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History and finality of Prophethood

In today’s column, I want to highlight an essential aspect of the end of Prophethood. This aspect is the most important in its nature, but it is not discussed among us. Instead, the truth is that the way these issues have conversed, religion’s fundamental sources appear to be in a weak position. So, orientalists raise a substantial question mark on their credibility and authenticity. In this information age, when there is the internet at every home and all the critical content that questions the authenticity of Islam comes out by pressing a few buttons. Then it is necessary to affirm the authenticity and truth of Islam on the established scientific knowledge that the world believes in.

Alhamdulillah, God Almighty has been so kind that He has preserved the religion of Islam after the end of Prophethood in such a way that it is impossible to raise any question in this regard on scientific grounds till the Day of Resurrection. Since it is related to history, it is necessary to clarify some primary cases regarding the knowledge of history first.

Knowledge of history

History is the memory of nations that often ends with their death. However, even if nations and groups die out, their history continues to be transmitted to humans through unauthenticated stories and, even worse, mythology. An individual understands himself and his environment with the help of his memory. Similarly, nations always try to understand their existence from their history. That is why humanity has continuously tramsmitted its history forward. The transmission of past events in history has occurred in three ways.

Three ways of transmission of history

The first way of transmission of history is by oral traditions. That is, people start describing an event. Even today, when an incident occurs somewhere, bystanders start narrating it further to those who are not directly witnesses of the event. The same is the case from one generation to another. People pass on significant events through oral narratives to the next generations. That was the case in ancient times.

Another way of passing history is through writing. When an incident occurs, a contemporary person, who has seen or heard the event directly from those present, should write it down. It was not of much importance in the early times. Because, at first, the art of writing was not common. Secondly, when human society was in its initial form, there was no sense of its importance or necessity as everything was described in oral traditions. However, history began to be written down with the development of knowledge and society. In Western knowledge, Herodotus, whose time was in the 5th century BC, is considered the first historian. In the East, however, traditions of religious knowledge and religious books were compiled long ago.

The third source of historical records is archeology, or the remains of a nation or some signs preserved by a nation or group in ancient times, brought to light by the efforts of experts that provide information about the past.

National Narratives and Documented History

History is a record of past events. So the question is always raised about what is true and what is false or exaggerated in this record. Historians try to verify information about past events from other external sources. If it cannot be confirmed, such descriptions are considered myths or legends of a particular nation or culture. For example, Greek and Indian mythology and a large part of Judeo-Christian religious traditions are viewed mainly from this perspective. The events that were transmitted collectively were also facing the same problem. The means of verifying them from external sources disappeared over time. Because nations perish, migrate, merge with other nations, and disperse after being defeated. In such a situation, historical facts disappear; otherwise, desires and additions begin to accumulate with them. Authentic history was hidden somewhere in the mists of the past, around superstitions and exaggerations. Only unauthenticated legends, stories, and myths remained that are considered non-credible sources in history.

Individual and Collective Records of HistoryThere are two types of news or information in accurate information: one is described individually by an individual or a few individuals. While the second is what everyone is saying. We can understand the difference by an example. In 1947, the subcontinent got divided into two countries: India and Pakistan. The incident took place collectively. Millions of people were directly affected by it. They witnessed that fact personally. That is the news that the entire nation is unanimously passing forward. To this day, these two affected nations are present in the world, and their scholarly tradition fully confirms that event. There is absolutely no possibility of such an incident being a lie. No external source, written date, or individual evidence is needed to verify this incident. It is an established one. If this is declined, it can also be denied that the earth is illuminated by sunlight daily.

However, such history can only record collective and national issues. In comparison, history covers much more than that. In particular, all individual events that occur with specific individuals get compiled on the testimony of people related to them. For example, what events happened on the day when Quaid-e-Azam (the founder of Pakistan) or Allama Iqbal died? What were their last conversations and feelings? These incidents happen in front of a few people, so other individuals come to know about those personalities through the statements and testimony of eyewitnesses. Partial details of an event, as well as a person’s personal life and affairs, are obtained from this medium; still, there is a possibility that something has happened or there has been a deficiency in the description of the actual event.

Similarly, different and conflicting information about the same event also emerges. Therefore, in the form of the first, accepted information comes out, but the drawback is that this source cannot reveal detailed or partial information. In contrast, detailed and partial information is available from the other source, but there is always the possibility of error, deficiency, and contradiction.

