Finality Of Prophethood
Next in line of authority after the consensus of the Companions stands the consensus, in matters of religion, of those ullema of the Muslims who came after the time of Companions (may Allah be pleased with them). A glance through the history of Islam from the first century up to the modern times reveals to us the fact that the ullama of all periods in every Islamic country of the world are unanimous in their conviction that no new prophet can be raised after Muhammad (PBUH). They all agree in the belief that anyone who lays a claim to Prophethood after Muhammad (PBUH) and anyone who puts faith in such a claim is an apostate and an outcast from the community of Islam.
The following facts are appended as an illustration of this:
· A man in the time of Imam Abu Hanifa (80 A.H.-150 A.H.) laid claim to Prophethood and said "Let me show you the proofs of my prophethood." The great Imam thereupon warned the people: "Anyone who asks of this man the credentials of prophethood, shall become an apostate, for the Prophet of God (PBUH) has explicitly declared: "No prophet will come after me." (Manaqib al-Imam-i-Azam Abi Hanifa, Ibn Ahmad al-Makki, Vol. I, p.161, published in Hyderabad, India, 1321 A.H.)
· `Allama Ibn Jarir Tabari (224 A.H.-310 A.H.) in his renowned commentary of the holy Qur'an gives the following interpretation of the verse, 'walakin Rasul Allahi wa Khatam-ul Nabiyyin': "He has closed and sealed the prophethood and the door (of prophethood) shall not open for anyone till the end of the world." (Vide Commentary of Ibn-i-Jarir, Vol. 22, p.12)
· In his book `Aqida-i-Salfia, while explaining the beliefs of the pious forbearers and particularly those of Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam Muhammad, Imam Tahavi (239 A.H.-321 A.H.) writes that Muhammad (PBUH) is a highly venerable servant of God. He is the chosen Prophet and the favorite Messenger of Allah. He is the last of the Prophets, Leader of the pious, chief of the Messengers of Allah and the beloved one of the Lord. After him every claim to Prophethood is an error manifest and worship of one's evil-self." (Sharah al-Tahawiya Fil-'Aqidat-ul-Salfia, Dar-ul-Ma'arif, Egypt, pp. 15, 87, 96, 97, 100, 102)
· `Allama Ibn Hazm Andulasi (384 A.H.-456 A.H.) writes: "It is certain that the chain of Divine revelations has come to an end after the death of the Holy Prophet(PBUH). The proof of this lies in the fact that none but a prophet can be the recipient of Divine revelations and God has affirmed that Muhammad has no sons among ye men and he is the Messenger of God and that He has sealed the office of Prophethood." (Al-Mohallah, Vol. 1, p.26)
· Imam Ghazali (450 A.H-505 A.H.) says `If the right of denying the authority of consensus be admitted, it will give rise to many absurdities. For example, if someone says that it is possible for a person to attain the office of Prophethood after our Apostle Muhammad(PBUH), we shall not hestitate to pronounce him as an infidel, but in the course of a controversy the man who wishes to prove that any reluctance in pronoucing such a person as an apostate is a sin shall have to seek the aid of consensus in support of his arguments, because reason is no arbiter against the possibilty of the existance of a `new prophet.' As regards the followers of the `new prophets' they will not be utterly incapable of making various interpretations of La Nabiya Ba`di, "There will be no Prophet after me" and Khatam-ul-Nabiyyin, `Last of the Prophets.' A follower of the `new prophets' might say that Khatam-ul-Naibiyyin, `Last of the Prophets' bears the meaning "last of the prominent Messengers." If you argue that "prophets" is a common word, he would very easily give this term a particular significance with regard to his own `prophethood.' In respect of `No Prophet will come after him', such a man would contend that this expression does not say that `No Messengers will follow him.' There is a difference betwen a Prophet and a Messenger. The status of a Prophet is higher than that of the Messenger. The fact is that such absurdities can be indulged in ad infinitum. It is not difficult, in our view, to make different interpretations of a word. Besides, there is no ample scope for people to commit blunders ever and beyond these points in the exposition of these clear words. We cannot even say that those who make such interpretations are guilty of the denial of clear injunctions. But to refute those who have but their faith in the false expositions we shall say that the entire Ummah by a consensus of opinion recognizes that the words `No Prophet shall come after him' and the context of the traditions suggests that the Holy Prophet meant that `No Prophet, nor Messenger shall follow him.' Furthermore, the Ummah is agreed on the point that above words of the Holy Prophet leave no scope for a different interpretation than given to it by the consensus of the Ummah and he who would not join the consensus is no more than a dissident. (Al-Iqtisad Fil Aiteqad, p.114, Egypt)
