Question: When cartoons and the like were drawn in some European countries with the purpose of insulting our master the Prophet, people have set out to retaliate by speaking ill of Hadrat Īsā. How can a person speak ill of prophets?
Hurling insults to our master the Prophet first and to Hadrat Īsā second are dirty tricks of the enemies of Islam. Muslims should not fall into these traps. In fact, the enemies of the religion themselves do not believe in any prophets.
Believing a prophet to be God or Gods son is not considered to have belief in him. That is, it does not make any difference for such people because a disbeliever does not become a disbeliever again. But a Muslim cannot speak ill of any of the prophets. All prophets were Muslims, and it is one of the principles of our faith to believe in and love all of them.
The fourth fundamental of īmān is to have belief in prophets. The phrase wa rusulihī in the Āmantu teaches us to believe in Allahu taālās prophets.
The first of prophets is Ādam alaihis-salām and the last of them is our Prophet, Muhammad Mustafa sall-Allahu alaihi wa sallam. Many prophets were sent between these two. Their exact number is unknown. It has been stated that they were more than 124,000.
Believing in prophets means believing that all prophets, without exception, were devoted and truthful people selected by Allahu taālā. A person who does not believe in one of them is regarded as not believing in any.
Every thousand years since Adam alaihis-salām, the first human and the first prophet, Allahu taālā sent mankind a new religion through a new prophet with a Sharīa. Through them He showed human beings the way of living in peace and comfort in this world and attaining endless felicity in the Hereafter. Those prophets by whom a new religion was revealed are called rasūl. The superior ones of rasūls are called ululazm. They are Ādam, Nūh (Noah), Ibrāhīm, Mūsā (Moses), Īsā (Jesus), and Muhammad alaihimus-salātu wassalām.
All prophets, from Ādam alaihis-salām to the last Prophet Muhammad alaihis-salām, taught the same īmān and stated the same principles for their umma to believe. Jews believe in Mūsā alaihis-salām and deny Īsā alaihis-salām and Muhammad alaihis-salām. Christians believe in Īsā alaihis-salām, but they do not believe in Muhammad alaihis-salām. Muslims, on the other hand, believe in all prophets. It is an act of disbelief to deny or to insult any of the prophets.
Before they were defiled by humankind, all the heavenly religions, teaching the belief in the existence and oneness of Allahu taālā, were the same with respect to the principles of belief. The principles pertaining to practice were different. All prophets were Muslims. For example, the Qurān al-karīm states the following about the prophets whom Jews and Christians regard as their prophets:
(Ibrāhīm, Ismāīl, Ishāq, Yaqūb, and their grandchildren are Muslims. Say to those who say that they are Jews or Christians: Who knows better, you or Allah? Who can be more zālim than the one who conceals what Allah has communicated?) [Sūrat-ul-Baqara 140]