Muhammad (PBUH), the Prophet of Islam, is the last of the messengers of God sent to mankind for guidance. According to the Qur’an, which is the revealed book of Islam, God sent messengers to every nation and to every big township of the old and, therefore, their number must be in thousands if not in millions. The Qur’an, however, mentions by name only a few messengers, the most famous among them being Adam (the father of mankind), Noah, Hud, Saleh, Abraham, Ismael, Isaac, Jacob, Shuaib, Moses, David, Jesus Christ and Muhammad (may Allah’s peace be upon them all). The chain of the Prophets starts from Adam who was the first human being as well as first prophet and it ends with Muhammad (PBUH) who is the final Prophet of Allah. Some of these messengers were given books such as Moses who was given the Torah, Jesus who was given the Bible, David who was given the Psalms, and Muhammad who was given the Qur’an.

Brief Biographical Sketch

Muhammad (PBUH) was born at Makkah in Arabia, in the Hashmite branch of the tribe of Quraish who were descendants of Prophet Ismael, the son of Prophet Abraham (Ibrahim). He was born on Monday, the 12th of Rabi-ul-Awwal, 53 years before Hijrah (corresponding to 23rd April, 571 A.D.) at Makkah, and breathed his last on Monday, 12th of Rabi-ul-Awwal, 11 A.H. (corresponding to 8th of June, 632 A.D.) at Madinah. He lost his father Abdullah before his birth, his mother Aminah at the age of six and his loving grandfather Abdul Muttalib at the age of eight, and was thus left to the care of his uncle Abu Talib who brought him up like his own son. His excellent conduct and character earned for him the names of Al-Sadiq (the truthful) and al-Amin (the trustworthy) at very young age. He married a rich widow of Quraish named Khadijah at the age of twenty-five who was fifteen years senior to him. At the age of forty, Muhammad received the light of first revelation through the Arch-Angel Gabriel in the cave of Hira and thus he was commissioned as the apostle or messenger of Allah. He migrated to Madinah as the people of his own tribe Quraish severely persecuted him and his followers when he started preaching his religion Islam. He reached Madinah on Friday, 2nd July 622 A.D. and from this very date the Islamic Lunar calendar Al-Hijrah starts. At Madinah the Prophet had to wage many wars in defence of his faith and in the defence of his own life and the lives of his followers against the Quraish, the Jews and the other hostile tribes. By the time of Prophet’s death, all the Arabia had submitted to Islam and a powerful Islamic state under his headship had been established at Madinah.

His Conduct

Prophet Muhammad was the most perfect man endowed with each and every virtue which goes to make up good conduct. The Qur’an calls his conduct sublime and noble (68:4). He has been called mercy for the mankind, rather for the whole world, rather for several of the God’s creations. “We sent you not, but as a Mercy for all worlds”. (al-Qur’an 21:107). The Qur’an appreciates his kind conduct and enjoins him to consult his followers and ask forgiveness for them (3:159). Muhammad’s concern for believers and his compassion for them has been stressed in another verse by the Holy Qur’an which reads: “Indeed there has come to you a messenger from among yourselves. It grieves him that you should suffer any hardship. He is very anxious for your welfare, and for the believers he is full of kindness and merciful (9:128).The Qur’an sets up the conduct of Muhammad as a role model for the believers when it says: “Verily in the messenger of Allah you have a good example for him who hopes (to meet) Allah and the Last Day, and remembers Allah much.”   (33:21).

Even before his call to Prophethood, Muhammad (PBUH) was held in high esteem by his people for excellence of his behaviour and character. He was known as the “Truthful” and the “Trust Worthy”. When the first revelation came to him, Muhammad returned home very disgusted and depressed. He narrated the episode to his wife Hadrat Khadijah who consoled him by saying “Allah will never humiliate you. Certainly you observe the tie of kinship, speak the truth and bear the burden of others and help the destitute and entertain the guests and help others in genuine distress.”

When asked by a person about the conduct (Khuluq) of the prophet many years after nhis death, his wife Hadrat Ayesha said “Have you not read the Qur’an? – his khuluq was the Qur’an” (Muslim, Abu Daud, and Nisai). There is a long line of very authentic traditions reported in most reliable collections of Hadith literature that the character and conduct of Muhammad (PBUH) was the most excellent and he was the greatest man the world had ever seen.

·        Jabar reported that the messenger of Allah said: “Allah sent me to complete the excellent virtues and to perfect the good actions”   (Mishkat-ul-Masabih)

·        Anas reported: The apostle of Allah was the best of men, the most generous of men and the bravest of men   (Bukhari, Muslim)

·        Abu Hurairah reported: He was questioned: O. Apostle of Allah! Invoke against the polytheists. He replied: Verily I have not been sent as a great curser, but I have been sent as a mercy.   (Muslim)

·        Ayesha reported: The Prophet was not accustomed to talk hastily as you do. He was accustomed to talk in such a way that if a counter counted, he could have certainly numbered it.   (Bukhari, Muslim)

·        Ayesha reported: The Apostle of Allah was never asked to choose between two things except that he chose the easier of the two so long as it was not sinful. If it was sinful, he used to keep farther from it than all the people. The apostle of Allah did never take revenge for any wrong done to him personally except to vindicate the honour of Allah: he used then to take revenge for Allah.   (Bukhari, Muslim)

