Al Ahzaab 38-41

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وَإِذْ تَقُولُ لِلَّذِي أَنْعَمَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَأَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيْهِ أَمْسِكْ عَلَيْكَ زَوْجَكَ وَاتَّقِ اللَّهَ وَتُخْفِي فِي نَفْسِكَ مَا اللَّهُ مُبْدِيهِ وَتَخْشَى النَّاسَ وَاللَّهُ أَحَقُّ أَنْ تَخْشَاهُ ۖ فَلَمَّا قَضَىٰ زَيْدٌ مِنْهَا وَطَرًا زَوَّجْنَاكَهَا لِكَيْ لَا يَكُونَ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ حَرَجٌ فِي أَزْوَاجِ أَدْعِيَائِهِمْ إِذَا قَضَوْا مِنْهُنَّ وَطَرًا ۚ وَكَانَ أَمْرُ اللَّهِ مَفْعُولًا {38} مَا كَانَ عَلَى النَّبِيِّ مِنْ حَرَجٍ فِيمَا فَرَضَ اللَّهُ لَهُ ۖ سُنَّةَ اللَّهِ فِي الَّذِينَ خَلَوْا مِنْ قَبْلُ ۚ وَكَانَ أَمْرُ اللَّهِ قَدَرًا مَقْدُورًا{39} الَّذِينَ يُبَلِّغُونَ رِسَالَاتِ اللَّهِ وَيَخْشَوْنَهُ وَلَا يَخْشَوْنَ أَحَدًا إِلَّا اللَّهَ ۗ وَكَفَىٰ بِاللَّهِ حَسِيبًا {40} مَا كَانَ مُحَمَّدٌ أَبَا أَحَدٍ مِنْ رِجَالِكُمْ وَلَٰكِنْ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ وَخَاتَمَ النَّبِيِّينَ ۗ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ عَلِيمًا {41}
[33:38] And remember when thou didst say to him on whom Allah had bestowed favours and on whom thou also hadst bestowed favours: ‘Keep thy wife to thyself, and fear Allah.’ And thou didst conceal in thy heart what Allah was going to bring to light, and thou wast afraid of the people, whereas Allah has better right that thou shouldst fear Him. Then, when Zaid had accomplished his want of her so as to have no further need of her, We joined her in marriage to thee, so that there may be no hindrance for the believers with regard to the wives of their adopted sons, when they have accomplished their want of them. And Allah’s decree must be fulfilled. [33:39] There can be no hindrance for the Prophet with regard to that which Allah has made incumbent upon him. Such indeed was the way of Allah with those who have passed away before - and the command of Allah is a decree ordained - [33:40] Those who delivered the Messages of Allah and feared Him, and feared none but Allah. And sufficient is Allah as a Reckoner. [33:41] 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 has full knowledge of all things.


Commentary


Overview of Ahmadiyya interpretation

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community translates the phrase "Khataman Nabiyyeen" in the above verse as "Seal of the Prophets". The phrase is understood to mean Muhammadsa was the greatest of all prophets and that he was the last law-bearing prophet - with the Quran, as revealed to him, being the final religious law:

All prophethood except Muhammadan prophethood has ended. No law-giving prophet shall ever come, and a prophet without law may, but only such as is primarily a follower of the Holy Prophetsa.

Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Tajalliyate Ilahiyya


The charge leveled against me and my community is that we do not believe the Holy Prophetsa to be Khatamun Nabiyeen is a calumny. The fact is, the force, the certainty, the passion and the solid conviction with which we believe the Holy Prophetsa to be Khatamul Anbiyya is so strong and overwhelming and of such excellence that it is a hundred thousand times stronger than the belief of our accusers.

Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Malfoozat

There have been millions of pure-hearted people in the world and there will be many more in future, but we have found the best of them all and the choicest man of God, whose name is Muhammadsa.

Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, Chashmah-e-Marifat

Overview of non-Ahmadi Muslim interpretation

Non-Ahmadi Muslim sects state "Khataman Nabiyyeen" means "Last of the Prophets" and that no further prophets can come. However this interpretation is contradictory, as the same sects accept numerous prophecies within Muhammad'ssa traditions which state Jesus will return and therefore be a prophet after Muhammadsa:

Say ye: ‘We believe in Allah and what has been revealed to us, and what was revealed to Abraham and Ishmael, and Isaac, and Jacob and his children, and what was given to Moses and Jesus, and what was given to all other Prophets from their Lord.

- Quran 2:137


The prophet of Allah, Jesus, and his companions would supplicate Allah, Who would send to them insects (which would attack their necks) and in the morning they would perish like one single person. The prophet of Allah, Jesus, and his companions would then come down to the earth and they would not find in the earth as much space as a single span which is not filled with their putrefaction and stench. The prophet of Allah, Jesus, and his companions would then again beseech Allah

- Muslim

There shall be no prophet or messenger between Jesus, the son of Mary, and me. Remember, he shall be my Caliph in my Ummah after me.

- Tabarani

Moreover, if Muhammadsa is the last of the prophets, it means not a single follower of his or of the Quran in all of history will be raised to the status of prophethood. To Ahmadi Muslims this seems particularly strange when we consider numerous followers of Moses and the Bible (Torah) revealed to him reached the status of prophethood:

We sent down the Torah wherein was guidance and light. By it did the Prophets, who were obedient to Us, judge for the Jews

- Quran 5:45

Quranic context supports Ahmadiyya interpretation

The context of the above passage has been explained as follows:

In the very same year, in 5 AH, shortly before the Ghazwah of Bani Mustaliq, which took place in Shaban 5 AH, the Holy Prophetsa married Zainab bint Jaḥashra. Some historians, such as Ibni Athir and the author of Khamis, etc. have placed the marriage of Zainab bint Jaḥashra after the Ghazwah of Bani Mustaliq, but this is incorrect. The reason being that it is proven from Sahih Bukhari that when the famous calumny was leveled against Hazrat Ayeshara, the marriage of Zainab bint Jaḥashra had already taken place; and it is accepted that the incident of slander against Hazrat Ayesha is linked to the Ghazwah of Bani Mustaliq. Hazrat Zainabra was the daughter of the paternal aunt of the Holy Prophetsa, whose name was Amimah bint Abdul-Muṭṭalib. Although she was extremely righteous and pious, she was somewhat conscious of her family status at heart. In contrast, the disposition of the Holy Prophetsa was absolutely pure of such thoughts, and although he was considerate of family circumstances from a social perspective, the Holy Prophetsa considered innate merit and individual virtue and purity as being the true criteria for nobility.

To this affect, the Holy Quran states: "Verily, the most honourable among you, in the sight of Allah, is he who is the most righteous among you." (Quran 49:14)

Hence, the Holy Prophetsa proposed the marriage of this dear one, i.e., Zainab bint Jahashra to his freed slave and foster-son Zaid bin Harithahra without any hesitation. At first, Zainabra did not accept this match considering her family status to be greater, but ultimately, upon noticing the strong desire of the Holy Prophetsa, she agreed.

In any case, according to the proposal and desire of the Holy Prophetsa, the marriage of Zainabra and Zaidra took place. Although Zainabrafulfilled her vows with goodness, in his own heart, Zaidra felt that Zainabra still harboured hidden feelings that she was from a noble family and a close relative of the Holy Prophetsa, while Zaidra was merely a freed slave and not her equal. Even in his own heart, Zaidra felt that his position was lesser than that of Zainabra. This feeling slowly and gradually became stronger making their marital life unpleasant, making husband and wife indisposed to one another. When this upsetting situation grew out of hand, Zaid bin Harithahra presented himself before the Holy Prophetsaof his own accord, and complaining about the treatment of Zainabra, sought permission to divorce her. In another narration it is related that he complained that, “Zainab uses harsh tongue, and therefore, I wish to divorce her.”

