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The Station of Khaatamun-Nabiyyeen and the Perceptive Writings of the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama‘at
An Analysis of the Allegation of Disbelief in Khatme-Nubuwwat
“The gist and essence of our faith is:
Our belief, which we hold in this life here on earth and to which we will continue to adhere firmly till the time we pass on to the next world, is that our spiritual leader and master, Muhammadsa, is the Seal of the Prophets and the Best of Messengers. At his hands religion has been perfected and blessing of Allah has been consummated which leads man to the right path and further on to God Himself.”
[Izala-e-Auhaam, Roohaani Khazaa’in vol. 3 pp. 169-170]
The allegation that the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama‘at does not (God forbid) believe in the “Verse of Khaatamun Nabiyyeen” and does not accept Hadhrat Muhammadsa, the chosen one, to be Khaatamun Nabiyyeen (Seal of the Prophets) is categorically false and amounts to a lie forged against us.
It is amazing that this allegation is made against a Jama‘at which, of all the sects in Islam, holds the firm belief that not only is there no abrogation of any verse of the Holy Quran but also even a single vowel point or dot has not been abrogated. Whereas, on the contrary, according to the belief of religious scholars of various sects some verses of the Holy Quran have been abrogated by some of its other verses, and their current status is akin to that of the appendix in the human body. Is it not surprising then that those sects which themselves believe that from five to five-hundred verses of the Holy Quran have been abrogated, are imputing disbelief in regard to one particular verse of the Holy Quran to the sect which believes that, not to speak of any verse, nor even a single dot of the Holy Quran has been abrogated? One really wonders how to rationalise this. What else can it be called except compulsion and high-handedness! When the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama‘at insists that this indeed is our belief and that we have repeatedly been exhorted by the Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama‘at that the Holy Quran is God’s last and complete Book, and the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa is His last and perfect Messenger and Seal of the Prophets (Khaatamun Nabiyyeen), the religious scholars opposed to us allege in turn thus: Despite this statement on your part, you still entertain the possibility of the advent of a prophet in one sense or another and, therefore, disbelieve the meaning of this particular verse. So, in practice, you will be counted as disbelievers of this verse.”
This is in fact the biggest putsch of the adversaries of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama‘at, on the strength of which they have got up with the resolve to expel the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama‘at from within the ambit of Islam. Let us analyse the truth, or otherwise, of this allegation with a dispassionate mind, and see to what extent are those justified who level this allegation. Could it be that they themselves might become a target of their own allegation and might be adjudged to be the real disbelievers of this verse ?
The Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama‘at’s viewpoint is that we believe in all those meanings of the “Verse of Khaatamun Nabiyyeen” which are in accord with the Holy Quran and Hadith, the consensus of the early revered saints and scholars, the Arabic idiom, and the Arabic lexicon. We do believe in the literal meaning of this verse and we also believe in its real (exegetical) meaning which can be summarized as follows: the Holy Prophetsa is the most perfect of all the Prophets; he is the Seal of the Prophets and adornment of the Prophets. All the excellences of prophethood found their utmost expression in him and he was handed the key to all greatness and superiority, viz. his divine ordinance (Shariah), i.e., the Holy Quran and the Holy Prophet’s precept (Sunnah) will continue to reign till the end of time and will encompass every nook and cranny of the world. Every human being would be required to be governed by it, and there is none who can abrogate even a jot or tittle of this Shariah. So the Holy Prophetsa is the bearer of the final Shariah and the final preceptor who must be obeyed. He was final to all the prophets: in the physical as well as the spiritual sense. The strike of his finality (Khaatamiyyat) spares no prophet in any sense. After his advent, it is not possible for any previous prophet to return and live in a physical sense as his contemporary, so that the Holy Prophetsa may die a physical death while any other prophet may be physically alive contemporaneously and (God forbid) may see the physical death of the Holy Prophetsa before his own eventual death.
