Ibn Kathir’s fatwa on khatemiyat

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 Mohammed (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 Mohammed (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 Zamakhshri’s take on Khatemiyat

Allama Zamakhshri (467 A.H.-538 A.H) writes in his commentary entitled Kashshaaf, “If you ask how Mohammed 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 Mohammed (pbuh) means that no one will be endowed with prophethood after him. Hadrat ‘Isa is among those upon whom prophethood was endowed before Mohammed (pbuh). Moreover, Hadrat ‘Isa will appear as a follower of Mohammed 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)

Islam is the final religion

The following verse clearly explains the superiority of Islam over all religions past and present. Allah declares,

وَمَن يَبْتَغِ غَيْرَ الْإِسْلَامِ دِينًا فَلَن يُقْبَلَ مِنْهُ وَهُوَ فِي الْآخِرَةِ مِنَ الْخَاسِرِينَ

“If anyone desires a religion other than Islam, never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter, he will be in the ranks of those who have lost (all spiritual good).”

(The Holy Quran, Chapter of Ale’ Imran, verse 85)

This verse decrees the establishment of Islam as the final religion of Allah. This verse invalidates all new religions that appeared after Islam like, Sikhism, Qadianism and Bahaism. Thus the doors of prophethood were closed on all future claimants, thereby establishing the finality of Islam as well as that of the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h).

The End Of Prophecy With The Prophet

The comprehensiveness of the rules and precepts of Islam and the end of prophecy with the Holy Prophet of Islam have been clearly expressed in the Qur’an:

`And the word of your Lord has been accomplished truly. and justly; there is none who can change His words, and He is the Hearing, the Knowing’ (6:115).

‘Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but he is the Messenger of God and the Last of all Prophets, and God is cognizant of all things’ (33:40).

In the Arabic language, wherever the word `khatam’ is attached to a word, it conveys the meaning of `the last’ and in this verse it refers to `the last of the prophets’. Nabi means any type of divine messenger. 1

Obviously, the word messenger can be applied to all prophets so by saying that Muhammad is the last of all prophets, God means that he is the last of all messengers and that after him there will come no prophet, nor any messenger from God, nor any person with a new holy book.

`Surely this Qur’an guides to that which is most upright and gives the good news to the believers who do good that they shall have a great reward (17:9).

Therefore, human beings have no need for any other prophet, any other rules and regulations, or any other school of thought because all they need is to be found in the Qur’an.

There are so many documents and testimonies to the fact that the Prophet was the last of all prophets that in Islam this reality is considered one of the clearest points.

Now your attention is drawn to some narrations:

The Prophet has himself said, `You must know that there will come no Prophet after me and no faith after my faith of Islam…’.2

Imam Baqir (peace be upon him) has said, `God has ended Holy Books with your Book, the Qur’an, and prophets with your Prophet…’.3

Hazrat ‘Ali (peace be upon him) has said, `God assigned Muhammad, peace and the mercy of God be upon him and his descendants, to be a prophet after all other prophets and has ended revelation with him’. 4

The Prophet said to Hazrat ‘Ali, `Your relation to me is like that of Aaron to Moses, peace be upon him, with the difference that there will come no prophet after me’.” 5

Imam Riza (peace be upon him) has said, `The faith of Muhammad (peace and the mercy of God be upon him and his descendants) will not be abolished until the Day of Resurrection, and no prophet will come after him until that day’. 6

These and many other traditions and narrations are perpetual proclamations of the Prophet as the last of all prophets and Islam as the only comprehensive faith.

The splendour of the purport of this faith as well as its profound precepts and comprehensive rules ensure its perpetuity till the Day of Judgment.

Now that God has endowed us with such a matchless magnificent faith, surely it is our duty to communicate it to all other people so all will benefit from this holy faith.

  1. Jami’ ul-Javami’, p.275; Tafsir al-Mizan, Vol. 2, p.144; Tafsir ul-Kashif, Vol. 3, p.164; Tafsir ul-Biyadwi, p.477; al-Bayan, Vol. 7, p.91; Ruh ul-Ma’ani, Vol. 22, p.32.
  • 2  Mustadrak, Vol. 2, p.262.
  • 3.Usul ul-Kafi, Vol. 1, p.177.
  • 4.Najh ul-Balaghah, Fiyd ul-Islam, sermonn 133, p.403.
  • 5.Kamil, Vol. 2, p. 278.
  • 7.Uyun akhbar ul-Reza, Vol. 2, p.80.

The word Khatam in Holy Quran

The word Khatam has come on different scales of noun, verb, infinitive in the Holy Quran but the root is the same viz. Khatama.

The verses have been listed below in order of their occurrence in the Quran:

خَتَمَ اللّهُ عَلَى قُلُوبِهمْ وَعَلَى سَمْعِهِمْ وَعَلَى أَبْصَارِهِمْ غِشَاوَةٌ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ عظِيمٌ

      “Allah hath set a seal on their hearts and on their hearing, and on their eyes is a veil; great is the penalty they (incur)”.

(Surah Baqarah – Chapter 2, verse 7)

قُلْ أَرَأَيْتُمْ إِنْ أَخَذَ اللّهُ سَمْعَكُمْ وَأَبْصَارَكُمْ وَخَتَمَ عَلَى قُلُوبِكُم مَّنْ إِلَـهٌ غَيْرُ اللّهِ يَأْتِيكُم بِهِ انظُرْ كَيْفَ نُصَرِّفُ الآيَاتِ ثُمَّ هُمْ يَصْدِفُونَ

      “Say: Have you considered that if Allah takes away your hearing and your sight and sets a seal on your hearts …”

(Surah Anaam – Chapter 6, verse 46)

مَّا كَانَ مُحَمَّدٌ أَبَا أَحَدٍ مِّن رِّجَالِكُمْ وَلَكِن رَّسُولَ اللَّهِ وَخَاتَمَ النَّبِيِّينَ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمًا

      “Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but (he is) the Messenger of Allah and the Seal of the Prophets and Allah has full knowledge of all things.”

(Surah Ahzab – Chapter 33, verse 40)

الْيَوْمَ نَخْتِمُ عَلَى أَفْوَاهِهِمْ وَتُكَلِّمُنَا أَيْدِيهِمْ وَتَشْهَدُ أَرْجُلُهُمْ بِمَا كَانُوا يَكْسِبُونَ

      “That Day shall We set a seal on their mouths. But their hands will speak to us, and their feet bear witness, to all that they did”.

(Surah Yaseen – Chapter 36, verse 65)

أَمْ يَقُولُونَ افْتَرَى عَلَى اللَّهِ كَذِبًا فَإِن يَشَأِ اللَّهُ يَخْتِمْ عَلَى قَلْبِكَ وَيَمْحُ اللَّهُ الْبَاطِلَ وَيُحِقُّ الْحَقَّ بِكَلِمَاتِهِ إِنَّهُ عَلِيمٌ بِذَاتِ الصُّدُورِ

      “If Allah pleased, He would seal your heart.”

(Surah Shura – Chapter 42, verse 24)

أَفَرَأَيْتَ مَنِ اتَّخَذَ إِلَهَهُ هَوَاهُ وَأَضَلَّهُ اللَّهُ عَلَى عِلْمٍ وَخَتَمَ عَلَى سَمْعِهِ وَقَلْبِهِ وَجَعَلَ عَلَى بَصَرِهِ غِشَاوَةً فَمَن يَهْدِيهِ مِن بَعْدِ اللَّهِ أَفَلَا تَذَكَّرُونَ

      “Have you then considered him who takes his low desire for his God and Allah has made him err having knowledge and has set a seal upon his ear and his heart…”

(Surah Jaasiyah – Chapter 45, verse 23)

يُسْقَوْنَ مِن رَّحِيقٍ مَّخْتُومٍ

      “They are made to quaff of a pure drink that is sealed.”

(Surah Mutaffifeen – Chapter 83, verse 25)

خِتَامُهُ مِسْكٌ وَفِي ذَلِكَ فَلْيَتَنَافَسِ الْمُتَنَافِسُونَ

      “The sealing of it is (with) musk.”

(Surah Mutaffifeen – Chapter 83, verse 26)

The third instance of Khatam’s occurrence in the Quran in Surah Ahzab, verse 40 is of particular interest to our discussion. Why the other seven Quranic verses don’t need to be discussed while debating meaning of Khatama is something the Bahais can tell us. From my point of view all the eight verses are relevant to our discussion on Khatama, and in any case, the Quranic verses were not meant to be studied in isolation. Parts of Quran endorse other parts since there is no contradiction in it – ‘Do they not then meditate on the Quran? And if it were from any other than Allah, they would have found in it many a discrepancy’ (Surah Nisa, verse 82).

