Abu Yusuf and Tahavi on Khatm-e-Nabuwwat

In his book `Aqida-i-Salfia, while explaining the beliefs of the pious forbearers and particularly those of Imam Abu Hanifa, Imam Abu Yusuf and Imam Mohammed, Imam Tahavi (239 A.H.-321 A.H.) writes that Mohammed (pbuh) is a highly venerable servant of God. He is the chosen Prophet and the favorite Messenger of Allah. He is the last of the Prophets, Leader of the pious, chief of the Messengers of Allah and the beloved one of the Lord. After him every claim to Prophethood is an error manifest and worship of one’s evil-self.” (Sharah al-Tahawiya Fil-‘Aqidat-ul-Salfia, Dar-ul-Ma’arif, Egypt, pp. 15, 87, 96, 97, 100, 102)

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Jarir Tabari on Khatm-e-Nabuwwat

Allama Ibn Jarir Tabari (224 A.H.-310 A.H.) in his renowned commentary of the holy Qur’an gives the following interpretation of the verse, ‘walakin Rasul Allahi wa Khatam-ul Nabiyyin’: “He has closed and sealed the prophethood and the door (of prophethood) shall not open for anyone till the end of the world.” (Vide Commentary of Ibn-i-Jarir, Vol. 22, p.12)

Abu Hanifa’s verdict on Khatm-e-Nabuwwat  

A glance through the history of Islam from the first century up to the modern times reveals to us the fact that the ulema of all periods in every Islamic country of the world are unanimous in their conviction that no new prophet can be raised after Mohammed (pbuh). They all agree in the belief that anyone who lays a claim to Prophethood after Mohammed (pbuh) and anyone who puts faith in such a claim is an apostate and an outcast from the community of Islam. A man in the time of Imam Abu Hanifa (80 A.H.-150 A.H.) laid claim to Prophethood and said “Let me show you the proofs of my prophethood.” The great Imam thereupon warned the people: “Anyone who asks of this man the credentials of prophethood, shall become an apostate, for the Prophet of God (pbuh) has explicitly declared: “No prophet will come after me.” (Manaqib al-Imam-i-Azam Abi Hanifa, Ibn Ahmad al-Makki, Vol. I, p.161, published in Hyderabad, India, 1321 A.H.)

Holy Quran — the everlasting miracle of Prophet Muhammad (s)

The Holy Qur’an is the everlasting miracle of the last Prophet. The miracles of the former Prophets like Prophet Ibrahim, Prophet Musa and Prophet ‘Isa, each of whom had a revealed Book and also wrought miracles, were distinct from their revealed Books. They wrought such miracles as the transformation of a blazing fire into ‘coolness and peace’, the conversion of a dry piece of wood into a serpent and bringing the dead to life. Obviously each of these miracles, was temporary and passing. But in the case of the last Prophet his Book itself was his miracle. It is the proof of his Prophethood. As such, the miracle of finality, unlike any other miracle, is everlasting, not passing nor meant only for the time being.

The fact that a Divine Book is the miracle of the last Prophet is absolutely in comformity with his time, the age of the advancement of science, knowledge, culture and education. The eternity of this Holy Book is also in consonance with the eternity of its message which is never to be abrogated.

The Holy Qur’an in several verses of it has expressly proclaimed this extraordinary and superhuman aspect of itself. One of these verses says:

“If you are in doubt about what We have revealed to Our bondman, then bring a chapter like it.” (Surah al-Baqarah, 2:23)

It has also expressly mentioned several other miracles wrought by the last Prophet.

The Holy Qur’an has dwelt on a number of questions related to the miracles. It declares that a Divine message must be accompanied by some miracles, that a miracle is a decisive evidence and definite proof, that the Prophets work the miracles by the will of Allah and that they work them to prove the veracity of their claim, and that they are not bound to accede to every request of everybody in this respect. In other words, the Prophets are not expected to hold an exhibition of miracles or to set up a factory of them.