Naturally, the Holy Prophetsa was grieved upon hearing the state of affairs, and he restrained Zaidra from giving a divorce. Perhaps feeling that Zaidra could do more to fulfill his end, the Holy Prophetsa exhorted him saying, “Fear God, and settle your differences however you may.” These words of the Holy Prophetsa have been recorded by the Holy Quran as well in the following words: "Keep thy wife to thyself, and fear Allah" (Quran 33:38)

The reason for this advice of the Holy Prophetsa was that firstly, in principle, the Holy Prophetsa disliked divorce. On one occasion, the Holy Prophetsa stated: "Allah did not make anything lawful more abominable to Him than divorce." (Abu Dawud) 

For this reason, it has only been permitted as a last resort. Secondly, as related by Imam Zainul-Abidin Ali bin Husainra, the son of Imam Husainra (and Imam Zuhri has declared this narration as being authentic), since the Holy Prophetsa knew by way of divine revelation that Zaid bin Harithahra would ultimately divorce Zainabra, and then she would subsequently come into a matrimonial bond with the Holy Prophetsafeeling that he had a personal connection in the matter, the Holy Prophetsa wished to remain absolutely unrelated and neutral. Moreover, from his own perspective, it was the utmost desire of the Holy Prophetsa that he should have no part in the dissolution of the marriage of Zaidra and Zainabra, and that they should continue living together for as long as possible. It was under this consideration that the Holy Prophetsa emphatically exhorted Zaidra not to give a divorce, fear God, and settle the differences between husband and wife in any way possible.

Furthermore, the Holy Prophetsa also apprehended that if Zainabra was to marry the Holy Prophetsa after having separated from Zaidra, people would raise the allegation that the Holy Prophetsa had married the divorcee of his foster-son, and people would be put to trial. As such, Allah the Exalted states in the holy Quran: "And thou didst conceal in thy heart what Allah was going to bring to light, and thou wast afraid of the people, whereas Allah has better right that thou shouldst fear Him." (33:38)

In any case, the Holy Prophetsa admonished Zaidra to fear Allah and held him back from giving a divorce. In light of this exhortation, Zaidra bowed his head in submission and silently returned. However, it was difficult for these distant personalities to come together and what was not meant to be remained as such. After some time, Zaidra gave a divorce. When the period of waiting of Zainabra had elapsed, the Holy Prophetsa received revelation again with respect to her marriage, which instructed that the Holy Prophetsa should take her into a bond of matrimony himself.

In this divine command, the wisdom was so that Zainabra could be comforted and so that it could be demonstrated that there was no disgrace in Muslim men marrying a divorced woman. Moreover, another wisdom was that since Zaidra was the foster-son of the Holy Prophetsa and was generally known as his son, by marrying his divorcee, a practical example could be demonstrated by the Holy Prophetsa before the Muslims that a foster-son is not a real son, nor do such injunctions apply to them, as are enforced upon biological sons. As a result, this ignorant Arabian custom could be completely expunged from among the Muslims. In this regard, the holy Quran, which is the most authentic of all historical records states: "When Zaid had accomplished his want of her so as to have no further need of her, We joined her in marriage to thee, so that there may be no hindrance for the believers with regard to the wives of their adopted sons, when they have accomplished their want of them. And Allah’s decree must be fulfilled." (33:38)

Therefore, after this divine revelation was sent down, which was absolutely free from the personal desire or thought of the Holy Prophetsa, he decided to marry Zainabra. The Holy Prophetsa sent his proposal to Zainabra through Zaidra himself. Upon the consent of Zainabra, her brother Abu Ahmad bin Jaḥashra served as her guardian and married her off to the Holy Prophetsa and the dowry was set at 400 dirhams.

In this manner, the ancient tradition which was firmly rooted in the plains of Arabia, was uprooted at the very source and stem, and discarded by Islam through the personal example of the Holy Prophetsa.

