Volume IX - The Unity of Religious Ideals
The prophet is the manifestation of the same Spirit, which, in its fullest expression, can rightfully be called Alpha and Omega. Although the spirit of Alpha and Omega is really in all beings: in a loving mother, in a kind father, in an innocent child, in a helpful friend, in an inspiring teacher. The prophet is a mystic, and greater than a mystic. The prophet is a philosopher, and greater than a philosopher. The prophet is a poet, and greater than a poet. The prophet is a teacher, and greater than a teacher. The prophet is a seer, and greater than a seer. Why greater? Because he has a duty to perform, together with the blessing that he brings upon earth.
In the East, the prophet is termed Payghambar. There are also two other names, Nabi and Rasul; and although all these names mean a prophet, yet each of them signifies a certain attribute of the prophet; also, each of those words denotes a certain degree of his evolution. Payghambar literally means 'message-bearer', and this word is used for holy ones who brought a divine message from time to time to a certain community, nation, or race, whenever there was a need of awakening in a certain people. The Payghambar acted as an alarm to warn people of coming dangers; he also brought reforms to improve the condition of his people.
There are two steps in the life of the messenger, one minor and the other major. One stage is when he begins to give the message. The next stage is when the message is fulfilled. Nabi is one who begins to give the message. Rasul is the one who fulfills the message.
Nabi is the prophet who has not only come for a certain section of humanity. Although he may only live and move in a limited region of the world, yet what he brings has its influence upon the whole of humanity. It may not be fulfilled in his lifetime, but a day of fulfillment will come, even if it be centuries later, so that all he brought at last reaches the whole of humanity. Rasul is a term which denotes a more advanced degree, when the prophet has not only brought a message to the world, but has fulfilled his task during his lifetime through all the tests and trials that a prophet has to meet in life.
The prophet is an interpreter of the divine law in a human tongue. He is an ambassador of the spiritual hierarchy, for he represents to humanity the illuminated souls who are both known and unknown to the world, who are both hidden and manifest, and who are both in the world and beyond the world. The prophet is both an initiate and an initiator, for he is an answer to the cry of humanity, as much of individuals as of the collectivity. He is the one who sympathizes with those in pain, guides those in darkness, harmonizes those who are in conflict, and brings peace to the world, which is always losing its equilibrium, excited by centuries of its own activity.
The prophet can never tell the ultimate truth, which only his soul knows and no words can explain. His mission is, therefore, to design and paint and picture the truth in words that may be intelligible to mankind. The bare truth not every man can see. If he can he needs no more teaching. The prophet, so to speak, listens to the words of God in the language of God, and interprets those words in human language. He speaks to every man in his own tongue. He converses with every man on his own plane. Therefore he has little chance to disagree, unless there is someone who wants disagreement and nothing else. There he cannot help.
Besides the words, which an intellectual person can speak also, the prophet brings the love and the light, which is the food of every soul. The very presence of the prophet may make a person see things differently, and yet he may not know that it was because of the prophet. He may only think that that which was not clear to him, or for a moment seemed difficult to him, is now simple and clear. For the prophet is a living light, a light which is greater in power than the sun, for the light of the sun can only make things clear to the eyes, but the light that the prophet brings to the world makes the heart see all that the eyes are not capable of seeing. The prophet brings love, the love of God who is the Father and Mother of the whole of humanity, a love that is life itself. No words or actions can express that love. The presence of the prophet and his very being speak of it, if only the heart has ears to listen. Verily, to the believer all is right, and to the unbeliever all is wrong.
The principal work of the prophet is to glorify the name
of God, and to raise humanity from the denseness of the
earth, to open the doors of the human heart to the divine
beauty which is manifested everywhere, and to illuminate
souls which have been groping in darkness for years. The
prophet brings the message of the day, a reform for that
particular period in which he is born. The claim of prophet-hood
is nothing to the real prophet. His being, his work, and
the fulfillment of his task, it is these which are the proof
of the prophet-hood.