· Mohy-us-Sunnah Baghawi ( died 510 A.H.) writes in his commentary Ma`lam-al-Tanzil: "God brought the line of Prophets to an end with him. Hence he is the final Prophet.......Ibn `Abbas affirms that God(in this verse) has given His verdict that no Prophet will come after the Prophet Muhammad(PBUH)." (Vol. 3, p. 158)
· `Allama Zamakhshri (467 A.H.-538 A.H) writes in his commentary entitled Kashshaaf, "If you ask how Muhammad can be the last of the Prophets when Hadrat `Isa (Jesus Christ) will appear towards the end of the world? I shall reply that the finality of Prophethood of Muhammad (PBUH) means that no one will be endowed with prophethood after him. Hadrat 'Isa is among those upon whom prophethood was endowed before Muhammad(PBUH). Moreover, Hadrat 'Isa will appear as a follower of Muhammad and he will offer prayers with his face towards the Qiblah of Islam, as a member of the community of the Muslims." (Vol. 2, p. 215)
· Qazi 'Iyad (died 544 A.H.) writes: " He who lays a claim to prophethood, affirms that a man can attain the office of prophethood or can acquire the dignity of a prophet through purification of soul, as is alleged by some philosophers and sufis; similarly a person who does not claim to be a prophet, but declares that he is the recipient of Divine revelation, all such persons are apostates and deniers of the prophethood of Muhammad(PBUH), for Muhammad (PBUH) has conveyed the message of God to us that he is the final Prophet and no Prophet will come after him. He had also conveyed to us the Divine message that he has finally sealed the office of Prophethood and that he has been sent as a Prophet and a Messenger to the whole of mankind. It is the consensus of the entire Ummah that these words of the Holy Prophet are clear enough and eloquently speak of the fact that they can admit of no other interpretation or amendment in their meaning. Hence there is no doubt that all these sects are outside the pale of Islam not only from the view-point of the consensus of the Ummah but also on the ground of these words having been transmitted with utmost authenticity." (Shifa, Vol. 2, pp. 270- 271)
· `Allama Shahrastani (died A.H. 548), in his renowned book, Almilal wan Nahal, writes: "And similarly who says that a prophet shall come after Muhammad (PBUH), there are no two opinions that such a man is an infidel." (Vol. 3, p. 249)
· Imam Razi (543 A.H.-606 A.H.), in his work Tafsir Kabir while explaining the meaning of the verse Khatam-un-Nabiyyin states: "In this context the term Khatam-un Nabiyyin has been used in the sense that a Prophet whose ministry is not final may leave some injunctions or commandments incomplete or unexplained thus providing scope for a succeeding prophet to complete the task. But the Prophet who will have no successor is more considerate and provides clear guidlines for his followers, for he is like a father who knows that after him there will be no guardian or patron to look after his son."(Vol. 6, p. 581)
· Allama Baidawi(died A.H. 685), in his commentary, Anwar-ul-Tanzil, writes: "In other words he, Muhammed (PBUH), is the last of all Prophets. He is the one in whom the line of Prophets ends or the one whose advent has sealed the office of Prophethood. The appearance of Hadrat 'Isa (peace be upon him) after Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) is not a contradiction of the finality of Muhammed's Prophethood, because Hadrat Isa will appear as a follower of the Shariah of Muhammed." (Vol. 4, p. 164)
· 'Allama Hafiz-ud-Din Al-Nasafi (died A.H.710), in his commentary, Madark-ut-Tanzil, writes: "And he Muhammad(PBUH) is the one who has brought the line of prophets to an end...in other words he is the last of all prophets. God shall not appoint another prophet after him. In respect of Hadrat `Isa(peace be upon him) it may be stated that he is among those who were appointed Prophets before the time of Muhammad(PBUH). And when Hadrat `Isa appears again, he will be a follower of the Shar'iah of Muhammad, and one among faithful." (p. 471)