The miracle of the Messenger of Allah (PBUH)

Allah created this miracle through him (Muhammad PBUH) for the first time in history that just as the Prophet’s being gets accepted as an undeniable historical fact; precisely in the same way his teachings remain preserved as historical facts. That was entirely new for history. As mentioned earlier, human history was only aware that past events were transmitted based on individual reports, but there was always the possibility of error and reduction. Significant events were conveyed through collective and national knowledge, but they had a problem. After some time, the nation may get lost in the dust of the past, and the significant events of collective/national history also became an inauthentic and hearsay story of the formers.

However, it was a miracle with the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) that, along with his being, the record of his teachings was also transferred nationally and exists in today’s world as an undeniable identity. Readers will understand quickly how this miracle came about if they keep in mind the facts mentioned behind concerning history. At the same time, to understand this miracle, we now have to see what history came into being during the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).

History made during the time of Prophet (PBUH)

He was born in Mecca in 570 AD and left the world in 632 AD. He proclaimed Prophethood at the age of 40, and after a short period of only 23 years, he passed away from the world as the most successful man in human history. Some aspects of the dominance he had achieved in his nation and his success in his mission are pretty important. These aspects are as follows.

1) Faith of the entire nation
When he declared Prophethood at 40, he was the only Muslim. But when he left the world after 23 years, this strange event in human history happened that his entire nation, Bani Ismail (The children of Ismail), believed in him and became his followers. Hardly a thousand people were killed in the ongoing conflict between him and his nation. The rest of the nation believed and stayed after him to spread his mission. This should be kept in mind that his nation was not a small tribe or group in a remote region of the world, but a whole nation of millions of people in the Arabian Peninsula spread over millions of square miles in the center of the world.

2) Substantial time for training

The mission of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was completed with the conquest of Mecca in 8 AH. When disbelievers of Makkah accepted Islam, his opposition from all over the Arabs ended, and the people started accepting Islam in troops. He had two and a half years from the conquest of Mecca in Ramadan 8 AH to his death in Rabi al-Awwal 11 AH, during which people kept coming to him and learning religion. He had extensive 30 months to teach, explain and spread the religion to people in peaceful surroundings. Then on the occasion of the last Hajj, about 100,000 people from all over Arabia came with him to perform Hajj. It is as if every house, town, or city in Arabia must have had a person present on this occasion. The specific purpose of this Hajj was to give people the opportunity to learn religion directly from the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him). We can confidently say that the Faith he preached was taught to the whole nation under his supervision.

3) Complete political stability and dominance

It is a big problem for any ideology in this world that even if it wins over the opponents on moral and intellectual grounds, the political power of the opponents does not allow it a steady base. However, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had complete political dominance over Arabia in his lifetime. He was a undisputed ruler of the Arab world, and all the opponents accepted Islam or either perished or bowed down in humiliation. This dominance grew so widely during his caliphs’ reign over the next 20 years that the entire civilized world was overwhelmed in front of his early followers. The Muslims now possessed all the world’s treasures, resources, and power. Therefore, there was no possibility that any external or internal force could hinder the promotion and spread of the teachings of the founder of Islam. This is because every power was beaten in front of muslims and every treasure of the world was available for them.

4) Trained Team
Prophet Muhammad’s consequent distinction was that he got the company of very sincere, conscious, and capable companions from his early Prophethood. Hundreds of people believed in him in Mecca. In Medina, their number reached thousands. Those people were repeatedly addressed in the Quran that it is their responsibility to testify the religion of truth to the world. For that purpose, hundreds of believers stayed at every moment with the Holy Prophet for 13 years in Mecca and then thousands of people for 11 years in Medina. They thoroughly understood and followed his message for two decades under his supervision. After so much training and awareness to testify the religion of truth to the whole world, when those people turned towards the world in the Khilafat Rashida (the rightly-guided Caliphate) era,  their actual determination was only one. That was, just as the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) conveyed Islam to them, in the same way, they presented the testimony of true Faith before the people of the civilized world of that time. Therefore, on the one hand, they strongly prevented any possible deviation after the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) with all their might. But went ahead and spread the message of Islam everywhere in the Middle East (a population of millions) just as the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) had conveyed to them.

