CHIEF OF THE MESSENGERS
By Dr. M. H. Durrani
The idea of a Universal Prophet is not based on a solitary occurrence in the Holy Quran as to the extent of the mission of this or that Prophet, but it a fully developed Divine Scheme. When mentioning the other prophets the Qur'an says that Noah was sent to "this people" , (Ch.7 v.59, 71). It speaks of Moses as being commanded to "bring forth thy people from darkness into light" (Ch.14 v.5). It speaks of Jesus as a messenger to "the Children of Israel" (Ch.3 v.48), but in speaking of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, Sallallaho Alai-he wa sallam (S.A.W.), may God bestow peace upon him, it says in unequivocal words:
"We have not sent thee but as a universal Messenger to men giving them glad tidings, and warning them (against sin), but most men understand not." (34:28)
On another occasion also, the Universality of the Prophet's mission is thus stressed:
"Say: O men: I am sent unto you all, as the Apostle of God to whom belongeth
the dominion of the heavens and the earth." (Ch.7 v.158).
One thing is sure that no other prophet is spoken of either in the Holy Qur'an or in any other scripture as having been sent to the whole of humanity or to all people or all nations. He is not only a warner to all the nations and bringer of glad tidings but a mercy to all of them as well:
"We sent thee but as a Mercy for all Creatures."
The Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) is termed Khataman-Nabiyyen or the Seal of Prophets. When a document is sealed it is held to be complete and there can be no additions thereafter. The Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) has closed the long line of the Apostles and there will be no prophet after him. (Thus it is the will of God to terminate this system). In Muhammad (S.A.W.), Allah selected a person who was to be a World Prophet and a Mercy for all creation: Muhammad (S.A.W.) not only delivers the message but instructs, explains its wisdom with discretion in an amiable manner, acts upon it himself, and after demonstration, urges people to follow it for their own benefit.
The Prophet is a warner and bringer of glad tidings to those who have faith. He is a man of exemplary character. His message was for the whole of mankind as he was the last of the prophets, and not like Christ who had been sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and this message was final for all times to come. Thus, the words of God and actions of a Prophet made others pursue the path of guidance. If these are preserved in their original integrity and transmitted in their genuine colour, there lies no necessity of having a new revelation or prophet. But the fact is that whatever had come from God before the advent of Muhammad (S.A.W.) had seen corruption and human interpolation. The records of the lives of pre-Islamic religious teachers are enveloped in mystery. They were more of the character of myth than history. In fact, we know very little about their life. Hence, the need of the Qur'an and Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.). If the Qur'an is just the same as it was in the days of the Prophet and the records of the acts and sayings of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.) is exceptionally faithful, correct and complete, do we still need any other prophet or new revelation from God? The Qur'an is the last Book of God, and Muhammad (S.A.W.) the last of His Prophets. It is more the aspect of finality of law and guidance given in the last message of God than the personality of the Holy Messenger that makes him the Ultimate Prophet. When the Holy Qur'an faithfully represents the Will of the Most High and contains everything to meet our moral and spiritual requirements, a new revelation would be useless repetition and redundant.
History tells us that Muhammad (S.A.W.) was the only Prophet who saw his mission fulfilled in his own life-time. Its injunctions swept off most deep-rooted evils like idolatry and drunkenness; it left no trace of them in the Arabian Peninsula, welded the warring elements of Arabian Society into one nation, and made an ignorant people the foremost torch-bearers of knowledge and science. In fact, every word of the Qur'an gives expression to Divine majesty and glory in a manner not approached by the other sacred books. Hence the challenge of the Holy Qur'an to produce a similar verse remains unanswered to this day.
"And if ye are in doubt as to what we have revealed from time to time to our Servant, then produce a Surah like thereunto; and call your witnesses or helpers (if there are any) besides God, if your (doubts) are true.
"But if ye cannot, and of a surety ye cannot, then fear the Fire whose fuel is men and stones which is prepared for those who reject faith" (Ch.2 v.23, 24).
