The prophets (عليهم السلام) are the ultimate guides teaching us how to “read” this universe. That is, they show us how to see the perfection of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) and His names that are displayed in this universe. So, how do prophets (عليهم السلام) display the perfection of God and His names that are found in His marvelous arts?
By displaying the names that appear on every being
By reading a book 📖 we can learn more about its author. Similarly, by “reading” this universe 🌌 we can learn more about God. Prophets (عليهم السلام) teach us how to “read” the universe. That is, they teach us how to look at the creation of God and be able to see the names of God that appear on the creation.
Let’s look at examples:
By looking at a flower 🌼 we see many names of God, including The Provider (الرزاق) Who provides the flower with soil, water, and sunlight; The Fashioner (المصور) Who has fashioned this flower in the most beautiful way possible; The all-Aware One (الخبير) Who is aware of every need this flower has and provides it through His mercy; The Guarding One (الحفيظ) Who protects this flower from the delicate leaves from drying out under the scorching sun, and so on.
By looking at humans 👩👧👦, we see similar names as a flower in greater apparency and manifestation. We see the name The Provider (الرزاق) Who provides humans with food 🍕, water 💧, oxygen 😤, and other needs just as He provides flowers with soil, water, and sunlight. However the needs and desires of human are much greater than flowers, and so He provides humans with much more. Not only do humans need and desire food, but they also desire a variety of food. Not only do they desire physical needs such as food and water, but also psychological needs such as family and friends. Thus the name The Provider (الرزاق) is manifested more greatly in human beings.
Similarly, we can see the name The Fashioner (المصور) when looking at humans just as we see this name on flowers. Again, this name is manifested more greatly in human beings. Not only did God create humans in the most beatiful fashion in general, He also created many more organs and fashioned them which flowers do not have. Furthermore, He fashioned a complex character and personality for each individual human being.
These are just two examples of how it is possible to “read” the creation of God and be able to see the perfection of God and His names in His marvelous art of creation.
So the names of God are manifested in every being 🐛 in this universe. However, they are manifested in a greater form in human beings 🧔. Since the prophets (عليهم السلام) are the best of humans and have reached their full potential, the names of God are manifested in its greatest form in prophets (عليهم السلام), and especially The Prophet Muhammad (عليه الصلاة و السلام).
So while the prophets (عليهم السلام) display the names of God in other beings and draw our attention to them, they display the names of God in its greatest form on themselves. This brings us to the next point:
By displaying the names that appear on the prophets (عليهم السلام) themselves
God displays His names in their greatest form in prophets (عليهم السلام) since they are the best of creation.
The Propohet Yusuf (عليه السلام)
For instance, God manifests the name The Beautiful (الجميل) in numerous beings, but has placed a major manifestation of it in The Prophet Yusuf (عليه السلام).
The Prophet Ibraheem (عليه السلام)
God is The Forbearing and Clement One (الحليم) and He has placed a miniscule partial verison of it within us human beings and others. However, among all beings, The Prophet Ibraheem (عليه السلام) was given a greater manifestation of this name as stated in the Holy Qur’an.
فَلَمَّا ذَهَبَ عَنْ إِبْرَٰهِيمَ ٱلرَّوْعُ وَجَآءَتْهُ ٱلْبُشْرَىٰ يُجَـٰدِلُنَا فِى قَوْمِ لُوطٍ
إِنَّ إِبْرَٰهِيمَ لَحَلِيمٌ أَوَّٰهٌۭ مُّنِيبٌۭ
Then, when the fear left Abraham and the good news came to him, he pleaded with Us for Lot’s people, for Abraham was forbearing, tender-hearted, and devout. [Surah Hud, verses 74 and 75, Translation: Abdul Haleem]
وَمَا كَانَ ٱسْتِغْفَارُ إِبْرَٰهِيمَ لِأَبِيهِ إِلَّا عَن مَّوْعِدَةٍۢ وَعَدَهَآ إِيَّاهُ فَلَمَّا تَبَيَّنَ لَهُۥٓ أَنَّهُۥ عَدُوٌّۭ لِّلَّهِ تَبَرَّأَ مِنْهُ ۚ إِنَّ إِبْرَٰهِيمَ لَأَوَّٰهٌ حَلِيمٌۭ
Abraham asked forgiveness for his father because he had made a promise to him, but once he realized that his father was an enemy of God, he washed his hands of him. Abraham was tender-hearted and forbearing. [Surah Tawbah, verse 114, Translation: Abdul Haleem]
The Prophet Muhammad (عليه الصلاة و السلام)
The Prophet Muhammad (عليه الصلاة و السلام) is the best of creation. He is the beloved of Allah and the names of Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) are best displayed upon him.
Indeed, we see from the Qur’an and numerous hadiths that the Prophet Muhammad is the best in both character and physique and in every way possible.
For instance, we see from the hadiths below that he manifests the names The Beautiful (الجميل) and The Forbearing Clement One (الحليم) in the best manner among all creatures.
حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو كُرَيْبٍ، مُحَمَّدُ بْنُ الْعَلاَءِ حَدَّثَنَا إِسْحَاقُ بْنُ مَنْصُورٍ، عَنْ إِبْرَاهِيمَ بْنِ، يُوسُفَ عَنْ أَبِيهِ، عَنْ أَبِي إِسْحَاقَ، قَالَ سَمِعْتُ الْبَرَاءَ، يَقُولُ كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم أَحْسَنَ النَّاسِ وَجْهًا وَأَحْسَنَهُمْ خَلْقًا لَيْسَ بِالطَّوِيلِ الذَّاهِبِ وَلاَ بِالْقَصِيرِ .
Al-Bara’ reported that Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) had the most handsome face amongst men and he had the best disposition and he was neither very tall nor short-statured. (Reference: Sahih Muslim 2337 c; In-book reference: Book 43, Hadith 124; USC-MSA web (English) reference: Book 30, Hadith 5772)
حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ يُوسُفَ، أَخْبَرَنَا ابْنُ وَهْبٍ، قَالَ أَخْبَرَنِي يُونُسُ، عَنِ ابْنِ شِهَابٍ، قَالَ حَدَّثَنِي عُرْوَةُ، أَنَّ عَائِشَةَ ـ رضى الله عنها ـ زَوْجَ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم حَدَّثَتْهُ أَنَّهَا قَالَتْ لِلنَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم هَلْ أَتَى عَلَيْكَ يَوْمٌ كَانَ أَشَدَّ مِنْ يَوْمِ أُحُدٍ قَالَ “ لَقَدْ لَقِيتُ مِنْ قَوْمِكِ مَا لَقِيتُ، وَكَانَ أَشَدُّ مَا لَقِيتُ مِنْهُمْ يَوْمَ الْعَقَبَةِ، إِذْ عَرَضْتُ نَفْسِي عَلَى ابْنِ عَبْدِ يَالِيلَ بْنِ عَبْدِ كُلاَلٍ، فَلَمْ يُجِبْنِي إِلَى مَا أَرَدْتُ، فَانْطَلَقْتُ وَأَنَا مَهْمُومٌ عَلَى وَجْهِي، فَلَمْ أَسْتَفِقْ إِلاَّ وَأَنَا بِقَرْنِ الثَّعَالِبِ، فَرَفَعْتُ رَأْسِي، فَإِذَا أَنَا بِسَحَابَةٍ قَدْ أَظَلَّتْنِي، فَنَظَرْتُ فَإِذَا فِيهَا جِبْرِيلُ فَنَادَانِي فَقَالَ إِنَّ اللَّهَ قَدْ سَمِعَ قَوْلَ قَوْمِكَ لَكَ وَمَا رَدُّوا عَلَيْكَ، وَقَدْ بَعَثَ إِلَيْكَ مَلَكَ الْجِبَالِ لِتَأْمُرَهُ بِمَا شِئْتَ فِيهِمْ، فَنَادَانِي مَلَكُ الْجِبَالِ، فَسَلَّمَ عَلَىَّ ثُمَّ قَالَ يَا مُحَمَّدُ، فَقَالَ ذَلِكَ فِيمَا شِئْتَ، إِنْ شِئْتَ أَنْ أُطْبِقَ عَلَيْهِمِ الأَخْشَبَيْنِ، فَقَالَ النَّبِيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم بَلْ أَرْجُو أَنْ يُخْرِجَ اللَّهُ مِنْ أَصْلاَبِهِمْ مَنْ يَعْبُدُ اللَّهَ وَحْدَهُ لاَ يُشْرِكُ بِهِ شَيْئًا ”.
That she asked the Prophet (ﷺ) , ‘Have you encountered a day harder than the day of the battle) of Uhud?” The Prophet (ﷺ) replied, “Your tribes have troubled me a lot, and the worse trouble was the trouble on the day of ‘Aqaba when I presented myself to Ibn `Abd-Yalail bin `Abd-Kulal and he did not respond to my demand. So I departed, overwhelmed with excessive sorrow, and proceeded on, and could not relax till I found myself at Qarnath-Tha-alib where I lifted my head towards the sky to see a cloud shading me unexpectedly. I looked up and saw Gabriel in it. He called me saying, ‘Allah has heard your people’s saying to you, and what they have replied back to you, Allah has sent the Angel of the Mountains to you so that you may order him to do whatever you wish to these people.’ The Angel of the Mountains called and greeted me, and then said, “O Muhammad! Order what you wish. If you like, I will let Al-Akh-Shabain (i.e. two mountains) fall on them.” The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “No but I hope that Allah will let them beget children who will worship Allah Alone, and will worship None besides Him.” (Refernce: Sahih al-Bukhari 3231; In-book reference: Book 59, Hadith 42; USC-MSA web (English) reference: Vol. 4, Book 54, Hadith 454)
Relevant passage from the Tenth Word, Fourth Truth
Also, look at the exhibitions everywhere in the universe which are a display of Divine Arts. Pay attention to the Divine proclamations in the hands of plants and animals on the face of the earth; listen to the prophets and saints who are inviters to the merits of Divine Lordship. How they unanimously show the flawless perfection of The Glorious (Dhu’l Jalal) Maker (Sani’) though displaying His marvelous arts, declaring them, and drawing attention to them.