Scholars on the Meanings of Khatam an-Nabiyyin


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Waqar Akbar Cheema


There are many groups that assert that there was some kind of prophet after Prophet Muhammad – peace and blessings be upon him. One of the more prominent groups is the Ahmadiyya. This article will illustrate many views from various scholars to show the clear meaning of the Qur’anic verse, “Wa khatam an-nabiyyin.” These scholars conclusively prove that our beloved Prophet – peace and blessings be upon him – is definitely the final prophet and the seal of all of the prophets. The coming of ‘Eesa during the end of times does not contradict this either, as will be made evident. Upon reading this article, there can be no further dispute on the position on the noble scholars of the Sunnah.

1. Introduction

Ahmadiyya community believes in Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian (d. 1908 CE) as a prophet reformer. What’s is particularly relevant to Muslims is that the Ahmadis try to interpret Islamic sources in a way that finds room for prophethood after the Last and Final Messenger Muhammad, may the peace and blessings of Almighty Allah be upon him. The Muslims from the very beginning have unanimously believed that there can never be a Prophet after the Noble Prophet who died over 1400 years ago. Ahmadiyya go as far as twisting the most categorical proofs of the Finality in Prophethood belief and also the understanding of these proofs by scholars of the past centuries. In this paper we present quotes from prominent scholars of past centuries to enable the readers to critically analyze the claims of the Ahmadiyya.

2. Statements of the Scholars

2.1 Qatadah (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 Khatam an-Nabiyyin”: “[It means the] last of the prophets.”[1]

2.2 Hasan 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 that Hasan [al-Basri] said about the word of Allah, “Wa Khatam an-Nabiyyin”: “Allah completed the series of the prophets through Muhammad – may Allah bless him – and he is last [of them] in being raised.”[2]

2.3 Abu Hanifah (d. 150 A.H.)

Imam Mufiq 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 Hanifah claimed to be a prophet and said, ‘Allow me to present proofs of my prophethood.’ Abu Hanifah – 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.’’[3]

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

2.4 Ibn Jarir at-Tabari (d. 310 A.H.)

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

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

“He brought the prophethood to an end and sealed it. Now, this door will not be opened for anyone till the establishment of Doomsday.”[4]

2.5 Az-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 blessed Prophet be the last of the prophets when there is the belief that ‘Eesa will come down near the end of times before the Resurrection? I shall say: The blessed Prophet is the last of the prophets in the sense that no other person will be raised as a prophet after him. As for ‘Eesa – may Allah bless him – he is one of those who had been made a prophet before the advent of the blessed 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.”[5]

The same has been stated by:

Abul-Barakat an-Nasafi (d. 710 A.H.) in Tafseer Madarik at-Tanzeel

Nizam ud-Deen al-Qumi (d. 728 A.H.) in Tafseer Gharayb al-Qur’an

Abul-Hasan al-Khazin (d. 741 A.H.) in Tafseer Lubab at-Tanzeel

Abu Sa’ud al-‘Imadi (d. 982 A.H.) in Tafseer Irshad al-‘Aql al-Saleem Ila Mazaya al-Qur’an al-Kareem

Ibn Ujaybah (d. 1224 A.H.) in Tafseer Bahr al-Madid

If someone has any misgiving about the return of ‘Eesa – peace be upon him – and the finality of prophethood after all of the statements of the previous scholars, then that is truly unfortunate.

2.6 Fakhr ud-Deen ar-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 Khatam an-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.”[6]

Did blessed Prophet – peace be upon him – leave anything incomplete? Was the religion not perfected before he died?

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

He comments:

{وَخَاتَمَ النبيين} آخرهم

“Wa Khatam an-Nabiyyin (means the) last of them.”[7]

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

The great Spanish Muslim commentator 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.”[8]

What a clear testimony that to the scholars of the Ummah these words must be taken in absolute general terms. No exception to any of the people who claimed to be prophets after Prophet Muhammad – peace and blessings be upon him!

2.9 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 that no one will be made a prophet after him. And this does not contradict the descent of ‘Eesa 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.”[9]

2.10 Ibn Katheer (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 after him. If there will be no prophet after him, then there will surely be no messenger 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.”[10]

2.11 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 Qur’an, 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 anyone 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 Ibraheem: “Had he lived he would have been a siddiq and a prophet.” And Bukhari has the same narrated from al-Bara’ bin ‘Aazib. And with Bukhari is a narration from Ibn Abi Awfa: “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.”[11]

There are many points of consideration here:

1. The finality of prophethood means no prophet is to be born after him.

2. As some of the earlier prophets 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 ask how the blessed Prophet’s 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 that 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 blessed Prophet Muhammad – may Allah bless him.

