The Qur'an explicitly states that prophets charged with the mission to communicate to mankind the divine law have been sent to every community. The number of them is known only to God. It is believed that more than a thousand prophets have been sent. In the Qur'an the names of only 27 prophets are mentioned, amongst others Abraham, the first of the prophets, and Muhammad, the last one.
WHY WERE PROPHETS SENT?
… For We assuredly sent amongst every People an apostle,… (16/36)
Messenger. who gave good news as well as warning, that mankind, after (the coming) of the apostles, should have no plea against Allah …(4/165)
The prophets had the mission to teach mankind how a man should behave in order that he may shun evil and choose the right path.
A PROPHET FOR EVERY COMMUNITY
To every people (was sent) an apostle … (10/47)
… and there never was a people, without a warner having lived among them (in the past). (35/24)
Of some apostles We have already told thee the story; of others We have not; … (4/164)
The reputed Islamic scholar Yaþar Nuri Öztürk claims that many a prophet had been sent whose names have not been mentioned; therefore, under the circumstances, we could take Buddha, Socrates, Plato and Confucius for prophets.
NO DISTINCTION IS MADE BETWEEN PROPHETS
… We believe in Allah, and the revelation given to us, and to Abraham, Isma'il, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to (all) prophets from their Lord: We make no difference between one and another of them: And we bow to Allah (in Islam)." (2/136)
… We make no distinction (they say) between one and another of His apostles."…. ((2/285)
It was not (possible) for any apostle to bring a sign except by the leave of Allah. (40/78)
Given the fact that religion is a whole in the sight of God, no distinction should be made between prophets, since they have one common origin. They have the mission to convey the messages they receive from God. However, a difference of rank is mentioned between them in the Qur'an: Those apostles We endowed with gifts, some above others: To one of them Allah spoke; others He raised to degrees (of honour); to Jesus the son of Mary We gave clear (Signs), and strengthened him with the holy spirit. (2/253) God had addressed Moses, Jesus had been strengthened by the Hloy Spirit and Muhammad had ascended to heaven.
THE LAST PROPHET
Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but (he is) the Messenger of Allah, and the Seal of the Prophets (33/40)
We have not sent thee but as a universal (Messenger) to men, giving them glad tidings, and warning them (against sin), but most men understand not. (34/28)
If ye do love Allah, Follow me: Allah will love you and forgive you your sins: For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." (3/31)
Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for any one whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in the Praise of Allah. (33/21) The above verses show that Muhammad was sent as a mercy to the creatures of the earth.