order to make ends meet in the family, forced to work at a far lying resort somewhere, getting to see their parents, wives and children when the resort management deemed it fit. With no Employment Act in existence, with rights of the employees not guaranteed by law, many employees were left floundering within a system that saw little need in taking a more holistic approach towards the needs of employees.

It is no surprise then that many families that lived within the crowded Male’ city ended up being prime examples of broken homes. No one needs to go into details on how lack of intimacy in a marriage between the husband and wife brings on physical and emotional imbalances to the relationship, how these wounds can fester and explode into messy and ofttimes ugly divorces, leaving behind children scarred and hollowed out by the resultant effect.

When one talks about mental health issues, it is often closely linked to one’s childhood, the effects of perhaps long forgotten traumatic experiences that lingers somewhere in the mind to manifest in uglier ways. One could be totally in control of their lives one minute and sweating over a perceived danger to their very existence the next. The mind after all has a “mind” of its own and it is seldom easy under the circumstances to control its various thought processes and the negative emotions that can arise out of the chemical imbalances that sets in.

There is also the hereditary factor to consider, some studies pointing to a link between depression and a polymorphism in the serotonin transporter gene SLC6A4 which is known as 5-HTTLPR. A 2003 study found that the presence of this particular 5-HTTPLR increased risk of depression, but only for those who also experienced life stressors or trauma, which perhaps points towards traumatic childhood experiences.

Suicide and genetics on the other hand, according to a recently published Q&A article on MayoClinic attests to the fact that it is a complicated association. While research has shown that there is a genetic component to suicide, it is alluded that there are other contributing factors that increases an individual’s risk. What complicates matters further when it comes to the link is a process called epigenetics, the process via which certain genes are turned on or off as a person grows and develops, which can be once again influenced by what happens in a person’s environment. Meaning that once again, childhood factors could play a significant role here.

When people so carelessly point towards mental illnesses and suicide as being caused by lack of faith or one’s lack of closeness to Allah SWT, they fail to take into consideration the stress under which most of the families live when it comes to the heavenly paradise on Earth that is known as the Maldives. A paradise for those that visits its luxury resorts and gets the five-star treatment worth the exorbitant amounts charged, little of this wealth which if at all trickles down to the people.

The income inequalities, social injustices that exists deep rooted within society, the lack of a comprehensive and fair justice system that protects the rights of everyone, especially the most vulnerable; children, mothers and fathers collectively, the lack of adequate support systems that takes over when these institutions fail to uphold their duties effectively, the failure of consecutive governments to nurture a broad based civil society that addresses inadequacies in policies and their implementation that affects social and economic factors are all at play here.

Lack of a comprehensive mental healthcare framework is one of the crucial issues that is faced not only in Maldives, but in well developed countries where the problems are just as profound. In fact, studies carried out have shown that suicide rates are higher in wealthier nations than in poorer countries, and that accessibility to care is a great hindrance to overall mental health of patients that requires treatment for different associated symptoms.

The patient to doctor ratio is crucial when it comes to mental health care systems, the exhaustion that creeps up on professionals without a proper backup system in place which could prove to be detrimental. These are all issues that adds onto an already complex and wicked problem that needs targeted solutions from a government that somehow cannot seem to be able to fathom the multifaceted nature of the issue. From affordability of care to access, to the removal of stigma that surrounds the issue, there needs to be massive transformational movements within and across different spectrums of society to address the issue of mental healthcare and what it constitutes.

Being a practicing Muslim, I cannot deny the role that spiritual wellbeing plays when it comes to mental health issues. For me, religion is very much a part of who I am. It even defines me to a certain point. While prayers and recitation of Qura’n has helped me immensely when it comes to coping with the worst of my symptoms, for others, religion might not hold such a profound value in their lives. For those that do not believe in religion and existence of a higher power, there exists other mechanisms such as meditation which to a certain extent mimics the effects of prayer.

When government ministers point towards lack of religious faith as the main reason behind poor mental health status of large swathes of the population across the country, they fail to understand that this lack of faith as they call it also stems from poor governmental policies on education. Fact that religion serves as a tool that is manipulated at the behest of the government of the day does little to instill faith in a generation that has come to question everything that is in existence and beyond.

