Bahá’í Proofs from the Qur’an: III

A man quietly offers his devotion to Allah in the Al-Jazzar Mosque in Akka, Israel



 The verse designating Muhammad as the “Seal of the Prophets” is as follows:

“Muhammad is not the father of any man among you, but He is the Apostle of God, and the Seal of the Prophets: and God knoweth all things.” (Ahzab – 33:40)

 مَّا كَانَ مُحَمَّدٌ أَبَآ أَحَدٍ۬ مِّن رِّجَالِكُمۡ وَلَـٰكِن رَّسُولَ ٱللَّهِ وَخَاتَمَ ٱلنَّبِيِّـۧنَۗ وَكَانَ ٱللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَىۡءٍ عَلِيمً۬ا

         This has been interpreted by Muslims to mean that the doors of Prophethood have been closed forever.  Let us consider the following points to see whether such an understanding is correct:


1. The Jews were required by Exodus 31:16-17 to keep the Sabbath as an eternal covenant: “Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual Covenant.  It is a sign between me and the children of Israel forever.” Both Jesus and Muhammad broke the Sabbath. Does it mean that they were wrong?


2. Jesus has been referred to in Revelation 1:11 [1:8, 2:8, Editor], as Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last. Likewise He said in Luke 21:33 “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away”. If Jesus was to be the Last, why did Muhammad appear after Him? If the words of Jesus were not to be changed, why did Muhammad reveal the Qur’an?


3. The reason why such verses are found in the Holy Books is that all the Prophets of God are one in their reality. What applies to one applies to all. The following verses demonstrate this point:

                a. “Say ye: ‘We believe in God, and that which hath been sent down to us, and that which hath been sent down to Abraham and Ismael and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes: and that which hath been given to Moses and to Jesus, and that which hath been given to the Prophets from their Lord. No difference do we make between any of them.’” (Baqarah – 2:130)

                قُولُوٓاْ ءَامَنَّا بِٱللَّهِ وَمَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَيۡنَا وَمَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَىٰٓ إِبۡرَٲهِـۧمَ وَإِسۡمَـٰعِيلَ وَإِسۡحَـٰقَ وَيَعۡقُوبَ وَٱلۡأَسۡبَاطِ وَمَآ أُوتِىَ مُوسَىٰ وَعِيسَىٰ وَمَآ أُوتِىَ ٱلنَّبِيُّونَ مِن رَّبِّهِمۡ لَا نُفَرِّقُ بَيۡنَ أَحَدٍ۬ مِّنۡهُمۡ

                b. “We make no distinction between any of His Apostles.”  (Baqarah – 2:285)

                                                             لَا نُفَرِّقُ بَيۡنَ أَحَدٍ۬ مِّن رُّسُلِهِۦ‌ۚ

                c. “Verily we have revealed to thee as we revealed to Noah and the Prophets after him, and as we revealed to Abraham, and Ismael, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the tribes, and Jesus, and Job, and Jonah, and Aaron, and Solomon; and to David gave We Psalms.” (Nisa – 4:161)

 إِنَّآ أَوۡحَيۡنَآ إِلَيۡكَ كَمَآ أَوۡحَيۡنَآ إِلَىٰ نُوحٍ۬ وَٱلنَّبِيِّـۧنَ مِنۢ بَعۡدِهِۦ‌ۚ وَأَوۡحَيۡنَآ إِلَىٰٓ إِبۡرَٲهِيمَ وَإِسۡمَـٰعِيلَ وَإِسۡحَـٰقَ وَيَعۡقُوبَ وَٱلۡأَسۡبَاطِ وَعِيسَىٰ وَأَيُّوبَ وَيُونُسَ وَهَـٰرُونَ وَسُلَيۡمَـٰنَ‌ۚ وَءَاتَيۡنَا دَاوُ ۥدَ زَبُورً۬ا


 4. The Qur’an teaches that God’s Revelation is endless; its source is inexhaustible:

                a. “Should the sea become ink, to write the words of my Lord, the sea would surely fail ere the words of my Lord would fail, though we brought its like in aid.” (Kahf – 18:109)   

