The Quran reveals unambiguously that among the prophets of Allah, Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him (PBUH) is the last Prophet and marked the termination of the sequence of divinely commissioned prophets that commenced with Prophet Nuh (Noah) Alaihis Salam . He has, therefore, been referred to in the Quran as the Seal of the Prophets (Al-Ahzab(33) : verse 40). With the cessation of the sequence of prophets Allah (Subhanahu Wa Ta’la (SWT) blessed the entire mankind, for all time to come, with the final text of guidance, the Quran, that was revealed to his last Prophet What is most remarkable is that after delivering the final text of guidance, Allah also perfected the religion for the followers of Muhammad (PBUH) and Himself named it Islam which signifies total devotion and submission to God, peace, compassion and justice. “Today, I have perfected your religion for you and completed my blessing upon you and chosen your religion Islam (Al Maeda (5): verse 3)”. It is most significant to note that Allah chose His last Messenger to communicate the message enshrined in His ultimate book of guidance to all mankind, and designated the Prophet Himself “mercy to all mankind” (Al Anbia (2 1):verse 107). It was indeed a divine blessing and a great honour conferred by God on his last Messenger.

Prior to our understanding and appreciation of the accomplishments of Muhammad (PBUH) as the Messenger of Allah we should thoroughly understand the source of his inspiration and guidance and the nature and character of the book of guidance divinely revealed to him to communicate to the people of the world.

The revelations commenced in the month of Ramadhan in the year 610 A.D “It was in the month of Ramadhan that the   Quran was revealed as true guidance for mankind, clear message giving guidance and distinguishing between right and wrong” (Al Baqarah (2): verse 185). The first five verses were revealed to him in the cave of Hira while he was meditating there: “Read in the name of your Lord who created. He created man from a clinging form. Read your Lord is most bountiful one who taught by the pen, who taught man which he did not know”( Al Alaq (96) verses 1-5) Thereafter, the Prophet continued to receive revelations for the next 22 years.

Authenticity and Incorruptibility of the Text of The Qur’an

The authenticity of the Quranic text is fully established. It is the only divine scripture which has not been corrupted, has retained its originality and the text contains only words of God revealed to the Prophet. Its originality and incorruptibility is assured by Allah (SWT) Himself. Firstly the full original text of the Quran is fully secured, as revealed in the Quran, on a preserved tablet (Laohe Mahfooz). “This is truly a glorious Qur’an, written on a preserved tablet” Al Buruj (85): verses 21-22). Secondly God has categorically assured “We have sent down the Quran Ourself and We Ourself will guard it.” (Al Hijr (15: verse 9). Sohof Othmani, the complete text of the Qur’an compiled during the Caliphate of Othman ,the third caliph of Islam, contains only the words of God as revealed to the Prophet Muhammad testifies to the divine protection of the originality of the Qur’an. It was first compiled during the Caliphate of Abu Bakr, the first caliph of Islam, and was later thoroughly checked and finalized during the caliphate of Othman and was called “Sohof Othmani”).Millions of copies of “Sohof Othmani” are now in circulation globally among the Muslims. Finally, hundreds of thousands of inspired Muslims have memorized the entire text of the Quran (Huffaz). It has been going on for centuries and the number of Huiffaz has been increasing with the increase in Muslim population. These facts abundantly ensure that the Qur’an will not be corrupted and will retain its originality till eternity.

The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was asked to convey the message contained in the Quran to the polytheists of Makkah, to the people of the book and to all the people of the world. Allah (SsWT) asserted that “that We have revealed the whole glorious Qur’an” ( Al Hijr (15): verse 87), which contains only the truth, “We have sent down the Quran with the truth and with the truth it has come down. Prophet we sent you only to give good news and warning” (Al Isra ( i7) : verse 105) Further God also proclaims that it is a perfect and flawless book of guidance. “Praise be .to God who sent down the Scripture and made it unerringly straight” (Al Kahaf (18): verse 1).

