On the Finality of Prophet Muhammad

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By Hajir Moghaddam

Editor’s Note:  The following analysis is offered by one of the site’s readers and is shared as a means of welcoming an informed discussion of this issue.  Iran Press Watch will be glad to publish follow-up pieces by its readers as a means of fostering greater Islam-Baha’i interfaith dialogue.

One of the main reasons that Muslims consider Baha’is to be apostates is that Muslims interpret the Qur’an to say that Muhammad is the last Prophet and the Messenger of God to earth.  In this regard, certain terms are used which require a careful discussion.

Here is an analysis of these terms from one Baha’i perspective, though it is recognized that other perspectives exist as well.

To Baha’is, the Prophet Muhammad is in a very real sense the Last Prophet and Messenger — Baha’u’llah is what we call a Manifestation of God, who fulfills the role of the Qur’anic “Announcement” and “Sender”.  Of course, from the Baha’i perspective, a Manifestation is also seen as One Who is like a mirror who reflects in this world the Will and Attributes of the One Ultimate but Unknowable God.

The Relationship between Messengers (rusul), Prophets (anbiya), the Announcement (naba), and the Sender (mursil)

The chapter about the great news (awful tidings, great event, mighty tidings, mighty event, tremendous announcement, grand news, awesome tidings) begins:

Quran 78:2 Aani alnaba-i alAatheemi: Concerning the Great News

The word used in this verse, naba, relates to the word nabi.

  • Nabi (prophet) means “one who informs others”.
  • Naba means “news”, “announcement”, “information”.
  • Anbiya represents the plural form of nabi.

Anbiya inform others of a coming naba. The Qur’an says that the naba is not the Quran itself but that it will come in the future.

Rasul, Mursil

Note that the word rasul relates to the word mursil.

Rasul means “a messenger”, “a bearer of a message”.

  • Mursal(een) also means “a messenger”, “a bearer of a message”.
  • Mursil means “one who sends”, “a sender”.
  • Risalat means “messages”.
  • Rusul represents the plural form of rasul.

So a mursil sends a rasul to give risalat. The Qur’an says that risalat of the mursil (Allah) form His kalimat (Word). The Qur’an says that risalat,  kalimatu Allah  (the messages and words of God) cannot end.  The messages (risalat) — by definition the kalimat (words) of God — are inexhaustible.  Please see Quran 31:27 “And if all the trees on earth were pens and the ocean (were ink), with seven oceans behind it to add to its (supply), yet would not kalimatu Allahi (the words of Allah) be exhausted (in the writing): for Allah is Exalted in Power, full of Wisdom.”

Putting these together, we see that God sent both Jesus and Muhammad (each one a rasul) to act as a nabi and to inform people of the naba.  Therefore the naba which the anbiya (plural of nabi) announced must itself be accompanied with more risalat (messages) that we will hear, which is the gift of the Announcement itself, as its stated in Quran 78:35-36:  “No vanity shall they hear therein, nor Untruth:- Recompense from thy Lord, a gift, (amply) sufficient…”

There is no need for any more anbiya (who anticipated the news of the naba) after the naba appeared. However, the risalat (messages) of God continue.  Quran 44:5: “A Command from Us. Verily, We are ever mursileen (sending).”  Based on this verse, the Sender of messages and messengers (mursil) functions as a rasul since he gives risalat to mankind through a designated Temple. In this sense, the mursil may be understood as the knowable aspect of the Unknowable.  So, the mursil, at the time of the naba, sends risalat through someone who is not one of the anbiya.

Summary

To summarize, we have four words: nabi, naba, rasul, and mursil.

  • Some rusul (plural of rasul) rank as anbiya (prophets) if sent (arsala) before the naba.
  • Some rusul are not anbiya if sent after the naba.
  • The naba itself is a risalatun.
  • Risalat cannot be exhausted.
  • The mursil ever sends risalat though His designated temple, even after the naba.
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4 Responses

  1. dawn

    January 9, 2009 10:23 am

    Hi,
    As you stated ‘Naba’ means: news, announcement or information. No one is going to argue with you about this. But:
    quote:”Anbiya inform others of a coming naba. The Qur’an says that the naba is not the Quran itself but that it will come in the future.”
    What you have written here is completely incorrect.
    1- ‘Anbiya’ do not inform others of a coming ‘Naba’ (or news), rather, ‘Anbiya’ bring news from God.
    2-The quran does not state anywhere that: “the Naba is not the quran itself” and it states no where that:”it will come in the future”.
    What the Quran says is this:
    78:1: Of what do they ask one another?
    78:2: Of the great news.
    78:3: About which they are disagreeing over.
    78:4: They shall soon know.
    78:5: Verily they shall soon know.
    Basically, your distorting the meaning of the Quran. This being the basis of your reasoning, be assured that you have also reached a wrong conclusion.

    Reply
  2. WorldCitizen

    January 12, 2009 4:59 pm

    This is why it is recommended to not emphasize a HUGE outlook on specific details of the proofs. Many Baha’is across the world have engaged in ‘proof’ consultations with others who have not resulted in fruitful discussions because they transformed into argument after argument, often a disaster.

    We should set our eyes towards the Horizon, the All-Merciful God and meditate more deeply on the Writings of Baha’u’llah. These qualitative teachings and empowerment Baha’u’llah has invested for humanity are truly what the world needs than logical, quantitative proofs.

    Regardless, it is a great effort exerted to present these correlations.

    Reply
  3. Shastri

    January 13, 2009 8:42 am

    There is an even simpler explanation – the Prophet Muhammad was indeed the Seal of the Prophets – He sealed the Cycle of Prophecy. In the Cycle of Prophecy, all the Prophets (Moses, Jesus, Muhammad) foretold the coming of the Day of God, the Cycle of Fulfillment. Now the new Cycle – the Cycle of Fulfillment – has begun.

    Reply
  4. Bill

    January 13, 2009 10:32 am

    Then there is Baha’u’llah’s explanation in the Kitab-i-Iqan: Every Manifestation is both the beginning and the end, the alpha and omega, the first Prophet and the Seal of the Prophets.

    Reply

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