· `Allama `Alau-din Baghdadi (died A.H. 725) in his commentary, Khazin, writes: "Wa Khatam-un-Nabiyyin,' in other words, God has ended prophethood in him, Muhammad(PBUH). Henceforth there is no prophethood after him, nor is there any partner with him in prophethood...Wa Kan Allahu Bikulle Shaiin `Alima, God is aware that no prophet will come after him." (pp. 471-472)
· Allama Ibn Kathir (died A.H. 774) writes in his well- known commentary, "Hence this verse is a clear proof of the fact that no prophet will come after Muhammad(PBUH) and when it is said that no prophet will come after him it is a foregone conclusion that no messenger will succeed him either, for the office of a messenger holds prominence over the office of a prophet. Every messenger is a prophet, but all prophets are not messengers. Any one who lays a claim to prophethood after Muhammad(PBUH) is a liar, a disruptionist, an imposter, depraved and a seducer despite his wonderous jugglery and magical feats. Any one who would make this claim in future till the end of the world belongs to this class. (Vol. 3, pp. 493-494)
· Allama Jalal-Ud-Din Suyuti (died A.H. 911) writes in his commentary entitled Jalalain, "God is aware of the fact that no prophet will succeed Muhammad (PBUH) and when Isa (PBUH) will reappear in the world he will act according to the Shariah of Muhammad (PBUH)." (p. 768)
· Allama Ibn Nujaim (died A.H. 970) in his renowned work of the canons of Fiqh entitled, 'Al-Ashbah wan-Nazair', Kitab- us-Siyyar:Bab: al-Raddah, writes: "A person who does not regard Muhammad (PBUH) as the last Prophet of God is not a Muslim, for the finality of Muhammad's prophethood is one of those fundamental articles of faith which a Muslim must understand and believe." (p. 179)
· Mulla Ali Qari (died A.H. 1016) in his commentary Fiqh Akbar, writes: "To lay a claim to Prophethood after the ministry of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is a sheer infidelity by the consensus of Ummah." (p. 202)
· Shaikh Isma'il Haqqi (died 1137 A.H.) while elucidating this verse in his commentary Ruh-ul-Bayan, writes: "Asim reads the word Khatam with a vowel stress on the letter ta which means the instrument of stamping and sealing, just as 'Printer' is the machine which imprints. The connotation of the word is that the Holy Prophet (PBUH) was the last of all prophets and God has sealed the office of prophethood through his agency. In Persian the same meaning will be expressed by the term 'Mohar Paighambran'. The seal of Prophets i.e., his (Muhammad's) advent sealed the door of prophethood and the line pf prophets ended in him. Other reciters pronounce the word Khatim with the vowel point under the letter ta which means to say that Muhammad (PBUH) was the one who sealed the doors of prophethood. In Persian the same meaning will be expressed by the term 'Mohar Konindai Paighambran,' 'Sealer of the prophets,' so both ways the word Khatam bears one and the same meaning........Henceforth the Ulema of the Ummah of Muhammad(PBUH) will inherit only spiritual eminence from him. The inheritance of Prophethood is extinct, for Muhammad(PBUH) has sealed the office of Prophethood for all time to come. The appearance of Hadrat Isa (PBUH) after Muhammad(PBUH) is not a contradiction of the finality of Muhammad's prophethood. The term Khatam-un-Nabiyyin makes it clear that no one will be appointed a prophet after Muhammad(PBUH).
Hadrat Isa (PBUH) was appointed Prophet before Muhammad(PBUH) and Isa(PBUH) will appear as a follower of the Shari'ah of Muhammad(PBUH). He (Isa)(PBUH) will offer prayers with his face turned towards the Qiblah designated by Muhammad(PBUH). Hadrat Isa (PBUH) will be one among the faithful of Islam. He will neither receive any Divine revelation nor will issue new injunctions; he will act as a follower of Muhammad(PBUH). `Ahl-Sunnat wal Jam'at (the Sunni sect) believe that no prophet will come after our holy Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) because God has affirmed wa-lakin Rasul Allehe wa Khatam-un- Nabiyyin, and the Prophet has said: La Nabiya Ba`di (There will be no Prophet after me.) Henceforth anyone who says that a prophet will succeed Muhammad(PBUH) will become an apostate, because he has denied a basic article of faith. Similarly anyone who casts doubt about the finality of Muhammad's prophethood, will also be declared an infidel, because the foregoing discussion has distinguished right from wrong. And any claim to prophethood after Muhammad(PBUH) is absolutely false."
