The Finality of Prophethood - The View from Traditions
Dr. Mohammed Alam Qurayshi
The Holy Quran and the Sunnah (customs and practices) of the Holy Prophet of Islam (p.b.u.h) enjoy the highest position in the religion of Islam. All matters regarding beliefs such as the Unity of God and the Day of Resurrection or actions such prayers and fasting are derived solely from these two sources. Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h) himself says, "I am leaving behind two weighty things - the book of Allah (Quran) and my Sunnah. If you remain with these two you shall never be deviated." Any belief that is claimed to be Islamic must necessarily be viewed in the light of the Holy Quran and the Sunnah to establish its veracity.
Our discussion in this article pertains to the finality of the prophethood of the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h) of Islam. This belief which forms the foundation of the religion of every Muslim man and woman needs to be discussed too in consideration of the Holy Quran and the traditions of the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h).
The Holy Quran clearly declares :
"Mohammed (p.b.u.h) is not the father of any of your men, but he is the Messenger of Allah and the seal (last) of the Prophets. And God is Aware of everything."
Ref: The Chapter of Ahzab, verse 40
This verse clearly and decisively clarifies the stand of Quran regarding the belief of completion of the chain of divinely appointed prophets. The verse is sufficient to understand that Allah ordained the appointment of Prophet Mohammed (p.b.u.h) as the last prophet.
This verse provides a clear and decisive reply to hypocrites and all the conspiracies hatched against Islam. I have already discussed this verse and such other verses in my article "Finality of Prophethood from the Holy Quran"
Let us now look at those traditions that have been mentioned in books on this topic. We have classified the traditions available on this subject into different types for better understanding.
Traditions which mention that Hazrat Mohammed (p.b.u.h) is the last prophet
The Holy Prophet of Islam (p.b.u.h) affirmed: "My position in relation to the prophets who came before me can be explained by the following example: A man erected a building and adorned it with great beauty, but he left an empty niche in the corner where just one brick was missing. People looked around the building and marveled at its beauty, but wondered why a brick was missing from that niche. I am like that one missing brick and I am the last in the line of the Prophets."
Ref: Bukhari, Kitab-ul-Manaqib
Four traditions relating to this subject are recorded in Muslim, Kitab-ul-Fada'il, Babu Khatimin-Nabiyyin. The tradition in the latter contains the following additional sentence. "So I came and by me the line of Prophets has ended."
The same tradition has been reported in Tirmidhi, Kitab-ul-Manaqib, Bab-Fadlin Nabi and Kitab-Adab, Bab-ul-Amthal. In Musnad Abu Dawud Tayalisi, this tradition has been incorporated among other traditions reported by Jabir bin Abdullah, and its last sentence reads, "It is in me that line of Prophets came to its final end."
The Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h) observed: "God has bestowed upon me six favors, which the former Prophets did not enjoy:
I have been endowed with the gift of perfect speech.
I was granted victory owing to my awe.
The spoils of war were made lawful unto me.
The whole earth has been made the place of worship for me and it has become the means of purification for me also. In other words, in my religion, offering of prayers is not confined to certain specified places of worship. Prayers can be offered at any place over the earth. And in case water is not available it is lawful for my people to perform ablutions with earth (Tayammum) and to cleanse themselves with the soil if water for bathing is scarce.
I have been sent by Allah to carry His Divine message to the whole world.
And the line of prophets has come to its final end in me.
Ref: Muslim, Tirmidhi, Ibn Majah
The Prophet of Allah (p.b.u.h) affirmed: "The chain of Messengers and Prophets has come to an end. There shall be no Messenger nor Prophet after me."
Ref: Tirmidhi, Kitab-ur-Rouya Babu Zahab-un- Nubuwwa, Musnad Ahmad, Marwiyat-Anas bin Malik
The Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h) observed: "I am Muhammad, I am Ahmad, I am the effacer and infidelity shall be erased through me; I am the assembler. People shall be assembled on the Day of Judgement after my time. And I am the last in the sense that no prophet shall succeed me."
Ref: Bukhari and Muslim, Kitab-ul-Fada'il, Bab: Asmaun-Nabi; Tirmidhi, Kitab-ul- Adab, Bab: Asma-un-Nabi; Muatta', Kitab-u-Asma in-Nabi, Al- Mustadrak Hakim, Kitab-ut-Tarikh, the chapter of Asma-un-Nabi
The Prophet of God (p.b.u.h) observed: "God Almighty has sent unto the world no apostle who did not warn his people about the appearance of Dajjal (Anti-Christ, but Dajjal did not appear in their time). I am the last in the line of Prophets and you are the last community of believers. Without doubt, then, Dajjal shall appear from amongst you".
Ref: Ibn Majah, Kitabul-Fitan, The chapter of Dajjal
Abdur Rahman bin Jubair reported: "I heard Abdullah bin 'Amr ibn-'As narrating that one day the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h) came out of his house and joined our company. His manner gave us the impression as if he were leaving us.' He said, 'I am Muhammad, the unlettered prophet of Allah' and repeated this statement three times. Then he affirmed: "There will be no prophet after me'."
Ref: Musnad Ahmad, Marwiyat'Abdullah bin Amr ibn'-As
Traditions that mention the rising of imposters (false claimants to prophethood)
Not only did the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h) clearly mention about his finality but he also warned the Muslims about the rising of imposters. Anyone who would fall prey to them will end up destroying his faith in this world and the hereafter
The Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h) prophesized: And there will arise thirty imposters in my community 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 Apostle will come after me."
Ref: Abu Dawud, Kitab-ul-Fitan
Abu Dawud in 'Kitab-ul-Malahim' has recorded another tradition reported by Abu Huraira in the same subject. Tirmidhi has also recorded these two traditions as reported by Hazrat Thauban and Hazrat Abu Huraira. The text of the second tradition runs thus - "It will come to this that thirty imposters will arise and each one of them will put forth his claim to be the Apostle of God."
The Prophet of God (PBUH) said: "No Prophet will come after me and there will, therefore, be no other community of followers of any new prophet."
Ref: Baihaqi, Kitab-ul Rouya; Tabarani
A large number of such traditions of the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h) have been reported by the companions and many great compilers have recorded them from authoritative sources. A study of these traditions shows that the Holy Prophet (p.b.u.h) on several occasions, and in various ways and in different words made it explicitly clear that he was the last Prophet of God - that no prophet would follow him and that the line of prophets had ended in him. Furthermore, those would claim to be Prophets and Messengers of God after his time would be imposters and liars.
Written by: Dr. Mohammed Alam Qurayshi