The principal charge leveled against the Promised Messiah, peace be on him, is that (God save us), he repudiated the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, being the Khataman Nabiyyeen.
This is an utterly false charge. The Promised Messiah, peace be on him, has repeatedly affirmed in his writings that he believes that every word and vowel point of the Holy Quran is from God and that this is part of his faith. He was the first person in Islam who proclaimed that not one word of the Holy Quran is abrogated. He challenged those who believe that a certain number of verses of the Holy Quran have been abrogated, to come forth in opposition to his declaration and that he would establish that not a single word of the Holy Quran has been abrogated. To say concerning such a person that (God save us) he repudiated a whole verse of the Holy Quran (33:41) is a monstrosity.
He has stated:
I call Allah, the Glorious, to witness that I am not a disbeliever. My doctrine is that there is no one worthy of worship save Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah . I believe concerning him that he was the Messenger of Allah and the Khataman Nabiyyeen. I affirm the truth of this statement with as many oaths as are the Holy names of Allah and as are the letters of the Holy Quran and as is the number of the excellencies of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. No belief of mine is contrary to the commands of Allah and His Messenger. He who imagines anything contrary to this labors under a mis-conception. (Karamatus Sadiqeen, p.25)
Again he has stated:
The person who was above all, and was a perfect man, and a perfect prophet, and who came with the fullness of blessings, through whom, on account of his spiritual advent and the spiritual resurrection that he brought about, the first judgment manifested itself and a whole universe that was dead was revived, that blessed prophet Khatamul Anbiya, Leader of the elect, Katamul Mursileen, Pride of the Prophets was Muhammad Mustafa, peace and the blessings of Allah by upon him. (Itmamul Hujjah, p.28)
Allah is Glorious, Allah is Glorious; what a high station was that of the Khatamul Anbiya, the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. Glory be to Allah, what high degree of light was his. (Braheen Ahmadiyya, p.246)
My belief that I hold in this life and with which, by the grace of Allah, I shall pass on from this world is that our lord and master, Muhammad Mustafa, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was Khataman Nabiyyeen and the best of Messengers. (Izala Auham, part I, p.137)
I believe in the Khatam-i-Nabuwat of the Khatamul Anbjya, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, and consider one who denies the Khatam-i-Nabuwat as faithless and outside the pale of Islam. (Taqreer Wajabul llan, 1891)
My belief is that our Holy Prophet is better and more exalted than all the Messengers and is Khataman Nabiyyeen. (Ayenah Kamalat Islam, p.327)
He has declared:
I believe that our Holy Prophet, Hazrat Muhammad Mustafa, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, is more exalted than all the Messengers and is the Khatamul Anbiya. (Hamamatul Bushra, p.8)
He has affirmed:
I believe truly and perfectly in the verse which says: ‘But he was the Messenger of Allah and Khataman Nabiyyeen’. (Ek Ghati Ka Izala)
All this makes it clear beyond doubt that the Promised Messiah, peace be upon him, had perfect faith in the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, being the Khataman Nabiyyeen, and that he considered anyone who repudiated this as being outside the pale of Islam. It is, therefore, the height of injustice to allege that he denied the Khatam-i-Nabuwat of Hazrat Muhammad Mustafa, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.
It is true, however, that the Ahmadiyya Community differs with some of the Muslim divines in the true meaning and interpretation of the relevant verse (33:41). The Ahmadis have firm faith in the verse itself and a difference of view regarding its meaning and interpretation does not import disbelief. In the history of Islam great Imams and divines have differed with each other in the matter of interpretation on several questions. Despite those differences they were all considered Muslims and are worthy of honor by all Muslims. Such Imams and high authorities have interpreted this particular verse (33:41) exactly as the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement has interpreted it. Will they all, God forbid, be held to be non-Muslims? It would be obviously unjust that if X interprets a verse in one way he should be held to be a Muslim but if Y interprets it in the same way, he should be held to be a disbeliever. We set out, by way of illustration, the interpretations of this verse (33:41) by some of the outstanding divines.
Hazrat Mulla Ali Qari (mercy of Allah be upon him), who died in 1014 A.H. and was a great research scholar and a master of Hanafi jurisprudence and was a great Imam, has stated in his book Mauzuat Kabir, with reference to the saying of the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him:
Had Ibrahim (the Holy Prophet’s infant son) survived, he would have been a true prophet, that if Ibrahim had survived and had become a prophet he would still have been a follower of the Holy Prophet; and he has interpreted the verse (33:41) as meaning that there would be no prophet after the Holy Prophet who would abrogate his law and who would not be one of his followers.