· In Fatawa-i-Alamgiri which was compiled by the eminent scholars of the Indian sub-continent at the command of Aurangzeb Alamgir, in the 12th century Hijri, it is recorded: "A man who does not regard Muhammed (PBUH) as the final Prophet of God, is not a Muslim, and if such a man claims to be a messenger or prophet of God, he shall be proclaimed an apostate." (Vol. 2, p. 263)
· Allama Shoukani (died 1255 A.H.) in his commentary, Fath-ul-Qadeer, writes: "A majority of people have read the word Khatam with the vowel point under the letter ta but 'Asim reads the same word with vowel stress on ta. The first reading means that Muhammed (PBUH) ended the line of Prophets (peace of Allah be upon them) i.e., in other words the Holy Prophet came last of all the Prophets. The second reading means that the Holy Prophet was the seal by which the office of Prophethood was finally closed; and that his advent lent grace to the group of Allah's Prophets.
· Allama Alusi (died 1270 A.H.) in his commentary, Ruh-ul-Ma'ani, writes: "The word 'Prophet' is common, but the word 'Messenger' has a particular significance. Hence when the Holy Prophet (PBUH) is called the 'Seal of Prophets,' it necessarily follows that he is also the 'Seal of Messengers.' The implication of the Holy Prophet's position as 'the Last of all Prophets and Messengers of God' is that by his(PBUH) elevation to the dignity of Prophethood in this world, the same dignity has henceforth been abolished and no man can attain that dignity now." (Vol. 22, p. 32)
"Anyone who claims to be the recipient of Divine revelations as a prophet after the advent of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), shall be declared an infidel. There is no difference of opinion among Muslims on this point." (ibid., vol.22, p.38) "The affirmation in the Book of God of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as `the Last of the Prophets' is unequivocal. The Sunnah has clearly explained this and the Ummah has reached a consensus on it. Hence anyone who lays a contradictory claim against this position shall be declared an apostate (ibid., vol.22, p. 39)
These are the expositions of the leading savants, jurists, scholars of Hadith and commentators of every realm of Islam, from the sub-continent of India to Morocco and Spain (Andulus) and from Turkey to Yemen. We have indicated their years of birth and death in each case so that the reader may realise at first glance that this list includes eminent authorities of every century of the Islamic History falling between the first and thirteenth century. We might even have added expositions by the learned doctors of Islam belonging to the fourteenth century; but we omitted the Ulema of the 14th century purposely because someone might state that these scholars had explained the meanings of Khatam-i-Nabuwat as 'the Seal of all Prophets' to refute the claim of the 'new prophets' of the modern age.
It cannot, however, be said that the ulema of the past centuries entertained feelings of animosity against a later day personality claiming to be a prophet. These writings also make it clear beyond doubt that from the first century up to the present-day the entire Muslim world has unanimously taken the expression Khatam-un-Nabiyyin to mean `the Last of all Prophets.' Muslims of all periods have been unanimous in the belief that the office of prophethood has been sealed after the advent of the holy Prophet(PBUH). There has never been any difference of opinion among muslims that any person who prefers a claim to prophethood and those who believe in such a claim to prophethood are outside the pale of Islam. It is now up to all reasonable persons to judge that in the face of all this massive evidence- the plain dictionary meaning of the phrase 'Khatam-un-Nabiyyin' the interpretation of the Quranic verse in its true perspective, the exposition of the Holy Prophet himself and the consensus on the finality of prophethood of Muhammad(PBUH) of the entire body of muslims all over the world from the time of the companions of the Holy prophet to the present day followers of Islam-what scope is left for an alternative interpretation and what justification can they give for opening the door of prophethood for a new claimant. Furthermore, how can those people be recognized as Muslims who have not only expressed their opinion in favour of opening the door to prophethood, but they have, in fact, catapulted a man into the mansion of the Prophets of God and have become the followers of this trespasser?