Advanced search
Last Updated: 2014/09/04
Summary of question
Was anyone appointed as prophet by Allah from European and Indian peoples (not Semites)?
Why did all the prophets or those claimed to be prophets come from Semitic tribes and live in the Middle East? Why aren\'t there any traces of 124 thousand prophets in any others parts of the world?
Concise answer
Man is a duty-bound creature and duty would necessitate prophets to be appointed and sent to deliver obligations, messages and injunctions to him, otherwise duty would be unwise or meaningless. The Holy Quran says in many a number of verses that wherever there was a nation or people, God sent them prophets for guidance. There is no doubt that names of only a few of those prophets have been mentioned or reported in the Quran.  It says: "And (We sent) messengers We have mentioned to you before and messengers we have not mentioned to you…"[i] That is to say, O Prophet we have narrated the story of some of Our prophets, not all of them.
The fact that all peoples and nations have had religions is confirmed by theologians and ethnologists. However, since Allah seeks to make use of the life and history of the prophets to educate human generations, He has mentioned the story of the most important prophets sent to people in the Middle East.

[i] An-Nisa: 164.
Detailed Answer
God created man and bestowed His numerous bounties upon him including the gift of intellect and thinking which distinguishes him from other creatures. God has also obligated man to fulfill certain duties and obligations which are by themselves considered to be God's blessings upon mankind. If man has duties to perform, then it would necessitate prophets to be appointed and sent to deliver divine injunctions to him, otherwise duty would be nonsensical or meaningless. The divine prophets were men commissioned by God to deliver His message and commandments to mankind. God's habit or sunnah was to send from every nation and people someone to them for their guidance as evidenced by the Holy Quran:
"And certainly We raised in every nation a messenger …"[1]
There are also other verses which refer to the same fact.[2]  Hence, there is no doubt that  wherever there were people or tribes, God sent them messengers for their guidance.[3] But the names of all of those prophets have not been mentioned in the Quran and sayings of the Infallibles (AS). It has been simply stated in some of our narrations that God sent one hundred twenty four thousand prophets and in some other narrations it has been mentioned that God sent eight thousand prophets along with miracles to guide mankind in the right path.[4] The Holy Quran has mentioned names of only 25 prophets. Perhaps, the same number of prophets has been reported in traditions.  The difference between 25 prophets and 8 thousand or 125 thousand prophets is poles apart.  It is the Quran that says, "And (We sent) messengers We have mentioned to you before and messengers we have not mentioned to you…"[5]
Elsewhere the Quran says, "We did aforetime send messengers before thee: of them there are some whose story We have related to thee, and some whose story We have not related to thee. It was not (possible) for any messenger to bring a sign except by the leave of Allah…"[6] All of this can be confirmation of what theologians have said that there had been a religion in every nation.
In his The World's Living Religions, Rebert Hume says, "In the history of mankind, never has there been a tribe which might not somehow have had a religion." He further says that religion is something that distinguishes man from animals.[7]
Naturally, we must differentiate between the world's living religions and other religions which have now perished. He says, "Asia is the birthplace of all the world's living religions."[8] However, he names some of the religions which no longer exist and have perished  and that shows that prophets as the bearers of divine religion existed in all places where human beings settled and inhabited. He says: "religions existing in ancient Egypt in Africa, Mexican religions and religions in ancient Peru in America…"[9]
We can conclude therefore that there were numerous prophets whose names God did not mention in the Quran.[10] Perhaps, the fact that all peoples and nations have had religions is confirmed by theologians or ethnologists. However, since Allah seeks to make use of the life and history of the prophets to educate human generations, He has mentioned the story of the prophets sent to people in the Middle East. Because only the history and works of the prophets' tribes and people were available to people of that time and it was easier for people of that time to know them. That is why the Quran refers to prophets in different chapters calling on people to see the legacies and ruins of the civilizations of people who rejected those prophets. It says:
"Therefore travel in the land, then see what was the end of the rejecters (and learn a lesson from them)"[11] For this reason, if Moses' stories have been referred to very often by the Quran, it is because there are occasions in them which can serve as good lessons for others especially when it comes to Muslims' confrontation with the People of the Book.
It has been also considered probable that the advent of various civilizations in the Middle East, as some archeologists have noted, is the reason requiring prophets to be sent to this region. This is also affirmed by those who have studied the nations' history of civilization.
In fact, we must note that circumstances and situations play a key role in this regard. No prophet was sent unless required due to special temporal and spatial circumstances. God is well aware of the causes and reasons behind the prophetic mission of a prophet.  Perhaps, it can be said that in certain places like Palestine, Arabian Peninsula, Makkah and Medina, more men of religion were ready to embrace the truth as was the case with Greece where the situation was propitious for philosophers to emerge. In any case, this is something divine and God knows it best. Whatever the reason or purpose, the prophets who have been spoken about in the Quran emerged from these sacred lands. There is no doubt in the fact that all the existing great religions in today's world were born in the Middle East causing all other religion over the centuries to perish and calling upon their followers to follow the succeeding religions. If Christianity is the predominant religion in Europe and America and has millions of follower, it was, like all other Abrahamic religions, born in Asia, particularly Middle East. But that does not mean that divine prophets did not emerge in other parts of the world. If no religion other the existing ones are found across the world, it does not signify that there were no prophets in other parts of the world. Indeed, if a divine prophet is proved unquestionably to have existed in any places other than Middle East, it will be accepted.  Now-a-days, signs of theistic beliefs and worship of God are seen with the primitive tribes in America or the red Indians. These signs indicate the teachings of divine prophets.
Therefore, from the first day of creation wherever there were human beings, God sent them prophets to guide them and tell them their duties.  However, their names and stories have not been mentioned in the divine books including the Quran. Of course, it has not been necessary to mention their names and stories given the goals and objectives which the Quran pursued.

