All sects of Islam maintain that the Prophet Muhammad is the final prophet, the last divine messenger for all time. That means most Muslims acknowledge the founders of several previous religions, such as Moses, Jesus and even Zoroaster as inspired, but deny there will ever be any new messenger or new, divinely-revealed religion after Muhammad. Since the
claims to be the next major Faith after Islam, this single point often prompts some Muslims to regard the BahaБi Faith as illegitimate. It has even caused deadly persecution of the BahaБis in predominately Islamic countries like Iran and Egypt. So letБs start at the beginning the BahaБi Faith emerged from the background of Islam, much as Christianity emerged from Judaism. BahaБis, along with Muslims, revere the QurБan as the Word of God. This includes QurБan 33:40, the verse on which the doctrine of MuhammadБs finality is based: Muhammad is not the father of any one of your men, but the Messenger of God, and the Seal of the Prophets; God has knowledge of everything. (Arberry). Clearly, BahaБis actually do accept Muhammad as the Seal of the ProphetsБbut reject the interpretation that Islamic orthodoxy reads into this verse. One reason: the QurБan itself raises the possibility of future divine messengers after Muhammad. Children of Adam! If there should come to you Messengers from among you, relating to you My signs, then whosoever is godfearing and makes amendsБno fear shall be on them, neither shall they sorrow. And those that cry lies to Our signs, and wax proud against themБthose shall be the inhabitants of the Fire, therein dwelling forever. Verses 35-36. This verse first opened my heart, as a convert to Islam earlier in my life, to the possibility of new revelations from God.
It calls to mind another verse from the QurБan, which tells how on Judgment Day, God will say to the world: Company of jinn and mankind, did not Messengers come to you from among you, relating to you My signs and warning you of the encounter of this your day? Б They shall say, БWe bear witness against ourselves. Б QurБan 6:130ff. I did not want to be in that groupБbearing witness that I had turned away from GodБs verses. So as a Muslim I resolved to investigate the BahaБi claims on their own merits, and not simply dismiss them. Some people object that QurБan 7:35 is a conditional statement, and thus does not categorically state that new Messengers will comeБonly that if they do, we must heed them. But this objection misses the mark, since, if the mainstream Islamic understanding of Бthe Seal of the ProphetsБ is correct, a new Messenger after Muhammad is flatly impossible. Why would God warn us that something is possible in one verse, and then say it is impossible in another? For new divine Messengers to even be possible, MuhammadБs title of Бthe Seal of the ProphetsБ must mean something other than Бlast divine Messenger, period. Б Others argue that this verse does not address all humanity, but just AdamБs immediate offspring, referring only to the Messengers from Noah to Muhammad. While the beginning of QurБan chapter seven does tell the story of Adam, it is separated from this verse by a number of others, some of which are clearly addressed to MuhammadБs own audience in 7th century Arabia (for example, 7:27-28). There is no basis to conclude that verse 35, warning of Messengers to come, belongs to the story of Adam and not to the series of exhortations that intervene.
The exclamation БO children of Adam,Б like the QurБanБs oft-recurring БO children of Israel,Б covers the entire people descended from the ancestral figure, not just their immediate offspring. We can see this clearly in QurБan 36:60 or 17:70: We have honoured the Children of Adam and carried them on land and sea, and provided them with good things, and preferred them greatly over many of those We created. If we take it at face value, QurБan 7:35 warns humanity during MuhammadБs time, and us today, to be on the watch for GodБs messengers from among us, and to obey them when they appear. The writings have a similar warning, specifically about the term БSeal of the Prophets:Б Бthou dost witness how the people of the Qur цn, like unto the people of old, have allowed the words Seal of the Prophets to veil their eyes. , The Book of Certitude, p. 213. So if new messengers are possible according to the QurБan, how do we understand Muhammad as Бthe Seal of the ProphetsБ? Please follow along as we turn to this subject in the next article in this series. БMuhammad is not the father of any of your men, but he is the Messenger of Allah and the Seal of the Prophets; and Allah has full knowledge of all things. Б (33:41) There are many manifestations of the Holy ProphetБs (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) attribute of the БSeal of the ProphetsБ. The most striking one is the Бseal of approvalБ that the Holy Prophet was granted for the continuation of prophethood from within his followers. БAnd whoso obeys Allah and this Messenger of His shall be among those on whom Allah has bestowed His blessings, namely, the Prophets, the Truthful, the Martyrs, and the Righteous.
And excellent companions are these. Б (4:70) The followers of the Holy Prophet Muhammad have been given the glad tiding that they can even attain the status of Prophethood by obeying Allah and the Prophet Muhammad. This is a distinguishing characteristic of Prophet Muhammad as no other prophet before him has been given this seal of approval. Before Prophet Muhammad it was not necessary to follow the preceding prophet to attain the status of Prophetohood. БAnd those who believe in Allah and His Messengers and they are the Truthful and the Witnesses in the sight of their Lord, they will have their reward and their lightББ (57:20) Of course the followers of other prophets will be rewarded by Allah in this world and the hereafter but there rewards fall short of attaining the status of Prophethood Б a blessing that only the followers of Muhammad, the seal of Prophets, are bestowed with. Apart from the most distinguishing status of the seal of approval there are many other manifestations of the attribute of seal of the prophets, including but not limited to: Prophet MuhammadБs message was for all people and all times in contrast to the message of other prophets that was for a specific audience and for a limited time. Prophet Muhammad was granted the QurБan Б GodБs final book which is protected by God Himself till the end of the time. Prophet Muhammad, through the Holy QurБan, made it obligatory to all Muslims to believe in all Prophets and not to distinguish between prophet in their belief. Prophet Muhammad declared all Prophets to be innocent servants of God thus absolving them of any and all false allegations.