Our opponents assert that no Prophet will ever come, but instead of relying on the Holy Qur’an to substantiate their claim, they emphasize the hadith. They claim that there are many ahadith which conclusively prove that the Holy Prophet(sa) was the last Prophet with reference to time and state that after the Holy Prophet(sa) only false prophets and dajjals can appear, no one else. In other words, these opponents seem to believe that, in the Muslim ummah, the door to true prophethood has been shut forever and the door of false prophethood has been flung open for all times to come. This is the concept of Khatamiyyat that they have proclaimed vehemently.
Some ahadith of the Holy Prophet(sa) have been cited in this context. One such hadith is as follows:
This has been translated as:
Thirty imposters will be born in this ummah, each of which will think or claim himself to be a Prophet, despite the fact that I am the Khatam of the Prophets and after me there will be no Prophet of any kind. (Abu Dawud Kitabul-Fitan, vol. 2, p. 234, published in Delhi)
It is argued [by them] that in light of this hadith, how can the door to prophethood be declared open? I agree completely that if the Holy Prophet(sa) closes a door, nobody has the authority to open it. We say: [We believe and testify to its truthfulness]. I declare on behalf of the Ahmadiyya Jama‘at that we accept it—and we have no hesitation in declaring it. Similarly, nobody can close a door that the Holy Prophet(sa) has opened with his other hand. This is the real point of contention; otherwise, there is no disagreement that whichever door the Holy Prophet(sa) has closed will remain closed and whichever door he has opened will remain open.
Having reviewed the above hadith, I will draw your attention to the hadith about the Messiah of the latter days. This is contained in the book Sahih Muslim Kitabul-Fitan in the chapter about dajjals [antichrist]. This is a long hadith and only relevant portions are mentioned here.
Narrating the accounts relating to the descent of Messiah son of Mary, the Holy Prophet(sa) says:
….The Prophet of Allah, ‘Isa will be besieged along with his Companions.
Then he says:
Then, the Prophet of Allah, ‘Isa will turn to God with full attention along with his companions, Allah be pleased with them.
Then the Prophet of Allah, ‘Isa will descend along with his companions.
Further, he says:
….Then the Prophet of Allah, ‘Isa will turn to God with full attention along with his companions, Allah be pleased with them. (Sahih Muslim Kitabul-Fitan, chapter Dhikrud-Dajjal wa sifatohu wama ma‘ahu)
This hadith is noted in Sahih Muslim, one of the most important books among the six authentic compilations of ahadith. It is to be noted that the Holy Prophet(sa) calls the Messiah who is to come, the Prophet of God, four times. In addition, the Holy Prophet(sa) calls the companions of the Messiah,‘Sahabah’, followed by the appellation ‘Allah be pleased with them’.
Our opponents may say Jesus(as) was an old Prophet, who will return. Then will his companions of the old time, for whom the word Sahabah was used, also return with him? It is obvious that the Holy Prophet(sa) is referring to an event destined to take place in the future.
Irrespective of whether thirty or three million dajjals or impostors appear, the fact remains that the Holy Prophet(sa) has addressed the Messiah of the Latter Days as a Prophet of God. No one can deprive him of the title bestowed upon him by the Holy Prophet(sa).
An interesting incident about the Czar of Russia will make this point clearer. He had asked his doorman not to let anyone enter as he was busy in some important task and did not wish to be disturbed. Shortly, a son of the Czar sought entry into the Czar’s room but was stopped by the doorman. The prince challenged his authority to do so. The doorman indicated that it was the order of the Czar and he would not allow him to go in. The prince beat him up and attempted to go in, but the doorman again intervened. The doorman was beaten up again, but he would still not allow the prince to enter. At this, the Czar came out and the prince told him what had happened and that the doorman claimed that he was stopping the prince at the order of the Czar. The Czar said to the prince ‘you have disobeyed my order’ and ordered the doorman to whip his son, at which the prince pleaded, saying ‘Your majesty, the law of the land does not permit an ordinary man to whip an officer.’ Hearing this, the Czar elevated the doorman to the post of a captain and ordered him to whip his son. The prince pleaded again, saying ‘Your majesty, the law of the land does not permit a junior officer to whip a senior officer.’ At this, the Czar promoted the doorman to the rank of a general and ordered the punishment to be carried out. The son further pleaded, saying ‘Your majesty, the law of the land forbids a person who is not a prince from beating a prince.’ Thereupon, the Czar elevated the doorman to the status of a prince and ordered that the punishment be carried out. Thus, an ordinary soldier was elevated to the rank of a prince without any hindrance and no one could deprive him of the status. Would you not grant to the Holy Prophet(sa) the authority that the Czar had?