 لَّوۡ كَانَ ٱلۡبَحۡرُ مِدَادً۬ا لِّكَلِمَـٰتِ رَبِّى لَنَفِدَ ٱلۡبَحۡرُ قَبۡلَ أَن تَنفَدَ كَلِمَـٰتُ رَبِّى وَلَوۡ جِئۡنَا بِمِثۡلِهِۦ مَدَدً۬ا


               b. “If all the trees that are upon the earth were to become pens, and if God should after that swell the sea into seven seas of ink, His words would not be exhausted: for God is Mighty, Wise” (Luqman – 31:26)

 وَلَوۡ أَنَّمَا فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ مِن شَجَرَةٍ أَقۡلَـٰمٌ۬ وَٱلۡبَحۡرُ يَمُدُّهُ ۥ مِنۢ بَعۡدِهِۦ سَبۡعَةُ أَبۡحُرٍ۬ مَّا نَفِدَتۡ كَلِمَـٰتُ ٱللَّهِ‌ۗ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ۬

              c. Referring to the Jews, the Qur’an criticizes them in the words: “’The hand of God,’ say the Jews, ‘is chained up’. Their own hands shall be chained up – and for that which they have said shall they be cursed. Nay! outstretched are both His hands! At His own pleasure does He bestow gifts.” (Ma’idah – 5:69)

 وَقَالَتِ ٱلۡيَہُودُ يَدُ ٱللَّهِ مَغۡلُولَةٌ‌ۚ غُلَّتۡ أَيۡدِيہِمۡ وَلُعِنُواْ بِمَا قَالُواْ‌ۘ بَلۡ يَدَاهُ مَبۡسُوطَتَانِ يُنفِقُ كَيۡفَ يَشَآءُ‌ۚ


5. Muhammad assures us that God by His behest is free to send His Chosen One to men:

                a. “By His own behest will He cause the angel to descend with the Spirit on whom He pleaseth among His servants, bidding them, ‘Warn that there is no God but Me; therefore, fear Me.’” (Nahl – 16:2)

 يُنَزِّلُ ٱلۡمَلَـٰٓٮِٕكَةَ بِٱلرُّوحِ مِنۡ أَمۡرِهِۦ عَلَىٰ مَن يَشَآءُ مِنۡ عِبَادِهِۦۤ أَنۡ أَنذِرُوٓاْ أَنَّهُ ۥ لَآ إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّآ أَنَا۟ فَٱتَّقُونِ

              b. “God chooseth Messengers from among the angels and from among men: verily God Heareth, Seeth.”  (Hajj – 22:75)

                  ٱللَّهُ يَصۡطَفِى مِنَ ٱلۡمَلَـٰٓٮِٕڪَةِ رُسُلاً۬ وَمِنَ ٱلنَّاسِ‌ۚ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ سَمِيعُۢ بَصِيرٌ۬

 6. Another interesting point we find in the Qur’an is the setting forth of a universal principle governing the appearance of the Messengers of God. This principle which has no exceptions and therefore does not exclude Islam, provides that any people who receive the Messenger of God are given a fixed term or appointed time. At such an appointed time, a Divine Book is revealed by God through His Messenger, which seals the past term and starts the new one. Here are the verses:

                a. “Every people hath its set term. And when their time is come, they shall not retard it an hour; and they shall not advance it.” (A’raf – 7:33)

              وَلِكُلِّ أُمَّةٍ أَجَلٌ۬‌ۖ فَإِذَا جَآءَ أَجَلُهُمۡ لَا يَسۡتَأۡخِرُونَ سَاعَةً۬‌ۖ وَلَا يَسۡتَقۡدِمُونَ

                b. “To each term its Book. What He pleaseth will God abrogate or confirm; for with Him is the Source of Revelation.” (Ra’d – 13:38)

 يَمۡحُواْ ٱللَّهُ مَا يَشَآءُ وَيُثۡبِتُ‌ۖ وَعِندَهُ ۥۤ أُمُّ ٱلۡڪِتَـٰبِ  لِكُلِّ أَجَلٍ۬ ڪِتَابٌ۬ 

                c. “Neither too soon, nor too late, shall a people reach its appointed time.” (Mu’minun – 23:43)

                                                             مَا تَسۡبِقُ مِنۡ أُمَّةٍ أَجَلَهَا وَمَا يَسۡتَـٔۡخِرُونَ

 7. From the verses we have so far quoted under this section, two points emerge which prove that the expression “Seal of the Prophets” cannot mean the end of Divine Revelation. The two points are:

                a. In view of the oneness of the Prophets of God, a title which applies to one of them could apply to all of them.

                b. God’s revelation is endless, His freedom to send His Chosen Ones to us is unrestricted, and He has fixed for each religion its appointed time.     Why, then, was Muhammad designated as “Seal of the Prophets”? This is what we shall consider in our next point.


