I have written and spoken to Muslims in the past, and because I don’t believe everything blindly, I have been accused of being arrogant. This does not include you. I’m just mentioning it to let you know I’m really interested in learning about Islam (from the heart). Maybe I did not express my question clearly OR maybe you misunderstood my question. As I wrote below:
I understand that Islam teaches that Muhammad is the LAST MESSENGER. I know that the Qur’an teaches that Muhammad is the last prophet. IS THERE A VERSE IN THE QUR’AN THAT STATES THAT MUHAMMAD IS THE LAST MESSENGER?
Let me try to explain my understanding of it.
A. Y. Ali’s1 Translation and commentary: According to Surah 19:51 & 22:52 “…Apostle OR prophet…” & “…Apostle AND prophet…” the indication is that these are two different offices, also see the commentaries. So, while Muhammad is the last prophet according to the Qur’an, I have not seen a verse stating he is also the last messenger.
To fully understand why the Qur’an has considered it sufficient to declare that Mohammad (pbuh) is the last Nabi (prophet) and has not felt the need to declare that Mohammad (pbuh) is also the last Rasu’l (messenger) of God, one must first understand the difference between the two offices of “Nabi” and “Rasu’l“.
In one of my previous responses to a question regarding the difference between the two offices of Nabi and Rasu’l, I had written2:
The Qur’an has used the words “Nabi” (literally meaning: “one who informs”) and Rasu’l” (literally meaning: “one who delivers a message”) as terms as well as in their literal meanings. In their literal meaning, these words have also been used interchangeably. However, as terms of the Qur’an the two words have been used in a more qualified and distinct implication.
“Nabi“, as a term of the Qur’an refers to individuals selected by the Almighty for the specific purpose of delivering the message revealed to him from God and to remind people of the Day when they shall be presented before the Almighty and shall have to answer for their deeds. In other words, “Nabi” is an individual who guides his people to the path of the Creator’s liking, in the light of the message revealed to him.
On the other hand, “Rasu’l” (as a term of the Qur’an) is a special position, which was given only to a few of the “Nabis“. Every “Nabi” is not necessarily a “Rasu’l“. According to the details provided by the Qur’an regarding the position of “Rasu’l“, the following points can be derived:
God sends His “Rasu’ls” as symbols of His final Judgment. A “Rasu’l“, in contrast to a “Nabi” is not just a deliverer of God’s message. In addition to being a deliverer of God’s message, he decides the fate of his addressees, on the basis of the response that he receives from them. The Qur’an, regarding “Rasu’ls” says:
Those who oppose God and His Rasu’ls shall be brought low. God has decreed: I will surely triumph, Myself and My Rasu’ls. God is Most Powerful, Mighty. (Al-Mujadilah 58: 20, 21)
It should be quite clear from this clarification, that though “Nabi” and “Rasu’l” are separate designations of the Qur’an and all Nabis are not Rasu’l, yet all “Rasu’ls” are “Nabis” too. Thus when the Qur’an said that Mohammad (pbuh) is “the seal of Nabis“, it automatically implies that the Qur’an holds him as the seal of “Rasu’ls” too, because a person who is a “Rasu’l“, according to the above explanation, has to be a “Nabi” first.
29th November 1999
- That is Abdullah Yusuf Ali. [↩]
- Reference is to the first question in this section, titled: “Is there a Difference between Nabi (Prophets) and Rasu’l (Messengers)?“. [↩]