Gone are the generations that says yes to everything a ruler imposes upon them. In place now are groups of individuals that question; questions that needs to be answered adequately by learned professionals in terms of religious discourse, especially by people who have the patience to deal with them.

Islam as a subject should be taught by teachers who can bring forth lively discussions and engage students in debates surrounding central issues to society in an Islamic context. Rather than shying away from debates as such, teachers should help and guide students to understand what Islamic literature has to say on important pillars that governs society and life of individuals. Subject matter should touch deeply on aspects of tawh’eed (oneness of Allah SWT), and what it actually means when one says that Islam is a way of life.

Without incorporating these multi-dimensional aspects that addresses the wellbeing of a society as actionable policies on the ground, when officials open their mouth to belittle an issue that is of paramount importance not just locally but globally, it actually brings to light the lack of awareness and knowledge of these officials when it comes to broad based issues that needs targeted solutions that cuts across government and non-governmental platforms in existence.

“Wellness is not a ‘medical fix’ but a way of living – a lifestyle sensitive and responsive to all the dimensions of body, mind, and spirit, an approach to life we each design to achieve our highest potential for well-being now and forever.” – Greg Anderson

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Defamation Bill & Its Un-Islamic Defense

Censorship

Source: The English Law Students’ Association

It is being talked about with much fervor today, the Islamic viewpoint behind criticizing the leadership and governance of a country and its head of state. Last year, right after the Independence Day celebrations were held, I wrote about how the government was imminently going to pass legislature that is “required” to put us behind bars for exercising our right to free speech, especially when it concerns the government and its elites. Today would most likely be the day upon which this prediction is going to become a reality, depending on whether government aligned party members pay heed to the sentiments of the people or bow down to their own greed, which has seen them profit most handsomely in recent times.

With the Defamation Bill submitted to the Parliament for the second time around, it went into the committee stage where religious scholars from the Fiqh Academy in the country were invited to have their say. Unsurprisingly, the sheikhs who turned up were in fact in agreement that the Defamation Bill is crucial and an important bill that needs to be passed, and furthermore went onto cite that defamation in fact, is considered to be a criminal offense in Islam. These sheikhs further went onto elaborate how criticizing the leader of a country is not to be done, how Islam forbids this, how Islam asks of society to obey their leaders, even if they turn out to be tyrannical monsters.

Islam on Oppression

Up till now, I have tried to refrain from saying much on the issue, because for one thing, I might not be the best of people to talk about things from an Islamic perspective, given that my knowledge when it comes to the Sharia’ and laws via which Islamic jurisprudence is governed is pretty much limited in comparison to the high heeled scholars of the country, the ones who go through their entire lives with their third eye blind, unable to see or hear of the cries of the sheer injustice that has become the norm in this country of ours.

My knowledge of Islam, the religion I follow and love, which is very much a part of who I am, does not jive at all with what the esteemed sheikhs revealed at the committee floor. In fact, I went on to do some reading to find out what I could about the scriptures being quoted often by the sheikhs who are in support of such a law being passed.

I found out that Sunni scholars agree upon the point that a leader should be obeyed, regardless of how corrupt and tyrannical he or she becomes and tramples the law of the land as they see fit. The only avenue left, according to these groups of scholars, is to advise the despot in place, hoping that his non-existent conscience grows a limb or two before the whole country is engulfed in misery and suffering.

On this note, Shiite scholars disagree and goes as far as to say that a ruler needs to be even forcibly removed from office, if it were to come to the point where he or she starts to trample on the rights of the people, when corruption becomes the accepted norm along with injustice that becomes rampant. According to these groups of scholars, corrupt and tyrannical rulers are not to be obeyed, and they hold the viewpoint that it becomes a “must” upon the people to remove such a leader from that position of power upon which they reside.

Of course, given the Sunni-Shiite split that pretty much makes anything the other group has to say blasphemous over the other, this clearly does not give much insight when it comes to how exactly Islam views the concept of leaders, the sheer magnitude of the responsibility that is thrust upon them, and how society should react and be able to act when it comes to less than stellar behavior from the leaders that govern.