·        Ayesha reported: The Apostle of Allah was neither indecent by nature, nor indecent by compulsion, nor a wanderer in the markets, nor did he return evil for evil, but he forgave and pardoned.   (Tirmizi)

·        Anas narrated about the Holy Prophet that he used to visit the sick, follow the bier, respond to the invitation of a slave and ride upon mules. I have indeed seen him on the Day of Khaiber upon mule with a rein of date refuge.   (Ibn Majah, Baihaqi)

·        Ayesha reported that the Holy Prophet used to mend his shoes, sew his cloth and work in his household just as one of you works in his own house. She also reported that he was a man among men who used to patch his clothes, milk his goats and engage himself in work.   (Tirmizi)

·        Abdullah-b-Hares reported: I did not see any body smiling more than the Apostle of Allah.   (Tirmizi)   

·        Anas reported that whenever the Prophet handshook with a man, he used not to take away his hand from his hand till the latter took away his hand, nor did he turn away his face from him till the latter turned away his face from him. He was not seen to take steps in front of his friends.   (Tirmizi)

His Personality

Beautiful and vivid description of the personality and physical bearing of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has come down to us through the well reported Hadith literature.

·        Anas reported that the Apostle of Allah was neither too long nor short, neither too white nor brown, neither too curly-haired nor straight haired.   (Bukhari, Muslim)

·        Ali-bin-Abu Talib reported: that whenever he described the Prophet, he used to say: He was not too long nor too short, middle-statured among the people, not greatly curly haired, nor straight haired, strong and stout, neither too big nor too short, round of face, white-red complexioned black of eye-balls, long of eye-lances, fleshy of the bone and place between shoulders; hairless having one line of hair on chest and having thick palms and feet. When he walked, he stepped firm as if he was walking in a sloping ground; when he turned, he turned the whole body; there was the seal of prophethood between his shoulders and it was the seal of the prophets, most generous of men in generosity, most truthful of men in tongue, most affable of them in deportment, most honourable of them in lineage. Whoso saw him all on a sudden, got frightened and whoso mixed with him with acquaintance loved him. One who described him said: I saw nobody like him before him and after him.   (Tirmizi)

·        Umm Ma’bad said: “His was an innocently bright and broad countenance. His manners were fine. Neither was his belly bulging out nor was his head deprived of hair. He had black attractive eyes finely arched by continuous eye-brows. His hair, glossy and black, inclined to curl, he wore long. His voice was extremely commanding. His head was large and well formed and set on a slender neck. His expression was pensive and contemplative, serene and sublime. The stranger was fascinated from the distance, but no sooner he became intimate with him this fascination was changed into attachment and respect. His expression was very sweet and distinct. His speech was well set and free from the use of superfluous words, as if it were a rosary of beads. His stature was neither too high nor too small so as to look repulsive. He was twig amongst the two, singularly bright and fresh. He was always surrounded by his companions. Whenever he uttered something the listeners would hear him with rapt attention and whenever he issued any command, they vied with each other in carrying it out. He was a master and a commander. His utterances were marked by truth and sincerity, free from all kinds of falsehoods and lies.”

His family

At the age of 25 Muhammad married Khadijah, a rich widow 15 years senior to him in age, who had once employed Muhammad to conduct her business and was much impressed by his honest dealings. He enjoyed a very happy and contented life with her for 25 years and had all his children from her except one son Ibrahim who was born of Marya. After death of Khadijah he married Sauda, another widow, when he had entered fifty first year of his age and then Ayesha. After his migration to Madinah, Muhammad married nine times. He died at the age of 63 and was survived by nine wives and one daughter.

Thus Muhammad had twelve wives and seven children. The names of his wives are: Khadijah, Sauda, Ayesha, Zainab, Hafsa, Jawariyah, Zainab, Omm Salamah, Omm Habibah, Maimunah, Safiya and Marya the Copt. The names of his three sons are: Qasim, Tahir and Ibrahim; and the names of his four daughters are: Zainab, Ruqqiyah, Omm Kalsum and Fatimah. All of the sons of the Prophet died in infancy while the daughters lived and were married. But the daughters too died before him, only Fatimah survived him and died six months after the Prophet.

Nothing has brought more bitter criticism against Prophet Muhammad than the matter of his so many marriages. Particularly the non-Muslim writers cast aspersions on the ideal character of the prophet holding him to be a lewd and lustful man. They contend that Muhammad himself restricted polygamy to the maximum of four wives at a time but he did not apply the law to himself as he had nine wives at a time. Marriage of the Prophet with Ayesha, allegedly a child of seven years, and with Zainab, a divorcee of his adopted son Zaid, especially offends them. Thus in the matter of marriages Muhammad displayed, according to them, a weakness of character little compatible with the high office of a Prophet.

Many articles and books have been written by Muslim scholars wherein the circumstances of each marriage of the Prophet have been discussed and these objections along with other similar objections have been adequately answered. Due to lack of space we would briefly answer these objections as under.

No doubt the Qur’an has restricted the polygamy from so many wives to four at a time in its verse 3 of Chapter 4. However, the same Qur’an in its verses 50 to 52 of Chapter 33 exempted Muhammad (PBUH) from the application of this law considering his special circumstances. These verses prescribe the categories of women out of which the Prophet could choose his spouse and also prescribe the conditions which the Prophet had to fulfill for his marriages. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) never misused this exemption and never violated the law of God. In fact this exemption was a great responsibility than a privilege as we would later on see when discussing the moral, social and political reasons of his marriages.