The universality of the message of the Qur’an has also been emphasized in this Scripture. Unlike the other scriptures which were sent down for specific people the message of the Quran is relevant for all the people of the world and for all times. “Truly, it is nothing other than a reminder for all people” (Al Qalam (68): verse 52). It is stressed again in the following verse where the entire mankind has been addressed. “People, convincing proof has come to you from your Lord and we have sent a clear light separating good from evil, down to you” (Al Nisa (4): verse174). Finally, it proclaims unambiguously, “We have sent to you the Scripture with the truth confirming the Scriptures that came before you and final authority over them (Al Maeda (5) : verse 48). As the Quran is the last and final revealed book there will be no more revelations because the sequence of the Prophets was terminated after the arrival of the last Messenger. The message that Allah wanted the Prophet to convey was simple and straight forward as revealed in the Qur’an: Belief in the unity of God, his Angels, his Scriptures, his Messengers and the Last Day of Judgment. Idol worship is blasphemous. People should pursue righteous deeds and avoid sinful acts, such as joining other gods with Allah (Shirk) which is an unpardonable sin. There will be a day of Resurrection (Qiamah) when the dead will be alive again and will be accountable to Allah for their earthly deeds. The righteous will be blessed and will live comfortably in Heavenly abode. The sinners will be sent to Hellfire.

MUHAMMAD AND QUR’AN

Muhammad (PBUH) was born and brought up among the idol worshippers but never worshipped an idol. He was honest, truthful and trustworthy and was known as such among his fellow tribesmen in Makkah. Ka’ba was originally built by Ibrahim (Abraham) and Ismail (Ishmael) Alaihis Salam. Prophet Ibrahim had fixed a sacred black stone (Hajr Aswad) in the wall of Ka’ba. It was considerably damaged in a flood and was being reconstructed during when Muhammad was young. He had the unique distinction of refixing the sacred black stone (Hajr Aswad), on the wall of Ka’ba in the presence of the tribal elites of Makkah and with their consent.

Muhammad used to contemplate while grazing his uncle’s cattle In the pastures around Makkah about the creation of universe and its creator. Later he used to retire to cave Hira to meditate on such matters deeply and in total solitude. It was on one of those solitary retirement periods that the first five verses of the Qur’an were revealed to him :Surah (Chapter) Al Alaq (96) were revealed to him. He was completely shaken and overwhelmed by this unique spiritual experience. Muhammad wondered whether he was in a state of trance or it was a real divine vision. The revelation in Surah Muddathir (74): verses 1 to 5: “You wrapped in your cloak arise and give warning , proclaim the greatness of your Lord, cleanse yourself and keep away from filth. Do not weaken feeling overwhelmed, be steadfast in the cause of your Lord”, convinced him that he was divinely commissioned as a Prophet to convey the Message of Allah as contained in the Qur’an to his people and to all the mankind. It is interesting to note that in the initial stages of the Revelations the Prophet, in order to memorise them would attempt to recite them simultaneously with Angel Jibrail (Gabriel) who was communicating the Revelations. The Prophet was asked not do so and was told, Allah would ensure that the Revelations were retained in his memory in totality as clarified in these verses:,”(Prophet) do not rush your tongue in an attempt to hasten (your memorization of) the Revelations. It is for Us to make sure of its safe collection and recitation. When We have recited repeat the recitation and it is up to Us to make it clear”.(Al Qiamah (74): verses 1 6 to 1 9)

Once convinced that he was commissioned as a Prophet he recalled that his mission as a Prophet among the polytheists of Makkah was in response to the prayers of his forefathers, Ibrahim (Abraham) and Ismail (Ishmael) Alaihis Salam, while they were building Ka’ba, centuries ago “our Lord make a messenger of their own to rise up from among them who had no Scripture to recite your revelation to them, make them grow spiritually, teach them the Scriptures, and wisdom and purify them. Before that they were clearly astray” (Al Baqarah (2):verse 12 7).   The Qur’an also confirms that it is precisely for this purpose that Muhammad (PBUH) was commissioned as a Prophet among the polytheists of Makkah,“It is he (Allah) who raised a Messenger among the people who had no scripture to recite His revelation to them, to make them spiritually grow and teach them the scripture and wisdom, before that they were clearly astray” (Juma’a (62): verse 2).