Islam as a religion comes bearing peace amidst above everything else. This does not mean the peace of the kind that exists merely on the surface, but peace of the kind that reigns when there justice to be had in a society, regardless of race, skin colour, blood line or your status of wealth.

Establishing justice in its truest form, the way Allah SWT decreed it might be an impossibility in the context of the world, with its inherently corrupt people, the shifting areas of grey within the established man-made laws and the differences of opinion that arises in defining what the laws mandate, which sometimes are as vastly different from the other as night is to day.

In Surah An-Nisa, Allah SWT says, “O you who believe, be persistently standing firm in justice as witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both. Follow not your desires, lest you not be just. If you distort your testimony or refuse to give it, then Allah is aware of what you do. [Ayah 135].

Abu Dharr reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:Allah the Exalted said: O my servants, I have forbidden oppression for myself and have made it forbidden among you, so do not oppress one another.

Furthermore, Anas (R.A) has narrated that Allah’s Apostle (PBUH) said, “Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is an oppressed one. People asked, “O Allah’s Apostle! It is all right to help him if he is oppressed, but how should we help him if he is an oppressor?” The Prophet said, “By preventing him from oppressing others.” Volume 3, Book 43, Number 624: Sahih Bukhari.

What does all of the above indicate? The simple fact that establishment of justice becomes paramount in a society, more so when we claim ours to be an Islamic one, standing firm in its principles. Thus, it becomes the duty upon the ruler appointed by the people to manage their affairs to establish the system of justice that remains removed from other influential forces at work. It becomes a must upon the ruler to appoint judges who are able and remain uninfluenced by corrupt practices, and to create check and balance mechanisms that works properly to weed out vile practices that breaches the establishment of trust that is forged between a people and their government.

Hence, it becomes imperative upon the people to voice out against injustice, corruption, and mismanagement of the kind that hurts the people and society. What the Defamation Bill is geared to do is to stop any voice of reason out there that sheds light on any such practices of the government in the management of our affairs. It is targeted towards instilling fear in the hearts of those that do not want tyranny, injustice and corruption to be the way of life for Maldivians, but are helpless to do much more than voice out their discontent. With humongous fines cited as punishment, not to mention jail terms if people are unable to cough up the fines payable to the state in millions, the Defamation Bill closes the door on the rights of the citizen when it comes to “preventing the oppressor from oppressing others”.

Islamic History & Its Lessons

Looking into the history of how Islam as a religion was propagated through different times, up until the last of the Prophets, Prophet Muhammad PBUH was sent, there exists lessons for all of us in what took place then.

If one were to ponder upon, for instance, why Prophet Musa (AS) was sent upon the people of Egypt, the Pharaoh being notorious in the tyranny that he was imposing upon his people, I believe we would identify what is wrong with the statements of the Sheikhs from the Fiqh Academy. Of course, Prophet Musa (AS) undoubtedly was sent to show the people the right way, but he was also sent to liberate the people who had been suffering for years under the tyrannical rule of a leader that was becoming more and oppressive and paranoid by the day. Paranoid enough that he wanted all male offspring born to the people be killed, for fear that the vision of a leader who would end his reign may come true.

A lot of people talk about how Prophet Lut (AS) was sent upon the people of Sadoom and how it all relates back to acts of homosexuality that was rampant amongst their people, to the extent which men preferred their own gender over women. But what most fail to pinpoint is the fact that there existed more severe problems in their society than homosexuality. Injustice was the law of the day, where judges were corrupt, awarding justice to the highest bidder. The poor bore the brunt of the unequal practices of the state and no message that Prophet Lut (AS) delivered upon the people were heeded upon. The sheer injustice of the people of Sadoom, who had become a law unto themselves was a pivotal reason why they perished under the punishment of Allah SWT. But few of the esteemed Sheikhs remember to tell this part of the story when they regale the life of Prophet Lut (AS).

