Prophets can still come in Islam: Three verses of the Quran


Jalees Ahmad, Al Hakam

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It is alleged Ahmadis are outside the pale of Islam simply because they have accepted Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmadas as the Promised Messiah and Imam Mahdi. Some say Ahmadis have accepted a totally “new prophet” and, for this reason, are no longer Muslims and should not identify as Muslims either.

If believing in a prophet – and that too a subordinate, non-law bearing one – to appear after the Holy Prophetsa is deemed to be an act that deviates from the teachings of Islam and, as a result, makes one a disbeliever, then the Holy Prophetsa would never have explicitly said that the Messiah of the Latter Days was going to be “a prophet of Allah”. (Sahih Muslim, Kitab al-Fitan wa Ashrat al-Saa’ah, Hadith. 2937)

Secondly, if believing in the advent of a prophet after the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa makes someone a disbeliever, then that would mean the majority of Muslims today are outside the pale of Islam. The majority of Muslims believe that Prophet Jesusas will physically return to this world. Consequently, to declare a person, a group, or a jamaat “kafirs” for believing in a non-law bearing prophet to come after the Holy Prophetsa would mean that all those who await the physical descent of Jesusas are also disbelievers and outside the pale of Islam.

Ahmadis believe in every vowel and letter of the Holy Quran – from the ba in “Bismillah…” to the sin in Surah al-Nas. To deviate even the slightest from the true purport of the teaching of the Quran is not the way of a true Muslim. Ahmadis believe the Holy Prophetsa was Khatam-un-Nabiyyin and that no law-bearing prophet can come after him; however, a prophet to be raised among the Muslim ummah is in perfect harmony with the Holy Quran. 

Here are three verses from the Holy Quran that prove a prophet from among the Muslim ummah (who would not bring a new law, rather act as a reviver) can come after the Holy Prophetsa.

Verse 1: “Allah chooses [His] Messengers”

In Surah al-Hajj, Allah says: 

اَللّٰہُ یَصۡطَفِیۡ مِنَ الۡمَلٰٓئِکَۃِ رُسُلًا وَّمِنَ النَّاسِ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰہَ سَمِیۡعٌۢ بَصِیۡرٌ

“Allah chooses [His] Messengers from among angels, and from among men. Surely, Allah is All-Hearing, All-Seeing.” (Surah al-Hajj, Ch.22: V.76)

Here, Allah states a clear practice of His – He continues to choose His messengers from among angels and men. And thus, as stated in the verse, whenever there is need of a prophet, Allah will send and appoint a prophet as has been His practice since the time of Adamas

In this verse, Allah uses the word يَصۡطَفِيۡ  which, grammatically, is a mudari‘ verb (the Arabic grammar tense for the present and the future).

If prophethood was to come to an end after the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa, why did Allah say this? Why did He say that He “chooses [His] Messengers”? Why did Allah choose to use the present and future tense? Surely, if He had willed that after the Holy Prophetsa, no prophet, whatsoever would walk the face of the earth. Then, He would have used the past tense. However, He chose to use the present and future tense.  

If one is to take this verse to mean that Allah used to choose His messengers, despite the verb يَصۡطَفِيۡ  being a mudari‘ verb, and that He no longer sends prophets, or that يَصۡطَفِيۡ is only referring to the present tense and not the future, then such an interpretation would be illogical. If we read the next verse, Allah states:

یَعۡلَمُ مَا بَیۡنَ اَیۡدِیۡہِمۡ وَمَا خَلۡفَہُمۡ ؕ وَاِلَی اللّٰہِ تُرۡجَعُ الۡاُمُوۡرُ

“He knows what is before them and what is behind them; and to Allah shall [all] affairs be returned [for decision].” (Surah al-Hajj, Ch.22: V.77)

In this verse, Allah states يَعۡلَمُ , which again, in light of Arabic grammar, is a mudari‘ verb. For one to say that يَصۡطَفِيۡ  means Allah used to choose prophets and no longer does, is akin to a person saying that يَعۡلَمُ  means that Allah used to know “what is before them and what is behind them”, but now He no longer does, God forbid.

Some raise the argument that this verse was fulfilled with the advent of the Holy Prophetsa and assert that the door of prophethood is now closed and sealed forever. However, this argument also fails as when the verse was revealed, the Holy Prophetsa was already commissioned as a prophet. 

