Scholars on the meanings of “Khatam al-Nabiyyin”

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم الحمد لله وحده و الصلاة و السلام على من لا نبي بعده و على آله و أصحابه أجمعين

In this post we see quotes from various scholars about the meaning of “khatam al-nabiyyin”. Many issues that are often a subject of discussion among the Muslims and Ahmadis are dealt with in these quotes.


Qatada (d. circa 100 A.H.):

عن قتادة ، في قوله تعالى : ( وخاتم النبيين) قال :  آخر النبيين

It is narrated from Qatadah that he said about the word of Allah, “Wa Khātam al-Nabiyyin”: “[It means] Last of the Prophets.” (Tafsir Abdul Razzaq al-San’ani, Narration 2270)

Hassan al-Basri (d. 110 A.H.):

عن الحسن في قوله { وخاتم النبيين } قال : ختم الله النبيين بمحمد صلى الله عليه وسلم ، وكان آخر من بعث

It is narrated from Hassan [al-Basri] said about the word of Allah, “Wa Khātam al-Nabiyyin”: “Allah completed the series of the Prophets through Muhammad, may Allah bless him, and he is last [of them] in being raised.” (Durr al-Manthur cf. ‘Abd bin Hameed)

Abu Hanifa (d. 150 A.H.):

Imam Mofiq bin Ahmad al-Makki (d. 568 A.H.) narrates:

وتنبأ رجل فى زمن ابى حنيفة رحمه الله وقال امهلونى حتى اجئ بالعلامات فقال ابو حنيفة رحمه الله من طلب منه علامة فقد كفر لقوله عليه السلام « لا نبى بعدى »

A man in the time of Abu Hanifa, may Allah have mercy on him, claimed to be a prophet and said, ‘Allow me to present proofs of my prophethood.’  Abu Hanifa, may Allah have mercy on him, ruled: ‘Anyone who demands a proof of prophethood from him, will also turn a disbeliever, for the Messenger of Allah has said: ‘there is no prophet after me.’’ (Manaqib al-Imam al-‘Azam Abi Hanifa vol.1 p.161, Da’ira al-Ma’arif al-Nizamia, Hyderabad Deccan 1321 A.H.)

This shows that to the greatest of mujtahid Imams any consideration of what a claimant of prophethood may say was tantamount to disbelief. Simple!

Ibn Jarir al-Tabari (d. 310 A.H.):

Commenting on the words “Khātam al-Nabiyyin” he says:

الذي ختم النبوة فطبع عليها، فلا تفتح لأحد بعده إلى قيام الساعة

“He brought the Prophethood to end and sealed it. Now this door will not be opened for anyone till the establishment of Doomsday.” (Tafsir Ibn Jarir al-Tabari)

Al-Zamakhshari (d. 538 A.H.):

فإن قلت : كيف كان آخر الأنبياء وعيسى ينزل في آخر الزمان؟ قلت : معنى كونه آخر الأنبياء أنه لا ينبأ أحد بعده ، وعيسى ممن نبىء قبله ، وحين ينزل ينزل عاملاً على شريعة محمد صلى الله عايه وسلم ، مصلياً إلى قبلته ، كأنه بعض أمته

“If you ask; how can the Holy Prophet be the last of the Prophets when there is the belief that ‘Eisa will come down near the End of the Times before Resurrection? I shall say: The Holy Prophet is the last of the Prophets in the sense that no other person will be raised as a Prophet after him. As for the ‘Eisa (may Allah bless him), he is one of those who had been made the Prophets before the advent of the Holy Prophet. And when he comes again, he will come as a follower of the Shariah of Muhammad, may Allah bless him, and will offer prayers facing his qiblah like any other person of his Ummah.” (al-Kashshaf)

The same has been stated by;

Abu al-Barakat al-Nasafi (d. 710 A.H.) in Tafsir Madarik al-Tanzil
Nizamuddin al-Qumi (d. 728 A.H.) in Tafsir Gharaib al-Qur’an
Abu Sa’ud al-‘Imadi (d. 982 A.H.) in Tafsir Irshad al-‘Aql al-Salim Ila Mazaya al-Qur’an al-Karim
Abu al-Hassan al-Khazin (d. 741 A.H.) in Tafsir Lubab al-Tanzil
Ibn Ujayba (d. 1224 A.H.) in Tafsir Bahr al-Madid

Still if someone has any misgiving about the return of ‘Eisa عليه السلام and its relation to Finality of Prophethood then it is truly unfortunate.