Moving on, let us think of why Prophet Muhammad PBUH was sent to us, as a blessing upon mankind. Of course once again, he was sent as a guidance for the Ummah, until the Day of Judgement is upon us. He was sent as the last Prophet, not only for the Arab race, but for all mankind, across the globe. But while establishing the principles of Islam such as oneness of Allah SWT and that one should turn to Him and only Him, what else did the Prophet PBUH propagate and teach and establish during his life?

He taught the Ummah the importance of establishing justice, the benefit of seeking knowledge, the peace that would never be found in a society unless the rights of the collective people are seen to and established. He taught us to listen to the voices of the people, to hear both sides of an argument and the importance in establishing the truthfulness behind testimonies taken into as evidence when delivering punishments and verdicts on civil and criminal cases that arose during his time.

He showed the value behind respecting the other, regardless of the differences, even be it when it comes to their faith. He liberated the people that were suffering under the tyranny of the rich and elite in Mecca from a life of servitude or worse, and he showed us that democracy is not a “modern” or rather “un-Islamic” concept as most would like to point out, but democracy in its truest form comes from the practice all of the above.

Subjugation of the People – What makes it so Easy

Why are societies so afraid of giving power back to the people where it rightfully belongs, so inherent in subjugating the people? Why do tyrannical leaders such as Bashar Al-Assad of Syria, late Saddam Hussain of Iraq, Hitler from Germany and even Pol Pot who led the infamous Khmer Rouge, find their footing in society and are able to repress people in a manner that is incomprehensible to the freethinker?

Perhaps, the answer lies in a mix of factors which includes religion in its midst. Religion that is used as a political tool to suppress, a tool that is used to silence the voice of dissent, the discontent that people feel, to impress upon them the fear of the sovereign being upon which their faith resides, all the while forgetting that the Creator looks upon leaders of society just as much as its people.

Leaders tend to forget that we all share the commonality that is death. Whether one believes in the Hereafter or not, we are all going to die someday. Humans, though we would like to assume that we are the most advanced of species to walk the Earth, have not yet figured out a way to prevent death, or perhaps the secret to an eternal life. Thus lies the stupidity in thinking that as leaders they are invincible. That just because they sit on that throne today, they will be there forever.

We the people cast our votes to elect our leaders, be it our representatives at the Parliament or the head of state of the country. While the system has in place organizations specifically geared towards establishing the check and balance mechanism that should rightly work to remove the unhealthy practices of corruption and injustice, when that mechanism fails, there should be other avenues for the people to address the issue, be it even the last resort of removing an elected official from office. There should be legal avenues that protects the rights of the people to this extent, so that they are not left vulnerable in the hands of madmen who are willing to cross every single line out there to serve their needs.

The lesson that leaders, especially those that claim to be Muslims need to learn is that even if people were to listen and obey them forever because they are left with little choice but to do so, there would indeed come a day when that power would be stripped from them, where they too would face the bitter taste of death. Where I believe that they would face a worse torment than what the people could have delivered if they had the inclination to, where they would be answerable to their Creator for all that they had done in this world.

“The best jihad is the word of justice in front of an oppressive sultan.”

The Empty Vessel

We calling ourselves a 100% Muslim nation is a ‘joke’ that most Maldivians don’t get. That being said, those who still believe in Islam, its tenets and the fact that it is to Allah whom we return when our short & brief journey on this Earth ends; they not practicing the religion they ‘believe’ in is the ‘joke’ that I don’t get.

This post is not intended to preach, nor does it intend to criticize anyone. It just aims to explain my bafflement with a generation that refuses to bow down to their Creator given that they do indeed believe Him to be their one and only God.

I meet a lot of people in my work life as well as my forays into the realms of the world of social networking. And no, I am not at all surprised by those who have turned to atheism and elsewhere in their attempts to apply logic, philosophy and every man-made subject matter onto the one thing that cannot be explained through any of that i.e. faith.

