Each of the following words - al-salih, the righteous one, al-shahid, the witness, and al-siddiq, the sincere one - may be cited [in the Qur’an or the Sunnah] separately to refer to the Prophets. Allah says about al-Khalil [i.e., the Prophet Abraham]: “... We granted him his reward in this life; and he is in the Hereafter [in the company] of the righteous ones” (Surah Al-Ankabut, 29:27); and “... We gave him [Abraham] good in this world, and he will be, in the Hereafter, in the ranks of the righteous ones” (Surah An-Nahl, 16:122). Al-Khalil said: “Oh, my Lord! Bestow wisdom on me, and join me with the righteous ones” (Surah Ash-Shu'ara', 26:83). Yusuf [Joseph] said: “... [Oh, Allah] Let me die as a Muslim and unite me with the righteous ones” (Surah Yusuf, 12:101). Sulayman [Solomon] said: “... And admit me, by Your grace, to the ranks of Your righteous ones” (Surah An-Naml, 27:19). The Prophet (Peace be upon him) spoke to people who prayed reciting: “Peace be upon Allah before His Servants, peace be upon the Angel Gabriel, peace be upon the Angel Mikail [Michael], and peace be upon so and so.” The Messenger of Allah said to us one day: “Indeed Allah is Himself Peace. When any one of you sits during the prayers, he should say: ‘All services rendered by words, by acts of worship, and all good things are due to Allah.’ Peace be upon you, Oh, Prophet, and Allah’s mercy and blessings. Peace be upon us and upon Allah’s righteous servants, for when he says this it reaches every righteous servant in Heaven and on earth” (as recorded in Sahih Muslim).
The word, righteous, may be associated with other terms. Allah says: “… Whosoever obeys Allah and the Messenger are in the company of those on whom is the Grace of Allah, of the Prophets, the sincere ones, the witness, and the righteous ones” (Surah An-Nisa’, 4:69). Al-Zajjaj and others said: “The righteous one is he who fulfills the rights of Allah and His Servants.” In fact, the word, righteous, means the opposite of the word al-fasid, the corrupt. Accordingly, when the word, righteous, is used in an absolute sense it means one who works and stays righteous without being corrupted. That is, he is one whose inward works and sayings correspond exactly to his outward obedience to Allah. On this basis, righteous, refers to the Prophets and those who are below them. In the verse mentioned above (Surah An-Nisa’, 4:69), the words, the righteous ones, were used in conjunction with the phrase, the Prophets, who in turn are described in different verses of the Qur’an as being righteous ones. Allah says: “Mentioned in the Book is the story of Abraham: He was a sincere man, a Prophet”, (Surah Maryam, 19:41) and “Also mentioned in the Book is the case of Idris: He was a sincere man, a Prophet.” (Surah Maryam, 19:56).
The word al-shahid, witness, [in the same verse] is associated with the words “the sincere ones” and “the righteous ones.” Allah says: “. . . The Prophets and the witnesses will be brought forward; and a just decision pronounced between them” (Surah Az-Zumar, 39:69). The word, witness, is attached to the people, and described the community as a whole as in Allah’s saying: “Thus We made of you a community justly balanced that you may be witnesses over mankind and the Messenger will be a witness upon you . . .” (Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:143). Such a witness is tied to the witness among the people and is like the witness mentioned in Allah’s saying: “Why did they not bring four witnesses to prove it? . . .” (Surah An-Nur, 24:13) and “. . . And get two witnesses of your own men. . . ” (Surah Al-Baqarah, 2:282).
In these two verses the connotation of the meaning of the word, witness, is not intended to be the absolute meaning but rather as in Allah’s saying: “. . . [Allah] may choose witnesses from among you . . .” (Surah Al-‘Imran, 3:140).
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