With regards to the appearance of thirty dajjals in the Muslim ummah, we have the following in the Commentary of Sahih Muslim, known as Ikmalo-Ikmalil-Mu‘allim by Imam Abu ‘Abdullah al-Ubayy, vol. 7, p. 258:
The truth of this hadith has been fully established. The number of impostors from the time of the Holy Prophet(sa) till today has reached the count indicated by the Holy Prophet(sa) in his prophecy.
This, indeed, is the fulfillment of a divine plan, that the prophesied count of the impostors was completed before the advent of the true claimant to prophethood [i.e., Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad(as)], and it was documented in the above noted book. It could be argued that there may have been some more impostors making claims following the year 895 A.H. till the time of the Promised Messiah(as). This would cast doubts upon the number mentioned in the hadith about thirty dajjals, but that is not so. This argument is put to rest by a top scholar of ahl-e-Hadith, Nawwab Siddiq Hasan Khan, a contemporary of the Promised Messiah(as). He writes:
The prophecy made by the Holy Prophet(sa) regarding the advent of dajjals in this ummah has been fulfilled and their number as foretold has been completed. (Hijajul-Karamah fi Atharil-Qiyamah, p. 239)
According to the above reference, with the number of impostors as prophesied in the hadith having been completed already, the time was nigh for the Messiah to come. All false ones had been silenced and the ummah was quietly waiting for the true Messiah. Glory be to Allah that he destined that a top scholar of ahl-e-Hadith should declare that the time of the false ones is passed and now the true one will appear.
Our opponents put forth another hadith, which, according to them, conclusively debars the advent of any Prophet. Great emphasis is laid on the hadith and it is asserted that it debars the coming of any ummati Nabi [follower Prophet]. The hadith runs as follows:
Abu Hurairah(ra) reports: ‘The Messenger of Allah(sa) said: ‘The previous Prophets and myself are like a palace exquisitely built except for a missing brick in its wall. People would wonder why such a blemish was not attended to. I am that brick that completed and perfected the edifice of the palace. Another version of the hadith says: I am that brick and I am Khatamun-Nabiyyin. (see Sahih al-Bukhari Kitabul Manaqib, Sahih al-Muslim Kitabul-Fada’il, At-Tirmidhi Kitabul Manaqib and Masnad Ahmad bin Hanbal, Kanzul- ‘Ummal Tatimmatul Ikmal min fada’il motafarriqa-tan…)
They have mentioned with great pride that this hadith is from Sahih al-Bukhari, but have very conveniently failed to mention the commentator and his interpretation of the hadith. ‘Allama Ibn-e-Hajar ‘Asqalani explains this hadith as following:
The completion of the edifice means that the shari‘ah of Islam is more perfect in rank than the excellent laws that were revealed earlier. (Fat’hul-Bari Commentary Sahih al-Bukhari by Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani Kitabul Manaqib, Chapter Khatamun-Nabiyyin)
He is not included in their list of commentators. A commentator who is included in their list is ‘Allama Ibn-e- Khaldun. Let us see what he has said about this hadith:
People interpret the meaning of Khatamun-Nabiyyin with reference to the brick that completed the mansion. However, it really means the Prophet with whose advent prophethood was perfected. (al-Muqaddimah ibn-e-Khaldun, p. 300)
There is another hadith that our opponents frequently quote to support their position. The hadith reads:
Hazrat Sa’ad bin Abi Waqqas reports that the Holy Prophet(sa) said to Hazrat ‘Ali(ra): ‘You are to me what Harun [Aaron] was to Musa [Moses], except there is no Prophet after me.’ (Sahih al-Muslim Kitabul-Fada’il, Sahih al-Bukhari Kitabul-Fada’il, and Masnad Ahmad bin Hanbal, Masnad ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abbas bin ‘Abdul-Muttalib)
Another version of the hadith says: ‘…except that you are not a Prophet.’ Still another version quoted by Masnad Ahmad bin Hanbal reads: ‘…But do not assume that you have become a Prophet.’