Objection against Muhammad’s marriage with Ayesha is baseless. Age of Ayesha generally quoted in the books of history and in some traditions is not correct. Her age at the time of marriage was not 7 years. In fact she was 9 or 10 years old at the time of her Nikah with prophet in March 619 A.D. at Makkah. At Madinah in April 623 A.D. she entered Prophet’s house for consummation of marriage when she was almost 14 years old and had attained puberty. According to the latest research, when Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) died in June 632 A.D., age of Ayesha was 23 or 24. It means she was more than 13 when she was admitted into the Prophet’s home in April 623 A.D. Even if it is accepted that she was a child of 7 or 9 even then it should cause no objection as the customs of the society in which the Prophet lived recognized such alliances. None of Prophet’s contemporary raised objection against this marriage. Moreover, this marriage was contracted by Muhammad, as some very authentic traditions tell us, in performance of God’s commandment which he received in a vision.

Prophet’s marriage with Zainab, a divorcee of Zaid who was once adopted by Muhammad as his son, seems to offer a great ground of reproach against him. However, the harsh criticism made by the enemies of Islam holds no water if we read verses 4 and 5 of chapter 33 of the Holy Qur’an which had modified custom of adoption and verses 37 and 38 of the same chapter which establish that the Prophet married Zainab in fulfillment of God’s command to practically end the bad custom of adoption. Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall, a great commentator of the Qur’an, justifies Prophet’s marriage with Zainab in a beautiful and short note as under:

“In v. 37 the reference is to the unhappy marriage of Zeyd, the Prophet’s freedman and adopted son, with Zeynab, the Prophet’s cousin, a proud lady of Qureysh. The Prophet had arranged the marriage with the idea of breaking down the old barrier of pride of caste, and had shown but little consideration for Zeynab’s feelings. Tradition says that both she and her brother were averse to the match, and that she had always wished to marry the Prophet. For Zeyd, the marriage was nothing but a cause of embarrassment and humiliation. When the Prophet’s attention was first called to their unhappiness, he urged Zeyd to keep his wife and not divorce her, being apprehensive of the talk that would arise if it became known that a marriage arranged by him had proved unhappy. At last, Zeyd did actually divorce Zeynab, and the Prophet was commanded to marry her in order, by his example, to disown the superstitious custom of the pagan Arabs, in such matters, of treating their adopted sons as their real sons, which was against the laws of God (i.e. the laws of nature); whereas in arranging a marriage, the woman’s inclinations ought to be considered. Unhappy marriage was no part of Allah’s ordinance, and was not to be held sacred in Islam.”

Other objections made against the Prophet on account of his marriages alleging him to be a lewd man are not only biased and absolutely false but they only depict the meanness of the critics’ minds. A man who remained contented and faithful with one wife, elder to him by fifteen years, during the prime of his age, that is, in the age between 25 to 50, cannot be said to be lustful when he takes more wives in his old age after 50. It is also to be noted that all of his wives except Ayesha were widows. So the reasons of his marriages were not at all connected with sensual pleasure as alleged by the Western scholars but the same were certainly connected with his moral, social and political responsibilities. For example, Muhammad married Sauda after Khadija’s death. Sauda was wife of Sakran. Both embraced Islam and were forced to fly into Abyssinia to escape the persecution of the pagan Quresh. Sakran died in exile leaving Sauda utterly destitute. The only way the Prophet could protect and help the widow of his faithful disciple, who had left his home for the sake of Islam and had given his life in exile, was to marry her and that was what he did. The Prophet married Hafsa, who was daughter of his close companion Umar bin al-Khattab, as her husband had died in the battle of Badr. Abu Bakr and Usman had declined the offer of Umar to marry her because of her hot temper. In this circumstance, the Prophet himself married her to relieve his close companion of a lot of stress. Similarly Muhammad’s marriages with Umm Salma, Umm Habiba and Zainab Umm-ul-Masakin were prompted by the reason of supporting the widows, whom the enmity of the idolaters had bereft of their natural protectors. Muhammad’s marriage with Juwairiya, daughter of Harith, the Chief of Banu Mustalik, brought about release of a hundred families who had fallen prisoners in the hands of Muslims in a war which was waged to suppress the revolt of that tribe. Safiya, a Jewess had also been taken prisoner in the war against Khaiber. The Prophet generously liberated her and elevated her to the status of his wife at her request although she had been widowed twice. Such was the nature of Muhammad’s marriages. No independent and fair minded person can say that these marriages were contracted for pleasure. Rather these marriages not only served the purpose of supporting the widows but also tended in their results to unite the warring tribes bringing them into some degree of harmony.

Another important purpose which was served by so many marriages of Muhammad was with regard to the teaching of Islamic tenets among the women. The Prophet was delivering his message to the men everyday through his practical example and through his teaching. It was absolutely essential that there should be a team of sincere, faithful and learned women to convey the message to the women folk. This need was fulfilled by the wives of the Prophet. The Qur’an had advised them: “And remember that which is recited in your houses of the revelations of Allah and wisdom…..” (33:34). The wives of the Prophet saw the Qur’an being revealed and listened to the Prophet closely reciting the Qur’an. They also watched his religious practices and acts of worship very closely. So they became a source of transmission of Ahadith and practices of the Prophet which came to the believers through them. Many Traditions of the Prophet have been reported through them especially through Ayesha and Umm Salma. The women used to enquire about the matters, which are concerned with the women only, from the Prophet through his wives and used to get the solutions. After the death of the Prophet, the Muslim community, even the great companions of the Prophet, would look to his wives for solution of some critical problems faced by them.