As it is established that sending messengers is the continuous practice of Allah, no one can speak for Allah or change His sunnah. Allah declares:

وَلَنۡ‭ ‬تَجِدَ‭ ‬لِسُنَّةِ‭ ‬اللّٰهِ‭ ‬تَبۡدِيۡلًا

“[…] and thou wilt never find a change in the way of Allah.” (Surah al-Ahzab, Ch. 33: V.63)

One may question that it’s Allah’s practice to send and appoint law-bearing prophets, and so does this verse also imply He would continue to send law-bearing prophets? The answer to this is quite simple. It is Allah’s practice to send a law-bearing prophet only when the previous law is either incomplete, obsolete, changed and becomes distorted or bereft of guidance. It is only then that Allah sends a new law-bearing prophet. However, since Allah has said the Holy Quran is a complete and perfect book, and its teachings encompass all matters, and will never be abrogated or distorted there is no need for a law-bearing prophet to bring a new law; however, this does not eliminate the possibility of the advent of a prophet from among the Muslim ummah who would revive the law if Muslims stop following it. 

Allah states:

اَلۡيَوۡمَ‭ ‬اَكۡمَلۡتُ‭ ‬لَكُمۡ‭ ‬دِيۡنَكُمۡ‭ ‬وَاَتۡمَمۡتُ‭ ‬عَلَيۡكُمۡ‭ ‬نِعۡمَتِيۡ‭ ‬وَرَضِيۡتُ‭ ‬لَكُمُ‭ ‬الۡاِسۡلَامَ‭ ‬دِيۡنًا

“This day have I perfected your religion for you and completed My favour upon you and have chosen for you Islam as religion.” (Surah al-Maidah, Ch.5: V.4)

Therefore, the verse of Surah al-Hajj, reveals that the advent of a non-law bearing prophet is in complete accordance with the teachings of the Holy Quran.

Verse 2: Follow future messengers 

يٰبَنِيۡۤ‭ ‬اٰدَمَ‭ ‬اِمَّا‭ ‬يَاۡتِيَنَّكُمۡ‭ ‬رُسُلٌ‭ ‬مِّنۡكُمۡ‭ ‬يَقُصُّوۡنَ‭ ‬عَلَيۡكُمۡ‭ ‬اٰيٰتِيۡ‭ ‬ۙ‭ ‬فَمَنِ‭ ‬اتَّقٰي‭ ‬وَاَصۡلَحَ‭ ‬فَلَا‭ ‬خَوۡفٌ‭ ‬عَلَيۡهِمۡ‭ ‬وَلَا‭ ‬هُمۡ‭ ‬يَحۡزَنُوۡنَ

“O children of Adam, if Messengers come to you from among yourselves, rehearsing My Signs unto you, then whoso shall fear God and do good deeds, on them shall come no fear nor shall they grieve.” (Surah al-A‘raf, Ch.7: V.36)

This verse is another example of the continuation of prophethood within the Muslim ummah. The sentence اِمَّا‭ ‬يَاۡتِيَنَّكُمۡ‭ ‬رُسُلٌ‭ ‬denotes that messengers will come as the phrase يَاۡتِيَنَّكُمۡ is used for both present and future tense. 

A common argument raised by people is that this verse addresses the “children of Adam” and not Muslims. This argument is quite strange. Why would Allah, in His infinite wisdom, reveal this verse if Muslims were not addressed? 

If we look at the verses before this, it becomes evident that Muslims were being addressed. In verse 27 of this Surah, Allah states:

یٰبَنِیۡۤ اٰدَمَ قَدۡ اَنۡزَلۡنَا عَلَیۡکُمۡ لِبَاسًا یُّوَارِیۡ سَوۡاٰتِکُمۡ وَرِیۡشًا ؕ وَلِبَاسُ التَّقۡوٰی

“O children of Adam, We have indeed sent down to you raiment to cover your shame, and to be an elegant dress” (Surah al-A‘raf, Ch.7: V.27)

Now, if we believe those who say verse 36 is not addressing Muslims, is that to say Muslims are exempt from this verse and only the children of Adamas were to follow this instruction? There is no doubt Muslims are being addressed here as they were the primary recipients of the Holy Quran.

