‘Allama ‘Abdur Rahman bin Khaldun(rh) (died 808 A.H.) is mentioned as a noted Muslim thinker in the White Paper. He writes:
Saintliness is analogous to prophethood; just as there are various ranks in prophethood, there are similar ranks in sainthood. One who possesses the best of the saintly qualities is called Khatamul-Auliya’, just as the one who possesses the best of the qualities of prophethood is known as Khatamul-Anbiya’ (al-Muqaddimah ibn-e-Khaldun, vol. 1, p. 271)
That is to say, khatam does not mean the last with respect to time, but the ultimate according to degree or rank. If we use it to mean ‘the last’ with reference to time, then we have to agree that sainthood has come to an end, God forbid, and the ummah will be deprived of sainthood.
Hazrat Abu Sa‘id Mubarak Ibn-e-‘Ali Mukharrami(rh) (died 513 A.H.), the patron saint of no less a person than Hazrat Syed ‘Abdul-Qadir Jilani(rh), states:
Man holds the highest position of all creation. When he rises, all the noble qualities in all their grandeur find their manifestation in him and he is called the Perfect Man. The noble qualities in all their grandeur have found their perfection in our Holy Prophet(sa) and therefore he is Khatamun-Nabiyyin. (Tuhfa Mursalah Sharif, by Abu Sa‘id Mukharrami, translation and commentary by Muhammad ‘Abdul-‘Aziz Jalandhari, p. 51)
The above passages contain similar themes, but all aspects of Khatamiyyat are not covered in them.
Hazrat Maulana Rum(rh) (died 672 A.H.) writes:
The Holy Prophet(sa) is khatam because there neither was nor will be any equal to him in generosity, that is, spreading the blessings… (Miftahul-‘Ulum, by Maulavi Muhammad Nadhir ‘Arshi (Sharah Mathnawi Jalal-ud-Din ar-Rumi(rh), vol. 15, Book 6, part 1, p. 56–57)
This is the same theme expressed by the Promised Messiah(as), as noted earlier, where he says that an important aspect of Khatamiyyat is that the Holy Prophet(sa) passed on to his followers the spiritual blessings he had achieved.
…When a craftsman excels and achieves perfection, don’t we use the word khatam to denote his excellence in craftsmanship? (Ibid.)
Maulana Muhammad Qasim Nanotawi, founder of the Deobandi sect, which is now in the forefront of distorting the meaning of Khatamun-Nabiyyin, writes:
Prophets are similar to governors as they are charged with the duty of delivering divine commandments to the people. They are God’s vicegerents. Therefore, it is necessary for them to hold positions of authority. The office of a governor or minister is considered the highest in a chain of subordinate officers. A governor or a minister has the authority to set aside the orders or directives of his subordinates. His orders, on the other hand, cannot be set aside by subordinate officers. The final authority rests with the governor. Similarly, there is no one above the ranks or with more authority than the ‘Khatamun-Nabiyyin.’ All others are subordinate to him. (Collection of Rare Periodicals and Addresses— Mubahathah Shahjahanpur, 1914, p. 25)
‘Khatamiyyat’ Transcends Time
In the above reference, we find Khatamiyyat meaning finality in status rather than finality in time. Apart from the meanings that have been discussed so far, some scholars have described Khatamiyyat to mean a signet ring, adornment, and imparting blessing in the sense of a seal of authenticity. The Holy Prophet(sa) is the testifier of all excellences. This, the Promised Messiah(as) argued, was the Holy Prophet’s(sa) favour on the previous Prophets.
As I have mentioned earlier, Khatamiyyat transcends time and space. It has a universal application. Listen to the words of the Promised Messiah(as) from this point of view. He writes:
Thus, he became the Seal of the Prophets. This was not because no one was to be granted any spiritual grace after him, but because no one could achieve any grace without the attestation of his seal, and that the door of converse with God would never be closed to his followers. No other Prophet has been granted this seal; he is the only one through whose seal such prophethood can be achieved and for which it is necessary that its recipient should be his follower. (Haqiqatul-Wahi, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 22. p. 29–30)
The Promised Messiah(as) also writes:
I believe sincerely in His Messenger and know that all prophethoods reached their apex in him and that all law culminated in his law. Yet one type of prophethood has not ended, that is to say, the prophethood which is granted in consequence of complete obedience to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and which is illumined by his lamp. This prophethood has not ended inasmuch as it is a reflection of his prophethood and is given through him and is his manifestation and receives grace from him. (Chashma-e-Ma‘rifat, Ruhani Khaza’in, vol. 23, p. 340)
Elsewhere, the Promised Messiah(as) has elaborated that all other Prophets are indebted to the Holy Prophet(sa) in that through his seal of Khatm-e-Nubuwwat he has testified to the truth of all previous Prophets. Had he not done so, we could not have believed in their truthfulness. This is a unique and great favour of the Holy Prophet(sa) that he has testified to the truth of not only all the previous Prophets but also to the Prophets sent anywhere in the world. In other words, the benefits of his Khatamiyyat transcend time and space.
In this connection, I would place before you a passage from the writings of the well known Mujaddid Alf-e-Thani, Hazrat Sheikh Ahmad Faruqi Sirhindi (died 1034 AH), who is a recognized authority among the different sects of Ahle-Sunnat (Hanafi, Deobandi, Barelavi). In his Maktubat, he states:
Following the advent of Hazrat Muhammad, the Chosen One, the Seal of the Prophets(sa), the attainment of the attributes of prophethood by his followers as subordinate or by way of inheritance, will in no way conflict with his status as the Seal of the Prophets. So do not be amongst the doubters. (Maktubat Imam Rabbani, Book 1, Maktub no. 301, vol. 5, p. 141)