Fakhruddin al-Razi (d. 606 A.H.):

Discussing Qur’an 33:40 and the Prophet’s compassion for his Ummah, he writes;

 وَخَاتَمَ النبيين : وذلك لأن النبي الذي يكون بعده نبي إن ترك شيئاً من النصيحة والبيان يستدركه من يأتي بعده ، وأما من لا نبي بعده يكون أشفق على أمته وأهدى لهم وأجدى ، إذ هو كوالد لولده الذي ليس له غيره من أحد

“In this context, the reason for saying Khātaman-nabiyyin is that, a prophet after whom another prophet is to be raised, leaves the work of admonition and explanation of injunctions somewhat incomplete, and the one coming after him can complete it. But the Prophet after whom no other Prophet is to be raised, is far more compassionate to his Ummah and gives them explicit guidance, for he is like the father who knows that after him his son has no guardian and patron to take care of him.” (Tafsir al-Kabir)

Did Holy Prophet, may Allah bless him, leave anything incomplete? Was the deen not perfected before he died?

Al-‘Izz bin Abdus Salam (d. 660 A.H.):

He comments:

{وَخَاتَمَ النبيين} آخرهم

“{Wa Khatam al-Nabiyyin} (i.e.) Last of them” (Tafsir al-Qur’an li-‘Izz bin Abdus Salam)

Al-Qurtubi (d. 671 A.H.):

The great Spanish Muslim mufassir of the Qur’an quotes another great scholar Ibn Atya as saying;

هَذِهِ الْأَلْفَاظُ عند جَمَاعَةُ عُلَمَاءِ الْأُمَّةِ خَلَفًا وَسَلَفًا مُتَلَقَّاةٌ عَلَى الْعُمُومِ التَّامِّ مُقْتَضِيَةٌ نَصًّا أَنَّهُ لَا نَبِيَّ بَعْدَهُ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ

“To the scholars of the ummah, of (both) the later and earlier times , these words are to be taken in absolute general terms whereby the text necessitates the meaning that there is no prophet after him –may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.” (Tafsir Jami’ li-Ahkam al-Quran)

What a clear testimony that to the scholars of the Ummah these words must be taken in absolute general terms.  No exception to “non-shari’i”, “ummati” or “buruzi” prophet(s)!

Abu Hayyan al-Andalusi (d. 745 A.H.):

ألفاظ تقتضي نصاً أنه لا نبي بعده صلى الله عليه وسلم ، والمعنى أن لا يتنبأ أحد بعده ، ولا يرد نزول عيسى آخر الزمان ، لأنه ممن نبىء قبله ، وينزل عاملاً على شريعة محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم مصلياً إلى قبلته كأنه بعض أمته

“[These] words serve as evidence that there will be no Prophet after him, may Allah bless him. And the meaning is, no one will be made a prophet after him. And this does not contradict the descent of ‘Eisa near the End of Times, for he is one of those who were made prophets before him and he will descend following the shar’iah of Muhammad, may Allah bless him, praying facing his qibah like one from his own people Ummah.” (Tafsir Bahr al-Muhit)

Ibn Kathir (d. 774 A.H.):

فهذه الآية نص في أنه لا نبي بعده، وإذا كان لا نبي بعده فلا رسول [بعده] بطريق الأولى والأحرى؛ لأن مقام الرسالة أخص من مقام النبوة، فإن كل رسول نبي، ولا ينعكس

“This verse categorically states that there will be no Prophet [Nabi] after him. If there will be no Prophet [Nabi] after him then there will surely be no Messenger [Rasul] after him either, because the status of a Messenger is higher than that of a Prophet, for every Messenger is a Prophet but the reverse is not the case.” (Tafsir Ibn Kathir)

