In the Name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful
The Finality of Prophethood
Humans, as opposed to other creatures, are able to move forwards or backwards, incline towards left or right, move fast or slowly; and be an obedient servant (of God) or unruly disbeliever. As such, humans are always subject to going to extremes. Therefore, the human societies are sometimes so still, reluctant, and stuck in confining habits that they need a force to free them from chains and make them move. Nonetheless, they are sometimes so aspired after modernity that they forget the customs and principles of creation. Obviously, there is a different solution to mitigate going to extremes, inclination towards left, or inclination towards right. For a society that is inclined towards right, the correcting force should be inclined towards left and vice versa.
For the same reason, the cure for a specific period of time, a specific era, and a specific society may be a chronic nuisance or calamity for another period of time or society. The fact that there are different prophets is due to the same reason, which may even appear to be contradictory. It is evident that although there are differences among these prophethoods, there are no differences or contradictions among their goals; the purpose of all is to return to moderateness and follow the main route.
The mission of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) is different from those of other Prophets in the sense that it is not a plan, but a rule. It is the constitution of humanity, and is not specified an extremist or inclined society. Islam is a general, comprehensive, inclusive, moderate, and modest plan which includes all the minor and efficient plans. The Holy Quran is a book which includes the essence of the finite and temporary teachings of the previous Scriptures, which is opposing all the deviations and returning to moderateness. That is why the Holy Quran refers to itself as the guardian, preserver, and protector of all the Divine Scriptures: “And We have revealed to you the Book with the truth, verifying what is before it of the Book and a guardian over it (1)”.
Therefore, as it is inferred from Islamic resources, since all the Prophets were the preface for the general and final Prophethood and the Divine constitution, they were mandated to give glad tidings of the accomplishment of religion by the final Prophet. In fact, they all took an oath in front of Allah (SWT) to do so. In the first sermon of Nahj al-Balaghah, Amir al-Mu’minin (PBUH) has explained this issue delicately:
Allah never allowed His creation to remain without a Prophet deputized by Him, or a book sent down from Him or a binding argument or a standing plea. These Messengers were such that they did not refrain from accomplishing their duties because of smallness of their number or of largeness of the number of their falsifiers. Among them was either a predecessor who would name the one to follow or the follower who had been introduced by the predecessor. In this way ages passed by and times rolled on, fathers passed away while sons took their places till Allah deputized Muhammad (PBUH&HP) as His Prophet, in fulfillment of His promise and in completion of His Prophethood, while His pledge had been taken from the Prophets”.
An elegant statement has been narrated from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) regarding this issue which states,” I have been appointed as a Prophet after all the other Prophets and we were the last nation; however, in the Hereafter, we will be in the front row and the rest of the nations will be behind us (2)”.
In this regards, Mulla Muhsin Faidh has narrated a statement from one of the scholars as,” The purpose and goal for human beings is achieving proximity towards Allah (SWT), which is not feasible unless through the guidance of the Prophets. Hence, Prophethood is a part of the whole system of creation. Indeed, the target and goal is the last and highest level of Prophethood, not its beginning level. Based on the tradition of Allah (SWT), Prophethood becomes perfect gradually, just as a structure is built gradually. Just as the ultimate goal of constructing a building is not its foundation or walls but the whole building itself, the ultimate goal of Prophethood is its accomplished and complete form. This is the point where prophethood is finalized and comes to an end. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) has referred to this concept in a famous Hadith in which he said,” The example of Prophethood is like a built house which had one brick left. I am the place of that final brick, or the one who puts that final brick (3)”.
Overall, the concept of finality of prophethood is based on two facts: a) the essence of religion is put inside human’s soul, and the essence of all human beings are similar. Therefore, human’s path towards perfection is a well-defined and straight path. Therefore, the essence of religion which is the definer of human’s desires and its guide to the straight path is unique. b) A plan, provided that it is in accordance with human’s essence, comprehensive, general, protected from alteration and deviation, and recognized and executed well, could be the useful guide and the master of all minor laws and plans forever.
(Selection taken from “The Finality of Prophethood”, by Shahid Murtadha Mutahhari (with some changes))
The Roshd Website offers congratulations to all the freemen, especially you dear friend, upon 27th of Rajab, the commencement of the revelation the Holy Quran and the appointment of the final of the Prophets, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP).
Roshd Islamic Shia Website
1. The Holy Quran (5, 48)
2. Nour al-Thaqalayn interpretation, vol. 5, p. 292
3. Ilm al-Yaqin, p. 105