Faith is defined in either one of the following ways. “A strong belief in a supernatural power or powers that control human destiny.” OR “Complete confidence in a person or plan etc” OR “An institution to express belief in a divine power.” OR “Loyalty or allegiance to a cause or a person.” I see a commonality in all of the above definitions. There is the aspect of belief, placing trust, alleging loyalty and having the confidence that something or someone won’t let you down. Trying to apply logic to faith is as good as trying to explain the hows and whys of falling in love, the emotion that even the most cynical of us have succumbed to once in our lifetime.

So that brings me to the bunch who actually believe in the faith they place in God and always quote one aspect of the religion they so firmly believe in when it comes to criticizing the other person for their behavior. The funny thing when it comes to them is the fact that these are the very people who don’t see much point in bending down to their God and Creator 5 times a day, the very people who take the one thing that differentiates us Muslims from the rest of the populace who follow a religion so lightly that they don’t even remember half the time that they are supposed to pray 5 times a day.

Umar ibn al-Khattab (RAA) reported that a man asked the Prophet (SAW):  “Messenger of Allah, what action is dearest to Allah Most High?” The Prophet (SAW) replied: “Prayer at its proper time. The one who does not pray has no religion. Prayer is the main pillar of the religion (of Islam).” (Baihaqi). This Hadith alone bears witness to the importance the Prophet Muhammad PBUH placed on the 5 daily prayers we Maldivians of the Muslim faith take so lightly.

I remember vividly a part of the lecture notes in the subject Islam when I was doing my A’Levels back in 2001. There is this bit which tries to explain the concept of a person who doesn’t pray 5 times daily being like an empty vessel that is aimless and has no real beacon of hope that guides them through the murky waters of life. At that time I never pondered overly much about it. But older and perhaps a tad wiser 11 years on, I now know exactly what the phrase was intended to express. It perfectly explains so many of my friends and acquaintances. Restless, seeking all the while something to guide their way, trying to place the blame of the calamities or the difficulties in life that befall them on anything and everything but themselves for not being strong enough to stick to what a true Muslim who believes should never stray from – the 5 daily prayers that brings one closer to Allah and lets us seek from Him the contentment that we all want and hardly find in this life.

The power of prayer is a miraculous one as I have experienced time and yet again. Prayer has been the one source of contentment and peace in my life. I experienced my own little ‘miracle’ as I love to call it the one time in my life I despaired enough to understand the true meaning of being utterly and severely alone. And prayer, yes, prayer was the one thing that saved me from the deep abysmal despair I would have found myself in otherwise.

At this time and age, when a man who practices his faith, especially if it were to be Islam gets ridiculed and labeled as an extremist, it is ‘easy’ to lose one’s way from the path of the righteous, particularly easy in our case because of the lack of proper foundation knowledge we have received when it comes to Islam. I would always forever be grateful for my father for instilling a love for the religion and teaching his three daughters the essentials of Islam and trying his best to educate us and show us the right way when we were young. And even now, he is the source I turn to when confusion hits me, when people with varying ideologies bombard my thinking process from time to time and it gets all murky. I know that most of us are not lucky enough to have a father like him, but seeking out Allah’s forgiveness, his bounty and eternal love is something all believers can, must and should try for. For after all, we were placed on this Earth for one thing and one thing alone. And that is to worship Him, to bow down to Him and seek from Him in all our affairs as we walk the path of life.

I try to refrain from being “preachy” when it comes to my friends who share with me their problems in life. But if you ask any of them, the one thing I’d always remind them of is to pray and seek Allah’s help when they lose their way. Whether it be heartbreak, problems with the family, discontentment with life in general, there is no other being that can provide for His creations as He does, and yes, that is why I would always say, if you are a believer, pray, seek and ask from Allah. Always remember, it is to Him that we would all return to when our life here ends; for death is the one common destination that all living things share in this life.

Prophets of Islam

Being reading up on the Prophets of Islam to learn a bit more about them. Rather than teaching us valuable lessons from the lives of these Prophets, we were taught which war was fought when and so on. It would have been great if someone could have at least given a lecture on the lives of these prophets whom Allah sent to the Earth to guide human beings to the righteous path. Anyway here are some of the stuff I got from from wikipedia.org. The place is like a cave full of jewellery for a treasure hunter of information :)

Prophets in the Qur’an

The following are named as prophets in the Qur’an (Arabic); their Biblical/English names are given in parentheses.