The Christian Priests waited for miraculous intervention from God and did not feel it their duty to mould contemporary society according to the ideals of Christ. To them the moral duty of an individual was to leave the world of society and matter to itself. According to Islam this is a totally wrong approach. Nature and Matter are not alien to the world of spirit; in the evolutionary progress of mankind, matter is as essential as spirit which finds in nature a stepping stone towards higher integration. The effort which man puts forth in overcoming the obstruction offered by Nature sharpens his insight and prepares him for a dive into what lies below the surface of phenomena. The moral nature of man can blossom into perfection only when it is ready to face the opposing forces of Nature and mould the stimulus offered by it to ideal ends. It is only then that the total self of man realizes itself as one of the greatest energies of Nature and is able to rise higher than Determinism and Fatalism. The Qur'an denounces renunciation in no uncertain words and demands resolute and constant active participation from the believers in the struggle for establishing a social order on the basis of peace and justice.
"And fight them on until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail
justice and faith in God." (Ch.2 v.193).
The man who regards it as his task to realize a divinely-ordained moral ideal will judge of all things with reference to their possible utility for that purpose. For such a person there exists no blind destiny, no arbitrary will, to paralyze his energy; for him all things are ordered by God with a view to subserving his divinely-ordained ethical task. For such a person no actual state of affairs is unalterably ordained, but every fresh situation is a call to a higher realization of the world's ethical purpose, for which indeed, the mechanical uniformity of Nature provides the most effective means. For such a man, history also acquires a new significance. He sees in it a gradual unfolding of the "Signs" (Ch.7 v.181) and the "Day of God" (Ch.14 v.5), the main moral purpose for which the heavens and the earth and man were created. It affords to man the right perspective in which he can view the significance of his moral task in the upholding and helping realization of the law and purpose of Providence.
Thus, Islam consists in threefold duties towards God, Man and self:
(1) Duty to God means complete submission to His Will.
(2) Duty to Man means peace and good will towards them.
(3) Duty to self means self-help for self-perfection.
It is essential for our perfect development that we should worship God and implore Him for help and guidance in the discharge of the threefold duty of life.
In order to achieve godly life, Islam projects men into the very being of God.
"Be good to others as God is good to you" (Ch.28 v.77).
God, according to the Qur'an, is Just, Merciful and Loving. It is His justice and loving consideration for men that He sent Prophets for their moral guidance so that they may not suffer due to misuse of power.
"Upon Allah it rests to show the Right Way" (Ch.16 v.9).
If man is willing to repent and turn his face to the Right Path, His forgiveness and mercy is ever ready to accept him back.
"Ask forgiveness of your Lord, then turn to Him, surely my Lord is Merciful, Loving-Kind" (Ch.11 v.90).
Hence, the highest and purest moral ideal in Islam is "to receive the fovour of Allah" (Ch.2 v.138). Or what is expressed in other words as "creating in you the Divine attributes."
Such faith in God necessarily produces in man an attitude of humility which arises, not because we are finite as compared to God's infinite power and wisdom, but because His love and compassion for us far exceeds the merit which we are able to earn by our own efforts towards goodness and justice.
"Whoever does a good deed shall have ten like it" (Ch.6 v.161).
The message of the Holy Prophet aims at establishing an equilibrium and a balance between two aspects of human life. He said that everything in the world is for you, but your mission in life is to fulfil the Will of God. His teachings catered to the spiritual as well as the temporal needs of men. He taught man how to purify his soul and be in communion with the Reality and also to reform the mundane life - both individual and collective -and establish right over might and virtue over vice. He said that spiritual purity can be achieved only through submission to the Divine Will and in fashioning your life in such a way that it comes in accord with the Commandments of God. He ordered his followers to pray to God with complete submission, to observe fasts and give alms with sincerest devotion, to meditate and love God with every fibre of their being. But he also said that all this would be of no avail if one is not kind to his children and fellow beings, dutiful and honest in his work, gentle in his behavior, clean in his dealings, respectful to his elders, helpful to his neighbours and straight-forward in his personal, social, political and other spheres of life.
This is the message of Muhammad (S.A.W.) and what a unique and life-giving message it is? A message which the entire humanity needs today.