Al-Baqa’i (d. 885 A.H.):

أي لأن رسالته عامة ونبوته معها إعجاز القرآن ، فلا حاجة مع ذلك إلى استنباء ولا إرسال ، فلا يولد بعده من يكون نبياً ، وذلك مقتض لئلا يبلغ له ولد يولد منه مبلغ الرجال ، ولو قضي أن يكون بعده نبي لما كان إلا من نسله إكراماً له لأنه أعلى النبيين رتبة وأعظم شرفاً ، وليس لأحد من الأنبياء كرامة إلا وله مثلها أو أعظم منها ، ولو صار أحد من ولده رجلاً لكان نبياً بعد ظهور نبوته ، وقد قضى الله ألا يكون بعده نبي إكراماً له ، روى أحمد وابن ماجه عن أنس وعن ابن عباس رضي الله عنهما أن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال في ابنه إبراهيم : « لو عاش لكان صديقاً نبياً » ، وللبخاري نحوه عن البراء بن عازب رضي الله عنه ، وللبخاري من حديث ابن أبي أوفى رضي الله عنه : لو قضى أن يكون بعد محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم نبي لعاش ابنه ، ولكن لا نبي بعده والحاصل أنه لا يأتي بعده نبي بشرع جديد مطلقاً ولا يتجدد بعده أيضاً استنباء نبي مطلقاً

 {And the seal of the prophets} means as his message is general and his prophethood carries a miracle of the Quran, so there is no more need to assign prophets or messengers, so no prophet is to born after him, and it also entails that none of his children will reach the age of manhood. Because if there were to be a prophet raised after him it would have been from his offspring as an honor to him because he is the highest of the prophets in status and greatest of them in nobility. And there was no honor for any one from amongst the prophets but similar or more of it was due to him. If any of his sons were to reach the age of manhood he would have been a prophet after him. And as an honor to him Allah had decreed that there is no prophet after him. Ahmad and Ibn Majah have narrated from Anas and Ibn ‘Abbas –may Allah be pleased with them both- that the Prophet –may Allah bless him- said about his son Ibrahim: “Had he lived he would have been a Siddiq and a Prophet.” And Bukhari has the same narrated from al-Bara’ bin ‘Aazib –may Allah bless him. And with Bukhari is a narration from Ibn Abi Aufa –may Allah bless him: “If it were decreed for a Prophet to be after Muhammad, may Allah bless him, his son would have lived but there is no Prophet after him.” And the conclusion is that there is no way for a prophet with a new law to come after him and similarly there is no chance of revival of assignment of prophethood after him. (Nazam al-Dorar wa Tanasub al-Ayat wal Suar)

There are many points of consideration here.

  1. Finality of Prophethood means no prophet is to be born after him.
  2. As some of earlier prophet’s had their sons raised to the status of prophethood it demanded that a son of the Prophet reaching the age of manhood should not be denied the same so Allah decreed for his sons not to reach that age. This way he was not denied an honor and was blessed with another honor of being of the last of all of the Prophets.
  3. It also cuts at the roots of the Ahmadiyya’s cunning Appeal of Emotion when they say how come Holy Prophet spiritual power fails to originate another prophet because if it was to be so, some of his sons would have survived him.
  4. At the end al-Baqa’i clarifies; neither a law bearing prophet would come after him nor would prophethood in general be revived after him. The learned scholar clearly mentioned the belief of Muslims denying possibility of the particular, the law-bearing prophet and then the same for in general terms thus clarifying prophethood of any kind is impossible after the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless him.
  5. Just like a) at the end he says revival of “assignment of prophethood” (istinba’ nabi) which does not contradict the return of ‘Eisa, may Allah bless him, for he was born and assigned with prophethood before the Holy Prophet –may Allah bless him.