5) Becoming a part of the global historical continuity

As mentioned earlier, the Arabian Peninsula was not a remote region but located in the middle of the civilized world of that time, from China and India to Egypt and Greece, where millions of people lived. Those people were neighbors of the two greatest superpowers of that time, the Roman and Sassanid Empires. The borders of Arabia were ruled by Arab tribes allied to those superpowers. They traveled towards Yemen for trade in winter, where goods from China and India came from the East, and in the summer, they went to Syria and Palestine, where goods from Egypt and Africa were available from the West.

Based on this background of politics and trade, what was happening in Arabia at that time was not a local event, but the whole world was getting to know what revolution had taken place in Arabia. In the reign of Khilafat Rashida, the Muslims defeated these two states, and the Muslims themselves took their place. Therefore, the Arab revolution was no longer a local event but became an accepted part of international history in the same period.

6) Continuity of the Muslims

The last and most crucial link in this chain is that Muslims can never be erased from the world map after the initial dominance. From the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) to the present day, millions and billions of Muslims are present in every region of the world. Except for a few decades at the beginning of the twentieth century, Muslims were always in power. They continued to practice their religion with complete continuity, contentment, and peace, which their Prophet had given them and departed.

An exceptional event

All the above points are exceptional events in human history that had never happened before or occurred later. If we put all the facts together, the result is that it had never been possible for any thought in the world that the founder presented, and people accepted it in his lifetime. Then he also got the security of power and peaceful conditions in which his call and message get entirely safe from all external threats. He trained his companions with complete satisfaction. Then he also had a genuine and knowledgeable team that would convey his teaching and mission to others without any deviation or amendments. During his lifetime and immediately after that, the revolution became a dominant part of the world-historical continuity. Then his followers continued to practice this religion with continuity and permanence from the past to the present day. Such an incident has never happened in human history before, nor has it ever happened later.

Consider this with an example from the modern and the ancient era. Prophet Moses is the second most successful Prophet in history after Prophet Muhammad. He got blessed with the nation’s faith, domination over the opponents, political power, and survival of the followers. But in his lifetime, his team repeatedly betrayed him. The nation’s roots were cut off repetitively in history after him. As a result, the book he brought was not preserved in its original form, and today’s Jews are not fully aware of the essential rites of his teachings, such as prayer; while, there is also no record of that whole incident in Egypt’s history. When this is the case with a successful prophet like Prophet Moses, let’s forget about the rest of the prophets.

The modern and secular example is communism. Its founder did not have the opportunity to see its dominance and what his followers did to implement his ideas is now a part of history, but communism itself became a part of history after the defeat of the Soviet Union. On the contrary, based on the historical facts mentioned above, to this day, the Prophet’s message remains the same as it was revealed.

The emergence of a new historical reality

Based on the above six factors, it is an accepted and undeniable historical fact that just as the personality of the Prophet (PBUH) and the Arab Revolution are facts of history, so are his teachings, which always consist of minor as well as main details, exist as it was during the time of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). The reason for this is that all the above-mentioned historical factors made it possible to preserve the teachings of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and also because of the arrangement he made for its communication, his knowledge did not stay with a few individuals but became a part of the verbal and practical tradition of the entire nation. Specifically, even the minor elements of your teachings also became part of the words/actions of tens of thousands, and then, later on, millions of people practiced them. So that even the details became undeniable for the first time in history.

The first part of this teaching is the Holy Quran. Allah promises the protection of this book. Thus it was compiled in the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). He was Hafiz of the Quran himself (memorized the whole Quran), and there were thousands of Hafaz during his time. The reasons for learning the Quran by heart are apparent. First, the standard of knowledge in that era was memorizing verbally. More importantly, the five-time prayer, which was the primary condition of Islam (which even the hypocrites had to perform at that time), the recitation of the Quran, was an integral part of it. Therefore, millions of people needed to recite some part of the Quran to pray. It is inconceivable that the Arabs would perform all prayers with the help of “Surah Ikhlas” like us. They had to remember a large part of the Holy Quran. Likewise, Tahajjud prayers (night non-obligatory prayers) were the norm of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and many companions. Due to long recitation in Tahajjud prayer, people used to memorize the entire Quran. Therefore, there were thousands of Hafiz during the time of Prophet Muhammad. Then, during the reign of Hazrat Umar, the organization of Taraweeh began, and it became mandatory to have some hafiz in every corner of the Islamic world, every mosque, and every settlement. From then till today, this ritual continues like this. The Holy Quran is the same as it was revealed because of these millions of Hafiz.