Equally, in the next verse, Allah stated:

يٰبَنِيۡۤ‭ ‬اٰدَمَ‭ ‬لَا‭ ‬يَفۡتِنَنَّكُمُ‭ ‬الشَّيۡطٰنُ

“O children of Adam, let not Satan seduce you” (Surah al-A‘raf, Ch.7: V.28)

Again, this commandment has been addressed to Muslims who have been instructed to protect themselves from the schemes of Satan.

Verse 32 of this surah states:

يٰبَنِيۡۤ‭ ‬اٰدَمَ‭ ‬خُذُوۡا‭ ‬زِيۡنَتَكُمۡ‭ ‬عِنۡدَ‭ ‬كُلِّ‭ ‬مَسۡجِدٍ

“O children of Adam, look to your adornment at every time and place of worship” (Surah al-A‘raf, Ch.7: V.32)

This emphatically shows Muslims are the primary recipients being addressed. 

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Imam Jalaluddin Suyutirh has recorded various narrations alluding to this verse. He writes that during the time of ignorance, some would come to the Baitullah – house of Allah, the Holy Ka‘bah – unclothed and for this reason, Allah revealed this verse to the Holy Prophetsa. This incident has also been recorded in Sahih Muslim (Kitab al-Tafsir, Hadith 3028).

Imam Fakhruddin Razirh in his tafsir (commentary) of this verse writes:

و‭ ‬إنما‭ ‬قال‭ ‬رسل‭ ‬و‭ ‬إن‭ ‬كان‭ ‬خطابا‭ ‬للرسول‭ ‬عليه‭ ‬الصلاة‭ ‬و‭ ‬السلام‭ ‬و‭ ‬هو‭ ‬خاتم‭ ‬الأنبياء‭ ‬عليه‭ ‬و‭ ‬عليهم‭ ‬السلام

“He [Allah] stated ‘rusul’ [Prophets], and it was surely addressed to the Prophet, who is the Khatam-ul-Anbiya, may peace be upon him and them all.” (Tafsir al-Kabir, Surah al-A‘raf, Ch.7: V.35-36)

He further writes:

و‭ ‬أما‭ ‬قوله‭ (‬يَقُصُّوۡنَ‭ ‬عَلَيۡكُمۡ‭ ‬اٰيٰتِيۡ‭) ‬فقيل‭ ‬تلك‭ ‬الآيات‭ ‬في‭ ‬القران

“And as for His words (rehearsing My Signs unto you), those signs are said to be the Quran.” (Ibid)

Here, Imam Fakhruddin Razirh clearly stated the Holy Prophetsa and the Muslims were being addressed in this verse and not the children of Adamas who have come and passed on. He writes that the signs that the messengers will rehearse are said to be the Holy Quran. And so, one can infer that this verse means that a prophet from among the Muslim ummah will be raised who will rehearse God’s signs, and that is none other than the Imam Mahdi who was prophesied to come in the Latter Days by the Holy Prophetsa.

In Tafsir al-Baydawi – one of the most popular classical Sunni commentaries of the Quran – Imam Baydawirh, a Persian jurist, theologian and 13th-century Muslim scholar, under the verse quoted above, writes:

إتيان‭ ‬الرسل‭ ‬أمر‭ ‬جائز‭ ‬غير‭ ‬واجب

“The coming of the messengers is possible, however not necessary” (Tafsir al-Baydawi, Surah al-A‘raf, Ch.7: V.35)

This proves that prominent Muslim scholars, even before the advent of Hazrat Ahmadas, thought that non-law-bearing prophets can still be sent by Allah for the reformation of the Muslim ummah, although it is not necessary. However, to outright deny that no prophet can come is against the Holy Quran and the views of early Islamic scholars as mentioned above.