 Isma’il al-Haqqi (d. 1127 A.H.):

 قرأ عاصم بفتح التاء وهو آلة الختم بمعنى ما يختم به كالطابع بمعنى ما يطبع به . والمعنى وكان آخرهم الذى ختموا به … وقرأ الباقون بكسر التاء اى كان خاتمهم … وهو بالمعنى الاول ايضا … فكانت علماء امته ورثته عليه السلام من جهة الولاية وانقطع ارث النبوة بختميته ولا يقدح فى كونه خاتم النبيين نزول عيسى بعده لان معنى كونه خاتم النبيين انه لا ينبأ احد بعده كما قال لعلى رضى الله عنه « انت منى بمنزلة هارون من موسى الا انه لا نبى بعدى » وعيسى ممن تنبأ قبله وحين ينزل انما ينزل على شريعة محمد عليه السلام مصليا الى قبلته كأنه بعض امته فلا يكون اليه وحى ولا نصب احكام بل يكون خليفة رسول الله … وقال اهل السنة والجماعة لا نبى بعد نبينا لقوله تعالى { ولكن رسول الله وخاتم النبيين } وقوله عليه السلام « لا نبى بعدى » ومن قال بعد نبينا نبى يكفر لانه انكر النص وكذلك لو شك فيه لان الحجة تبين الحق من الباطل . ومن ادعى النبوة بعد موت لا يكون دعواه الا باطلا

“’Asim has read the word as “Khātam”, which is the sealing instrument with which things are sealed. It implied that Holy Prophet came at the end and in him the line of the Prophets was closed and sealed … Some people have read it as “Khātim”, which means the one who put a seal … Thus, “Khātim” also is a synonym of “Khātam” … Henceforth the scholars of his Ummah will only inherit him in walayat (sainthood), the inheritance of the Prophethood having been brought to a close in him. And the second coming of Prophet ‘Eisa does not affect the Holy Prophet’s being the last Prophet, for Khātam al-nabiyyin means that no other prophet will be raised after him as he said to the Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, “You are unto me like Harun was to Musa except that there is no prophet after me.” And ‘Eisa had been raised a Prophet before him. When he comes the second time, he will come as a follower of the shari’ah of Muhammad, may Allah bless him. He will offer the prayer facing his qiblah, like any other man belonging to his Ummah. He will neither receive revelation nor issue new commands, but he will be a caliph of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless him … And the followers of the Sunnah believe that there is no prophet after our Holy Prophet, for Allah has said: “But he is Messenger of Allah and the last of the Prophets,” and the Holy Prophet has declared: “There is no prophet after me.” Now whoever says that there is a prophet after our Holy Prophet, will be declared a kafir, for he has denied a fundamental article of the faith; likewise, the one who doubts it, will also be declared a kafir, for the Truth has been made distinct from falsehood. And the claim of the one who claims to be a Prophet after the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless him, can be nothing but imposture.” (Tafsir Ruh al-Bayan)

Al-Shaukani (d. 1250 A.H.):

وقرأ الجمهور : « خاتم » بكسر التاء . وقرأ عاصم بفتحها . ومعنى القراءة الأولى : أنه ختمهم ، أي جاء آخرهم . ومعنى القراءة الثانية : أنه صار كالخاتم لهم الذي يتختمون به ويتزينون بكونه منهم

“The majority of the scholars have read the word as “Khātim” and ‘Asim as “Khātam”. According to the first reading, it would mean: “The Holy Prophet closed the lines of the Prophets i.e. he came at the end of them.” And according to the second reading it means, “He was like a seal for them, with which their line was sealed, and with whose inclusion their group was embellished.””(Fath al-Qadir)

Conclusion:

  1. Top scholars from various times in Islamic history agree that “khatam al-Nabiyyin” simply means last of the prophets with whom the lines of prophets came to end. And even a possible consideration of what any claimant of prophethood after the Holy Prophet, may Allah bless him, may say is tantamount to disbelief.
  2. “Khatam” or “khatim” make no difference and the significance remains the same i.e. Final Seal of Prophets.
  3. Return of ‘Eisa عليه السلام is not against the Finality of Prophethood for what it signifies is that no new prophet will be born and no one will be assigned prophethood after the Holy Prophet, may Allah bless him. And we know ‘Eisa عليه السلام was born and assigned with prophethood before the Holy Prophet, may Allah bless him.
  4. And al-Baqa’i stating the unanimous belief of the Ummah first denied the possibility of more specifically a law-bearing prophet and then followed it by categorical mention that assignment of prophethood will not be revived after the Holy Prophet صلى الله عليه و سلم. Thus he clarified the Muslim belief that there will not be any kind of prophethood now.
  5. The scholars of the Ummah have always taken the words “khatam al-nabiyyin” to signify the end of Prophethood in absolute general terms leaving room for no exception at all.

