اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ بِجَمِیعِ مَحَامِدِه کُلِّهَا عَلَی جَمِیعِ نِعَمِهِ کُلِّهَا… اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ مالِکِ الْمُلْکِ مُجْرِی الْفُلْکِ مُسَخِّرِ الرِّیاحِ فالِقِ الاْصْباحِ دَیّانِ الدّینِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمینَ اَلْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ عَلی حِلْمِهِ بَعْدَ عِلمِهِ وَالْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ عَلی عَفْوِهِ بَعْدَ قُدْرَتِهِ وَالْحَمْدُ لِلّهِ عَلی طُولِ اَناتِهِ فی غَضَبِهِ وَهُوَ قادِرٌ عَلی ما یُریدُ
All praise be to Allah with full gratitude for all His bounties. … All praise be to Allah: the master of the sovereignty, Who allows arks to flow [on seas], Who controls the winds, Who causes the day to break, Who administers the authority, and Who is the Lord of the worlds. All praise be to Allah for His forbearance despite His full knowledge. All praise be to Allah for His amnesty despite His full power. All praise be to Allah for the length of His respite during His wrath, while He is able to do whatever He wills.
و نشهد أن لا اله الا الله وحده لا شریک له، و أَنَّ محمداً عبده و رسوله ارسله بالهدی و دین الحق لیظهره علی الدین کله و لو کره المشرکون
We bear witness that there is no god but Allah. He is one and has no partners. We bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and messenger, whom He sent with guidance and the religion of truth that He may make it prevail over all religions, though the polytheists should be averse.
اوصیکم عبادالله و نفسی بتقوی الله و اتباع امره و نهیه، و اخوفکم من عقابه
I enjoin you, servants of Allah and myself, to have fear of God and comply with His commands and forbiddances, and warn you against His retribution.
Elijah’s Practice according to the Quran
Elijah or Ilyas was a monotheist prophet from among the Israelites. He is mentioned in the Holy Quran for his prophetic mission and character. Although there have been some who have identified him with Prophet Idris, the Quran attributes distinct characteristics to each of these prophets, affirming that they were separate figures with unique missions.
Characteristics of Prophet Elijah
The Quran presents the following characterization of Elijah:
The Quran describes Elijah as a prophet or apostle:
وَإِنَّ إِلْيَاسَ لَمِنَ الْمُرْسَلِينَ
Indeed Ilyas was one of the apostles. (Saffat, 123)
Indeed, it refers to Elijah as among the greatest prophets in human history:
وَتِلْكَ حُجَّتُنَا آتَيْنَاهَا إِبْرَاهِيمَ عَلَى قَوْمِهِ …؛ وَوَهَبْنَا لَهُ إِسْحَاقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ كُلًّا هَدَيْنَا، وَنُوحًا هَدَيْنَا مِنْ قَبْلُ، وَمِنْ ذُرِّيَّتِهِ دَاوُودَ وَسُلَيْمَانَ وَأَيُّوبَ وَيُوسُفَ وَمُوسَى وَهَارُونَ، وَكَذَلِكَ نَجْزِي الْمُحْسِنِينَ؛ وَزَكَرِيَّا وَيَحْيَى وَعِيسَى وَإِلْيَاسَ، كُلٌّ مِنَ الصَّالِحِينَ
This was Our argument that We gave to Abraham against his people. … And We gave him Isaac and Jacob and guided each of them. And Noah We had guided before, and from his offspring, David and Solomon, Job, Joseph, Moses and Aaron—thus do We reward the virtuous—and Zechariah, John, Jesus and Elijah (Ilyas)—each of them among the righteous. (al-Anʿam, 83-85)
- God’s Peace and Greeting to Elijah
The Quran generally sends “peace” and “greeting” to all prophets:
سَلَامٌ عَلَى الْمُرْسَلِينَ
Peace be to the apostles! (Saffat, 181)
سَلَامٌ عَلَى عِبَادِهِ الَّذِينَ اصْطَفَى
and Peace be to the servants whom He has chosen. (al-Naml, 59)
However, God particularly sent peace to certain prophets: Noah, Abraham, Moses, Aaron, and Elijah, which indicates their special position for God:
سَلَامٌ عَلَى نُوحٍ فِي الْعَالَمِينَ
Peace to Noah, throughout the nations! (Saffat, 79)
سَلَامٌ عَلَى إِبْرَاهِيمَ
Peace be to Abraham! (Saffat, 109)
سَلَامٌ عَلَى مُوسَى وَهَارُونَ
Peace be to Moses and Aaron! (Saffat, 120)
سَلَامٌ عَلَى إِلْ يَاسِينَ
Peace be to the followers of Ilyas (Elijah)! (Saffat, 130)
As for Jesus the Christ, he himself reports God’s peace upon himself:
وَالسَّلَامُ عَلَيَّ يَوْمَ وُلِدْتُ وَ يَوْمَ أَمُوتُ وَيَوْمَ أُبْعَثُ حَيًّا
Peace to me the day I was born, and the day I die, and the day I am raised alive. (Maryam, 33)
Furthermore, a unique trait of Elijah among these five great prophets is that his followers are blessed with God’s peace, while those of the other prophets are not so blessed.
