Seal of the Prophets

From Academic Kids

Seal of the Prophets (Khatam-an-Nabi) is a title given to Muhammad by a verse in the Qur'an (33:40). This verse is interpreted in Islamic Tradition as meaning that Muhammad was the last of the prophets. He is not only considered a prophet, but also a messenger, since he was the medium through which the Qur'an was revealed.

History of the concept in Islam

The main Qur'anic reference to this phrase comes from the chapter (surah) titled "The Confederates" or "The Allies". In this chapter, Muhammad answers criticism of his marriage to Zaynab, who was divorced from to Zaid, Muhammad's adopted son. Since in the Qur'an, he had already distinguished between adopted and natural children, Muhammad, in response to the accusations, said:

"Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but he is the Messenger of Allah and the Seal of the prophets. And Allah is ever Knower of all things." - Qur'an: "The Allies", verse 40.

While the primary focus of this narrative is to answer accusations that his marriage to Zaynab was immoral according to arab custom, (cf. note on adoption (http://www.youngmuslims.ca/online_library/books/the_lawful_and_prohibition_in_islam/ch3s6p3-1.htm)) this phrase is nonetheless taken as being of especially significant. Much has been made over the years that the term "Khatam" meaning seal, or ornament is used in the Qur'an, and not the related "Khatim", which is more commonly used to mean final or last. Some muslims argue that this choice of wording implies that Muhammad was not merely the last prophet, but also that no other prophets have or could appear without his "seal of approval" or the like.

Views of other religions and sects

Before Muhammad, the terms were reputedly used in Manichaeism, a Persian faith whose founder Mani claimed to be the Seal of the Prophets and The Last Prophet.

For the Christians, however, prophets may continue to appear after Jesus. For example, in the Book of Acts, the prophet Agabus appears (Acts 21:10). Also, prophets are mentioned in Acts 13 (13:1).

In recent history, the interpretation of the term “seal of the prophets” has been a cause of much contention between the Lahore Ahmadiyya Movement and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community. The differences arose due to differences in the definition and usage of the terms “seal” and “prophet”. Historically, the interpretation of this phrase has been a common source of contention between Ahmadiyya muslims and the rest of Islam.

The Bahá'í religion regards Muhammad as the seal of the prophets, but does not interpret this term as meaning that no further prophets are possible. In particular, Bahá'ís regard the end-times prophesies of Islam (and other faiths) as being symbolic, and see the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh as symbolically fulfilling these prophetic expectations. The latter of these is the founder of the Baha'i religion, which considers Islamic law to have been abrogated. These interpretive differences have often caused the Bahá'ís to be seen as heretics by many muslims.

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