In the same way, Hazrat Shah Waliullah, Muhaddas of Delhi (mercy of Allah be upon him), who has been acclaimed as the Reformer of the 12th century of Islam, has stated in his book Tafheemat IIahiyyah:
The prophets came to an end with the Holy Prophet, meaning that there can be no divinely inspired reformer after him who would be commissioned by Allah, the Glorious, with a new law.
Thus there can be a difference in the interpretation of the verse, but so far as faith in the verse is concerned it is not open to any doubt that the Promised Messiah, peace be upon him, had full faith in it.
The verse is as follows:
Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but he is the Messenger of Allah and the Seal of the Prophets. Allah has full knowledge of all things. (33:41)
Our opponents say that the expression Khataman Nabiyyeen, which has been employed in this verse, relating to the Holy Prophet, means that by his advent prophethood has been closed and that he was the last prophet in every sense. This interpretation is not correct. The word Khatam means seal and thus the expression Khataman Nabiyyeen means the Seal of the Prophets. The verse states that Muhammad is not the father of any man but is the Messenger of Allah and is the Seal of the Prophets. The question, therefore, is what is the true meaning of the expression ‘Seal of the Prophets’ in this context? Our opponents contend that the phrase Khataman Nabiyyeen does mean the Seal of the Prophets but that its interpretation is that the Holy Prophet was the last prophet, for the purpose of a seal is to close a document.
It is well known, however, that the purpose of a seal is not to close a statement but to certify it as correct. That is why often a seal is affixed to a document at its top and in other cases it is affixed at its bottom or at its end. Its purpose is to certify the genuiness and correctness of the contents of the document. It is well known that after the truce of Hudaybiyyah, when the Holy Prophet decided to address letters to the rulers and chiefs of surrounding territories inviting them to the acceptance of Islam, he was told that rulers and chiefs do not attach any significance to a communication addressed to them unless it bears the seal of the writer. Thereupon the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, had a seal prepared which was thereafter used for the attestation and certification of documents (Bokhari and Muslim).
The purpose of a seal being attestation and certification, the interpretation of the verse in question would be that though the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, had no male issue, yet being the Messenger of Allah he is the spiritual progenitor of his followers. He is, therefore, not without issue but has a large progeny. It is added that he is not merely a Divine Messenger but is also the Seal of the Prophets, that is to say, he is not only the progenitor of the generality of the believers but is the spiritual progenitor of the prophets and messengers also and thus he occupies the exalted position which imports that no prophet or messenger can now appear unless he bears with him the confirmatory seal of the Holy Prophet. This means that the Holy Prophet is not only the spiritual progenitor of the generality of believers but is also the spiritual progenitor of prophets and messengers.
If this verse is construed as meaning that the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, was absolutely the last prophet, the verse becomes meaningless. In that case its meaning would be: ‘Muhammad had no son but he is the last prophet.’ In Arabic idiom the word ‘but’ which has been used here is employed for the purpose of introducing an explanation in modification of what has gone before, or for the purpose of clearing a doubt which the previous statement might raise. The use of the word ‘but’ in this verse entails that it should be followed by a statement which modifies or clarifies that which has gone before. In view of this the interpretation put forward by our opponents makes the verse meaningless, for it would then amount to a statement that though the Holy Prophet has no issue, no prophet will come after him. This would constitute no praise of the Holy Prophet.
The interpretation of the verse adopted by the Ahmadiyya Community is in exact accord with that attributed to it by great Imams and the elect in the past. For instance, Hazrat Ayesha (may Allah be pleased with her) is reported as having said:
Say he was Khataman Nabiyyeen, but do not say that there will be no prophet after him. (Durre Manshur, Vol. V of Jalaludin Suyuti)
Hazrat Mohyuddin ibn Arabi has stated in his book, Futuhat Makkiyyah:
Prophethood will continue among men till the Judgment Day, though a new law is barred. Law is a part of prophethood.
Hazrat Imam Muhammad Tahir has stated in his book, Majmaul Bihar:
The saying of Hazrat Ayesha that Muslims should call the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be on him, Khataman Nabiyyeen, but should not say that there would be no prophet after him, had reference to the advent of the Promised Messiah. The direction given by Hazrat Ayesha is not in contradiction with the hadees: ‘There will be no prophet after me’; for the meaning of the Holy Prophet was that there would be no prophet after him who would abrogate his law.