The Qur’an throws some light on the family life of Muhammad (PBUH). Particularly it gives instructions to his wives and daughters regarding conduct and behaviour which are also applicable to the Muslim women. In some of the verses the status of the wives of the Prophet has been highlighted while in certain other verses Prophet has been directed how to treat his wives. Family life of the Prophet is a model for the Muslim couples whereas the conduct of the wives and the daughters of the Prophet is precedent for the believing women. Please look at the following verses of the Qur’an: 33:6, 28-34, 37-38, 50-53, 55, 59; 66:1-5

What the Qur’an says about him

The Qur’an, which was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), is the last message of the God of universe to mankind and Muhammad (PBUH) was charged with the duty of conveying it. Since Muhammad (PBUH) is the receiver and addressee of this message, so there was no need of addressing the Prophet by his personal name again and again. Therefore, his name ‘Muhammad’ has been mentioned in the Qur’an only four times (3:144, 33:40, 47:2, 48:29) and his name ‘Ahmad’ has been mentioned only once (61:6). He has been addressed hundreds of times in the Holy Book by the words “O Prophet”, “O The Enshrouded One”, “O the Cloaked One”, or he has been addressed in the second person “Thou”, “Thy”, “Thine”, “You”, “Your”, etc. Thus the objection of those who say as to why Muhammad’s name has been mentioned only four or five times when the names of Prophets like Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus have been mentioned dozens of times in the Qur’an carries no weight. Briefly speaking, the Qur’an says about Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) that:

1)     He is the messenger of Allah (3:144, 4:79, 13:43, 33:40, 36:2-4, 48:29)

2)     He is the last messenger (33:40)

3)     He is the messenger to all human beings (4:79, 4:170, 5:15, 7:158, 34:28, etc).

4)     He was sent as a mercy for all the peoples (21:107).

5)     He is a bringer of good news and warner (2:119, 10:2, 11:2, 17:108, 34:28, etc.)

6)     Allah is witness to his mission (4:79, 6:19, 13:43)

7)     His conduct is supreme and noble (3:159, 9:128, 33:21, 68:4).

8)     Religion given to him is Al-Islam (5:3, 6:14, 22:78, 27:21, etc.).

9)     The book revealed to him is Al-Qur’an (15:87, 18:1, 27:6, 28:85-86, 39:1-2, etc.)

10)  His mission was to guide and warn the people and to bring them from darkness to light (2:119, 2:129, 2:151, 7:157, 14:1, 18:111, 65:11)

11)  He was an Ummi (7:157, 29:48, 62:2)

12)  He would be witness on the Day of Judgement (2:143, 4:41, 16:89, etc.)

13)  His source of knowledge was the revelation (3:44, 6:50, 10:38, 12:102, 16:103, etc.)

14)  He did not invent the Qur’an, which in fact is the book of God (2:23-24, 10:16-17, 10:38-39, 11:13-14, 16:101-105, etc.)

15)  He was foretold by the previous prophets and in the previous scriptures (7:157, 26:196-197, 46:10, 61:6)

16)  He was the fulfillment of the prayer of Prophet Abraham (2:129).

17)  He testified and verified the previous prophets and their teachings (2:285, 3:3-4, 3:84, 5:48, 35:31, 46:12)

18)  He was given the same message which was given  to the previous Prophets (3:3, 3:67-68, 4:163-165, 21:25, 42:43)

19)  He is a role model for the people (33:21).

20)  He was not a poet, nor magician, nor mad (7:184, 15:11, 26:221-222, 36:69, 38:86, 68:1)

21)  His responsibility was only to convey the message of God (2:272, 4:80, 4:84, 5:67, 10:99-100, 13:40, 16:82, 36:10-11, 42:48, etc.)

22)  He was forbidden to compel anyone to accept Islam (6:107, 10:99, 16:125, 88:21-22 etc.)

23)  He should be obeyed, respected and followed (3:31-32, 3:132, 4:13-14, 4:59, 4:64-65, 24:63, 33:6, 33:21, 33:53, etc.).

24)  He like other prophet was a human being (2:151, 5:15, 10:3, 12:109, 13:38, 17:90-95, 25:7-10, 41:46).

Note:    Many other things have been discussed by the Qur’an about his role and mission which are not being mentioned due to lack of space.

He was foretold

            Coming of Muhammad as Messenger of God was prayed for by Prophet Abraham and was foretold by the later Prophets. Prophet Abraham, who is the forefather of the Jews and the Arabs and who is held in high esteem by all the three monotheistic religions of mankind (Judaism, Christianity and Islam), built ‘Ka’abah’ at Makkah and settled his eldest son Ishmael there. He, then, prayed to God for raising a messenger among his posterity in these words: “Our Lord! And raise up amongst them a messenger from among them who shall recite unto them Your verses, and shall teach them the book and wisdom and shall purify them. Lo! You, only You, are the Mighty, the Wise” (al-Qur’an 2:129). His prayer was accepted and Muhammad was raised in the lineage of Ishmael.