Hazrat Mirza Bashir Ahmad, The Life & Character of the Seal of the Prophets

By marrying the ex-wife of his adopted son Zaid, Muhammadsa made it clear that Zaid was not in fact his son. At this the objection was raised by his enemies that Muhammadsa did not have any sons - as such a circumstance was considered disgraceful by the non-Muslims of Arabia at that time. To this objection the passage above responds: "Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but he is the Messenger of Allah and the Seal of the Prophets", meaning the status of being the Seal of the Prophets - meaning the greatest of the prophets and he who confirms the truth of all other prophets - is far better status than being the father of a man. If the word 'khatam' in the above verse is translated solely as 'Last' rather than 'Seal' it makes no sense. Being the last in any field does not connote any form of greatness. In fact, the verse was responding to the insult that Muhammadsa was the last of his male line. To add that Muhammadsa was also the last of his prophetic line would only have added to the ammunition of the disbelievers. Rather, coming last in a race or coming last in an exam is a source of embarrassment. Applied this principle to prophethood, the Quran and Bible record that Abraham was a prophet and was later followed by Moses and that after Moses the prophet Aaron was raised. This does not mean that Aaron is necessarily greater than Moses  or that Moses was necessarily greater than Abraham, as being later or last does not connote greatness. Given the historical context of the above Quranic passage, the primary meaning of the verse can only be 'Seal'. 

Elsewhere the Quran describes the claim that Allah will never raise up another messenger as 'hateful...in the sight of Allah':

Joseph did come to you before with clear proofs, but you ceased not to be in doubt concerning that with which he came to you till, when he died, you said: ‘Allah will never raise up a Messenger after him.’ Thus does Allah adjudge as lost those who transgress, and are doubters, Those who dispute concerning the Signs of Allah without any authority having come to them. Grievously hateful is this in the sight of Allah and in the sight of those who believe. Thus does Allah seal up the heart of every arrogant, haughty person.

- Quran 40:35-36

Meanwhile numerous verses of the Quran clearly state it is still possible for prophets and messengers to appear.

Allah chooses His Messengers from among angels, and from among men. Surely, Allah is All- Hearing, All-Seeing. He knows what is before them and what is behind them; and to Allah shall all affairs be returned for decision. O ye who believe! bow down and prostrate yourselves in Prayer, and worship your Lord, and do good deeds that you may prosper.

- Quran 22:76-78


Allah chooses of His Messengers whom He pleases. Believe, therefore, in Allah and His Messengers.

- Quran 3:180

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.

Quran 4:70

Meaning of the word 'Khatam' according to the Quran, ahadith and Arabic dictionaries

The most authoritative Arabic dictionaries explain 'khatam' can be correctly translated as 'seal'. Lane's academic dictionary writes of the word:

A signet, generally a signet ring; i.e. a certain ornament for the finger used for sealing, or stamping therewith...or a ring having a substance different therefrom [i.e. having a stone or gem set in it]...or signifies the agent [i.e the person sealing or stamping]...also signifies a seal, a stamp or a mark. 

- Edward William Lane, Arabic-English Lexicon

Several verses of the Quran use the same letters to primarily mean 'seal':

Allah has set a seal on their hearts

- Quran 2:8


This day We shall put a seal on their mouths

- Quran 36:66

Hast thou seen him who conceives of his god according to his own fancy, and whom Allah has adjudged astray on basis of His knowledge, and whose ears and whose heart He has sealed up

Quran 45:24


Various ahadith show Muhammadsa and his companions believed more prophets could come:

It was narrated that Ibn Abbas said: “When Ibrahim the son of the Messenger of Allahsa died, the Messenger of Allahsa prayed and said: ‘He has a wet-nurse in Paradise, and if he had lived he would have been a truthful one and a Prophet.’”

- Ibn Majah


[Ayesha narrates:] "Say he is the Seal of the Prophets but do not say there would be no prophet after him"

- Al Suyuti

Abu Bakr is the best of men after me, except a prophet should appear.

Kanz al-Ummal


There are many narrations in which Muhammadsa and his companions used the word 'khatam' to mean ring:

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophetsa forbade the wearing of a gold ring.

- Bukhari

Moreover Muhammadsa stated he was the 'khatam' before even the first prophet was born, whereas the last of a kind cannot exist before the first:

I was the Seal of the Prophets from the time when Adam was yet in a nascent age.