Verse 3: Allah’s blessings on the ummah

In Surah al-Fatihah – known as the mother of the Quran –  Allah states:

اِهْدِنَا الصِّرَاطَ الۡمُسۡتَقِیۡمَ ۙ۔ صِرَاطَ الَّذِیۡنَ اَنۡعَمۡتَ عَلَیۡہِمۡ ۬ۙ غَیۡرِ الۡمَغۡضُوۡبِ عَلَیۡہِمۡ وَلَا الضَّآلِّیۡنَ

“Guide us in the right path, The path of those on whom Thou hast bestowed [Thy] blessings, those who have not incurred [Thy] displeasure, and those who have not gone astray.” (Surah al-Fatihah, Ch.1: V.6-7)

Regarding Surah al-Fatihah, the Holy Prophetsa:

مَنْ‭ ‬صَلَّى‭ ‬صَلاَةً‭ ‬لَمْ‭ ‬يَقْرَأْ‭ ‬فِيهَا‭ ‬بِأُمِّ‭ ‬الْقُرْآنِ‭ ‬فَهِيَ‭ ‬خِدَاجٌ‭ ‬هِيَ‭ ‬خِدَاجٌ‭ ‬هِيَ‭ ‬خِدَاجٌ

“Whoever observes prayer in which he does not recite the Mother of the Book, it [his prayer] is deficient, it is deficient, it is deficient.” (Sunan an-Nisai, Kitab al-Iftitah)

Further emphasising this narration, it is recorded that the Holy Prophetsa said:

لاَ‭ ‬صَلاَةَ‭ ‬لِمَنْ‭ ‬لَمْ‭ ‬يَقْرَأْ‭ ‬بِفَاتِحَةِ‭ ‬الْكِتَابِ

“Whoever does not recite al-Fatihah in their prayer, their prayer is invalid.” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Kitab al-Azan)

Now that the importance of this surah has been established, let us see how it proves that the advent of a prophet after the Holy Prophetsa, within the Muslim ummah is permissible.

In this surah, which essentially is a perfect prayer, Allah has taught Muslims to pray for those blessings which He bestowed on people and nations before. So what are the spiritual blessings, favours, rewards Muslims are taught to seek from Allah? What is the “blessing” that Allah bestowed on His people and previous nations? In Surah al-Nisa, Allah has explained in detail the definition of this blessing:

وَمَنۡ‭ ‬يُّطِعِ‭ ‬اللّٰهَ‭ ‬وَالرَّسُوۡلَ‭ ‬فَاُولٰٓئِكَ‭ ‬مَعَ‭ ‬الَّذِيۡنَ‭ ‬اَنۡعَمَ‭ ‬اللّٰهُ‭ ‬عَلَيۡهِمۡ‭ ‬مِّنَ‭ ‬النَّبِيّٖنَ‭ ‬وَالصِّدِّيۡقِيۡنَ‭ ‬وَالشُّهَدَآءِ‭ ‬وَالصّٰلِحِيۡنَ‭ ‬ۚ‭ ‬وَحَسُنَ‭ ‬اُولٰٓئِكَ‭ ‬رَفِيۡقًا

“And 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.” (Surah al-Nisa, Ch.4: V.70)

Therefore, the blessings that Muslims are told to pray for in Surah al-Fatihah are “the Prophets, the Truthful, the Martyrs, and the Righteous.”

Muslims are taught to pray to Allah to guide them to these four paths which have been mentioned in Surah al-Nisa. If these spiritual statuses were not at all possible to attain, then why would Allah, in His infinite wisdom teach Muslims this prayer. It is against the wisdom of Allah to teach a prayer that is unachievable. So, for Allah to teach this prayer, and for the Holy Prophetsa to emphasise the importance of it, means that the door for attaining the four spiritual ranks i.e., “the Prophets, the Truthful, the Martyrs, and the Righteous” is open.

Another point to ponder over is the grand status of the Holy Prophetsa which has been mentioned in this verse. Allah has stated “whoso obeys Allah and this Messenger”, meaning the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa, shall be bestowed out of the four spiritual ranks as stated in the verse. And thus, one can extrapolate from this that prophethood is now only attainable through complete obedience to Allah and the Holy Prophetsa, meaning that if a prophet is to be raised, it will only be within the Mulsim ummah. No other prophet in the past has been crowned with such a unique quality and distinction.