            Prophecies about the advent of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had been made in the earlier Scriptures like the Torah and the Gospel. The Qur’an points out this fact very clearly when it says: “Those who follow the messenger, the ulettered Prophet, whom they will find described in the Torah and the Gospel which are with them. He will enjoin on them what is right and forbid them what is wrong. He will make lawful for them all good things and prohibit for them only the impure things; and he will relieve them of their burden and the fetters that were upon them. Then those who believe in him, and honour him, and help him, and follow the light (the Qur’an) which is sent down with him; they will be the successful.” (7:al-A’raf:157)

            Some of the learned Jews recognized the Prophet of Arabia and embraced Islam like Abdullah-Ibn-Salam, Ka’b-Ibn-Malik. The Qur’an refers to this fact in these verses: “And verily, it is in the Scriptures of the men of old. Is it not a sufficient proof for them that the learned men of the children of Israel know it.” (26:ash-Shu’ara:196-197)

            Prophet Jesus Christ foretold the coming of Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, in very clear words and even mentioned his name. “And when Jesus son of Mary said: O Children of Israel! Verily! I am the messenger of Allah unto you. I confirm that which was (revealed) before me in the Torah, and bring good tidings of a messenger who comes after me, whose name is the Praised One (Ahmad). But when he came unto them with clear proofs, they said: This is plain magic.”    (Al-Qur’an 61:6)

            Some of the prophecies made by Prophet Moses about the coming of Prophet Muhammad in Torah are as under:

            According to Torah, which forms part of Jewish Bible (called Old Testament by the Christians), Prophet Moses (PBUH) addressing his people says: “Thy Lord thy god will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, and of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken.” (Deuteronomy 18:15). In Verse No 18 and 19 of Chapter No 18 of Deuteronomy, God addressing Moses and his people says: “I shall raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.” In these verses of Torah the words “thy brethren” and “their brethren” clearly refer to the Arabs who are the children of Ismael (son of Prophet Abraham) and the words “a Prophet like unto me” or “like unto thee” clearly refer to Prophet Muhammad who is a Prophet like Prophet Moses.

            Prophecies made by Prophet Jesus in his various discourses with his disciples about the advent of a Prophet after him have been given in different verses of the Gospel of Saint John which are as under:

            “If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the father, and he shall give you another comforter, that he may abide with you for ever. (14:15-16)      

            “These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”   (14:25-26)

“Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.”   (14:30)

“But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.”   (15:26)

“Nevertheless I tell you the truth: It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.”   (16:7).

“I have yet many things to say unto you, but you cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you.”   (16:12-15)

From the above passages of Gospel of St. John, the message of Jesus is very clear. He says that he shall pray to God to send a comforter to the people. The Comforter shall teach them all things and will abide with them for ever. He is the prince of this world who will testify of Jesus and will guide the people into all truth. The comforter shall not speak of himself; but whatever he receives by inspiration and revelation, that shall he speak. By adding interpolating words like “the Spirit of truth” and “Holy Ghost” in these passages of St. John, attempt has been made to confuse the real meaning of these verses but despite that the real import of these verses is clear. The person who is being foretold will not be a ghost or spirit but he will be a human messenger, and extraordinary man, who will guide all to truth, who will testify Jesus and whose teachings would be universal and everlasting.

Now the question arises as to who is the comforter prophesied in the above verses of St. John’s Gospel. The Greek word used in the original Text of this Gospel is Peraclatus or Paraclete. The Christian scholars themselves have assigned different meanings to this word. According to some, it means to console, to give satisfaction, to encourage while according to some others, it means to call, warn, to tempt, to pray or to implore. So we find different translations of this word in different Gospels such as comforter, advocate, deprecator, teacher, assistant, consoler, etc. Interestingly there is another word in Greek which in pronunciation closely resembles it and that is periclytos. It means the “Praised One” and thus it is exactly synonymous with Ahmad or Muhammad. Hence there is a possibility that the Church, which is used to changing, modifying or tempering with the original text of the Gospels for serving its purpose, might have effected a little variation in the spelling of this word.


He was sent to all mankind

Prophets who had come before Muhammad (PBUH) had been sent to their tribes or communities with a limited mission. Prophet Noah had been sent to his nation. Prophet Hud had been sent to his tribe A’d while Prophet Salih had come to his tribe Thamud. Prophet Abraham had come to his folk, while Prophet Lot had been sent to Sodom. Prophet Shuaib came to Median to teach the people ethics of business. Moses came to save the children of Israel from the bondage of Pharaoh. Jesus said of himself that he has been sent by God “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel”

However, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was sent by God as the last messenger to the whole of mankind with a universal mission including the Jews and the Christians. The Qur’an says:

1.      ….. And We have sent you (O Muhammad) as a messenger to the whole mankind and Allah is sufficient as witness.   (4:79).

2.      O mankind! The messenger (Muhammad) has come to you with the truth from your Lord, so believe in him, it is better for you.   (4:170)

3.      Say (O Muhammad): O mankind! I am messenger of Allah to all of you.   (7:158)

4.      Please also refer to 5:15 and 34:28

Mai’raj of Muhammad (PBUH)

            On 27th of Rajab in the 12th year of Prophethood i.e. one year before the Hijrah, Holy Prophet’s ascent to heaven took place. This event is popularly known in the history of Islam as ‘Miraj of the Prophet’. It comprises his night journey from Masjid-ul-Haram (Kaabah at Makkah) to Masjid-ul-Aqsa (Temple at Jerusalem) and his onward ascention through seven heavens to the Highest Place where he was received in audience by Allah the Almighty God of the universe.

