Surahs Al-Anam and As-Saffet mention the Prophet Elias (or Elijah) is mentioned by name three times. They tell us:
And Zakariya and John, and Jesus and Elias: all in the ranks of the righteous:Al-Anam 6:85
So also was Elias among those sent (by Us).
Behold, he said to his people, “Will ye not fear (God)?
“Will ye call upon Baal and forsake the Best of Creators,-
“God, your Lord and Cherisher and the Lord and Cherisher of your fathers of old?”
But they rejected him, and they will certainly be called up (for punishment),-
Except the sincere and devoted Servants of God (among them).
And We left (this blessing) for him among generations (to come) in later times:
“Peace and salutation to such as Elias!”
Thus indeed do We reward those who do right.
For he was one of our believing Servants.As-Saffat 37:123-132
These surahs mention Elias along with John (Yahya) and Jesus (Isa al Masih) because he also is one of the prophets of the Bible. As stated, Elias (Elijah) confronted the prophets of the idol Baal. The Bible contains a detailed record of this contest. Below we explore the blessing for us (the ‘generations in later times’ that As-Saffat promises).
Elias and the test for the prophets of Baal
Elijah was a rugged man who confronted 450 prophets of Baal. How could he oppose so many? The Bible explains that he used a clever test. Both he and the prophets of Baal were to sacrifice an animal but would not light the fire to burn the sacrifice. Each side would call upon its God to light the fire from heaven. Whichever God lit the sacrifice with fire from heaven – that was the real and living God.
So these 450 prophets called on Baal for a whole day to light their sacrifice from heaven – but no fire came. Then Elijah, all by himself, called on the Creator to light his sacrifice and immediately fire came from the sky and burned up the whole sacrifice. The people who witnessed this contest then knew who the real God was and who was false. Baal was shown to be false.
Elias’ test today
We were not witnesses to this contest, but we can follow the same strategy of Elijah’s test to know if a message or prophet comes from God. The strategy is to test in such a way that only God and his messengers can succeed and those with merely human ability, like the prophets of Baal, cannot.
What would such a test, in the spirit of Elias, be?
Surah An-Najm tells us
But it is to God that the End and the Beginning (of all things) belong. (An-Najm 53:25)
Only God knows the End of all things, even before the End happens. Humans do not know the End of things before they occur, only after they come to pass. Therefore the test is to see if the message correctly predicts the future long before it happens. No human or idol can do this. Only God can.
Elias’ test applied to the Injil
Many people wonder if the Prophet Isa al Masih PBUH as revealed in the Injil is a true message of God, or if it has been fabricated by clever people. We can apply Elias’s test to this question. The books of Taurat and Zabur, along with the prophets like Elias are hundreds, and even thousands of years older than the time of Isa al Masih PBUH. These were written by Jewish prophets and thus are not ‘Christian’ writings. Do these early writings contain prophecies that correctly predict the events of Isa al Masih? Here is a summary of the prophecies given in Taurat. Here is a summary of the prophecies in Zabur and succeeding prophets. You can now test like Elias to see if the Prophet Isa al Masih PBUH as recorded in the Injil is truly from God, or is a false distortion from men.
Surah Al-Anam named Elias along with Yahya and Isa al Masih. Interestingly, Elias is prophesied in the final book of the Old Testament to come and prepare our hearts for the coming of the Masih. We see in the Injil how the prophet Yahya came in the manner of Elias to confront people and prepare them for the coming of the Masih. The person of Elias himself is also bound up in the prophecies of Yahya and the Masih.