As the Holy Qur’an has dealt with these questions, it has also expressly recounted the stories of the miracles of many of the former Prophets like Nuh, Ibrahim, Lut, Salih, Hud, Musa and ‘Isa, and has categorically confirmed them.

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.

Anybody who claims to be Prophet is a liar

Traditions have been narrated by numerous companions of the Holy Prophet and it proves that the Holy Prophet of Islam on different occasions, in different ways and in different words has made it crystal clear that he was the last of the prophets, and there was no Nabi coming after him, that the chain of Nubuwwah (Prophethood) has been completed, that anybody who claimed to be a Rasul or Nabi after him would be Dajjal and Kazzab (liar).

Can there be any other interpretation or meaning of the words of Qur’an‘Khatam un-Nabiyyin’ than this?

Also there is the Declaration of Sahaba just after the death of Holy Prophet that from then on there was no Nabi to come.

The famous collection of the lectures, etc. of Imam Ali (a.s.) known as ‘Nahj-ul-Balagha’ (which has been published in Egypt with foot notes and explanations of Sheikh Muhammad Abduh) reveals on page 269:

Imam Ali (a.s.) said when he was washing the body of Holy Prophet (S): “My father. and mother be your ransom, such a thing has been discontinued with your death which was never discontinued with the death of any other person, (and that thing is) Prophethood, announcement (of Ghaib) and the news of heaven.”

Hadith-ul-Manzila

‘Hadith-ul-Manzilais the saying of the Holy Prophet (S), which he said at the time of his journey to Tabuk. This tradition is correct without any doubt from any quarter, and innumerable traditionalist and historians have recorded it. Some of them are:

• Saheeh Bukhari, Vol 3. p.58

• Saheeh Muslim, Vol 2, p.323

• Sunan Ibn Majah, Vol 1, p.28

• Mustadrak, Vol 3, p.109

• Musnad Ahmad bin Hanbal, Vol 1, p.173-182

At the time of that journey, the Holy Prophet (S) has left Imam Ali (a.s.), as his successor in Madina. Imam Ali (a.s.) said “You are leaving me behind among women and children.” The Holy Prophet (S) replied: “Are you not pleased that you have the same position with me as Aaroon had with Moses, except that there is no prophet after me.”

This also is a great proof from the tradition of the Holy Prophet (S) that there would be no prophet after him.

There will be 30 impostors after me: Prophet Muhammad (s)

Abdur Rahman Ibne Jubayr said, I heard from Abdullah Ibne Umar Ibne Aas that one day the Holy Prophet (pbuh) stepped out of his house and was sitting with us. He said, “I am Mohammed, the unlettered prophet. He repeated this thrice. Then he said, there will be no prophet after me”
(Musnad Ahmed Ibne Hambal)

Soubaan narrates that the Holy Prophet (pbuh) said, “There will arise thirty impostors in my Ummah and each one of them will pronounce to the world that he is a prophet, but I am the last in the line of the Prophets of God and no Prophet will come after me.”
(Abu Dawood – Kitabul Fitan, Tirmizi)

In this way, there are several traditions narrated by the companions of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and these traditions are with successive chains and through several narrators. In the same way, through the ages, traditionalists and authors have brought these traditions in their books. A study of these traditions shows us that at different times, occasions, words and ways, the Holy Prophet (pbuh) made it amply clear that there is no prophet after him. And that the chain of prophethood has been terminated upon him. In addition to this, he (pbuh) warned his community that if any person claimed prophethood after him, then that person is a liar and a fraud and one should therefore avoid him.

The explanation of the Quranic words “Khatamun Nabiyyeen” has been done beautifully by the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and no person can do this better than him as he is the interpreter of the Quran and religion for us. More importantly these are the words of the prophet and no other word or speech can carry more weight than his (pbuh) words. The Quran has been revealed upon the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and he is the one who is authorized to narrated its interpretation. Then if some Irani or Indian comes after one thousand years to tell us about a new interpretation of this verse, we have no option but to ignore it or to raise our voices against this “new” interpretation.

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’.