Further, expounding on the word ne‘mat – blessing – we read in the Holy Quran:

وَاِذۡ‭ ‬قَالَ‭ ‬مُوۡسٰي‭ ‬لِقَوۡمِهٖ‭ ‬يٰقَوۡمِ‭ ‬اذۡكُرُوۡا‭ ‬نِعۡمَةَ‭ ‬اللّٰهِ‭ ‬عَلَيۡكُمۡ‭ ‬اِذۡ‭ ‬جَعَلَ‭ ‬فِيۡكُمۡ‭ ‬اَنۡۢبِيَآءَ‭ ‬وَجَعَلَكُمۡ‭ ‬مُّلُوۡكًا

“And [remember] when Moses said to his people, ‘O my people, call to mind Allah’s favour upon you when He appointed Prophets among you and made you kings […]” (Surah al-Ma‘idah, Ch.5: V.21)

Again, this verse clearly states that the advent and appointment of prophets is a ne‘mat from Allah. If Allah Himself has not closed this grand door of blessing, what gives humans the right to do so?

Alluding to the verse of Surah al-Nisa mentioned above, some raise the allegation that the wordمَعَ  which has been used means that those who believe in Allah and His messenger will be “in the company of” the four spiritual ranks stated. They say that Muslims will merely be along with them and receive the company of prophets, the truthful, the martyrs and the righteous but will not be among them.

This illogical view holds no ground and simply cannot be deemed as a reasonable understanding. In the verse, Allah answers this flimsy allegation by using the word مِنْ , which means “among” or “from”.

The interpretation ofمَعَ  meaning “to be in company with” is against rationality and holds no weight. If we were to entertain this belief, it would then mean that in the entire Muslim ummah, since the demise of the Holy Prophetsa till now, no Muslim has ever achieved the rank of a righteous person, a martyr, or even a truthful person. 

It will mean that Muslims will merely be in company with such spiritual people and cannot attain the status. It would mean that even the noble rightly guided Khulafara and Companionsra did not attain the lofty status of the truthful, the martyrs, or the righteous. If this is the case, then how can one declare Muslims to be “the best people raised for the good of mankind”?

The usage of the word مَعَ in this verse can only mean “among”. However, if one still believes the word مَعَ  can only mean “in company with”, then questions alluding to other verses of the Holy Quran would need to be answered. For example, in Surah aal-e-Imran, we read a prayer:

رَبَّنَا‭ ‬فَاغۡفِرۡ‭ ‬لَنَا‭ ‬ذُنُوۡبَنَا‭ ‬وَكَفِّرۡ‭ ‬عَنَّا‭ ‬سَيِّاٰتِنَا‭ ‬وَتَوَفَّنَا‭ ‬مَعَ‭ ‬الۡاَبۡرَارِ

“Our Lord, forgive us, therefore, our errors and remove from us our evils, and in death number us with the righteous.” (Surah Al-e-Imran, Ch.3: V.194)

Here the wordمَعَ  has been used. Are Muslims praying to be in the company of the righteous or actually among the righteous themselves? If Muslims are merely praying to be in the company of the righteous, as non-Ahmadi Muslims assert, then this is a grave injustice to the interpretation of the Holy Quran which is the perfect book of guidance.

How is it that even with the Holy Quran, Muslims are unable to attain any of the four spiritual ranks? How can the Muslim ummah be the best of nations and yet erase the possibility of a single Muslim attaining the four spiritual ranks mentioned in Surah al-Nisa?

In another place of the Holy Quran, with regards to Iblis we read:

اَبٰۤي‭ ‬اَنۡ‭ ‬يَّكُوۡنَ‭ ‬مَعَ‭ ‬السّٰجِدِيۡنَ

“[…] he refused to be among those who submit.” (Surah al-Hijr, Ch.15: V.32)

Now, every Muslim and even Muslim children are well accustomed to the story of how Iblis disobeyed God’s command and chose not to submit. In this verse, Allah usesمَعَ  and as the context shows, Iblis was in the company of those who submitted but was not among them. Hence, this verse provides substantial evidence that مَعَ   does not merely mean “to be in company with” but means “to be among” and goes to show that the context at hand must be studied; for if the context of a verse is not considered then the true essence of the meaning of the verse is lost.  

There are some instances in the Holy Quran where the wordمَعَ  can mean either “to be in company with” or “to be with”; however it is important to study the verse along with its context. For if we take the verse of Surah al-Nisa to simply mean Muslims will merely be in company with “the Prophets, the Truthful, the Martyrs, and the Righteous”, that would imply that the Muslim ummah is and was bereft of noble and pious souls who attained or would attain the rank of the truthful, the martyrs, and the righteous.

A simple study of these three verses of the Holy Quran emphatically proves the continuation of prophethood within the Muslim ummah

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