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Books Section > The Last Prophet (Akhri Nabi) by Maulana Muhammad Ali > The Meaning of Khatam an-Nabiyyin in the Hadith

The Meaning of Khatam an-Nabiyyin in the Hadith:

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The Meaning of Khatam an-Nabiyyin in the Hadith:

After the Arabic lexicons, I put forth the evidence of the Hadith (Traditions of the Holy Prophet) on the subject and expect that Mian Sahib will also produce the testimony of the Hadith to support his views. As a matter of fact, the Hadith has preference over the lexicons, because the true explanation of terms used by the Holy Quran can only be given by the Holy Prophet. However, I have taken the testimony of the lexicons first, because that is the basis of Mian Sahib’s statement in the Court. In that statement it has been denied that the expression Khatam an-Nabiyyin means the ‘Last of the Prophets’. I had requested Mian Sahib to quote a reference from the Hadith, (apart from what he had said from the lexicon) and as he had also quoted one hadith, I will therefore throw light on the subject from the Hadith.

To make the issue clear once again, let me refresh the mind of the reader, that according to Mian Sahib, Khatam an-Nabiyyin means a person by following whom prophets will be made in future. According to me, these words means the ‘Last of the Prophets’. If the Holy Prophet had himself explained the meaning of these words, then every Muslim should immediately accept them. First of all, to support my version I shall list those traditions on which there has been Ijma (consensus of opinion) among the Ummah.

Those who have rejected this consensus of opinion are either those liars who, sometimes in the history of Islam, made a claim to prophethood, or at present, it is Mian Sahib (who is advocating such views). I also want to point out right in the beginning that I am not going to quote all the traditions because these have been compiled and published by Hazrat Maulana Syed Muhammad Ahsan in reply to which Mian Sahib has so far kept quiet. In this booklet Maulana Muhammad Ahsan has quoted forty traditions, the number of which may go up to eighty nine, if we take into consideration the various ways of reporting them. I need not repeat all these reports. Anyone interested may read that booklet "Khatam an-Nabiyyin". (Published by the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha’at Islam, Lahore. Jan., 1922) 

Ibn Kathir, who has written his commentary only on the basis of the Holy Prophet’s traditions, writes:

"This verse of Khatam an-Nabiyyin is clear proof that no prophet will come after him, … and there have been continuous reports on the subject, recorded by a body (jama’at) of the Companions of the Holy Prophet."

Let me reproduce below a few of these traditions:

1. "It is reported from Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him), that the Messenger of Allah (may peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), said: My likeness and the likeness of the prophets before me is the likeness of a person who built a house, made it beautiful and made it complete, except the place of a stone in the corner. So people began to go round and to wonder at him and say: Why have you not placed this stone? He (i.e., the Holy Prophet) said: I am that stone and I am Khatam an-Nabiyyin (the Seal of the Prophets)". (Al-Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Manaqib, ch. Khatam an-Nabiyyin; Al-Muslim; Tirmidhi, Abwab al-Manaqib, etc.)

This hadith has been mentioned in Sahih of al-Bukhari, al-Muslim, Imam Ahmad, Nasai and others with a slight difference in words but the sum and substance is the same. In some, the Holy Prophet is reported to have said that in the edifice of prophethood there was only one place left for a brick and he was that brick. And in some reports the words, ‘I am Khatam an-Nabiyyin’ and in some others that ‘prophets have been brought to an end with him’, have been added.

2. "The Day of Judgement will not be set up unless some tribes of my Ummah have joined the polytheists and unless they have started worshipping idols. And surely there shall be among my followers thirty liars, everyone of them asserting that he is a prophet, but I am Khatam an-Nabiyyin (the Seal of the Prophets). There is no prophet after me." (Al-Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Tauhid; al-Muslim, Abwab al-Fitan; Al-Darmi; Ibn Majah)

This hadith is also a unanimously accepted one.