Hazrat Shaikh Ahmad Sirhindi (may Allah have mercy on him) Reformer of the second millennium, who is held in great honor, has stated:
The achievement by the followers of the Holy Prophet by way of obedience and inheritance of the excellencies of prophethood after the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, is not inconsistent with his being the Khatamar Rusul (Maktubat Ahmadiyya, Vol. I)
Hazrat Shah Waliullah, Muhaddas of Delhi, may Allah have mercy on him, who was a great divine and was the Reformer of the 12th century of Islam, has stated in his book Tafheemat Ilahiyyah that the meaning of prophethood having come to an end with the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, is that there will be no one who will be appointed by God Almighty with a new law.
These are only a few out of hundreds of statements made by eminent Muslim divines and righteous people who have interpreted the expression Khataman Nabiyyeen in the same way as the Promised Messiah, peace be upon him, has interpreted it. If despite differences in interpretation they were Muslims and were accepted as believers in the Holy Quran, why should the Promised Messiah, peace be on him, be penalized for having the same belief? Such an attitude would be the height of injustice.
There is a serious contradiction involved in the stand taken by the divines who are opposed to the Ahmadiyya Movement. On the one hand they pronounce the Promised Messiah, peace be on him, a disbeliever because in their estimation his claim of prophethood is contradictory of the verse which pronounces the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, as being Khataman Nabjyyeen; and on the other hand they believe that Jesus, son of Mary, who is a Prophet, would come a second time. If the Seal of Prophethood is disrupted by the claim of the Promised Messiah that he is a prophet by reflection, then how is it that it would not be disrupted by the second advent of Jesus who was a Prophet in his own right? The bulk of the Muslims believe that Jesus would descend from heaven in his earthly body and would be a prophet.
For instance, Maulana Maudoodi Sahib has stated:
The second advent of Jesus is a question on which the Muslims are all agreed. This belief is based upon the Holy Quran, hadees, and consensus … This is a certainty and admits of no doubt that the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, has announced the second advent of Jesus. This is established by irrefutable testimony. If such testimony can be rejected, no historical event of the world can be accepted. (Answer to ten questions on behalf of Jamaat Islami, p.24)
In a hadees of Muslim, the Messiah who was to come has been described as the Prophet of Allah. The stand of the Ahl-i-Hadees sect in this matter is that there is a consensus among the Muslims and it is supported by the ahadees that the Promised Messiah would be a prophet. (Ahl-i-Hadees, 29 November 1966).
Imam Sayuti, Ibn Arabi, and Ibn Hajar have all clearly affirmed that in his second advent, the Messiah would be a prophet. Basing himself on a statement by Imam Sayuti, Nawab Siddique Hasan Khan Sahib wrote:
He who asserts that Hazrat Isa, when he comes down will not be a prophet and would be deprived of his prophethood is certainly a disbeliever as Imam Jalaludin Sayuti has clearly affirmed, inasmuch as Hazrat Isa is a Prophet and a prophet is not deprived of his quality of prophethood either in his lifetime or after his death. (Hujajul Karamah, p.431)
Shaikh Ibn Arabi has said:
There is no difference of opinion on the question that Hazrat Isa is a Prophet and a Messenger and it is agreed that he would appear in the latter days and his prophethood is well established (Futuhat Makkiyyah, Vol.II, p.3)
Shaikh Ibn Hajar wrote:
Hazrat Isa is an honored Prophet. After he comes down he would still be a Prophet and Messenger. An affirmation by a person of no account that he will be only a member of the Muslim community is not correct, inasmuch as he being one of the Muslims and his giving effect to the Islamic law is not inconsistent with his being a Prophet and a Messenger. (Alfatawa Alhadisiyyak, p.129)
Thus, it is the united stand of the Muslims that at the time of his second advent the Messiah will still be clothed with the robe of prophethood and that this would not be inconsistent with the verse which describes the Holy Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, as Khataman Nabiyyeen (33:41).
How unjust, therefore, it is that despite the belief that Jesus of Nazareth will descend from heaven in his capacity of the Messiah of Israel and that he will be a Prophet and that this would not disrupt the Seal of Prophethood, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian, who claimed to be a follower of the Holy Prophet and a Prophet by way of reflection and declared his purpose to be perfect obedience to the Holy Prophet, should be held to have been outside the pale of Islam on account of this claim.
Here are some instances of the use of the expression Khatam in the connotation of high, eminent, excellent etc. but not meaning the last: