Seal of the Prophets

Seal of the Prophets (Dr. A. R. Bhutta) We know that the term ‘Khatamun-nabiyyin’ which literally translated means ‘Seal of the prophets’, is grammatically ‘Murakabe-Ezafi’ (compound phrase}. The ‘Khatam’ (Seal} is ‘Muzaf’ and ‘Nabiyyin’ (prophets} is its ‘Muzaf Eleh’ (combining word}. It is also a matter of common knowledge that when two words join together to make a phrase, they do not necessarily give their literal meaning. For example, ‘Ibn’ means ‘son’ and ‘Sbeel’ means way; but when these words join to make ‘Ibn-SabeeP it does not mean ‘Son of the way’, it only means a traveller. So the real sense of a phrase is determined by grammar, its usage in language and the context in which it is used. Let us now try to find out the real meaning of the term ‘Khatamun-nabbiyyin’. It is an established and unchangeable rule of Arabic grammar and language that when the word ‘Khatam’ is used in the praise of a person and its combining word (Muzaf-Eleh} is a ‘group of talented people’, it never means that the person called ‘Khatam’ is the last or final to appear in respect of time. It always means that in the opinion of the user, the person concerned is the perfect and supreme in that ‘group of talented people’ and that he has achieved the last and final grade in that particular excellence. The Islamic literature is full of such instances and not a single example can be cited against this rule. To quote some: Khatamu-Shu’ra (Khatam of poets} never means last and final poet, but a perfect and top-most poet. Khatamul-Mufassarin (khatam of commentators} does not mean a last born but a supreme commentator. Similarly the word ‘Khatam’ has been used with many other ‘groups of talented people’ like, ‘Muhaqaqueen’ (investigators}, ‘Muhadaseen’ (reporters}, Hukkam (officers}, Mualameen (teachers} and Auliyya (friends of God}. In none of these terms the word ‘Khatam’ means the last born or the last one to appear in the world. It only means that, in the opinion of the user, the person called ‘Khatam’ is the best and the most perfect of all in that particular talent which belongs to the group. 42 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS It may, however, be noted that when ‘Khatam’ is not used in praise of a person and its combining word (Muzaf-Elah) is not a group of talented people, then it does mean the last or at the end in respect of time; because in that case it is used not to praise the person for any excellence or talent but as a mere statement of fact. For example, ‘Khatamul-Aulad’ (Khatam of sons} will mean last-born because to be born is not a talent and the term is used not to praise the boy but merely to point out the fact that he is the youngest son. Similarly, the term ‘Khatamul-Muhajireen’ will mean last one to migrate because to migrate is not a talent nor is. the term used to praise the last migrator. The neglect of this point is the most common mistake which even the learned among the muslims make or pretend to make. Keeping the above mentioned rules of the Arabic language in mind, it will be clear to every truth seeking person that the term ‘Khatamun-Nabiyyin’ as used in the praise of the Holy prophet, can only mean that he is the best, perfect and the supreme Prophet who has attained the last, final and the highest rank in prophethood. No prophet superior or greater than him can appear after him but the appearance of a Prophet, subordinate to him cannot be contrary to this title. This is what the Holy prophet as well as the scholars of Islam understood by this term. The Holy prophet is reported to have said of Hazrat Ali: “O, AH you are ‘Khatamul-Auliya’ just as I am ‘Khatamul-Anbiyya'”. (Tafseer-Safi p. 111). Evidently this saying could not mean that Hazrat Ali was the last wall. It can only mean that he was the best wali just as the Holy prophet was the best nabi. Hazrat Ayesha, the wife of the Holy Prophet is reported to have said of the Holy Prophet: “Say that he is ‘Khatamul-Anbiyya’ (Seal of the prophets’) but do not say that there is no prophet after him”. (Durre-MansoorVol. 5, p. 104 and Takmila Majmaal Bihar Vol. 4, p. 85). Now if ‘Khatam’ meant ‘Last’ then why not say so? Some confused and insolent scholars have recently condemned this saying of Hazrat Ayesha as ‘worthless’. But one wonders what do they say about all the saints and scholars of Islam who tolerated such a ‘worthless’ statement in the Islamic literature for more than a thousand years and who even commented and explained this statement. For example, Imam Mohammad Tahir (died 986 H) comments: “This (statement) is in view of the advent of Isa, and this is not contrary to the Hadith ‘No prophet after me’; because by it he (the Holy prophet) meant that there would be no prophet who would abrogate his law”. (Takmila Majmaal Bihar p. 88). Hazrat Mohyuddin Ibne Arabi (died 638H) writes: “The prophethood that ended with the Holy Prophet is the one with the law and not the very institution of it. . . And by his saying ‘No prophet after me’ he meant that no SEAL OF THE PROPHETS 43 prophet can come who would be against his law; rather any prophet that appears.after him, would be under his law”. And further it is explained: “. . . so prophethood will continue till the day of Judgment but the Law has come to an end; and to bring Law is only a part of prophethood . . . Isa will descend without a Law but he would be a Prophet without any doubt”. (Fatuhate-Makia Vol. 2, pp. 3, 100). Allama Abdul Wahab She’rani (died 972 H) writes: “Know it that prophethood has not ended absolutely; only the Law-bearing prophethood has been lifted . . .” “There have been prophets in the world in the past and there will be in future too, but they will be subordinate to the Law of the Holy Prophet. Most people, however, do not know this”. (Alyawakit-wal-Jawahar Vol. 2, pp. 28, 90). Imam Fakharuddin Razi (died 606 H) explains: “It is essential for ‘Khatam’ to be supreme. Look! just as the Holy prophet has been declared supreme on account of being ‘Khatam’ of the prophets, so is the man declared supreme on account of being ‘Khatam’ of all the physical creatures”. (Tafseer-e-Kabir Vol. 6, p. 31).’ Before we consider the context of the term ‘Khatamun-Nabiyyin’ let us have a look at the literal meaning of the word ‘Khatam’. ‘Khatam’ means ‘The seal’ which is defined as ‘an instrument which leaves its impression on other things’. The main purpose of creating this impression by using a seal, is to attest, to verify or to issue something on the authority of the bearer of seal. Speaking literally, therefore, ‘The seal’ of the prophets would mean a Prophet who attests and verifies the prophethood of’other prophets and whose complete and perfect obedience can leave an ‘impression of prophethood’ on his perfect and chosen followers. It must be noted that the sense of ‘closing’ or ‘finishing’ something, which is commonly linked with the word ‘seal’, is not its real meaning or purpose. In fact, the seal is put on an envelope or lock not to close but to attest the closure. The closure is always done by putting gum or lock, while seal is applied to attest that the closure has been done by the owner of the seal. If the seal is not clear or is tempered with, the closure of the object may be rejected because the purpose of attestation is not served in that case. So the real and the primary purpose of the seal remains ‘to attest or to issue’ something by creating its impression on other objects. Maulana Mohammad Quasim Nanotovi, the founder of the ‘Dewband’ school of thought in Islam, has explained the word ‘Khatam’ as follows: “Just as the Khatam (Seal} leaves its impression on the objects, so does the self luminous personality affect his noble followers . . .” “The prophethood of the Holy Prophet is intrinsic in his blessed personality while that of the other prophets is through his effect. Others are prophets through his grace .but he is prophet through nobody’s 44 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS grace; and that is how the prophethood ends with him. He is, therefore, Prophet of God as well as the prophet of the prophets”. (Tehzir-an-nas pp. 3, 4 and 10). Maulana Shabeer Ahmad Usmani, ‘Sheikh-ul-Islam’, Pakistan while commenting on the title ‘Khatam-nabiyyin’ writes in his translation of the Holy Quran: “. . . So we can say that he (the Holy Prophet) is the ‘Seal of the prophets’ with regards to rank as well as time; and those who got prophethood, got it only through the impress of his Seal”. Let us now study the title ‘Khatamun-nabiyyin’ with its context because it is only in the light of the context that the real and exact sense of a word can be ascertained. God says in the Holy Quran: “Muhammad is not the father of any of your men; But he is the Messenger of Allah and the Seal of Prophets, and Allah knows everything”. (33:30). The use of the word ‘But’ in the verse is particularly noteworthy. ‘But’ is a conjunction, used to join two sentences and it serves to remove any. doubt or objection that may possibly arise from the first sentence. Now if the term ‘Seal of the prophets’ is interpreted to mean ‘the last prophet’, as is generally understood, then the information given by God in the verse can be briefed as follows: (i) Muhammad is not the father of any man but he is last of all the Prophets. Or that (ii) Muhammad is at the end of his lineage. But he is at the end of the line of prophets. Or that (iii) Mohammad has no son after him but he has no prophet after him. Read the above sentences again and see that the use of the word ‘But’ is absolutely wrong because both parts of each sentence have something negative in them. The use of the word ‘But’ demands that if there is anything negative in the first statement, the other statement should contain something positive or vice versa. It makes it necessary that if a fact is denied in the first statement, this denial should be compensated by