In the real sense too, the Holy Prophetsa is final to all the prophets and it is not possible for the spiritual munificence of any previous prophet to continue to be operative and cause anyone to be blessed with even a minor spiritual station, after the advent of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa. With his advent, the spiritual munificence of all the other prophets came to an end, but his own spiritual munificence will continue till the end of time. And all those spiritual benefits and blessings which the followers of the previous prophets used to receive, will now be delivered, in manifold strength, exclusively at the bounteous hand of the Holy Prophetsa till the end of time. In short, we believe in every sense—physical as well as real, spiritual as well as exegetical—that the Holy Prophetsa is the Seal of the Prophets (Khaatamun Nabiyyeen). May we respectfully draw your attention to this bitter reality that, with the sole exception of those who deny the institution of Ahadith, the religious scholars of all the sects opposed to us do not believe the Holy Prophetsa to be the Seal of the Prophets (Khaatamun Nabiyyeen) in the two aforementioned senses. Despite their declaration that the Holy Prophetsa applied closure to the coming of the prophets, they continue to hold the contradictory belief that (God forbid) the Holy Prophetsa could not put an end to Jesus Christ’s tenure as prophet, neither in the physical sense nor in the spiritual sense. There was only one prophet who (according to them) was still physically alive during the Holy Prophet’s life, but alas! he did not die during the latter’s lifetime: the Holy Prophetsa according to them died but Jesus remained alive! It has been almost fourteen hundred years since the demise of the Holy Prophetsa, but that Israelite Prophet continues to be alive to this day. Now be fair, according to those who believe Jesus to be still physically alive, which of the two qualifies to be the Khaatam? What is more, spiritually too, these same religious scholars tacitly acknowledge Jesus of Nazareth to be the Khaatam. This is so because they believe that, in terms of spiritual continuity, the Holy Prophetsa could not terminate the spiritual dominion of Jesus of Nazareth. The reign of other earlier prophets had already come to an end and all other paths of salvation closed; only Jesus of Nazareth, according to them, was ‘physically alive,’ but alas! the flow of his spiritual beneficence could not come to an end! Not only that, his power to provide spiritual bliss is supposed to be much greater now than it was before. At a time when the corpus of the followers of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa fall victim to dangerous spiritual maladies and are beset by a myriad of spiritual ills, notwithstanding his grand spiritual power of regeneration, then such spiritually regenerative prowess of the Holy Prophetsa proves ineffectual to redeem his followers, albeit the messianic breath of an Israelite Prophet retrieves it from the clutches of death and endows it with spiritual rebirth! It is as sad as sad can be! Does it not prove unequivocally that those who believe Jesus Christ to be still physically alive, indeed do not believe that the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa is ‘final,’ in relation to all the prophets, even in the sense of providing spiritual bliss. Rather, they believe that the Holy Prophetsa could not even terminate the spiritual munificence of the only prophet who (they believe) was still alive in the Holy Prophet’s own lifetime; and that the Israelite Prophet would meet his eventual death, but not before he becomes—God forbid—the final and ultimate spiritual benefactor of the followers of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa.
Just imagine! Is it not true that in both the physical and spiritual sense Hadhrat Isa (on whom be peace) is being accepted as Khaatamun Nabiyyeensa? Does it not a brazen blasphemy against the Holy Prophetsa? Is it not tantamount to sabotaging the spirit of the verse of Khaatamun Nabiyyeen? And they still dare to claim that Ahmadis disbelieve in the ‘Khaatamun Nabiyyeen’ (the Seal of the Prophets) and that they themselves are not only the believers but the guardians of this tenet! Is there no justice left in this world? Will all the dictates of reason go overboard? Will this contention not be weighed in the scales of justice ? Instead, will the matter of truth and falsehood and eternal salvation be decided on the strength of numerical preponderance? God forbid that this may come about. May God decree that this may not be the outcome. But if that is going to be done, then why profess the fear of Allah? Why not simply call it the Law of the Jungle? And why are the blessed names of Allah and His Messenger being exploited for perpetrating this injustice? Even if wilderness is given an attractive name, it will still remain stark wilderness!
