A Misunderstanding Removed
Ahmadis Do Believe in the Holy Prophet(saw) as Khataman Nabiyeen
It is alleged that Ahmadis do not believe in the Holy Prophet Muhammad(saw) to be Khataman Nabiyyeen. This is based on a gross misrepresentation of the Ahmadiyya views and I would like to present the following to remove this misunderstanding.
At the very outset I would like to state categorically that Ahmadis believe the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be upon him) to be Khataman Nabiyyeen – Seal of the Prophets, as has been stated in the Holy Quran and it is an awful fabrication against the Ahmadi Muslims that they do not believe in the doctrine of Khatm-i-Nabuwwat. The difference is only in interpretation of the title and not in the title itself.
The Promised Messiah and Mahdi, the Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam (peace be upon him) says:
“I swear by the glory of God and His Majesty that I am of the faithful, a Muslim and I believe in Allah, the High, in His Books, and in His Messengers and in His Angels and in Life after death. And I believe that our Prophet Muhammad the Elect of God (peace of Allah be on him and His blessings) is the most eminent of the prophets and the Seal of Apostles.” (Hamamatul Bushra, page 6)
He again says:
“The charge made against me and my Community that we do not believe the Messenger of Allah (peace be on him and His blessings) to be the Seal of Prophets is a big falsehood. The faith, the conviction, certitude and the utterness that characterize our belief in the Holy Prophet as the Seal of Prophets, are markedly absent in the belief of these people (those who level this charge at us).” (Al-Hakam, March 19, 1905)
Many Muslims believe that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be on him) is the last prophet and that no prophet can come after him. I shall first state and examine the arguments that are given in support of this belief, then show that this is true only in a certain sense.
The Holy Quran says:
“Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but he is the Apostle of Allah and Khataman Nabiyyeen–The Seal of the Prophets.” (33:41)
The real meaning of Khatam is a seal (see Tajul Aroos, Lisanul Arab, and Qamoos), and the phrase should be interpreted in the light of this meaning. Ibn Khaldun says it is wrong to interpret the word Khatam in this verse to mean the last or the end (see Muqaddama Vol. II, p. 54, Paris). He holds that the word Khatam denotes the consummation and completion of a thing, which he further explains by the words, authenticity, perfection and validity. When a seal is put to a letter it becomes authentic and complete. The seal may be put in the end or in the beginning. According to him, therefore, Khataman Nabiyyeen would mean the truest and the most perfect of prophets and not the last in point of time. It refers to his status and place among the prophets and not to the time of his advent.
Use of the word Khatam:
In one of his sayings the Holy Prophet(saw) calls his uncle, Hazrat Abbas(ra), Khatamul Muhajireen (see Kanzul Ommal, Vol. VI, p. 178). But it does not mean that Abbas was the last Muhajir (refugee) of the whole Muslim world.
Similarly, Hazrat Ali(ra) is called Khatamul Auliya (see Tafsir Safi under the Quranic verse 33:41). Ibn Khaldun says this phrase is understood to mean that Ali was a perfect saint and not the last (see Muqaddama, Vol. II pp. 165-167).
An Arab poet, Hasan bin Wahab, called Abu Tamam (the compiler of Himasa) Khatamush-Shu’ara (see Wafiyatul A’ayan Li Ibn Khallikan, Vol. I, p. 123, Cairo). Obviously Abu Tamam was not the last poet. The word Khatam, therefore, used in such phrases means the best and not the last.
The context of a verse is a most important factor in determining its true meaning. If we look into the context of the words we are further assured of the same meaning.
The verse runs as follows: “Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but he is the Messenger of God and Khataman Nabiyyeen.” God is obviously refuting an objection, viz., Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be on him) has no male issue. Elsewhere we read in the Quran: “Surely it is thy enemy and not thou who shall be childless and without posterity.” (108:4)
These words are said to have been revealed when Al-Aas Ibn Wayel called the Holy Prophet(saw) Abtar (having no children or posterity) on the death of his son Al-Qasim (see Jalaluddin’s Commentary under verse 108:4). As an answer to this taunt of the enemies, God declared in the verse under discussion that the line of his physical male descendants is no doubt cut off by the death of his sons but as Hazrat Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be on him) is a Messenger of God, he possesses devoted followers who shall form a continuous and long line of spiritual descendants to keep his memory and name and teachings alive for ever and ever.
The followers of a prophet are often described as his spiritual children. The meaning of the word Khataman Nabiyyeen must fit with this context. To say that Hazrat Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be on him) is the last of the prophets and there shall be no prophet after him does no credit to him. His enemies could at once add an insult by saying that Hazrat Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be on be him) failed to produce a progeny in the spiritual sense of the word also and thus proved himself (God forbid) barren and abtar in every respect. According to the context, therefore, the Seal of the Prophets must mean that the spiritual descendants of Hazrat Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be on be him) would be of no mean order. They would, God says, attain to great spiritual distinctions so must so that by following in his footsteps some of them would even become prophets.
The Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be on be him) is called here the Lord Privy Seal or the Lord Keeper of the great Divine Seal of Prophethood, which not only ratifies and authenticates the office of the previous prophets but also awards the distinctive mark of prophethood to those who make themselves worthy of it. (Haqeeqatul Wahy by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, p. 56) We read in the Bible: “The Lord will make thee the head and not the tail; thou shalt be above only and thou not be beneath.” (Deuteronomy 28:13)
To be the tail of a line, therefore, is no credit or distinction. Even if we take the phrase Khataman Nabiyyeen to mean the last of the prophets; we must interpret it as meaning that he is the last in the sense that he has attained a degree of perfection beyond which it is impossible for anyone to go. He has exhausted all the degrees of perfection and none can ever excel or supersede him. He is the Head of the prophets and not the tail.
No New Code:
He is the greatest not because he appeared last of all but because he has brought a law which is absolutely final and can never be replaced or excelled. Ibn Khaldun also mentions this meaning in his Muqaddama (Vol. II, p. 165, Paris). Ali Bin Muhammad Sultan Al-Qari (Mulla Ali Qari) interprets this phrase in the same sense. He says that it means that there will not come a prophet after Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be on be him) who could cancel his law and who is not a follower of his (Mauzooat Kabeer, p.69).
Sheikh Mohyud Din Ibn Arabi says that the prophethood which brings law is finished with the advent of Muhammad, peace and blessings of God be on be him. (Fosoosul Hikam, p. 140)
Shah Waliullah Muhaddas of Delhi writes that Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be on be him) was the last of the prophets in the sense that there will appear no one after him to promulgate a new law for the people. (Tafheemate Ilahiya, 53)
Syed Abdul Kadir Jeelani says: “The prophetic law is finished and completed with the Holy Prophet and he was called Khataman Nabiyyeen. (Al-Insanul Kamil, Ch. 36)
Maulana Abdul Haye of Lukhnow says: “It is not impossible that a new prophet may appear during or after the age of Muhammad but bringing of a new code of religion is an absolute impossibility.” (Dafi-ul-Wasawis fee asr ibn Abbas, p. 12)
I shall now deal with Hadith (Traditions of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be on him) on this subject. The Holy Prophet(saw) said to Ali Ibn Abi Talibra:
“You are to me as Aaron was to Moses, except that *Laa Nabiyya Ba’adi”.
(Abu Dawood, Tirmidhi, Mishkat)
The last words are translated as: there is no prophet after me. On the basis of these words it is contended that if it were really possible for anyone to become a prophet, no one could have been more deserving than Hazrat Ali(ra), who was not only a near relation of but succeeded the Holy Prophet(saw) as the 4th Khalifa. The words were uttered when the Holy Prophet(saw) was going to Tabook and appointed Hazrat Ali(ra) as the Ameer at Medina after him. Hazrat Ali(ra) was desirous of participating in the battle and did not wish to stay behind. The Holy Prophet(saw), therefore, reminded Hazrat Ali(ra) of the importance of his work by referring to Hazrat Aaron(as) who was appointed Ameer of the Israelites when Mosesas went to Mount Sinai. Hazrat Aaron(as) was the brother of Hazrat Moses(as) and a prophet of God. Hazrat Ali(ra) was a cousin but not a prophet. The Holy Prophet(saw) could not be blunt but he must not be misunderstood in such matters. Therefore, he added that he was not leaving a prophet behind him. The word Ba’ad means behind. (see Lane’s Lexicon Book I, p. 225)
The context shows that the idea was to tell Alira that he was being left behind like Hazrat Aaron(as) but he was not a prophet. The words cannot refer to any remote future. They were used and meant for that particular occasion. The word Ba’ad is often used in this sense. In verse 7:149 of the Quran this word is translated by Pickhall as `after I had left you’. The word Ba’ad is also used in the sense of Ma’a, i.e., with. (Lane’s Lexicon Book I, p. 225) In this sense the sentence La Nabiyya Ba’adee would mean that there was no prophet with him.
It is curious to note that in the Shia traditions the words used are Laisa Ma’ee Nabiyyun, i.e., there is no prophet with me (Amalee). In other traditions the words reported are quite clear. The Holy Prophet(saw) added “except that thou art not a prophet”. (Tabaqati Kabeer, Vol. V., p. 15) There is another tradition which is very clear: “Dost thou not desire to be what Aaron was to Moses except that thou art not a prophet”. (Biharul Anwar, Kitabul Manaqib, Vol. 9, Iran) Taking the word Ba’ad to mean after, we can interpret the sentence in another way. If we go into the idiom of language we find that the words are not to be taken in their literal sense. There is another tradition where the Holy Prophet(saw) says: “When Chosroe dies there will be no Chosroe after him, and when Kaiser dies there will be no Kaiser after him.” (Bukhari, Vol. IV, p. 91, Egypt) This is explained in Faithful Bari, Vol. VI as follows: “No Chosroe will administer the affairs of State as well as this Chosroe has done.” Obviously it cannot mean that there will be no king after the Chosroe or Kaiser.