Lets begin with the eight Quranic verses with the occurrence of Khatama; I have preserved Surah Ahzab, verse 40 for the end. In all the eight verses, there are some common and striking observations, which should not escape the attention of the Bahais:

  1. In all the eight verses, Khatama comes with the literal meaning of seal or close. All litterateurs I have mentioned in the Dictionary meaning of Khatama are unanimous in their view that Khatama in all these verses is applicable with the literal meaning of ‘seal/close’. No other literal or metaphorical meaning of Khatama can be applied to these verses.

  2. Seal is the only literal meaning that is appropriate for these verses. Using a different meaning from ‘seal/close’ can actually alter the interpretation of the verse completely.

    For example, take the first instance of Khatama in Surah Baqarah, verse 7,

    خَتَمَ اللّهُ عَلَى قُلُوبِهمْ وَعَلَى سَمْعِهِمْ وَعَلَى أَبْصَارِهِمْ غِشَاوَةٌ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ عظِيمٌ

    ‘Allah hath set a seal on their hearts and on their hearing, and on their eyes is a veil; great is the penalty they (incur).’

    If we had to take the metaphorical meaning of ornamentation, then the verse would read like this:

    ‘Allah hath set an ornament on their hearts and on their hearing, and on their eyes is a veil; great is the penalty they (incur).’

    Notice the meaning has changed completely. From a rebuke with the real meaning of ‘seal’, it has turned into a compliment with the metaphorical meaning of ‘ornament’! Hardly a penalty for the guilty ones! I leave it to the Bahais to decide whether Allah meant it as seal or ornament. Likewise in Surah Yaseen, verse 65, it is unlikely that Allah wants ‘to ornament their mouths. But their hands will speak to us, and their feet bear witness, to all that they did’. It is most likely that He wants to ‘set a seal on their mouths’.

  3. In addition to the fact that only the literal meaning ‘seal’ makes any sense of the eight Quranic verses, even the exegesis (Tafseer) of these Quranic verses reveals that Allah meant ‘seal’ and not ornamentation.

    Without delving in to the eight Quranic verses that mention ‘Khatama’, I will directly go the 40th verse of Surah Ahzab and see what the reliable Quranic scholars have had to say about the meaning of Khatama in their exegeses. Below is the list of Muslim scholars of the Quran and hadith. I have referred to all their exegeses in my quest to establish the meaning of Khatama as ‘seal’ as opposed to ornamentation:

    • Tafseer-e-Ibne Kathir by Imamul Hafiz Imamadud Deen Abul Fida Ismail Ibne Umar Ibne Kathir
    • Tafseer-e-Kashshaaf by Zamakhshari
    • Tafseer-e-Thaalabi by Allamah Abi Zaid Thaalabi
    • Tafseer-e-Thauri by Imam Abi Abdillah Sufyan Ibne Saeed Masrooq Al-Thauri (popularly known as Sufyan Thauri)
    • Tafseer-e-Jalalain by Jalaaluddin Suyuti and Jalaaluddin Mahalli
    • Tafseer-e-Qurtubbi by Abu Abdillah Muhammad Ibne Ahmed Al Ansaari Al Qurtubbi
    • Ad Durrul Manthoor Bi Tafseer Bi Maathoor by Imam Jalaaluddin Suyuti
    • At Tafseerul Shaheerat by Shaikh Muhammad Abdoh
    • Tafseer-e-Baizaavi by Baizaavi
    • Tafseer-e-Fakhre Raazi by Imam Fakhre Raazi

    Having read the tafseer of Surah Ahzaab, verse 40, I find that all the scholars of Quran that I have listed, have interpreted ‘Khaatam-al-Nabiyyin’ as ‘Seal of Prophets’. They have based their opinion on the basis of Quranic verses, the correct Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh), historical events before and after the advent of Islam, Arabic literature and the rules of Arabic grammar. Anyone who studies their exegeses of the Quran like I have studied will reach a conclusion that I have reached viz. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is Seal of Prophets and not Ornament of Prophets.