We are accused of not accepting the Holy Prophetsa as the “final prophet” in the absolute sense, and of resorting to interpretations which make room for the advent of a prophet within the dispensation of the Holy Prophetsa (i.e. Ummati) by way of his Reflection (i.e., Zilli). It is alleged that this causes us to break the Seal of Prophethood.
We do affirm that it is definitely not contrary to the meaning of the “Verse of Khaatamun Nabiyyeen” if a Follower-Prophet is born among the followers of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa, who is completely subservient to him and is totally dependent on the Holy Prophet’s spiritual munificence for attaining each and every spiritual excellence. That is so because a wholly devoted servant cannot be viewed in isolation from his Master. It is incumbent upon us to prove our thesis on the authority of the Holy Quran, sayings of the Holy Prophetsa, sayings of the saintly scholars of Islam, as well as the Arabic idiom. A comprehensive discussion on this point follows. But prior to that, allow us to evaluate those who accuse us of breaking the Seal of Prophethood, and to scrutinize the truth or otherwise of their avowed belief. They apparently claim that they believe the Holy Prophetsa to be the ‘last prophet’ in every sense, in absolute terms, unconditionally and without exception; and do not admit the possibility of the advent of any prophet of any description whatsoever, after the advent of the Holy Prophetsa. But if you question them more closely, they inescapably concede the following addition to their aforementioned position: “yes, but with the sole exception of Hadhrat Isa (on whom be peace) who will certainly descend among the followers of Islam, some day.”
If one takes issue with them that they had just affirmed that the Holy Prophetsa was the “last prophet” in absolute terms and without exception, in the sense that he will not be followed by any prophet of any description whatsoever, then who gave them the right to propose this exception? Their response to this question is the following insipid and feeble interpretation that since he was an earlier prophet therefore his re-advent does not amount to breaking the Seal of Prophethood. When one further asks, “Will he bring the Mosaic Law with him?,” their response is, “No. He will come without any Law.” When one persists and inquires that, “In that case, what will become of the injunctions concerning the do’s and don’ts? What will he exhort the people to do and what will he prohibit them from doing?” Their reply is: “First he will become a member of the Ummah of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa and his prophethood would be subservient to the Shariah of Islam.” Providing answers to any further questions along this line of enquiry is beyond their capacity. For instance: “Who will teach him the Shariah of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa? Will it be done by Muslim divines or will direct revelation from Allah give him knowledge of the Holy Quran, the Hadith and the precept of the Holy Prophetsa (Sunnah)?” The above line of enquiry at least unambiguously establishes the following fact: they themselves do not believe the Holy Prophetsa to be the “last prophet” in the absolute sense, and subscribe to the exception that an old prophet, who is non-lawbearer, and arises within the Holy Prophet’s dispensation (i.e., Ummati), who is subservient to every word of Shariah of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa and who teaches and implements the same, such a prophet can arise even after the advent of the Holy Prophetsa without implying any damage to the Seal of Prophethood.
We have a right to ask this question from the people who possess reason, wisdom and justice if those who hold the aforementioned belief can, by any stretch of logic or justice, also maintain that no prophet of any description whatsoever can arise after the Holy Prophetsa.
The truth of the matter is that not only we but all those among our opponents who believe in the sanctity of Hadith, are bound to believe, in the light of the sayings of the Seal of the Prophets Hadhrat Muhammadsa, that “Isa, the Prophet of Allah” will descend among the followers of the Holy Prophetsa.
[Muslim, Baab Zikr-ud-Dajjaal].
Since we know with certainty, on the authority of the unequivivocal teachings of the Holy Quran and Hadith, that Isa, son of Mary of Nazareth has died ; therefore we take the aforementioned statement to mean that Isa, the Prophet of Allah, was to appear within the dispensation of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa as the latter’s servant.
