Tuesday 24th of May 2022
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First Lecture
Our Need for Divine Leaders

The Limitations of our knowledge

Some people might raise this question: Are prophets needed to lead men?

Isn’t our wisdom sufficient enough to grasp the realities? Hasn’t the advancement of human knowledge and science assisted man in discovering the truth?

The structure of this argument continues something like this: Our wisdom either comprehends what the prophets have to offer to us, or is unable to understand it. If the first case were true, we would not need the prophets and if the second case is correct, we would not be able to tolerate anything that goes against our wisdom and intellect.

Besides, the argument goes on, is it right for us to be under the guidance of another and listen to him? Are the prophets not human beings like us?

Answers: In order for us to answer these questions and find out the effects of the prophets on mankind, let us consider the following points:

We should be aware that our knowledge is limited in scope and despite all the advances in human science, there are still immense amounts of secret and unknown facts which remain to be discovered. The ratio of our knowledge to the unknown is like the ratio of one drop of water to the ocean. In the words of some great scientists, all the science with which we are now familiar is just the alphabet of the great book of creation.

In other words: the sphere of our judgment or our rational capacities is extremely minute. We are largely unaware of what goes on around us.

However, it is the prophets who widen this scope for us to see well. Our wisdom is like a tiny projector, but the prophets and their relations act as a bright sun. Could anybody claim that he does not need the sun because he is in the possession of a small projector?

Now, let us explain more vividly: the problems of life can be divided into three groups: rational, irrational, and unknown.

The prophets never utter irrational statements; i.e. they never say anything contrary to wisdom. If they did so, they would not be entitled to occupy the high position of prophethood. Rather, they endeavored to bring obscurities to light and this is crucial for our lives.

In the past, some people, such as Brahmins [of India and elsewhere] claimed that they did not need the prophets because they possessed wisdom. Similarly today, some people claim that prophets are not needed since man has advanced significantly in the area of scientific knowledge. These people have recognized neither the scope of human science nor prophethood and the revelations of the prophets.

This looks like the claim of a first grader of an elementary school who claims that since he knows the alphabet he knows everything and does not need teachers. Is this statement well-founded?

Besides, prophets do not play only the role of the teacher. Their leadership is an issue to which we will refer later in our discussion.

No one would dare declare that others should surrender themselves to him. The point to make here is that the prophets, as we shall prove later, possess divine revelation, i.e. they are connected to God’s endless knowledge and we should grasp, through definitive reasoning, the nature of these relations. It is only through this approach that we can understand and adopt the teaching of these divine envoys.

Would I have done anything wrong if I had submitted to the prescription of an adroit and deft physician and acted on it?

The prophets are great spiritual physicians. Would I have done wrong if I had followed the lectures and advice of a teacher with whom I am in harmony? Prophets are man’s great teachers.

Now we have to delve into the issue of the necessity of prophethood and the appointment of prophets by God.

We need a Prophet’s guidance for three valid reasons. We shall refer to two of them here and postpone the third until we arrive at the next section.

We Need Prophets for Educational Reasons

Even if we could ride an illusory and imaginary mount made of light waves that could travel three hundred thousand kilometers in a second in boundless space we would see only a small and minute portion of the immense universe.

This universe with its immense expanse has not been created in vain, and as we have already seen in the lectures dealing with knowing God, the creation of this world did not provide any satisfaction for God as such. This is because God is a complete and non-finite Being Who does not suffer from any shortcomings, the compensation of which he should resort to the creation of man.

Thus, we shall come to the conclusion that He created this world to endow others with His Benevolence. Through His creation of this world, He desired for His creatures to progress towards perfection. God is like the sun which illuminates everything without needing others. We benefit from the sun’s rays without being able to do anything for it in return.

On the other hand, is our knowledge enough on its own to guide us toward prosperity and perfection in every respect?

How much of the world’s mysteries are we familiar with? What is the essence of life and existence? When was this world created? Nobody can tell. Until what time will it last? Nobody can tell either.

Every scientist has a hypothesis of his own concerning man’s social and economic life for instance.

Some would recommend capitalism, and others would recommend socialism or communism and still others would admire neither of these ideas and consider both of them pernicious.

Concerning other issues there are some disagreements among scholars and sometimes we just do not know which ideology we should adopt. If we judged judiciously, we would confess that we would need a series of right instructions and guidance in order for us to arrive at the main objective behind creation which is “man’s growth and progress in all areas.” And this could happen only through God’s knowledge, i.e. divine revelation through the prophets. Therefore, God Who has created us to go along this path should provide us with such knowledge.

The Need for Leadership in Social and Ethical Fields

We know that besides intelligence and wisdom there are other powerful stimuli within us, known as instincts and desires Examples are the instinct of self-preservation, the instinct of anger, the sexual instinct and the instinct of possession.

No doubt, if our instincts were not controlled and if they dominated us, our wisdom would become imprisoned and man would turn into a fierce wolf, more dangerous than the desert wolves themselves.

In order for us to gain an ethical education, we need instructors and models to be real examples for us to follow.

For this purpose, a completely educated person is required to help us on such a bumpy and rough path, to modify the flood of our instincts, to provide us with ethical principles and implant in our souls the traits of courage, moral heroism, altruism, compassion, generosity, loyalty, honesty, and chastity.

Except for an innocent and infallible Prophet, who else could be adopted as a guide and instructor?

That is why the Compassionate, Almighty God has not deprived us of such benevolent prophets.([1])


Do you think that the more we know there are still many more unknown things? (Give some examples).