Adam آدم
Adam is the first prophet of Islam and the first human being. He was created by God (Arabic:Allah) but brought to life forty days after being kept as a dry body. He is an important figure in Judaism and Christianity as well and he is best known for the story of Adam and Eve.

Idris (Enoch) ادريس
In Islam, Enoch (Arabic:Idris) lived during a period of drought inflicted by God (Arabic:Allah) to punish the people of the world who had forgotten him. Enoch prayed to God for salvation and an end to the suffering and so the world received rain. Enoch is also credited in Islam with introducing writing, astronomy, and mathematics.

Nuh (Noah) نوح
Although best known for the Deluge (mythology)Deluge, Noah (Arabic:Nuh) was a primary preacher of monotheism at his time. According to Islamic tradition, it was this faithfulness to God (Arabic:Allah) that led to his selection for building Noah’s Ark, the Ark that would continue life on Earth. In contrast with Christianity and Judaism  traditions which say the Deluge was a global event, there is some difference in opinion in Islam over whether the flood associated with Noah was localized or global.

Hud (Eber) هود
According to Islam, Eber (Arabic:Hud), for whom the eleventh chapter (Arabic:eleventh sura) of the Qur’an is named, was one of the few people to survive a great storm inflicted by God (Arabic:Allah), like with the Deluge five generations earlier, to punish the people of the world who had forgotten about God.

Saleh (Shelah) صالح
According to the Qur’an, Shelah (Arabic:Saleh) was ordered by God (Arabic:Allah) to leave behind his people after they disobeyed God’s order to care for a special camel and instead killed it. In Shelah’s absence, God punished the people with a large earthquake.

Ibrahim (Abraham) إبراهيم
Abraham (Arabic:Ibrahim) is regarded by Muslims today as one of the significant prophets as he is credited with building the Kaaba in Mecca (Makkah). His family, including his son Ismail, is also credited with helping create the civilization around Makkah that would later give birth to the final prophet of Islam, Muhammad. Abraham is also noted for almost sacrificing his son Ishmael (Arabic:Ismail) for God (Arabic:Allah) in an event now commemorated annually by Eid ul-Adha. He is also the first prophet to name the believers as “Muslims” meaning “those with full submission to Allah”.

Lut (Lot) لوط
Lot (Arabic:Lut) is most notable in Islam for attempting to preach against homosexuality in Sodom and Gomorra, only to be mocked and ignored by the people who lived there.

Ismail (Ishmael) اسماعيل
Ishmael (Arabic:Ismail), first-born son of Abraham (Arabic:Ibrahim), is a notable prophet in Islam for his near-sacrifice in adulthood. According to Islamic tradition, as a child he and his mother Hagar‘s search for water in the region around Mecca Makkah led God (Arabic:Allah) to reveal the Zamzam Well which still flows to this day.

Ishaq (Isaac) اسحاق
According to Islamic tradition, Isaac (Arabic:Ishaq), second-born son of Abraham (Arabic:Ibrahim), became a prophet in Canaan. He, along with his brother Ishmael (Arabic:Ismail), carried on the legacy of Abraham as prophets of Islam.

Yaqub (Jacob) يعقوب
Jacob (Arabic:Yaqub), according to the Qur’an was “of the company of the Elect and the Good”[2] and he continued the legacy of both his father, Isaac (Arabic:Ishaq), and his grandfather, Abraham (Arabic:Ibrahim). Like his ancestors, he was committed to worshiping one God.

Yusuf (Joseph) يوسف
Joseph (Arabic:Yusuf), son of Jacob (Arabic:Yaqub) and great-grandson of Abraham (Arabic:Ibrahim), became a prominent adviser to the pharaoh of Egypt since he was believed to have seen a dream that predicted the economic state of Egypt. He spent a large part of his life away from his eleven brothers, who, jealous of Joseph’s success, told their father Jacob that Joseph had died.