Even the people of the Book, who were clamouring that no guide had come to them to lead them to the right path, have been addressed in the Quran and asked to follow the guidance given in the Quran and teachings of the Prophet “People of the Book, our Messengers comes to you now, after a break in the sequence of messengers to make things clear for you in case you should say, “No one has come to give us good news or to warn us” so someone has come to give you good news and to warn you: God has the power to do all things” (Al Maeda ( 5): verse 19 )

Having now being convinced that he was divinely assigned with the role of a Prophet, he took his mission very seriously and adhered firmly to the commands of Allah (SWT). It was, however, repeatedly and unambiguously stressed in the Qur’an that his basic role as a prophet was to convey repeatedly the divine message as revealed in the Qur’an but he could not force them to accept it. “Prophet we have sent you as a witness, as a bearer of good news and warning as one who calls people to God by his leave as light giving lamp (Al Ahzab (33):Verses 45-47). This is stressed also in Surah Saba (Sheba) “We have sent you Prophet only to bring good news and warning to all the people but most of them do not understand (Al Saba (34): verse28), and many other verses. The Quran clearly states that the Prophet is not their “keeper” ( Al Nisa (4): verse 80) and neither is he there to “control them” ( Al Ghashiyah (88): verse 21-22).

The Prophet took up his mission with total dedication and carried out the commands of Allah (SWT) with courage of conviction and unwavering commitment. He was asked to convey the message to his nearest relatives (Al Shua’ra (26): verse 214). He feasted them twice at his residence and conveyed the message. Further, he was commanded to proclaim it openly and candidly to the people of Makkah (Al Hijr (15): verse 94). He climbed the hill of Marwah adjacent to Ka’ba, summoned his people and conveyed the message loudly. He persisted with his mission despite intense opposition by the polytheists of Makkah and was subjected to harassment, calumnies, insults etc., by them. He patiently bore them and remained steadfast.

The Prophet would occasionally feel frustrated by the stiff resistance of his opponents and their slow response to his call to the message of Qur’an, to accept the Unity of Allah and that there will be a day of resurrection when all the dead will be brought back to life by the command of Allah to account for their earthly deeds on the day of Resurrection. They ridiculed him “Is this the one God has sent as a Messenger” (Al Furqan (25): verse 41). They expressed disdain for the Quran and asked the fellow polytheists to shun it (Al Furqan (25): verse 30-31). They even called him a mad man (Al Hijr (15): verse 6).

Allah (SWT) consoled him and conveyed to the Prophet that “We are well aware that your heart is weighted down by what they say. You feel deeply hurt but do not get too much disappointed and dejected “ ( Al Hijr (15): verse 96). He pacified the Prophet by citing his own example “We have revealed to you a spirit by our command you knew neither the Scripture nor the faith but we made it a light guiding with it whoever We will of our servants” (Al Shura (42): verse 52). Similarly he asked the Prophet to look into the transformation that occurred in his own personal life. “Your future life will better than your past. Your Lord will give you so much that you will be well pleased. Did he not find you an orphan and shelter you, find you lost and guide you, find you in need and satisfy your need” (Al Doha (93): verses 4-8). The Prophet complained that his enemies called him cut off and that his name will not be remembered after his death and that he was a mad man. Allah (SWT) assured the Prophet that he was neither a mad man nor you would be cut off. Instead his enemies would be cut off and their names would not survive after their death. No one would remember them. You are a person of the most noble character, “You Prophet are not by receiving God’s grace a mad man. You will have never ending reward, truly you have a strong character, and soon you will see as they will, which of you is afflicted with madness” (Al Qalam (68): verse -6). Your name and prestige will “soar to great heights “Alam Nashrah ( 96): verse 4) and on the day of resurrection your status will be raised to supreme heights “Maqam Mahmood” (Al Isra (17): verse79). Hence your name will survive till eternity and people will remember you with immense respect and affection. Allah (SWT) exhorted the Prophet to continue to strive and not to give in to the disbelievers because of their taunts and ridicules, “Do not give in to the disbelievers and hypocrites. Ignore the harm they cause you. Put your trust in God. Is enough to trust ( Al Ahzab (33): verse 48) Thereafter, the Prophet persisted with his missionary role with greater zeal, patience, perseverance, determination and dedication. Allah also exhorted the Muslims to follow in the footsteps of Muhammad (PBUH) because “the Messenger of God is an excellent model to those of you who put your hope in God and the last day and remember Him often” ( Al Ahzab (33): verse 2 1).

