THE FINALITY OF PROPHETHOOD

S. Abul A'la Maududi

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The Consensus of all the Ulema of the Ummah

 

Next in line of authority after the consensus of the Companions stands the consensus, in matters of religion, of those ulema of the Muslims who came after the time of Companions (may God be pleased with them). 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 Muhammad (PBUH). They all agree in the belief that anyone who lays a claim to Prophethood after Muhammad (PBUH) and anyone who puts faith in such a claim is an apostate and an outcast from the community of Islam.

 

The following facts are appended as an illustration of this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

[We have quoted here the original Arabic text (in the Urdu Edition) of the opinion of Imam Ghazali because the deniers of the idea of the Finality of Prophethood have vehemently challenged the authenticity of this reference.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hadrat Isa (PBUH) was appointed Prophet before Muhammad(PBUH) and Isa(PBUH) will appear as a follower of the Shari'ah of Muhammad(PBUH). He (Isa)(PBUH) will offer prayers with his face turned towards the Qiblah designated by Muhammad(PBUH). Hadrat Isa (PBUH) will be one among the faithful of Islam. He will neither receive any Divine revelation nor will issue new injunctions; he will act as a follower of Muhammad(PBUH). `Ahl-Sunnat wal Jam'at (the Sunni sect) believe that no prophet will come after our holy Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) because God has affirmed wa-lakin Rasul Allehe wa Khatam-un- Nabiyyin, and the Prophet has said: La Nabiya Ba`di (There will be no Prophet after me.) Henceforth anyone who says that a prophet will succeed Muhammad(PBUH) will become an apostate, because he has denied a basic article of faith. Similarly anyone who casts doubt about the finality of Muhammad's prophethood, will also be declared an infidel, because the foregoing discussion has distinguished right from wrong. And any claim to prophethood after Muhammad(PBUH) is absolutely false."

 

 

 

 

"Anyone who claims to be the recipient of Divine revelations as a prophet after the advent of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), shall be declared an infidel. There is no difference of opinion among Muslims on this point." (ibid., vol.22, p.38) "The affirmation in the Book of God of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as `the Last of the Prophets' is unequivocal. The Sunnah has clearly explained this and the Ummah has reached a consensus on it. Hence anyone who lays a contradictory claim against this position shall be declared an apostate (ibid., vol.22, p. 39)

 

These are the expositions of the leading savants, jurists, scholars of Hadith and commentators of every realm of Islam, from the sub-continent of India to Morocco and Spain (Andulus) and from Turkey to Yemen. We have indicated their years of birth and death in each case so that the reader may realise at first glance that this list includes eminent authorities of every century of the Islamic History falling between the first and thirteenth century. We might even have added expositions by the learned doctors of Islam belonging to the fourteenth century; but we omitted the Ulema of the 14th century purposely because someone might state that these scholars had explained the meanings of Khatam-i-Nabuwat as 'the Seal of all Prophets' to refute the claim of the 'new prophets' of the modern age.

 

It cannot, however, be said that the ulema of the past centuries entertained feelings of animosity against a later day personality claiming to be a prophet. These writings also make it clear beyond doubt that from the first century up to the present-day the entire Muslim world has unanimously taken the expression Khatam-un-Nabiyyin to mean `the Last of all Prophets.' Muslims of all periods have been unanimous in the belief that the office of prophethood has been sealed after the advent of the holy Prophet(PBUH). There has never been any difference of opinion among muslims that any person who prefers a claim to prophethood and those who believe in such a claim to prophethood are outside the pale of Islam. It is now up to all reasonable persons to judge that in the face of all this massive evidence- the plain dictionary meaning of the phrase 'Khatam-un-Nabiyyin' the interpretation of the Quranic verse in its true perspective, the exposition of the Holy Prophet himself and the consensus on the finality of prophethood of Muhammad(PBUH) of the entire body of muslims all over the world from the time of the companions of the Holy prophet to the present day followers of Islam-what scope is left for an alternative interpretation and what justification can they give for opening the door of prophethood for a new claimant. Furthermore, how can those people be recognized as Muslims who have not only expressed their opinion in favour of opening the door to prophethood, but they have, in fact, catapulted a man into the mansion of the Prophets of God and have become the followers of this trespasser? In this connection three more points are noteworthy.