3. "Surely messengership and prophethood have been cut off. There will neither be a messenger after me nor a prophet. His saying of this became hard on people so he said: Mubashshirat (good news) will be left. (Musnad, Imam Ahmad; Tirmizi)

4. "Prophets used to administer among the Israelites. When a prophet died another prophet became his successor. But there will be no prophet after me. Soon there will be khalifahs and they will be many." (Sahih of al-Bukhari and Muslim; Musnad of Imam Ahmad; Ibn Majah.)

5. There is nothing left of prophethood except mubashshirat (good news)." (Unanimously accepted)

6. "I am Muhammad and I am Ahmad and I am al-Mahi (the one who obliterates) by which God, the Most High, will help me efface unbelief; and I am al-Hashir (the gatherer) – at whose feet people will be gathered and I am al-Aqib (the one who comes last) after whom there is no prophet." (Bukhari, Muslim)

7. "I have been given superiority over prophets in six things… Prophets have come to an end with me" (Muslim, Nasa’i, Tirmizi)

8. "It is reported from Sa’d, son of Abi Waqqas, that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), said to Ali: ‘You stand to me in the same relation as Aaron stood to Moses, except that there is no prophet after me." (Sahih al-Bukhari, Muslim, Mishkat al-Masabih, ch. Manaqib Ali)

9. "Had there been a prophet after me it would have been Umar." (Tirmizi ch. Manaqib Umar)

Summary of the Reports:

For the sake of brevity I will not quote the other reports. In these nine reports, which are found in the most authentic books of Hadith, the Holy Prophet has been described as the last prophet from different angles. In the first hadith, prophethood has been compared with a mansion whose last brick or the corner-stone is the Holy Prophet, and the addition of the words Khatam an-Nabiyyin shows that the true meaning of these words is that the Holy Prophet is the last brick of the edifice of prophethood. In the second hadith, the person who lays claim to prophethood after the Holy Prophet has been declared a liar. In this report also, the significance of the words Khatam an-Nabiyyin has been explained by la nabiyya ba’di (there is no prophet after me). In the third report, it is mentioned that messengership and prophethood have been cut off. In the fourth, it has been indicated that among the Israelites a prophet was raised after another prophet, but in the Ummah of the Holy Prophet no prophets shall appear but only khalifahs. The fifth report mentions that only a part of prophethood is now left and that is the receiving of good news (mubashshirat). From among the names of the Holy Prophet, al-Aqib has been mentioned as one of those names in the sixth hadith, and the Holy Prophet himself explains that al-Aqib – the one who comes last – is the one after whom there is no prophet. In the seventh hadith, the termination of prophethood has been stated as one of the reasons for his superiority over other prophets. In the eight, the Holy Prophet’s relationship with Ali has been described as Aaron’s to Moses – although Aaron was a prophet and Ali in his status, was like Aaron, yet Ali could not become a prophet because there was no prophet after the Holy Prophet. In the ninth report, it has been mentioned that if there was a possibility of someone becoming a prophet after the Holy Prophet, it would have been Umar, because he did possess the excellences of prophethood but still he could not become a prophet [since prophethood had come to an end]. The subject of the finality of prophethood has been discussed in the Traditions in an excellent way. Anyone who calls himself a follower of the Holy Prophet cannot deny the fact that all these reports explain the words Khatam an-Nabiyyin as the ‘Last of the Prophets’ in a clear and explicit manner.

One Report against the Testimony of Forty:

Now let us see how Mian Sahib, who advocates a new creed in the world, concerning the continuity of prophethood after its termination, demolishes the clear-cut conception of the finality of prophethood. To lend support to his view, he has only cited one hadith and has given it the heading: The voice of the Holy Prophet against this consensus of opinion.

Is it not strange that from among these forty authentic Traditions Mian Sahib’s ears did not hear the voice of the Holy Prophet? But he did hear one voice. This is not the Holy Prophet’s voice but his own. Mian Sahib is one of those persons who can see a mote in another’s eye but cannot see the beam in their own, who strain at a gnat but swallow a camel. If Mian Sahib did care about the Holy Prophet’s voice, why did he treat with contempt these reports in which it was frequently and clearly stated that no prophet could appear at all after the Holy Prophet? His example is exactly that of a person who said that from among the commands of the Holy Quran he remembered one command: kulu washrabu [eat and drink - The Holy Quran, 7:31. The complete verse is "Eat and drink and be not prodigal."] and from among the prohibitions: la taqrabus salah [go not near prayer - The Holy Quran 4:43. The other part of the verse is "When you are intoxicated."].