  4. I have referred to most of the popular English translations of the Quran viz. Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Marmaduke Pickthall, S V Ahmad Ali, M M Shakir and have found them all consistent in translating ‘Khatama’ as ‘Seal’. Even non-Muslim translators hostile to Islam, like Sale, Rodwell and Palmer, to name a few, have translated ‘Khatama’ as ‘Seal’. In other words, apart from the Bahais and Qadianis, no one seems to believe that ‘Khatama’ is ornament. On the contrary, they all believe that ‘Khatama’ means ‘Seal’. As far as the Bahais are concerned I am particularly interested in learning which Quran translation they have been referring to. If they have their own English translation of the Quran (approved by the Universal House of Justice), I would like to see it.

Having studied the meaning of Khatama, first from the viewpoint of Arabic literature and then from several exegeses of the Quran, I believe there is no reason to suggest that ‘Khaatam-al-Nabiyyin’ means anything other than ‘Seal of Prophets’. To put it plainly, it means Seal of Prophets because there is no reason to even remotely conclude otherwise.

I will make the same claim I have made in my earlier articles – if Bahais have reason to believe that Quranic scholars of repute like Jalaaluddin Suyuti, Ibne Kathir, Zamakhshari, Fakhre Raazi are wrong in their evaluation of ‘Khatama’ as ‘Seal’, then let them advance better names to challenge the Islamic stance on ‘Khatama’.

The Concept of Khatemiyat

In The Name of Allah, The Most Beneficent, The Most Merciful

khatam2The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) is the last messenger of Allah, Quran is the divine book and Islam the last of Allah’s religions. But during the course of history one can witness corrupt and crooked minded people who have misused this belief to their advantage. Therefore, let us first analyse the literal
meaning of the word Khatemiyat.
Allama Ibn Manzoor (630-711 a.h.) in his famous lexicon, “Lesaanul Arab” (vol. 4, p 25) has
explained under the word “Khatama” as follows:
“The end of something, i.e. to reach to its end. May Allah end it with goodness. The end of anything means its fate and ultimate…. Even the Quran has used it in this meaning when it says,
‘Muhammad is not the father of anyone among you. But he is the messenger of Allah and the last
of the Prophets.”
You observed that all the meanings of the words “Khaatam” and “Khatm” imply end. It is not
used in the meaning of ornament or its like. If a ring is called as Khatam it is because letters and
messages were sealed with it thereby implying that the letter has come to an end and nothing
more remains to be written.

Moreover, in the verse under deliberation, the word ‘Khatam’ is added to ‘Nabiyyeen’ which proves that the Holy Prophet (s.a.) is the last of the prophets (a.s.). Another important point is that in the Arabic language, the word ‘Nabi’ means the one who gives the news and ‘Rasool’ implies the one who brings a message from Allah. Both these words are not the opposites of each other. Rather, they can be used to supplement each other. In other words, it is quite possible that one person is both a Nabi as well as a Rasool, although the former encompasses the latter. So, when it is said that the Holy Prophet (s.a.) is the last Prophet and that there is no Prophet after him, then it is obvious that there is no messenger after him. Also, in authentic traditions, both the terms Nabi as well as Rasool have been used e.g. There are no Rasool after me. There are no nabi after me.

III) Clearing the doubts Continue reading

The reality of Khatemiyat (finality of prophethood)

In the Name of Allah, The Most Beneficent, The Merciful

mohammad_rasool_allah_by_syedasairanaqvi-d322c0uThe previous prophets (a.s.) had given glad tidings to their nations that the last Prophet will rise from Mecca. Hence, all believers whose hearts were pure were awaiting this promised Messenger. Moreover, right from the beginning of Islam, all Muslims considered the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a) as the FINAL PROPHET and knew Quran as the last of Allah’s books. This creed was inculcated in their hearts by the Prophet (s.a.w.a.) himself. Even today, the finality of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.)’s prophethood is a firm and unshakable belief of every Muslim.

(I) The Reality of Khatemiyat

Different Prophets (a.s.) were sent in different times by the order of Allah, conveying them His
message, teaching the method of worship and the way of life. Till Allah the Almighty, raised
the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), declared his religion as universal and perfected and completed it. As his
religion is perfect and complete, there is no need for any other Prophet who will do away with its
shortcomings and defects. Therefore, this religion is the final religion, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) is
the final Prophet and the Holy Quran is the last heavenly book. The Holy Quran has mentioned
this reality in different places in different styles. Continue reading