- Elijah as Virtuous
The Holy Quran highly regards virtue (iḥsān) as a commendable trait. The dwellers of heaven are portrayed as virtuous, and God’s chosen servants are also described as such. Elijah is also referred to as “virtuous” (muḥsin) in the Quran, which confirms God’s recognition of this quality in him:
سَلَامٌ عَلَى إِلْ يَاسِينَ؛ إِنَّا كَذَلِكَ نَجْزِي الْمُحْسِنِينَ
Peace be to Ilyas! Thus indeed do We reward the virtuous. (Saffat, 130-131)
- Elijah as God’s Servant
The greatest and most precious characteristic for human beings is the servitude of God. In the case of Prophet Muhammad, we are instructed to prioritize his servitude over his apostleship with the phrase: “I bear witness that Muhammad is God’s servant and apostle.”
The Quran attributes this characteristic to Prophet Elijah, which implies that his servitude is recognized by God:
إِنَّهُ مِنْ عِبَادِنَا الْمُؤْمِنِينَ
He is indeed one of Our faithful servants. (Saffat, 132)
Elijah or Ilyas is also mentioned in mystical Persian poems:
ذات رومی محرم آمد پاک دل کرباس را امتحان واجب نیامد سفتن الماس را
تو کمان راستی را بشکنی در زیر زه تیر مقصود تو کی بیند رخ برجاس را
موج دریا کی رسد در اوج صحرای خضر در بیابان راه کمتر گم کند الیاس را
The canvas awaits the heart so pure,
To let the Roman portrait endure.
A diamond doesn’t need to prove,
Its worth through piercing moves.
Straight archery broken by your hand,
Your arrow lost, unable to land.
Khiḍr’s desert, where sea waves crash,
But fail to reach its heart in a flash,
In deserts vast, where sea waves cease to roam,
Ilyas finds his way, never lost alone.
Elijah’s Message and Divine Mission
Similar to other prophets, Prophet Elijah also called upon people to focus on two essential things that could bring happiness in both this world and the afterlife:
- Godwariness or piety
- Monotheism or monolatry
The Quran mentions these two goals when referring to Elijah’s mission:
وَإِنَّ إِلْيَاسَ لَمِنَ الْمُرْسَلِينَ؛ إِذْ قَالَ لِقَوْمِهِ: أَلَا تَتَّقُونَ؟ أَتَدْعُونَ بَعْلًا وَتَذَرُونَ أَحْسَنَ الْخَالِقِينَ؟ اللَّهَ رَبَّكُمْ وَرَبَّ آبَائِكُمُ الْأَوَّلِينَ
Indeed Ilyas was one of the apostles. When he said to his people, ‘Will you not be Godwary? Do you invoke Baal and abandon the best of creators, Allah, your Lord and Lord of your forefathers? (Saffat, 122-126)
“Baal” was the idol worshiped by his people.
People’s Response to Elijah’s Call
Similar to the rejection faced by other prophets, Elijah’s people denied and turned away from his call.
In the Quran, Elijah’s people are mentioned to be summoned and interrogated in the afterlife, with the exception of those who held pure beliefs among them:
فَكَذَّبُوهُ فَإِنَّهُمْ لَمُحْضَرُونَ؛ إِلَّا عِبَادَ اللَّهِ الْمُخْلَصِينَ
they impugned him. So they will indeed be mustered [in hell]—[all] except Allah’s exclusive servants. We left for him a good name in posterity. (Saffat, 127-128)