Who is a Prophet?
A Prophet is a human being whom Allah chooses among His people and teaches him through the Angel Gabriel [a]. Each has been sent to mankind, at a particular time, to guide the people to religion.
Attributes of a Prophet:
When Allah chooses to send a Messenger to people to instruct and teach them to put trust in One God, to worship Him and do good deeds, the person selected should be the noblest in thought, speech, deeds and behaviour, so that people believe, respect and trust him. Therefore, prophets altogether are characterised with good morals and virtues, foresight, intelligence, exemplary behaviour and doing good deeds in their communities.
Prophet Muhammad [s], like other prophets, had these exemplary attributes, which is why people called him, both before and after being called to prophethood, "the truthful and honest one". He was sent for all people and the Holy Qur'an was revealed through him to teach the Islamic religion, which was conveyed to mankind to guide them on the right path.
The Need for Prophets
Allah created man on this earth and provided him with all his needs. He also gave him wisdom. Yet it is necessary for man to know the purpose of his existence and his Lord Who created and provided for him. In return, it is also necessary for him to thank his Creator for the blessings He bestowed upon him, how to praise and worship the Almighty and carry out his duties.
Man himself lives in communities which themselves need love, co-operation, cleanliness, justice, knowing-the truth and helping the poor, as well as harbouring things which are harmful and evil like gambling, falsehood, murder, stealing, accepting falsehood and being oppressive. These are the indispensable facts that people must know in order to lead them to an honourable and pious life.
Allah loves His creatures and desires for them goodness, therefore He sent them prophets from among them to teach all these things as a guide towards goodness and righteousness:
The prophets teach people that Allah is One and there is no god besides Him.
The prophets teach people how to worship Allah through following certain obligations placed upon them, like prayer, fasting, performing pilgrimage (hajj)...etc.
They teach man how to live with each other on the basis of love, fraternity and co-operation.
They forbid them against committing harmful deeds.
Allah surely sent the prophets so that man could not pretend to have the excuse on Resurrection Day that he was unfamiliar with his religious duty, nor Allah sent any messages for him, nor any instructions.
Consequently, the prophets are like leading lights for mankind, acting as reformers.