I hope these references help the common Ahmadis to have an idea of what the real beliefs of the greatest scholars of this Ummah have been. It’s a call to give up the slavery of the cult and return to the Ummah of the Holy Prophet Muhammad al-Mustafa صلى الله عليه و سلم.

* For all the references to Tafasir check under ayah 40 of surah 33.

Indeed Allah knows the best!

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11 thoughts on “Scholars on the meanings of “Khatam al-Nabiyyin”

  1. Disagreement with some scholars on the issue of the finality of Prophethood is not something that can harm the Ahmadiyya. These scholars merely did ijtihad on this matter, yet they are respected and honored by the Ahmadiyya. May Allah bless all of them and grant them an elevated station in Paradise! Amin!

    • So, let me get this straight…

      * You recognize that the earliest Muslims believed differently than Ahmadiyya does.
      * And you recognize that the earliest Muslims were upon the Truth.
      * You recognize that Ahmadiyya was therefore not the earliest “version” of Islam.

      Yet, you still believe Ahmadiyya is the truth?

      How could a human mind accept such a thing?

      • You did not read my post properly. I said “some” early scholars have a different viewpoint as compared to the Ahmadiyya. “Some other” scholars of the same time differed with those scholars. They all had differences of opinion in various matters, including they way they understood the finality of Prophethood.

        You are either too naive to suggest such black and white beliefs of ‘all’ the early Muslims, or very cunning to misguide the lay man.

    • Like many basic Usool issues, ahmadis are cluless,
      An issue that is established upon primary evidence and is agreed upon, is not an issue open for or necessitating ijtihad.
      The issue of finality of prophethood is agreed upon by both sunni and shia imams, there is no disagreement and no scope for ijtehad.
      The claim of a prophet has never been open to ijtihad, anyone who rejects a prophet is a kafir
      so according to the ahmadiiya cult the mahdi is a prophet and this is established from clear evidence, so it follow that all those people above are kafir for rejecting his prophethood.

  2. sultan these are not some second-hand tafsir of Surah Ahzab verse 33:40

    so think plz why these scholars beliefs are against Ahmadiyya beliefs

    • I second this question!
      Many of these scholars are officially accepted by the Ahmadiyya, but they jettison their words when its convenient.

  3. Also it this article explains how return of ESA(AS) is not against Seal of prophethood

    thanks brother Waqar for great work as usual

    plz Share

  4. Some additional input

    In Todd Lawson’s book, “Christ and the Crucifixtion”, he quotes Zamakhshari in terms of 3:55. It is interesting to note that Zamakhshari translated Mutawafeeka as death, however, he held the belied that Esa (as) would return physically. This is the example of how, when and where a Muslim believed in the death of Esa (as).

    Summary:

    The return of Esa (as) whether he died or not, doesnt affect the finality of the prophethood of Muhammad.

  5. The return of Isa a.s in his second coming, is a separate issue. It does not mean that chain of Prophet hood is open. This subject is a non issue for Muslims. However Ahmadis are caught up in a mess, since MGAQ made several false claims of being Imam mahdi, messiah, a prophet ……….and so on. So now the Ahmadis are confused and as a result keep dancing around the subject and shamelessly keep changing the meanings of Holy Quran and Hadith, to suit their claim that the worst creature on Earth MGAQ (who even abused Allah s.w.t and his true Messengers pbut) was somehow right. Ahmadis please open your eyes and see the truth. In the end you are to blame yourself not anyone else.

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