acknowledging some similar fact in the other statement. Let us now suppose that the ‘seal of the prophets’ means supreme head, the top-most and the ‘Issuer’ of the prophets and read the same sentences again: (i) Muhammad is not the father of any man but he is the father (head) of the prophets. Or that (ii) Muhammad is at the end of his lineage but he is at the top of line of prophets. Or that (iii) Muhammad has no sons as issues after him but he has prophets as spiritual issues after him. “The use oJ “But’ in the above mentioned sentences is absolutely correct SEAL OF THE PROPHETS 45 because the objection that arises by denying one fact in the first part of the sentence is removed by acknowledging some similar or even better fact in the other part of the sentence. (It must be remembered that a prophet is the ‘father’ of his followers because the wives of the prophets are declared as ‘mothers of the followers’ in the Holy Quran, 33:7). With these facts in mind, read the verse 33:30 once again and see that when God said ‘Muhammad is not the father of any man’. God denied the ‘physical fatherhood’ of the Holy Prophet, but He compensated this loss with a big ‘But’ and added that he is the father of a nation as ‘Messenger of Allah’ and even father of the prophets as ‘Seal of the prophets’. The ‘Seal’ mentioned in this verse could never mean ‘the last or the end’. It can only mean the seal that issues something because it is the physical issues of the Holy Prophet that are denied in the first part of the verse; and the second part, therefore, must necessarily acknowledge the existence of ‘Spiritual issues’. So what God really wants to tell mankind is that, although Mohammad is not the physical father of any man but he is the ‘spiritual father’ of a nation, and above all he is the ‘father of prophets’, thus having even prophets as his spiritual sons. It should be noted that every prophet is the ‘father’ of his followers and the words ‘messenger of Allah’ in the verse, made the Holy Prophet only the ‘father’ of his followers in common with other prophets. It is the next title of the ‘seal of the prophets’ that exalted him above all other prophets as ‘father’ of the prophets. Maulana Mohammad Quasim Nanotavi again explains: “The common people think that the Holy prophet is Khatam in the sense that he is the last of all the prophets. But it will be clear to the men of understanding that to be first or last in respect of time is not creditable in itself. In this sense, therefore, to praise him by saying ‘but he is the messenger of Allah and Seal of the prophets’ cannot be correct . . . The real sense of this verse is that the Holy prophet does not possess the fatherhood in respect of any man; but the spiritual fatherhood in respect of his ‘followers’ as well as ‘prophets’ does belong to him”. (Tehzir-an-nas pp. 2 and 10). Supportive Evidence The fact that the Holy Prophet (sal-lal-lahu alaihi wa salam), serves as a source of all kinds of spiritual blessings including prophethood, is supported strongly by the verse 4:70 which reads: “And whoso obeys Allah and this Messenger, shall be among those on whom Allah has bestowed His blessings — the Prophets, the Truthfuls, the Martyrs and the Righteous. And an excellent company are they”. It is clear from this verse that the above mentioned four spiritual ranks are now attainable through the obedience of the Holy Prophet. The significance of this verse becomes even more clear when we compare it with the verse 57-.20 which reads:- 46 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS “And those who believe in Allah and His Messengers, they are the Truthfuls and the Martyrs in the presence of their Lord”. By reading the two verses together, it can be easily inferred that, whereas the followers of all ‘the Messengers’ in general could reach up to the ranks of the Martyrs and the Truthfuls (Siddiqueen) and no higher, the followers of the Holy Prophet (this Messenger) can go even higher and be blessed with the prophethood if and when necessary. Belief of Ahmadis We are Muslims. We believe in God, Who is One, and in the Kalima. We believe that the Quran is the Book of Allah and Muhammad, (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), is His Prophet and Khatamal Ambia. We believe in the existence of angels, in the day of Judgement, and in the existence of Heaven and Hell. We say our daily prayers, keep fast during Ramzan and turn towards Qibla. We consider it our duty to refrain from whatever Allah and His Prophet forbid us to do and to do whatever they commanded us to do. We have no authority to add or detract anything from the Islami Shariat. We accept as part of Islam all that has come to us from the Holy Prophet, whether or not we understand its raison d’etre. By the Grace of God, we are Momin, Muslim and Muhawahhid. (Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad-the Promised Messiah and Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam.)