Ayub (Job) أيوب
According to Islamic tradition, Job (Arabic:Ayyub) was rewarded by a fountain of youth, which removed all illnesses except death, for his service to God (Arabic:Allah) in his hometown outside Al Majdal. Job is believed to have suffered an illness for 18 years as a patience test by God.

Shoaib (Jethro) شعيب
Jethro (Arabic:Shoaib) was a direct descendant of Abraham (Arabic:Ibrahim). According to Islam, he was appointed by God (Arabic:Allah) to guide the people of Midyan and Aykah, who lived near Mount Sinai. When the people of the region failed to listen to his warnings, God destroyed the disbeliever’s villages.

Musa (Moses) موسى
Moses (Arabic:Musa), referred to in the Qur’an more than any other prophet, is significant for revealing the Torah (Arabic:Tawrat) to the Ancient Egypt Egyptians. The Qur’an says Moses realized his connection with God (Arabic:Allah) after receiving commands from him during a stop at Mount Sinai. He later went on to free the enslaved Hebrews after failing to convince the Egyptian pharaoh of God’s power. Moses subsequently led the freed Hebrews for forty years through the desert on a long attempt to capture Canaan, the Promised Land. During this long journey, Moses received the Torah and the Ten Commandments during another trip to Mount Sinai. At the end of his life, according to Islamic tradition, Moses chose to die to be closer to God instead of taking an offer that would have extended his life.

Harun (Aaron) هارون
Aaron (Arabic:Harun) served as an assistant to his elder brother Moses (Arabic:Musa). In Islam, he, like Moses, was given the task of saving the Israelites from the Egyptian pharaoh. He would often speak for Moses when Moses’s speech impediment prevented him from doing so himself.

Dhul-Kifl (most likely Ezekiel) ذو الكفل
The status of Dhul-Kifl as a prophet is debatable within Islam, although both sides can agree that he was indeed a righteous man who strived in the way of God (Arabic:Allah).

Dawood (David) داوود
In Islam, the Psalms (Arabic:Zabur) were revealed to David (Arabic:Dawood) by God (Arabic:Allah). He is also significant as he is the one who defeated Goliath.

Sulayman (Solomon) سليمان
Solomon (Arabic:Sulayman) learned a significant amount from his father David (Arabic:Daud) before being made a prophet by God (Arabic:Allah). According to Islamic tradition, Solomon was given power over all things, including the jinns. Known for his honesty and fairness, he also led a kingdom that extended into southern Arabia.

Ilyas (Elijah) إلياس
Elijah (Arabic:Ilyas), descendant of Aaron (Arabic:Harun), took over control of the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula after Solomon’s (Arabic:Sulayman) kingdom collapsed. Islamic tradition says he attempted to convince the people of the Peninsula of the existence of only one God, but when the people refused to listen they were smitten with a drought and famine.

Al-Yasa (Elisha) اليسع
Elisha (Arabic:Al-Yasa) took over the job of leading the Israelites after Elijah’s (Arabic:Ilyas) death. He attempted to show the king and queen of Israel the powers of God (Arabic:Allah), but was dismissed as a magician. Subsequently, the Assyrians were able to conquer the Israelites and inflict significant damage on them.

Yunus (Jonah) يونس
Islamic tradition shows that Jonah (Arabic:Yunus) was commanded by God (Arabic:Allah) to help the people of Nineveh towards righteousness. However, after Nineveh’s people refused to listen to God, he became disgruntled and started to ignore Him. After an incident where Jonah was spared death, he decided to re-commit himself to striving for God, attempting to lead the people of Nineveh to righteousness. But after returning to evil, illicit ways, the Scythians conquered them.[3]

Zakariya (Zacharias) زكريا
A descendant of Solomon (Arabic:Sulayman), Zacharias (Arabic:Zakariya) was a patron of Mary (Arabic:Maryam), mother of Jesus (Arabic:Isa). According to the Quran, he prayed to God (Arabic:Allah) asking for a son, since his sterile wife al-Yashbi could not provide one. God granted his wishes, temporarily lifting his wife’s sterility and allowing her to give birth to John (Arabic:Yahya).