5. At the end, he says revival of the “assignment of prophethood (istinba’ nabi)” does not contradict the return of ‘Eesa – may Allah bless him – for he was born and assigned with prophethood before the blessed Prophet – peace be upon him.

2.12 Isma’eel 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 “khatam,” which is the sealing instrument with which things are sealed. It implied that the blessed 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 ‘Eesa does not affect the blessed Prophet’s being the last prophet, for Khātam an-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 Haroon was to Moosa except that there is no prophet after me.” And ‘Eesa 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 blessed Prophet Muhammad – may Allah bless him….And the followers of the Sunnah believe that there is no prophet after our blessed Prophet, for Allah has said: “But he is Messenger of Allah and the last of the prophets,” and the blessed Prophet has declared: “There is no prophet after me.” Now whoever says that there is a prophet after our blessed Prophet, will be declared a disbeliever, for he has denied a fundamental article of the faith; likewise, the one who doubts it, will also be declared a disbeliever, for the truth has been made distinct from falsehood. And the claim of the one who claims to be a prophet after the blessed Prophet Muhammad – may Allah bless him – can be nothing but imposture.”[12]

2.13 Ash-Shawkani (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.”[13]

2.14 Conclusion

  1. Top scholars from various times in Islamic history agree that “Khatam an-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 blessed Prophet – peace and blessings be upon him – may say is tantamount to disbelief.
  2. Whether the verse is read as “khatam” or “khatim” makes no difference as the significance remains the same (the final seal of prophets).
  3. The return of ‘Eesa 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 blessed Prophet – peace and blessings be upon him. And we know ‘Eesa was born and assigned with prophethood before the noble Prophet – may Allah bless him.
  4. Al-Baqa’i states the unanimous belief of the Ummah denying the possibility of more specifically a law-bearing prophet and then followed it by categorical mention that the assignment of prophethood will not be revived after the blessed Prophet – peace be upon him. 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 an-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 noble Prophet Muhammad – peace and blessings be upon him.


[1] as-San’ani, ‘Abdur-Razzaq, Tafseer al-Qur’an, (Beirut: Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiyah, 1419 AH) Narration 2270

[2]  as-Suyooti, Jalal ad-Deen, Durr al-Manthur, (Beirut: Dar al-Fekr, n.d.) Vol.6, 617

[3] al-Makki, Ibn Ahmad Mufiq, Manaqib al-Imam al-‘Azam Abi Hanifah, (Hyderabad: Da’ira al-Ma’arif al-Nizamia, 1321 AH) Vol.1, 161

[4] at-Tabari, Jami’ al-Bayan fi Ta’weel al-Qur’an¸(Beirut: ar-Risalah Publications, 2000) Vol.20, 278

[5] az-Zamakhshari, al-Kashshaf ’an Haqa’iq Ghawamiz al-Tanzeel, (Beirut: Dar Ihya at-Turath al-‘Arabi, 1407 AH) Vol.3, 544

[6] ar-Razi, Fakhr ud-Deen, Mafateeh al-Ghayb, (Beirut: Dar Ihya’ al-Turath, 1420 AH) Vol.25, 171

[7] Ibn ‘Abdus-Salam, al-‘Izz, Tafseer al-Qur’an, (Beirut: Dar Ibn Hazm, 1996) Vol.2, 581

[8]al-Qurtubi, Tafseer Jami’ li-Ahkam al-Qur’an, (Cairo: Dar al-Kutab al-Misriyya, 1964) Vol.14, 196

[9] al-Andalusi, Abu Hayyan, al-Bahr al-Muheet fi al-Tafseer, (Beirut: Dar al-Fekr, 1420 AH) Vol.8, 485

[10]Ibn Katheer, Tafseer al- Qur’an al-‘Azeem, (Beirut: Dar al-Kotob al-Ilmiyya, 1419 AH) Vol.6, 381

[11] al-Baqa’i, Nazam al-Durar wa Tanasub al-Ayat wal Suar, (Cairo: Dar al-Kitab al-Islami, n.d.) Vol.15, 364-365

[12]al-Haqqi, Isma‘eel, Tafseer Rooh al-Bayan, (Beirut: Dar al-Fekr, n.d.) Vol7, 188

[13]ash-Shawkani, Fath al-Qadeer, (Damascus/Beirut: Dar Ibn Katheer/Dar al-Kalim at-Tayyab, 1414 AH) Vol.4, 329

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