Muhyuddin Ibn Arabi interprets La Nabiyya Ba’adi by saying that there shall be no prophet who will cancel or go against the Islamic law of Hazrat Muhammad(saw). (Fotoohati Makkiya Vol. I, p. 569; Vol. II, pp. 3, 64, 417)
Imam Muhammad Tahir Gujrati also says the same thing. (Takmala Majmaul Bihar, p. 85) Imam Sha’arani also interprets these words in the same way. (Al-Yawaqeet Wal Jawahir, Vol. II, p. 22)
Nawab Siddique Hasan Khan states the same. (Iqtarabus Sa’a, p. 162)
Hazrat Ayeshara, whose position is well known, says: “Say he is the Seal of the Prophets but do not say that there is no prophet after him”. (Takmala Majmaul Bihar, p. 88) Imam Soyooti writes that Mogheera also expressed the same opinion. (Durri Mansoor) The other Hadith brought forward is:
Lau Kaana Ba’adi Nabiyyeen Lakaana Umaro.
“If there were a prophet after me, it would have been Umar.”
The wordBa’ad as stated earlier also means `with’, and there is nothing here which should confine its meaning to `after’. Therefore, the tradition should be translated as: “If there were a prophet with me it would have been Umar.” In another tradition, the Holy Prophet(saw) says: “If I were not raised it would have been you, O Umar.” (Mirqat, Vol. V, p. 539) Another saying is: “If I was not raised, Umar would have been raised among you.” (, p. 103) These traditions would only show that Umar(ra) had an aptitude for a prophet, like Hazrat Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be on him) who brought the Islamic law. Therefore, the Hadith in question would mean that if a prophet were to bring a new law, it could have been Umar(ra). It cannot mean that there can be no prophet after Hazrat Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be on him). In another tradition, the Holy Prophet(saw) clearly implies the opposite. He says: “If Ibrahim (his son) had lived, he would have been a Prophet.” (Ibn Maja, Vol. I, p. 237)
He could not say this if it were absolutely impossible for anyone to become a prophet. This shows clearly that the Holy Prophet was clear in mind as to the continuity of prophethood after him. Another tradition points to the same effect when he says: “Abu Bakr is best of men after me except a prophet should appear.” (Kanzul Ummal)
The next Hadith that is brought forward is: “I am Aqib and he is one after whom there is no prophet.” (Tirmidhi) The authenticity of this Hadith is very much questioned. Mulla Ali Qari, who is a recognized critic of Hadith, definitely declares that the last portion of this Hadith is spurious. He says it appears to be the interpretation put upon the word Aqib by some reporter. (Mirqat, Vol. V, p. 367)
The next Hadith in support of this belief is: “I am the last of the Prophets and you are the last of peoples.” (Muslim) The meaning of this is explained by another Hadith which runs as follows: “and my mosque is the last mosque.” (Muslim, Kitabul Haj Fazlis Salat, p. 531) It is clear that the Holy Prophet did not mean that there was to be no prophet after him, otherwise we shall have to conclude that he did not want the Muslims to build any other mosques. Obviously, what he means is that the religion brought by him is perfect and no one can cancel or modify it after him.
The use of the word Akhir (last) in this sense is quite common in the Arabic language. Imam Soyooti calls Ibn Taimiyya as the last of Mujtahideen (original thinkers and Jurists). (Al-Intibah Wan Nazir, Vol. III, p. 310, Hyderbad) An Arab poet uses the wordAkhir (last) in the sense of perfect and unique, in Himasa, Babul Adab.
It is clear from the foregoing that it is not Ahmadies alone who are interpreting the expression Khataman Nabiyyeen (Seal of Prophets) in a manner allowing the appearance of a prophet after the Holy Prophet(saw), who does not bring any new Shariah (Law) and does not attain prophethood independently but through complete obedience to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be on him). Even recognized Muslim saints of different countries, ages, and clines, and even the Holy Prophet himself, have understood the expression in the like manner.
The Ahmadiyya belief, beyond any shadow of doubt, is par excellence that the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be on him) is Khataman Nabiyyeen, i.e., the Seal of the Prophets. In him the excellences of prophethood have reached their perfection and therefore, the door to receiving prophethood independently is closed since his appointment to this office. Henceforth, every kind of Grace is attainable only through serving him.
His advent, thus has not closed the stream of Divine Grace but its course has been channelized through his person which is now, so to say, the new Headwork. A prophet, henceforth, shall appear only through allegiance to him, by receiving light from his light and as his shadow and reflection, and not otherwise. Hence, “all prophethood except Muhammadan prophethood has ended. No law-giving prophet shall ever come, and a prophet without law may, but only such as is primarily a follower of the Holy Prophet (Allah bless him). I am both a follower and a Prophet.” (Tajalliyate Ilahiyya by Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, pp. 24-25)