 8. A distinction is made in the Qur’an between two words: “nabi” (prophet) and “rasool” (apostle or messenger). Note this verse:

    “We have not sent any Apostle, nor any Prophet before Thee ….” (Hajj – 22:51)

 وَمَآ أَرۡسَلۡنَا مِن قَبۡلِكَ مِن رَّسُولٍ۬ وَلَا نَبِىٍّ

     Also note in the following two verses how Moses is referred to as an Apostle as well as a Prophet, but Aaron, the brother of Moses, is referred to merely as a Prophet:

    “And commemorate Moses in the Book; for He was a Man of purity; moreover He was an Apostle and a Prophet.” (Maryam – 19:52)

 وَٱذۡكُرۡ فِى ٱلۡكِتَـٰبِ مُوسَىٰٓ‌ۚ إِنَّهُ ۥ كَانَ مُخۡلَصً۬ا وَكَانَ رَسُولاً۬ نَّبِ

     “And we bestowed on Him (Moses) in our mercy His brother, Aaron, a Prophet.” (Maryam – 19:54)                                                                          

وَوَهَبۡنَا لَهُ ۥ مِن رَّحۡمَتِنَآ أَخَاهُ هَـٰرُونَ نَبِ

     The word “nabi” (prophet) means “he who foretells” a future event; whereas “rasool” means “he who is sent with a message” from God. All the Chosen Ones of God were “nabi”s or prophets because they warned their people and foretold the advent of the most great event in religious history, the Day of Judgment, which, it is interesting to note, is referred to in the Qur’an (Surah 78) as the “Naba” (The News) – a word from the same root as “nabi”. A “nabi”, therefore, according to the usage of the Qur’an becomes more specific and acquires the meaning of “he who foretells the Day of Judgment.”

     The Qur’anic verse quoted above designating Muhammad as the “Seal”, does not state that Muhammad is the seal of the “rasool”s (Apostles or Messengers), but only the Seal of the “nabi”s (Prophets prophesying about the Day of Judgment). The verse does not imply, therefore, that there will be no more Apostles or Messengers to be sent by God, but merely states that Muhammad (also called a “Warner” – See 33:44-45) is the Last of God’s Chosen Ones to warn and prepare the world for the advent of the Day of Judgment, and immediately upon the termination of His Dispensation, the Day of Judgment, itself, shall come. This is precisely what the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh have announced: that their Day, which immediately followed Muhammad’s Dispensation, is the completion and fulfillment of the prophecies of all past religions, the advent of the promised Day of Judgment.


 9. In the light of the above explanation on the difference between “nabi” and “rasool”, how reassuring, then, become these heart-warming words of the Qur’an:

    “O Children of Adam! There shall come to you Apostles (rasool’s) from among yourselves, rehearsing My signs to you; and whoso shall fear God and do good works, no fear shall come upon them, neither shall they be put to grief.” (A’raf – 7:35)

 يَـٰبَنِىٓ ءَادَمَ إِمَّا يَأۡتِيَنَّكُمۡ رُسُلٌ۬ مِّنكُمۡ يَقُصُّونَ عَلَيۡكُمۡ ءَايَـٰتِى‌ۙ فَمَنِ ٱتَّقَىٰ وَأَصۡلَحَ فَلَا خَوۡفٌ عَلَيۡہِمۡ وَلَا هُمۡ يَحۡزَنُونَ

     The Bahá’ís believe that Muhammad was indeed the Seal of the Prophets, that the Day of Judgment has come, that two of God’s Apostles, the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh, have already appeared, and have taught in their Writings how God’s revelations are continuous and progressive, and will continue to be sent to man in ages to come.

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