            According to the popular version as witnessed by the traditional and biographical literature the Prophet was taking rest on the night of 27th Rajab within the enclosure of the Holy Ka’abah at Makkah when suddenly Gabriel came with a steed called Buraq running like lightning. He had the Prophet mounted thereon and took the Prophet to the Mosque of Jerusalem. All the Prophets of God were waiting for Muhammad (PBUH) who entered the Mosque and offered a prayer of two rak’ats leading them as their ‘Imam’ (leader). Then Gabriel transported the Prophet through all the seven heavens as commanded by Allah. In these heavens the Prophet met some of the great Prophets who welcomed him with their blessings. The angel Gabriel accompanied Muhammad (PBUH) up to the Lote-tree which is the farthest limit for the men and the angles. Then the Holy Prophet alone went further where he was given audience by the Almighty Who spoke to him behind a veil. There the Prophet received, besides other important instructions, commandments regarding 50 prayers everyday which were ultimately reduced to 5 because Moses advised Muhammad to get them reduced. Paradise and Hell were also shown to Muhammad (PBUH). Then the Prophet returned to the Temple of Jerusalem from where he came back to Makkah. On the next day when he mentioned this event to the people, the disbelievers ridiculed him. However the Prophet answered all the questions asked by the disbelievers about Jerusalem, the Temple and its surroundings.

            Prophet’s ascent to heaven, in fact, comprises two journeys: Journey from Kaabah (Makkah) to Masjidul-Aqsa (Jerusalem), and journey from Jerusalem to the heavens. Verse 1 of Surah 17 deals with the former while verses 13-18 of Surah 53 deal with the latter and hint to the occasion when Muhammad (PBUH) saw Angel Gabriel, during the journey, in his true form near the Lote-tree of uppermost boundary which is near to the Garden of Abode (Paradise). There are many Traditions of Prophet Muhammad which tell details about his ‘Mairaj’ to heaven and his meeting with God. However, for lac of space we cannot reproduce all the Traditions. Only one Tradition is reproduced below which tells of some details:

            Ibn Shihab from Anas reported: Abu Zarr used to say that the Apostle of Allah had said: The roof of my house was opened up for me while I was at Makkah. Gabriel got down, split my breast and then washed it with Zemzem water. Thereafter he came with a vessel of gold full of wisdom and faith. He poured it in my breast and sealed it. After that, he took me by the hand and ascended with me to heaven. When I came to the nearest heaven, Gabriel said to the guard of heaven: Open. He asked: who is he? Gabriel spoke. He asked: Is there anybody with you? He said: ‘Yes’ with me is Muhammad (PBUH). He asked: Has he got revelation? Yes, said he. Then he opened. We got up to the nearest heaven, and found a man seated with numerous parties by his right side and numerous parties by his left side. When he looks to his right side, he laughs; and when he looks to his left side, he weeps. He said: Welcome to the righteous Prophet and the righteous servant. I asked Gabriel: Who is he? He said: He is Adam, and those that are by his right side and his left are the souls of his descendants. Those of them that are by the right side are the inmates of Paradise, and the numerous parties by his left side are the inmates of Hell. So when he looks to his right side, he laughs; and when looks to his left, he weeps. Then he ascended with me to the second heaven and asked its guard; open. Its guard told him like what he had said at first. Anas said: He narrated that he had found in heaven Adam, Idris, Moses, Jesus and Abraham but he did not establish as to how their abodes are except that he described that he had found Adam in the nearest heaven and Abraham in the Sixth heaven. Ibn Shihab said: Ibn Hazm informed me that Ibn Abbas and Abu Habbah Ansari used to say: The Messenger of Allah said: Thereafter he ascended with me until I was taken straight to an open place wherein I heard the sound of pens. Ibn Hazm and Anas said: The Apostle of Allah said: Allah ordained 50 prayers for my followers. I returned with that and passed by Moses. He asked: what has Allah ordained for you for your followers? I said: He ordained 50 prayers. He said: Return to your Lord, because your followers will not be able. So He looked kindly to me and remitted half of it. Then I returned to Moses and said: He remitted half of it. He said: Return to your Lord, because your followers will not be able to do even that. So I returned and He remitted half of it. I came back to him and he said: Return to your Lord because your followers will not be able to do even that. Then I returned to him and He said: it is five but still it is fifty. Word changeth not before Me. Then I returned to Moses. He said: Return to your Lord. I said: I am ashamed of my Lord. Thereafter he (Gabriel) went on with me, until he came with me to the farthest Lote-tree. Many colours cover it. I don’t know what they are. Then I was admitted in Paradise. There were therein foundations of pearls, and its earth was of musk.   (Bukhari, Muslim)

            Since the prophet himself did not leave any clear explanation of this experience, Muslim thinkers including the companions of the prophet have always differed about the true nature of Mairaj. Some say that it happened in a dream, while some others believe that the Night Journey and Ascension were physical experience i.e. the Prophet was physically and bodily taken from Makkah to Jerusalem and then to Heaven. Yet there are some other scholars who are of the opinion that it was a mystic vision or spiritual experience.