- Ibn Hanbal

Some traditions make it clear the word 'khatam', used in this context, means 'seal' or 'greatest' rather than 'last'. For example, certain saints through Islamic history have received the title 'khatam-al-auliya' meaning seal or great saint. Meanwhile, Muhammadsa himself used the term for a migrant and certainly did not mean to indicate that nobody will ever undertake a migration again:

Sahl ibn Saad Asaidee said: "When the Messenger of Allahsa returned from Badr his uncle Abbas sought permission to return to Mecca and from there migrate to the Messenger of Allahsa. At this the Messenger of Allahsa said: 'Rest assured o uncle you are the Seal of Migrants in migration as I am the Seal of the Prophets in prophethood.'"

Kanz al-Ummal

Statements of Classical Islamic scholars supporting Ahmadiyya interpretation

Through history, several revered Islamic saints and scholars have made statements which can be indicate support for the Ahmadiyya interpretation, such as:

Attaining the great qualities of prophethood for followers by way of subordination and inheritance after the coming of the Seal of the Prophetssa does not contradict the seal of the Prophet'ssa prophethood.  Do not doubt this fact!

- Ahmad Sirhindi, Maktubat


Exert yourself in the service of faith to such an extent that you be granted prophethood within the Muslim Ummah.

- Rumi, Maṭnawiye Manawi

The end of prophethood with the Holy Prophetsa only means that there can be no law bearing prophet or a prophet from outside the Ummah

Shah Waliullah Dehlawi, Al-Khayr Al-Kathir 

Durood prayer supports Ahmadiyya interpretation

Muhammadsa taught Muslims to recite the following 'durood' prayer in each of the five daily prayers:

O Allah! Send Your Blessings on Muhammad and the family of Muhammad, as You sent your Blessings on Abraham and on the family of Abraham...

- Bukhari

Muslims pray for Muhammadsa to be given the same blessings as were given to Abraham and the Quran confirms one of the blessings given to Abraham was prophethood among his followers:

‘Peace be upon Abraham!’ Thus do We reward those who do good. Surely, he was one of Our believing servants. And We gave him the glad tidings of Isaac, a Prophet, and one of the righteous. And We bestowed blessings on him and Isaac.

- Quran 37:110-114

Commenting on this, various classical Islamic scholars made statements in line with the Ahmadiyya interpretation:

Allah raised prophets, messengers and imams from the progeny of Hazrat Abraham. It is therefore surprising that while acknowledging these blessings among the progeny of Hazrat Abrahamas, people tend to deny this possibility in the case of the progeny and the followers of Hazrat Muhammadsa.

- Jafar al Sadiq, Kitab al-Kafi


From the study and contemplation of the durood we have arrived at the definite conclusion that there shall, from among the Muslims, certainly be persons whose status, in the matter of prophethood, shall advance to the level of prophets, if Allah pleases.

- Ibn Arabi, Al-Futuḥat Al-Makkiyya

Criticism of Ahmadiyya interpretation by use of ahadith

Several ahadith are presented by critics of the Ahmadiyya interpretation, some of which show Muhammadsa stating he is the last of the prophets. However, this is clearly to be interpreted metaphorically when it is considered he simultaneously stated that his mosque is the last mosque:

Allah's Messengersa said: "I am the last of the prophets and my mosque is the last of the mosques."

- Muslim

As many mosques were completed after Muhammad'ssa mosque within his own lifetime and with his approval, clearly the above statement does not mean no more prophets can come, in the same way it does not mean no more mosques can be built.

Similarly, the following hadith is presented:

The Prophetsa said to Ali: "You are to me in the position that Aaron was to Moses, except that there is no Prophet after me."

- Tirmidhi

However, rather than describing a general principle, Muhammadsa is only stating that Ali himself is not a prophet. This becomes clearer still when compared to alternative versions of the hadith:

Dost thou not desire to be what Aaron was to Moses except that thou art not a prophet.

- Bihar al-Anwar