THE PROPHET OF ISLAM: THE SEAL OF THE PROPHETS THE REAL MEANING OF THE SEAL OF THE PROPHETS
The Prophet of Islam is the last of God’s prophets and with him the cycle of prophethood comes to an end and this is one of the “essential beliefs of Islam.”
The true meaning of “essential” here is that anybody who enters the rank and file of the Muslims would soon realize that all followers of the Prophet believe him to be the last. In other words, such a person would soon realize that Muslims agree unanimously on the principle that Mu¦ammad(s) is the last of the prophets in the same way that they emphasize the principle of monotheism and no Muslim is awaiting the arrival of another Prophet.
In fact, with the Prophet’s mission, human civilization and perfection are now on their right paths and have reached a mature status to be able to stay on their own course. Now man can solve his problems through his use of Islam’s complete codes of instructions and teachings.
This notion could be expressed in another way:
Islam is the most complete and ultimate stage in Youth evolution of human civilization. In its ideology, Islam is the most complete and in practice, Islamic laws deal with all human needs.
THE REASONS WHY THE PROPHET IS THE LAST PROPHET
To verify this claim, we will present three clear reasons hare:
The necessity behind Muammad’s being the last Prophet: We have seen so far that anybody who comes into contact with a Muslim would realize that he or she believes that the Prophet of Islam is the last Prophet.
Therefore, if anybody accepted Islam through logical reasoning, he has to accept this principle. And since in the previous lectures we dealt with the legitimacy and authenticity of this religion, we have to accept and believe that the Prophet of Islam is the last Prophet.
Some verses of the Holy Quran deal with this principle. An example is the following:
“Moammad is not the father of any of your men, but he is the Apostle of Allah and the seal of the prophets.” [Qur’¡n 33:40]
This interpretation came into being at a time when the adoption of sons was a common practice among Arabs. They used to accept as their son somebody else’s son whom they adopted their own. That child would be adopted and accepted in the family circle and even got some share in the inheritance.
Islam put an end to such a backward custom, and adopted sons no longer benefited from inheritance.
Among these was Zayd, the adopted son of the Prophet of Islam. Thus, this verse says: Instead of introducing the Prophet of Islam as the father of a specific individual, define him through two of his real characteristics: i.e. his prophethood and his being the last Prophet.
This interpretation reveals the fact that this principle was an accepted and generally verified fact. Now we would like to know the real meaning of finality as related to the Prophet’s mission. The word “Khatam” comes from the word “Khatm,” meaning “final.” For instance, a seal at the end of a letter is called khatm or finisher.
In Islamic narrations, we read that when the Prophet(s) decided to write letters to the rulers in those days to invite them to the new religion, he was told to stamp and seal his letters with a seal because it was the habit of Iranian rulers and statesmen not to accept any letter that was not sealed. For this reason, the Prophet(s) ordered his men to make a ring for him on the signet of which was written:
“There is no associate for God and Mu¦ammad is God’s messenger.” From then on letters were sealed with this ring.
Thus, the true meaning of “kh¡tam” is something that completes.
There are numerous narrations, as well, which irrevocably prove the fact that the Prophet of Islam is the last prophet.
Some of these narrations are as follows:
In an authentic narration from J¡bir Ibn `Abdull¡h, the Prophet(s) said:
“Among the prophets I am like the last brick in the construction of a building. Everybody who looks at the building admires it. They say: this building is beautiful except for the fact that one brick is missing. I am that missing brick. I am the completer in the line of the Prophets.”(۱)
Imam sadiq (s) says:
“What Mu¦ammad made ¦al¡l [i.e. something considered Islamically permissible by the Prophet(s)] would be ¦al¡l until the Day of Resurrection Day. And what he made ¦ar¡m [i.e. something prohibited by Islam] would be ¦ar¡m until the Day of resurrection.”(۲)
In a well-known narration, narrated by both Shiah and Sunni traditionists, we read that the Prophet told Imam `Al¢(s):
“You are to me as Aaron was to Moses except for the fact that there will be no Prophet after me.”
There are ten other narrations like this one, in the literature.
There are some issues concerning Mu¦ammad as the Last Prophet:
Some say, if the mission of the prophets is a divine benefit, why should the people of these days be deprived of such a benefit? Why should there not be a leader to guide people today?
Those who utter such words are ignorant of the fact that the deprivation of the people today of having a Prophet could not be considered as a weak-point for people; rather, due to the fact that people of the world have matured sufficiently, there is no need for another Prophet. These people could use Islamic guidelines to continue their lives.
To clarify the issue, let us give an example: There have been five prophets who brought divine books (i.e. those in authority); they were Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and the Prophet of Islam(s). Each one of these had tried to lead the people of the world during an era in human history. Each Prophet then passed on his mission to the next. This succession of missions continued up to the point when the people of the world had arrived at their destination. This resembles the act of a student who finishes his stages of education up to the time when he graduates from university.
Now, if a doctor does not attend either elementary school or participate in BA programs, it does not mean that he does not deserve to attend school. Rather, it implies that he has enough knowledge now to make him capable of solving his own problems and make progress in life.
Still, another question may be raised, human society is always in a stare of flux; everything is changing rapidly. How could Islam, with its unchanging laws, care for human needs today?
Now, let us answer this important question: There are two series of laws in Islam. One series of laws are like man’s specific traits, unchangeable, such as struggling: struggle against injustice and the like.
Naturally, with the passage of time, there will appear all sorts of useful social, trade and political contracts which could be considered under the above principle.
There is, yet, another principle, that says, “Any verdict or rule which could be detrimental to the individual’s wellbeing should be deleted from the system of laws.”
You would notice how such general Islamic laws could be useful in solving human problems. There are many good laws like these in Islam. With the help of such rules, we were able to solve the perplexing obstacles and difficulties related to the Islamic Revolution in recent years.
Still, another question might be raised: No doubt, we will need a guide to solve our religious problems, however, in the absence of a Prophet and his substitute, there might be some obstacles facing Islam. As a result, is this not a blow against Islam?
To answer this question: We should know that Islam has made provision for this issue. It has entrusted us with the wil¡yat al-faq¢h which means that a learned and pious jurisprudent can solve the problems of the Muslims. The way to recognize such a social and religious position is explicitly stated in Islamic law.
Therefore, there is no need to worry.
Thus, wil¡yat al-faq¢h is the continuation of the mission of the prophets and the Infallibles (s).
Therefore, Islamic societies should never lack leaders.(1)
(۱)For further information see the book called A Design for the Is lamic Government written by this author.
THINK AND ANSWER
What is meant by the statement: The Prophet of Islam is the Last Prophet?
How could we derive this principle from the verses of the Holy Qur’¡n?
Why should the people of our time be deprived of having another Prophet?
How many types of Islamic laws are there?
How could they cope with the needs of our people today?
Can an Islamic society be without a leader?
How is the issue of leadership solved in our time?