            Abul A’la Maududi on the authority of majority of the prophet’s companions takes it to be a physical journey. According to him: “It is strange that some people are of the opinion that this extraordinary journey could not be possible, but now when a man with his limited–very limited–power has been able to reach the moon, it is absurd to deny that Allah with his limitless powers could enable His messenger to make this journey in the extraordinary short time it took”. On the other hand, Muhammad Asad agrees with those who take it as a spiritual experience. He writes “among the latter we find, in particular, the name of Ayesha the prophet’s widow and most intimate companions of his later years, who declared emphatically that he was transported only in his spirit while his body did not leave its place.”

Role Model for believers – Importance of his Sunnah

The deeds, behaviour, character and conduct of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is a role model for the Muslims rather for the whole of mankind. The Qur’an says: Verily in the messenger of Allah you have a good example for him who hopes (to meet) Allah and the last Day…… (33:21). He has been called a guide and a light by the Holy Qur’an at another place: “Now has come unto you a light from Allah and a plain Scripture” (5:15). The Prophet lived an ideal life in accordance with the teachings of the Holy Qur’an and, therefore, his conduct, as stated earlier, was called “the Qur’an” by his wife Ayesha in response to a question. Obedience to him has been enjoined upon his followers. The Qur’an says: “And obey Allah and the messenger, that you may find mercy” (3:132).

The believers have been exhorted to follow the Prophet because to follow the Prophet would earn them Allah’s love. The Qur’an says “Say (O Muhammad to mankind): If you love Allah, follow me: Allah will love you and forgive you your sins.”   (3:31)

Thus the life of the Prophet of Islam is a pattern of ideal conduct and behaviour for his followers who try their best to emulate it. Each saying of the Prophet, each action or deed done by him, each practice or convention set by him, carries sanctity for the Muslims. Here lies the importance of the Sunnah or Hadith which comprises sayings of the Prophet, his traditions, his deeds and his conduct of various problems. The believers have been, therefore, directed “…. And whatsoever the messenger gives you, take it. And whatsoever he forbids, abstain (from it). And fear Allah…” (al-Qur’an 59:7)

The importance of the Sunnah lies in the fact that the Prophet of Islam gave practical shape to the Qur’anic teachings by living his life in accordance with the Injunctions of Allah. He lived a very active life as an ideal man. He married. He had wives. He had children. He had to work for earning livelihood. As a Prophet and a preacher of Islam, he was persecuted. He had to migrate to a distant town. There, he established a state and created a society in accordance with the teachings of God. He had to fight many battles for his survival and for the survival of new faith and the newly established state. During all these trials and vicissitudes of life, he displayed a model behaviour and decided every issue in the light of the Qur’anic teachings. He set illuminating precedents for us to follow. The Qur’an generally lays down the basic principles and guidelines which were interpreted, explained and given practical shape by the Prophet. Some illustration can be given to highlight this point. The Qur’an makes Salat (prayer) compulsory for believers and has hinted about the times of prayers. But the procedure in which the prayers are to be offered, has been set by the Prophet. Similarly Allah has made the payment of Zakat obligatory, but detailed rules have not been laid down in the Qur’an. It is the Prophet who made detailed rules and set up the procedure for payment of Zakat. Similarly in socio economic and lego-political fields of human life the Qur’an has only laid down the fundamental principles, but the Prophet applied these principles to actual problems and set the details.

Muhammad is the Last Prophet

            According to verse 40 of Chapter 33 of the Holy Qur’an, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is the last of the prophets and is the final messenger of God to mankind. No messenger would be raised after him till the Day of Resurrection. Al-Qur’an is the last revealed book, his religion al-Islam is the first and the last religion and his Ummah the Muslims are the last Ummah. With him prophethood has come to an end.

            The doctrine of finality of Prophethood with Muhammad (PBUH) is supported and approved by the following Verses of the Holy Qur’an and Traditions (Ahadith) of the Prophet of Islam:

1)     Verily the religion with Allah is only Islam (submission to His will)…… (3:19)

2)     And whosoever seeks a religion other than Islam it will not be accepted from him, and he will be among the losers in the Hereafter.   (3:85).

3)     ……….. And We have sent you (O Muhammad) as a messenger to the whole mankind and Allah is Sufficent as witness (to this fact).   (4:79).

4)     And We have sent you not (O Muhammad) but as a mercy for all the worlds.   (21:107)

5)     Muhammad is not the father of any man among you, but he is the messenger of Allah and the seal (i.e the last) of the Prophets. And Allah is knower of everything.   (33:40)  

6)     Abu Hurairah reported God’s Messenger as saying: “The way in which I may be compared with the prophets is by a castle which was beautifully constructed, but in which the place of one brick was left incomplete. Sight-seers walk round admiring the beauty of its construction with the exception of the place for that brick. Now I have filled up the place of that brick, in me the building is completed and in me the messengers are complete.” A version has “I am the brick and I am the seal of the prophets.”   (Bukhari, Muslim)

7)     Abu Hurairah reported God’s Messenger as saying: “I have been given superiority over the prophets in six respects. I have been given words which are concise but comprehensive in meaning; I have been helped by terror in the hearts of enemies; spoils have been made lawful to me; the earth has been made for me a place of worship and ceremonially pure; I have been sent to all mankind; and the line of prophets is closed with me.”   (Muslim)