The rest of the hadith is the same.
The background of the hadith is that the Holy Prophet(sa) was leaving for an expedition and appointed Hazrat ‘Ali to act as an Amir [leader] in Madinah during his absence. Hazrat ‘Ali was a great warrior and had accompanied the Holy Prophet(sa) on all prior expeditions. For him to be left behind was very painful. He felt he would be deprived of the privilege of jihad and that people may think the Holy Prophet(sa) was displeased with him. So Hazrat ‘Ali submitted to the Holy Prophet(sa) ‘O Prophet(sa), am I going to be left behind as an Amir over women and children?’ It was a subtle way of evoking the Holy Prophet’s(sa) love for him. There-upon, the Holy Prophet(sa) answered: ‘O ‘Ali, why do you express this grief? This event has given you the same position in relation to me, as Harun [Aaron] held in relation to Musa [Moses] in his absence. You are to me what Aaron was to Moses. The difference is that you are not a Prophet.’ This hadith has been reported in different ways in Sahih al-Bukhari. The meaning is essentially the same.
Now, the present day ulema insist that in this hadith the word ba‘di does not mean anything other than the assertion that there is no Prophet after the Holy Prophet(sa). It has no relevance to the temporary absence of Holy Prophet(sa) from Madinah.
Hazrat Shah Waliyyullah Muhaddith Dehlavi, universally acknowledged as the Mujaddid (reformer) of the twelfth-century, very well known to Muslims of the sub-continent and who is cited as a great thinker in the so-called White Paper, writes:
It must be clearly understood that the object of this hadith is to highlight the appointment of Hazrat ‘Ali (Allah be pleased with him) to act in the place of the Holy Prophet(sa) when he was to be absent from Madinah during his expedition to Tabuk. Also, it highlights Hazrat Ali’s resemblance to Hazrat Harun(as) when Hazrat Musa(as) had journeyed to the Mount. It is to be noted that the word ba‘di here means ‘ghairi’ “beside me”. It does not mean “after me” in time. As we read in the Holy Qur’an:1 In this verse ba‘dillah means other than Allah. (Qurratul-‘Ainain fi Tafdilish-Shaikhain, by Waliyyullah Dehlavi, p. 206)
It may be noted that Shah Waliyyullah has here based his argument entirely on the Holy Qur’an. He demonstrates clearly that ba‘di is also used in the sense of ‘other than’ because in terms of time no one can be referred to be ‘after Him’ so the meaning has to be ‘other than Him.’
Shah Waliyyullah further says:
Here the word ba‘di has not been used in the sense of ‘after me’ as Hazrat Harun(as) did not outlive Hazrat Musa(as), while Hazrat ‘Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) lived after the Holy Prophet(sa). To make this exception of ba‘di to mean ‘after me’ was, therefore, not appropriate. (Ibid.)
What a fine argument! Such arguments can only be put forth by righteous people who are enlightened with divine wisdom. They carry out a deep scrutiny and thorough investigation of the hadith with singular love and devotion. These devout lovers of the Holy Prophet(sa) made genuine efforts to find the real motive and meaning of his sayings. It was, in fact, the result of this devoted pursuit that Hazrat Shah Waliyyullah succeeded in adducing the arguments he put forth above. Since Hazrat Harun did not live after Hazrat Musa, the term ba‘di in relation to him could in no way be taken as ‘afterwards in time.’ Therefore, the same would apply to Hazrat ‘Ali, even though he lived after the Holy Prophet(sa).
1 Surah al-Jathiyah, 45:24