Allah (SWT) admired the missionary accomplishments of the Prophet and was so immensely pleased with it that He proclaimed unequivocally that “He and his Angels bless the Prophet so all those who believe bless him too and give him greetings of peace” (Al Ahzab (33): verse 56). He was so immensely pleased and impressed by his missionary role that God declared that He “may forgive you, your past and future sins, complete His grace upon you ,guide you to the straight path and help you mightily” (Al Fatah (48): verse 2-3

The Prophet’s intimate bond and proximity to Allah (SWT) reached a climax when on a night journey (Isra), he was taken from Makkah (Masjid Haram) to Jerusalem (Masjid Al Aqsa), where he led all the prophets whop had assembled therte, in salaat (prayer). “to Him who made His Servant travel by night from the sacred place of worship to the furthest place of worship whose surroundings We have blessed to show him some of Our signs: He alone is All seeing All hearing” (Al Isra ( 17): verse 1). From Jerusalem he ascended with, Angel Jibrail (Gabriel), to the seventh Heaven (Me’raj), near the “Garden of Restfulness” in the Seventh Heaven, “beyond which no one has passed. There he witnessed the Lote tree covered in nameless splendors with rapt attention and his eyes never wavered (Al Najm (53): verses 10- 15).

Allah (SWT) was keen to protect the honor and dignity of his Prophet. It is categorically stated in the Qur’an, “whoever obeys the Messenger obeys God, if some pay no heed We have not sent you to be their keeper” (Al Nisa (4): verser 80). It is obvious thus that whoever shows disrespect to the Prophet disrespects God as well. He commanded the “Believers do not push yourselves forward in the presence of God and his Messenger, be mindful of God. He hears and knows all – believers do not raise your voices above the Prophet, do not raise your voices while speaking to him as you do to one another or your good may be cancelled out without your knowing. It is those who lower their voices in the presence of God’s messenger, whose hearts God has proved to be aware they will have forgiveness and a great reward” (Al-Hujurat (49): verses 1-3). Allah also warned all the believers, people of the Book and the hypocrites not to berhave arrogantly and insultingly with the Prophet. You should behave with the Prophet with utmost respect, with due courtesy, politeness and humility otherwise “an agonizing torment awaits those who insult God’s Messenger” ( Al Taubah (9): verse 61)

While the Prophet (PBUH) earned the admiration of Allah (SWT) for his remarkable and unparalleled accomplishments as His messenger, he himself was deeply concerned about the welfare of his Ummaah which is confirmed by a revelation in the Quran: “A Messenger has come to you from among yourselves. Your sufferings distress him. He is deeply concerned for you and full of kindness and mercy towards the believers”, (AL-Taubah (9): verse 128).

ACCOMPLISHMENT OF THE MISSION

After that thrilling and inspiring physical and spiritual experience of Isra (Night Journey) and Me’raj (Ascent to Seventh Heaven), the Prophet migrated to Medina in the year 622 AD, where he founded the State of Medina, governed by Islamic principles, and continued vigorously with his missionary activities. He was forced to fight three

B+b mjattles with the polytheists to protect Islam and the State of Medina. Eventually, his missionary endeavours witnessed signs of success and he reached the threshold of accomplishing his mission when he signed the Treaty of Hudaybiyya with the polytheists in 6th. Year of the Hijri (628 AD).This has been described in the Qur’an, “Today We have opened up a path to clear triumph for you ( Prophet )” Al Fatah (48¨verse I ). Finally, he accomplished his mission with the conquest of Makkah in 8th Hijri (630 AD). He was at his generous best as a victor. He granted amnesty to the vanquished Makkans quoting prophet Yousuf (Joseph) “you will have no reproaches today. May God forgive you . He is the most Merciful of the Mercifuls” ( Yusuf (12): verse 92). Islam is a religion of peace, compassion and justice. Revenge and vengeance have no place in this peaceful religion. Muhammad (PBUH), the last Messenger of God perfectly exemplified it.

Observation of Imam Hamad Ahmad Chebli, a graduate of Al Azhar, a distinguished islami scholar and a religious leader:

Imam Hamad Ahmad Chebli, the religious Leader of the Islamic Society  of  Central  Jersey, was happy to read your paper “Muhammad the Last Prophet of Allah in the Qur’an.” HE PRAYED to ALLAH to reward you and your family, your reader and all who will read, understand the words of Allah.”

Author: Dr. Shah Manzoor Alam, Ph.D. Edinburgh University, M.A., Aligarh Muslim University.

Former Vice Chancellor, University of Kashmir, India.