8)     The Holy Prophet said: The children of Israel were guided by the Prophets. When a prophet died, another succeeded him. However, there will be no prophet after me: there will be only caliphs.   (Bukhari)

9)     The Holy Prophet said: The line of Prophethood and Apostleship has come to an end: after me there will neither be a prophet nor an apostle.   (Tirmizi)   

10)  The Holy Prophet said: “I am Muhammad, I am Ahmad, I am the effacer: disbelief will be effaced through me. I am the assembler: after me the people will be assembled in the Plain of Resurrection. (That is, after me now only Resurrection is to take place). And I am the Last: after me there is no prophet.”   (Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmizi, Mu’wata, Al-Mustadrak)

11)  The Holy Prophet said: “Allah has sent no Prophet who did not warn his people of the coming of the Dajjal (the Antichrist, but he did not come in their times). Now I am the last of the Prophets and you are the last community. Therefore, he is about to appear among you now.”   (Ibn Majah)

12)  ‘Abdur Rehman bin Jubair says:” I heard ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr bin ‘As say that the Holy Prophet one day came out to us in a manner as though he were taking his leave. He said: I am Muhammad, the un-lettered Prophet, thrice; then said: and no prophet will come after me.”   (Ahmad)

13)  The Holy Prophet said: There is no prophethood after me; there are only harbingers of good news. It was asked: “What are the harbingers of good news, O Messenger of Allah?” He replied: “A true vision,” or said, “a righteous vision.” (That is, there is no possibility of Divine Revelation now. At the most a person may receive an inspiration, which will be in the form of a true vision).   (Ahmed, Nisai, Abu Daud)

14)  Thauban says that the Holy Prophet said: “…. And those 30 impostors will appear in my community each one of whom will claim to be a prophet, whereas I am the last Prophet; there is no prophet after me.”  (Abu Daud)

15)  The Holy Prophet said: “There is no prophet after me, and there is no Ummah (of any other prophet) after my Ummah.”   (Baihaqi, Tabrani)

Keeping in view the above mentioned verses of the Qur’an and Traditions of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), there has been a consensus of opinion among the jurists and scholars of Islam and also among the common Muslims about the finality of Prophethood with Muhammad (PBUH) who is the last messenger of Allah. According to Imam Ghazzali, anyone who doubts the doctrine of Finality of Prophethood with Muhammad is out of Islam. According to Fatawa Alimgiri, which is a famous book of Fiqh, anybody who claims to be Prophet or messenger of Allah after Muhammad (PBUH) is a liar and an imposter.

            Even logically and rationally there is no need of any new Prophet. Generally there are three things which necessitate the advent of a new messenger and these are:

a)     Teachings of the previous Prophet have been lost with the passage of time or the same have been intentionally or unintentionally corrupted and changed that they have lost their original and true form, so a new Prophet is needed to purge the religion of its impurities and restore its original glory; or

b)     That the teachings of the previous Prophet were incomplete and, therefore, a new Prophet is sent to improve upon his teachings to provide broad based guidance to the people to meet the new socio-economic challenges posed by the time; or

c)     That the previous Prophet was raised for a particular tribe, nation, people, place or country, and so a new Prophet is required for the guidance of some other tribe or nation or country.

            However, none of the above things exists after the advent of Muhammad (PBUH) as a universal messenger to all mankind with a complete and only acceptable religion to Allah (Al-Qur’an 3:19). The teachings of Muhammad (PBUH) are alive and have been fully preserved in the Qur’an, the responsibility of whose protection has been undertaken by the Almighty God Himself (Al-Qur’an 15:9). Not even a single letter or word has been changed in the book given to Muhammad during the last fourteen centuries nor it would be changed up to the Doomsday. Every saying of the Prophet, his every action, his every instruction is preserved in Hadith and history. Teachings of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) live today in their original form and they would continue to live up to the Last Day. Moreover, Islam is a perfect and complete religion (Al-Qur’an 5:3) which provides full guidance to its followers in every field of human life, i.e., religious, moral, social, political, economic, legal, constitutional, education, war, etc. It gives guidance not only for leading an ideal and pious life in this world but also makes man eligible for God’s bounty in the next world. And it is also a fact that Muhammad (PBUH) was not sent to any particular tribe or nation or country but to all nations of the world, indeed to all humanity. Since the whole humanity has been guided by a universal Prophet with a perfect and complete religion, of which not even a letter or a word has been changed, hence there is no need of any other Prophet to come after Muhammad (PBUH).

      Some critics of the Doctrine of Finality of Prophethood with Muhammad contend that this Doctrine is contradiected by the belief of the Muslims that Jesus Christ was raised alive and he would come back to the world one day to kill Dajjal, the enemy of Islam. However, this contention is absolutely ill-founded. Second coming of Jesus does not contradict the doctrine of finality of Prophethood with Muhammad (PBUH) because Jesus would come as follower of Muhammad (PBUH). He would offer prayer behind Muslim Imam. He would perform Hajj and Umrah. He would practice Shariah of Muhammad (PBUH). He will not receive any revelation nor he would preach any religion other than Islam nor he would introduce any new Shariah. He would kill the swine and break the cross. He would put an end to Christianity and Judaism and would convert all the Christians and the Jews to Islam. He would then end the Jizyah as it would no longer be required. Thus the concept of his second comming rather supports the doctrine of finality of Prophethood with Muhammad (PBUH). 



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