If the testimony of the forty Traditions could be done away with just by one hadith, and this hadith has been rejected and criticised in its subject matter as well as in its way of transmission, then perhaps Mian Sahib would consider the whole of the Holy Quran unprotected, because in support of his view he may find one hadith in Sahih of al-Muslim, that a particular surah consisting of two hundred verses was read by one of the Companions, but later on they remembered only one verse. And again, he will have to give up the belief in the death of Jesus Christ, because he may find a report or so contrary to this view in a book of Hadith. I fail to understand how Mian Sahib can save himself by catching at straws like that. Out of Haqiqat al-Wahy, which comprises about six hundred pages, Mian Sahib does not seem to know anything else apart from pages 148 and 391. And had he scant knowledge of this book, he might have seen the following principle also laid down in it:

"The sign of allegorical (verses) is that, by accepting their (literal) meaning which are contrary to established principle, catastrophe is caused and they also go against other verses which are great in numbers. Contradiction is not possible in God’s Communication. Therefore, whatever is few must be subjected to the large in quantity." (Haqiqat al-Wahy, pp. 170-171)

The quoting of a hadith, however inauthentic it may be, may please Mian Sahib’s disciples, but what sort of answer will he give to God, the Most High, for having made a plaything of religious doctrines. Forty authentic, clear and explicit reports have been put before him and he does not hear "the voice of the Holy Prophet" in any of them, but when he found an inauthentic report which served his own purpose and to which he gave his own distorted interpretation, strangely enough it became the voice of the Holy Prophet against the consensus of opinion. If someone else were guilty of such crime what kind of verdict would Mian Sahib pass against him? I hope he would weigh himself on the same pair of scales!

"Had Ibrahim lived he would have become a true prophet":

Now I will take up the evidence of Mian Sahib with regard to the hadith quoted in Ibn Majah. After the funeral service of his son Ibrahim, the Holy Prophet is reported to have said: "If Ibrahim had lived he would have become a true prophet." (Ibn Majah, Kitab-al-Janaiz, Ch. Prayer for the Messenger’s son and the mention of his death)

The first question, if I may repeat, which arises here is, has it solved the meaning of Khatam an-Nabiyyin, the point under discussion? Has this hadith established that the expression Khatam an-Nabiyyin means that prophets will in future be made by following the Holy Prophet? If not, and certainly not, then what is the use of quoting this hadith? Mian Sahib should have brought forward that voice of the Holy Prophet against the consensus of opinion that would have indicated the correctness of his interpretation. Secondly, this report is not authentic. It has only been quoted in Ibn Majah and not in any other book of Hadith. From among its reporters is Abu Shi’bah Ibrahim who is considered unreliable in the matter of reporting hadith. It is the height of insolence to quote such a weak report against the most authentic sayings of the Holy Prophet. Thirdly, the actual meaning of this hadith should be considered. Mian Sahib himself admits that the whole sentence is conditional (because of the presence of "if" – lau in the hadith), but he would like us first to agree to a rule which is only the result of his own imagination:

"Something which is not possible in its nature cannot even be mentioned conditionally."

The greatest difficulty in replying to Mian Sahib’s writings is that without paying heed to anything he keeps on making one rule after another. His disciples would not have the courage to ask him where that rule is to be found. Mian Sahib and his disciples must have used the expression "for the sake of hypothetical argument" or "on the supposition" several times in their writing. But when Mian Sahib made the statement that "when something which is not possible in its nature cannot even be mentioned conditionally" the disciples become dumbfounded as well, and do not have the courage to question his authority. The Holy Quran says about the Holy Prophet:

"Say, surely I fear, if I disobey my Lord, the chastisement of a grievous day." (The Holy Quran: 6:15, 39:13)

Was it possible, according to Mian Sahib, for the Holy Prophet to disobey his Lord?