And we prove from the Holy Quran, Hadith, and the sayings of the early saints, that the Promised One was to be both a “Prophet of Allah” and also among the followers of the Holy Prophetsa (i.e., his Ummati). And this tenet certainly does not run counter to the Finality (Khaatamiyyat) of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa.
But the other religious scholars seek to appease their hearts by saying that if an old prophet who was born long before the Holy Prophetsa and commissioned to Prophethood much earlier, and returns, he cannot be considered to be the last one. Therefore there is room for such a prophet to appear, without violating the Seal of Prophethood.
The main point in this argument is that a prophet who was born before the Holy Prophetsa, and is believed to be still alive by our critics, cannot be considered the last. When we analyse, this argument, too, proves to be quite flimsy and frivolous.
The question is: If today a child is born in front of a young man of twenty, and dies within a few days but that twenty-year old young man dies eighty years later, at the age of one hundred years, who would the historian determine to have outlasted the other? Rather, who would a sensible historian—who is in possession of his senses—declare to have outlived the other and, therefore, regarded to be ‘the last?’ Would he pick the child who was born later but died after living for a few days, or would he point out the man who was born earlier than the child and died eighty years after the child’s death, i.e., at the age of one hundred years ?
Sadly enough, the religious scholars opposed to us are faced with the same scenario but they apparently fail to see the flimsiness of their logic. They fail to realise that according to their own beliefs, Hadhrat Isa (on whom be peace) was approximately 600 years of age when the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa was born. At the age of 63 years—during the alleged ‘lifetime’ of Hadhrat Isa, the Holy Prophetsa died. Since then, it has been almost 1400 years but Hadhrat Isa, the Prophet of Allah, according to them, is still alive. Please tell us: when he descends and, after completing his mission, he eventually dies, then in the opinion of an impartial historian, who will be adjudged to be “the last?”
When the literal-minded religious scholars believe that the Verse of Khaatamun Nabiyyeen does not entitle anyone, in the chronological sense, to be final or the last one, after the advent of the Holy Prophetsa, then what right do the same set of literal-minded religious scholars have to take Hadhrat Isa (on whom be peace) to be the final or the last prophet, in the chronological sense? Mere verbal negation of this inescapable conclusion is of no consequence while they believe, as an objective fact, that Hadhrat Isa will appear centuries after the death of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa and Hadhrat Isa will therefore be the very last and final prophet!
The interpretation of the concept of the Finality of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa as advanced by the Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama‘at is unique and peerless in its comprehensive beauty. He presented, in his books, the exegesis of the Verse of Khaatamun Nabiyyeen in the light of the Holy Quran in such a manner that each portion of it irresistibly draws one to the glory of faith and depth of perception.
How convincing and majestic are the terms in which he declared that Our God is a living God; our Book, the Holy Quran is a living Book, and our Prophet, Hadhrat Khaatamun Nabiyyeen, Muhammadsa, the chosen one, is a living Prophet. It was he who introduced this terminology among the Muslims for the first time and, in so doing, introduced the devoted followers of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa to the truly genuine concept of the Finality of the Prophethood of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa.
The three issues, (i) belief in Allah, (ii) belief in the Holy Quran, and (iii) belief in the Holy Prophetsa, are inextricably interwoven. So the beliefs and views of the Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama‘at about any one of these topics, to the exclusion of any of the other inevitably related topics, cannot be judiciously treated. Therefore, before we focus on his concept and belief concerning the Finality of Prophethood, we will have to necessarily examine his faith in, and beliefs and ideas about, the existence of God and in regard to the Holy Quran. Otherwise, one’s comprehension of his vision of the Finality of Prophethood would remain imperfect.
Now we begin by presenting some excerpts from the writings of the Holy Founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama‘at on the subject of the existence of God which, God willing, will help simplify the topic of the Finality of Prophethood for one’s ease of comprehension.