[1] Nahl 36
[2] Fatir, 24, Asra, 15 and Taha, 134.
[3] Additionally, God's wisdom and justice require Him to guide all human races and groups in every era and generation.
[4] Behar al-Anwar, vol.11, p. 21. Tabarsi, may Allah bless him, narrates from Imam Ali (AS) that he said: God sent a black prophet whose story He did not tell us. The reports about number of prophets are different. Some of those reports say that God sent one hundred twenty four thousand prophets and other reports say that they were eight thousand, four thousand of them were from Banu Israel and the rest from other people. They came with miracles and signs…
[5] An-Nisa: 164.
[6] Ghafir, 78.
[7] The World's Living Religions, Robert E. Hume, p. 17.
[8] Ibid, p. 30.
[9] Ibid, p. 29.
[10] See "Ideological Instruction", by Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, p. 237.
[11] Nahl, 36.
Question translations in other languages
Number of comments 0
Please enter the value
Example : Yourname@YourDomane.ext
Please enter the value
Please enter the value

Thematic Category

Random questions

  • Why do the Shia pray with open hands while the Sunnis pray with their hands closed? How would the holy prophet of Islam pray? Are there any hadiths on this subject?
    63800 Laws and Jurisprudence 2008/12/21
    Because of the many hadiths they have regarding this matter, the Shia pray with open hands in order to have followed the tradition of the holy prophet (pbuh) and the imams (as). These hadiths express that the prophet (pbuh) and the imams (as) would pray with their hands open ...
  • Can a major sin be forgiven?
    11948 Practical 2010/12/21
    A major sin is one that being punished in hell is promised to its committer in the Quran or ahadith. (There are also other criteria for a sin being a major one). Also minor sins turn into major sins when committed repeatedly (when insisted on ...
  • Is conditional divorce effective?
    6443 Laws and Jurisprudence 2010/06/21
    One of the conditions of the validity and effectiveness of the divorce formula is for it not to be made contingent upon any condition. Consequently, if the husband says “If Zayd comes you are divorced”[1] or “If the sun rises you are ...
  • How was the ultimate underlying substance created by Allah? Was there anything existing alongside Allah?
    3898 Islamic Philosophy 2017/01/21
    This issue has something to do closely with the issue of "the created" (hādith) and "the eternal" (qadim). The key to understanding this topic is to understand the concept of existence, non-existence and tajalli (divine self-manifestation) which is the appearance and disclosure of God as truth in ...
  • Was Ibn Arabi Shia or Sunni?
    18334 تاريخ بزرگان 2009/08/29
    The complicated personality and his attitude towards different great personalities of different sects has made it difficult to determine what sect Ibn Arabi belonged to, thus there are different viewpoints on this issue. Some say he was Sunni, some say he was a twelve imamer Shia, some say ...
  • Did Imam Ali (AS) fight all innovations when he was in power?
    7415 امام علی ع و خلفا 2017/01/24
    It was only 25 years after the demise of the Prophet of Islam (S) that the Muslim caliphate got back on its original track. After coming to power and becoming apparently a caliph, Imam Ali (AS) vowed to do away with all the innovations that had come ...
  • rules and regulations has Islam prescribed for exultations and happiness?
    6120 Practical 2011/12/19
    Real happiness from the perspective of a faithful individual is achieved when he performs an act which draws him one step closer to his Lord. However, human beings can benefit from lawful and diverse worldly pleasures so as to satiate his natural desire. At times, these actions ...
  • What is the meaning of Labbayk?
    16878 Laws and Jurisprudence 2012/05/21
    Labbayk means to answer in the affirmative, to agree with and accept an invitation[1], an acceptance accompanied with honor, respect and praise. This term was originally "Labbayna" plus "Lak", and turned to "Labbayk" through combining the two words into one (Idghaam).[2] ...
  • Is the prayer performed in the Imams' shrine right? Though the grave is in the direction of the prayer?
    10714 Exegesis 2011/12/21
    Considering the verse mentioned at the surface level, we deduce that it is permissible to build mosques over graves. In the exegesis of the Quran, it is mentioned that a mosque has been built over the cemetery of the people in the cave (Al-Kahf).In the related tradition, there is ...
  • If a woman remarries in this world, which husband will be her spouse in heaven?
    13073 Traditional 2009/10/22
    When considering the status of a man and woman in the afterlife that were once spouses in this world, several possibilities can be considered:Both the woman and man will be in heaven.The woman will be in heaven ...