"If thou associate (with Allah), thy work would certainly come to naught." (The Holy Quran: 39:65)

Was it possible for the Holy Prophet to indulge in polytheism (shirk)?

"Say then; Had the Compassionate a son, I would have been the first of his worshippers." (The Holy Quran: 43:81)

Is it possible for God to have a son? And:

"If there were in them (earth and heaven) gods besides Allah, they would both have been in disorder." (The Holy Quran: 21:22)

Is it possible that there should be two gods? The words of the hadith are similar in construction to the words of this verse of the Holy Quran. As has been mentioned in the verse that it is not possible to have disorder in the universe, similarly the existence of two gods is not possible. As it was not possible that another prophet would appear after the Holy Prophet, similarly Ibrahim’s not remaining alive was not possible: I wish Mian Sahib had even given some consideration to the point that the Holy Prophet uttered these words after the death of his son Ibrahim. Had he said such words when Ibrahim was alive then it could be said that the word lau (if) was conditional in the sense of in (if). But as the Hadith clearly indicates that he uttered those words after Ibrahim’s death, when it was established that Ibrahim’s remaining alive was itself an impossibility, then, as a matter of course, his becoming a prophet was likewise an impossibility. To derive a meaning of his own choice from this hadith, Mian Sahib has described the word lau merely as conditional, although it is also used for negation (imtina). Shall we then accept the meaning of this hadith in such a manner that it stands in conformity with the other hadith on the subject, or shall we give it such a meaning that will cause us to throw reports of the highest standard in the waste-paper basket? Fourthly, Ibn Majah, just before this hadith, has listed a saying by Abdullah ibn Abu Aufa:

"He said: He (i.e., Ibrahim) dies while he was a child and if it was destined that a prophet should come after the Prophet Muhammad then he would have remained alive, but there will be no prophet after him." (Ibn Majah, Kitab-al-Janaiz, Ch. Prayer for the Messenger’s son and the mention of his death.)

This shows that the words in the report by Abu Shi’bah have not been properly preserved. Moreover, this second version has also been recorded in al-Bukhari, which shows that this is the authentic version.

Wilful Concealment of Truth:

Mian Sahib knows it very well that the reports relating to stories (qasas) have not been preserved so carefully as the reports connected with doctrines of faith and action. Thus to depend on a hadith of a rejected (matruk) reporter and lay undue emphasis on that, and to give a meaning to it contrary to the meanings of other reports, cannot be called an exercise of judgement (ijtihad) but only serving one’s own self-interest. A person can genuinely fall into an error and his argument can also be mistaken, but here the testimony of forty reports of high standard has been set aside on the basis of a rejected reporter (Abu Shi’bah). This is against the honest exercise of judgement. Imam Nawawi has called this hadith presumptuous and a calumny against the Holy Prophet, and Ibn Abdul Bar (a famous Imam of Hadith) has rejected it [Sometimes it is said that Mulla Ali Qari and Baidawi accepted this hadith as true. These two persons were not critics of the Hadith. Therefore, their opinion on this matter is not authentic. Tr.], and apart from this, as has been discussed before, one of its reporters is not reliable. In short, this is an unreliable hadith, and there are other reports which indicate that if it were destined that a prophet should have come after the Prophet Muhammad, then his son would have remained alive, which clearly shows that no prophet can appear after the Holy Prophet. Besides that, the hadith in its present form goes against several authentic and continuous traditions. Mian Sahib has wilfully concealed the truth by singling out this report and giving his own meaning to it, ignoring the other authentic and continuous reports.

