This is the ﬁrst volume of the three volume series by Allamah Al-Majlisi, titled Hayat al-Qulub (Life of the Hearts). This ﬁrst volume is a collection of the details of the life and circumstances of all the Prophets (prior to Prophet Muhammad [s]) that we have access to through either the Qur’an or hadiths.
It is narrated through a reliable chain of narrators that an atheist came to Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq and presented a few queries. One of his questions concerned the logic behind the sending of Prophets.
The Imam said, “When we have agreed that we have a Maker and Creator; who is higher than His creatures and absolutely free from the fact that His creatures can see Him, touch Him or converse with Him; we understand that the maker is wise. He only does that which is beneﬁcial to His creatures. Then it is necessary to send Prophets and Messengers who would communicate His laws to the people. They would guide the people in the affairs that are beneﬁcial and (prevent them from) those that cause everlasting perdition.
Consequently, it is evident that there must be a particular group, which would convey His message to the people. They are the chosen ones of Allah and His Prophets. They are wise and intelligent. The Almighty has bestowed them with wisdom and knowledge and appointed them as His Messengers.
Their circumstances and characteristics were quite different from those of the common people though in their creation and method they are like ordinary human beings. However, they are sent by Allah, the Wise and the Omniscient, with knowledge, wisdom, arguments, proofs, witnesses and miracles so that they may prove the veracity of their claims.
Like raising of the dead and curing of the blind and lepers etc., they accomplished some tasks that were impossible for ordinary people. The same practice continued in every age and the earth has never been devoid of the Divine Proof (hujjah), who is the bearer of knowledge and has a miracle to prove the authenticity of his claims and (he verifies) the message of the preceding Prophet.”
Imam Ja‘far as-Sadiq says in a reliable tradition: “The Almighty with His Luminous Essence and Divine attributes was concealed from His creatures; therefore, He sent the Prophets to give glad tidings of salvation and to warn against His punishment so that those who perish in disobedience must perish with the realization of their error and all arguments must be exhausted for them.
Similarly, those who achieve salvation must do so with knowledge, faith and proof. And they may achieve an everlasting life so that people may learn about their Lord what they did not know. They must recognize Allah as their Cherisher and they confess to his Oneness.
Another reliable report mentions that Fadhl ibn Shadhan asked Ja‘far as-Sadiq “When it is obligatory for people to obey the Prophets, why are they also required to recognize them and to confess to their truth?” Imam replied, “This is because the creatures did not have the ability to understand their wisdom fully. Their creator was much higher that He could be perceived by sight. The inability to understand His Divine Essence was apparent. There was no choice except to appoint Prophets as links between people and Allah. This infallible Prophet conveyed the divine commands and prohibitions to the people. He also had to keep the people firm on some affairs whereby they could obtain the beneﬁts and be safe from the perils, because the people cannot decide by their own intellects what is beneficial for them and what is harmful. If the obedience and recognition of Prophets had not been incumbent on people, the sending of Prophets would have been a useless venture. And the wise One, who had created everything with untold benefits, is pure from such vain acts.”
Related through reliable chains of narrators is the report where Abu-Basir asked Ja‘far as-Sadiq the reason why Allah has bestowed miracles on the Prophets and Imams. The Imam replied, “So that the veracity of their claims is established. Because miracles are from Allah, the Almighty, He gives them to His Prophets, Messengers and proofs so that the truth of the truthful ones and the lie of the liars are proved.”
Another hadith mentions that Husayn al-Sahhaf asked the same Imam whether it was possible for Allah that He changes the heart of a believer from faith to disbelief even after the belief of this person has been authenticated. Imam replied: “The Almighty is Just; He sent the Prophet so that they may invite the people towards faith (belief). Allah never calls anyone towards disbelief.”
Then the questioner asked if Allah changes the heart of a conﬁrmed disbeliever from disbelief to belief. The Imam said: “Allah has created everyone with a capacity to believe. They are like a blank tablet neither having faith in any shari‘ah (code of religious law) nor disbelieving in it. Allah sent the Prophets to them so that they may guide them towards Allah. And in this way, argument could be exhausted for the people. Thus some people receive guidance (faith) by Allah’s tawfiq (guidance) and some do not achieve guidance.”