Could you explain the difference between blind imitation and following the prophets?

If we passed through an unfamiliar road without having someone to guide us, what sort of hazards might threaten us?

Explain the different dimensions of our need for prophets.

Can you guess other aspects of this issue that should be studied in the following sections?

Second Lecture
Prophets are Needed to Provide us with Rules and Regulations

In the preceding lecture, we dealt with two functions of the prophets: The educational dimension and the ethical dimension. Now we will deal with their function in providing us with social laws which are crucial to our lives.

We know that man’s most important asset is his dynamic social life which is the basis for all his various advancements.

If men lived apart from each other there is, no doubt that we would now be living in a situation not better than that of the Stone Age.

It is the collective endeavor of mankind that has kept the torch of culture and civilization burning. It is our collective efforts which have been the source of all these scientific discoveries and innovations.

For instance, the journey to the moon would never have taken place if a great number of experts and scholars had not continuously worked diligently in the decades that preceded it.

Another example is the transplant of a dead person’s heart into the body of a living person and the subsequent saving of a life, whose death would have been inevitable if this operation had not taken place. Such a feat is the result of continual research done on the human heart during the history of mankind.

However, despite the glories that social life provides us, there are still some hardships and obstacles in our way and these are the conflicts that exist in human social life which at times culminate in wars.

In this respect, we appreciate the need for laws and regulations.

Rules could solve three types of hardships

Laws outline an individual’s tasks vis-à-vis society and vice versa. They give us the capabilities to flourish and coordinate our efforts.

Laws pave the way for regulating individuals in carrying out their tasks.

Laws prevent individuals from violating each other’s rights; laws prevent chaos in one citizen’s interaction with another. And laws define punishment for criminals and law-breakers.

Who is the Best Legislator?

Now we would like to know who could be the best legislator; who is most capable in regulating the necessary laws for mankind that could encompass all the three principles mentioned above which outline the individual’s rights and interactions with society and which control affairs and inhibit the aggression of law-breakers?

Human society, for example could be likened to a huge train and the government as its engine.

Laws are like the rails of such a train which show the direction towards a specific destination, a direction and route which passes through all kinds of bends and curves, and all sorts of mountains, hills, and valleys.

A good railway should have the following features:

The ground on which the train travels should be strong enough to tolerate the maximum pressure;

The distance between two rails should be the same as that between the wheels of the train.

The direction should not be too steep so that the brakes of the train could function properly.

Landslides should also be prevented and the probability of the occurrence of flooding and avalanches should be accounted for to ensure the safety of the train.

Having considered this example, let us now return to human society:

The legislator who desires to pass the most appropriate laws for human beings should have the following features:

He should know human nature well and be familiar with man’s instincts, emotions, needs and problems.

He should consider all man’s capabilities and should prepare the necessary laws for them to flourish.

He should be able to predict all the accidents that might inflict the whole nation.

He should not have special personal privileges and prerogatives so that he could design law without seeking to secure his specific interests or those of his close relatives.

Such a legislator should be aware of all the progress that man might have made and all the failures and pitfalls that threaten his safety.

Such a legislator should be completely immune from committing errors, mistakes, blunders and forgetfulness.

He should be strong enough not to be intimidated by any governmental official or by any power. At the same time, he should be extremely amicable and sympathetic.

Who Possesses These Features?

Can a man be the best legislator? Has there been someone who knows man completely when one of the greatest sociologists of our time has written an informative book called” Man, the Unknown Creature.”

Is man’s mentality, his tendencies, instincts and emotions entirely known to us?

Does anybody else, besides God, know man’s spiritual and physical needs? Can you pick a man out of human society who does not have any special interests in his community? Can you identify a man who is immune to faults and blunders?

For these convincing reasons, there is nobody except God and the person who receives His revelations, who could ever be a good and prudent legislator.

Thus, we arrive at the following irrevocable fact; the Creator Who has created man to improve and become perfect should appoint for him guides who could provide man with all-inclusive divine laws.

People would definitely trust those rules that come from God and this trust and recognition will safeguard those laws.

The Relation between Monotheism and Prophethood

It is worth mentioning here that the system of creation as such, is a living witness for the divine prophets and their righteous missions.

It should be pointed out that even a short and cursory look at this marvelous creation will reveal to us that God has not ignored any of the needs of any creature. For instance, He has given us our eyes and then has provided these eyes with eyelashes and eyelids to protect them from any sort of damage.

God has provided tear-ducts for each eye because dryness destroys them.

God has also provided small openings in the corner of man’s eyes to carry the extra water through them into the nose. If these openings were not narrow enough, teardrops would always cover our faces.

God has made man’s pupils so sensitive to light that they automatically widens or narrow in response to strong and weak light. This protects the eyes from any unpredictable damage.

There are muscles around the eyeballs which can turn the eyes in different directions to observe different objects.

Could such a God, Who has provided man with all his needs, deprive man of a guide and an infallible leader who is intimately connected with His revelation?

The well-known philosopher, lbn S¢n¡ (Avicenna), in his work called “Shaf¡” [Remedy] writes:

“Man’s need for the appointment of prophets for his survival and for his attainment of virtues is more crucial than the growth of his eye-lashes, eyebrows, the curves in his feet and the like. Thus, it is impossible for the Eternal Benevolence to arrange for the latter and ignore the former.”


What is man’s most precious asset?

Why can’t man live without laws?

Give one revealing example of the role of laws in man’s life.

What are the characteristics of the best legislator?

Why should prophets be human beings?

([1])The rest of this lecture is presented in the next section.

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