I have said above that the hadith under discussion is not authentic. Even if it is accepted as true, the meaning is clear: that is, it was neither decreed that there should be a prophet after the Holy Prophet, nor that Ibrahim should remain alive. In support of this meaning I have cited above a report, both form al-Bukhari and Ibn Majah, and have also quoted a verse of the Holy Quran:

"If there were in them gods besides Allah, they (earth and heaven) would both have been in disorder" (The Holy Quran: 21:22)

Also, I have pointed out that lau (if) has been used for negation. Moreover, no meaning can be ascribed to this single hadith which goes contrary to forty authentic Traditions. The meanings advanced by Mian Sahib also go against another hadith where the Holy Prophet is reported to have said:

"If there had been a prophet after me it would have been Umar" (Tirmizi, Ch. Manaqib Umar)

How could both the statements by the Holy Prophet be correct? On the one hand he is reported to have said "Had there been a prophet after me it would have been Umar"; and on the other, "Had Ibrahim lived he would have become a true prophet". If Ibrahim could become a prophet, had he remained alive, why could Umar not become a prophet, because he did remain alive? If it is said that prophethood runs in the family, like inheritance, then why did the Holy Prophet use such words about Umar? Thus if there was any possibility of Ibrahim’s remaining alive and becoming a prophet, then Umar would certainly have become a prophet, because he remained alive.

After accepting this hadith about Umar as true, Mian Sahib once gave the following reply, which he does not remember now; "If immediately after the death of the Holy Prophet a prophet was needed to take care of his followers, as it was needed after Moses, then Hazrat Umar would have been promoted to the station of prophethood. However, as the Holy Prophet was going to depart from his people, after giving them such a perfect training that would surpass the nation of Moses in virtue and righteousness, therefore, there was no immediate need for the appointment of a prophet."

When would Ibrahim have become a Prophet?

The question is, had Ibrahim remained alive, would he have become a prophet immediately, (i.e., after the death of the Holy Prophet), which was not called for according to Mian Sahib, or after the appearance of the Promised Messiah, because (according to Mian Sahib) no prophet was needed for thirteen hundred years? Perhaps it would be said in reply that Ibrahim died because immediately after the Holy Prophet, no prophet was needed. But would the sky fall if we believe, that, as there was no need of a prophet at all after the Holy Prophet, therefore Ibrahim died? If this hadith indicated the possibility of the continuity of prophethood then, that possibility was of the coming of a prophet immediately – and this did not happen. Now, it is up to Mian Sahib to decide that when no prophet was immediately needed at all after Prophet Muhammad, why did the Holy Prophet utter those words?

This is, thus, the testimony of the Hadith. On the basis of one weak report Mian Sahib wants to reject all the Holy Prophet’s Traditions, the authenticity of which he cannot himself deny.

In short, against the doctrine of the Holy Prophet’s being the Last Prophet or the meaning of Khatam an-Nabiyyin being the ‘Last of the Prophets’, Mian Sahib has not an iota of evidence in his favour and he wants to destroy the rock on which stands the belief of the whole Ummah that the Holy Prophet is the ‘Last of the Prophets’. And the strangest point is that even in this hadith the meaning of Khatam an-Nabiyyin is not the same as advocated by Mian Sahib. Just by quoting a weak hadith Mian Sahib cannot justify his stand. He can vindicate his position when he can list, if not forty, but only four reports and if not four, then, at least one report – if not a report then at least a saying of a Companion of the Holy Prophet – that Khatam an-Nabiyyin meant a person by following whom prophets will be made in future. But let Mian Sahib remember that he may turn over and over the pages of books till the Day of Judgement, yet he will not be able to find the weakest report or even a fabricated one in support of his meaning. And unless he puts forth such a Tradition, his far-fetched interpretation of the other authentic traditions, or his disregard of them completely, is in fact a sheer mockery of religious doctrines. Let him ask all his assistants to make a search for a hadith that will support the meaning given by him to Khatam an-Nabiyyin, [I shall discuss the point later on, that to ascribe such a meaning to the Founder of the Ahmadiyya Movement, is nothing but slander] before he opens his mouth about the other authentic Traditions of the Holy Prophet, otherwise he should worry about his own faith, that in pursuit of his own theories he is intentionally throwing the words of the Holy Prophet behind his back in a most insolent manner.


Books Section > The Last Prophet (Akhri Nabi) by Maulana Muhammad Ali > The Meaning of Khatam an-Nabiyyin in the Hadith


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