Yahya (John the Baptist) يحيى
Islam says that, throughout his lifetime, John (Arabic:Yahya) captivated audiences with his powerful sermons that preached Abrahamic monotheism.

Isa (Jesus) عيسى
One of the highest ranked prophets in Islam, Jesus Christ (Arabic:Isa al-Maseeh, which literally means Jesus the Messiah) was sent to guide the Children of Israel. The Qur’an makes it very clear that in Islam, Jesus is not the begotten(physical) son of God (Arabic:Allah), but rather a prophet and messenger of God. He is called Ruhullah (The Spirit of God). He performed many miracles with the permission of God. For example, raising the dead, creating a bird from clay, talking as an infant. Islamic traditions states that he abstained from drinking alcohol. It also states that he received a revelation, the Gospel (Arabic:Injil), though it has been distorted. Muslims believe that Islamic view of Jesus was not crucified, meaning he was not killed on the cross. Whether he was put on the cross or not is an issue of interpretation. God raised Jesus to Himself. Muslims are awaiting the return of Jesus The Messiah, and it will take place after Imam Mahdi and he Jesus will defeat the Dajjal (the Imposter/the Anti-Christ).

Muhammad محمّد
Muhammad is the most revered prophet in Islam and the only one who does not exist in either Judaism nor Christianity. Muhammad is considered the most perfect creation by Allah or God. Born in Makkah in 570 AD, Muhammad spent the first part of his life as a well-travelled merchant. He would often spend his time in the mountains surrounding Makkah in prayer contemplating the situation with the city. At the age of forty, during one of those trips to the mountain, Muhammad began to, despite his functional illiteracy, receive and recite verses from God (Arabic:Allah) which today make up the Qur’an. He quickly spread the message he was receiving, converting a few others in the city, including his wife. He claimed to be the last (seal) of the prophets with a message to all humanity. When oppression become intolerable for his followers, Muhammed first asked his fellow Muslims to migrate to Medina and later himself migrated to Medina away from the oppressors in Makkah. Muhammad served not just as a prophet, but as a military leader who helped defeat the Makkans in 624 during the Battle of Badr. He continued to lead the Muslims as Islam spread across the Arabian Peninsula. He performed the first hajj in 629 and established Islam, with its Five Pillars, as it is still practiced by Muslims today. Others continued Muhammad’s legacy after his death in 632, having been given the position of caliph (or successor) to Muhammad.

Other possible prophets

The following verses open up possibilities for prophets other than those mentioned in the Qur’an:
“And certainly We sent messengers before you: there are some of them that We have mentioned to you and there are others whom We have not mentioned to you…” [40:78]

“For We assuredly sent amongst every People a messenger…”[16:36]

The verses open up debate, and there is no strong consensus as to the other authentic Prophets.

Al-Khidr is not mentioned by name, but is traditionally assumed to be referred to in Qur’an 18:66.

Biblical prophets Danyal (Daniel), Ishaia (Isaiah), Armya (Jeremiah) are not mentioned in Qur’an but often revered as prophets.

Luqman is mentioned in the sura named after him but it is unclear whether he is a prophet or a wali.

Additional numerous historical figures may have been prophets, but this is a source of debate and contention, among them: Zoroaster, Gautama Buddha and Ram. However, Muslims will state that there is no way of knowing for sure since they are not mentioned by name in the Qur’an. An argument often used in support of the prophet hood of such men is that they came with the word of God, but it was later corrupted, this accounting for the differences between Islam, and the respective religions with which each man is associated. The Hadith and Qur’an support such claims that say that a messenger was sent to every people.

Mary, mother of Jesus (A chapter called “Surat Maryam” (Arabic script: سورة مريمِ) in the holly Qur’an was named after her), is not normally regarded as a prophetess, but is regarded as having been sent a message from God via an angel. A few scholars (e.g. Ibn Hazm) have argued that she was a prophetess, but she is not mentioned in the Qur’an as one, and thus it cannot be definitely established if she is or isn’t. The majority position among Islamic scholars is that no woman has received a prophetic mission from God.