Answer to a Problem

Some readers may think I did not mention the Book of the Quran at this point. Undoubtedly, the revealed revelation was also written down simultaneously to protect the Holy Quran. But the fact is that this protection was not the original but a secondary arrangement of the Quran. Allah revealed the Torah on boards, but the Quran was preserved in the form of words in the pure heart of the Holy Prophet. The divine intention was clear that the original protection of the Quran should be completed by saying and listening. It was a brilliant act. Because at that time, there was no paper in Arabia, nor was the printing press invented, and writing was not common among Arabs. Instead, the primary purpose was to remember things. The condition of reciting the Quran in prayer made this a religious necessity. So a significant amount of the Quran was memorized by everyone, and many people learned the entire Quran by heart.

Thus, memorization and hearing are the methods for the actual preservation of the Quran. The writing was a secondary and supplementary arrangement. That is also clear from the words of Hazrat Umar. When 400 or more than (according to some traditions) 700 companions got martyred in the Battle of Yamama, he feared that the Quran would be lost if the companions continued to be martyred in wars. It was obvious that the actual protection was through memorization. The writing was an additional arrangement adopted only because of the danger that the Quran would not be affected if most of the companions got martyred. But we know that danger ended forever as soon as the Taraweeh prayer was organized during Hazrat Umar’s reign.

The narrative of a debate

The reason to emphasize that the original preservation of the Quran is through memorization rather than writing because most Muslims believe nowadays that the copy of the Quran compiled by Hazrat Usman preserved in the Topkapi Museum of Istanbul and Tashkent is the actual proof of the protection of the Quran. We also believed it for a long time. But 12-13 years ago, I saw the spectacle in a debate where as soon as a Muslim debater said that to prove the superiority of Islam over Christianity, the Christian priest stood up in response and informed us that “I had seen those manuscripts and had done carbon dating on them.” From that, it appears that those manuscripts are far ahead of the time of Hazrat Usman, like from the second-century Hijri, and it is not a complete version of the Quran. After that, all the Muslim attendees and spectators got stunned. Now, it has been accepted more or less in all academic circles that there is no Quran from the era of the Rashidah Caliphate right now. Therefore, the anti-Islamic orientalists claim that it is incorrect to say that the Quran is the same book that was revealed to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).

.However, as we explained, this is a misconception. The Quran was preserved originally through memorization. From the six factors mentioned above, which we discussed in the beginning, It is definite that this is the same Quran that was revealed to the Holy Prophet. If someone denies this, he also rejects that a person called the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was guided to Arabia. He had complete control over his nation. For 20 years, thousands of people stayed with him daily to learn about religion. These people gained power over the world, and their followers remain in the world till today. If all these realities are undisputable, then there is no denying that the Quran revealed to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was preserved in his lifetime, and his companions also well-preserved it and spread it to the rest of the world. And afterward, his followers conserved it diligently in every period, which continues till today.

A person who denies this fact should think that in today’s time when memorization of the Quran has become secondary after the invention of the printing press, millions of Muslims still memorize the entire Quran. Then how is it possible that in the time of Prophethood and Khilafat Rashida, the trained Companions of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) would have neglected this duty? Therefore, it is beyond doubt that during the time of the Holy Prophet, thousands of people and after him, millions of people memorized the entire Quran, and this is the Quran that is with us today.

The opinion of the predecessors

Just like the Quran, the practical structure of religion (worship, the social order, and other aspects of life) follows the same rule. Since the time of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), if millions of people were reciting the Quran in prayers, they were also praying, fasting, performing Hajj, and giving Zakat. People followed Islamic rules everywhere regarding marriage/divorce, economy/society, and customs/manners. Then there is no other conclusion about an entire nation that believes in Islam, is trained, and is constantly present. Its denial is the denial of historical truth. It is an unscientific attitude to ask for the testimony of the Quran written in the Caliphate Rashida era, on the Holy Quran present now. Similarly, it is an irrational attitude to dismiss this whole practical structure (practical perpetuation) based on a narrative. The fact that a consensus of millions of people transmits the whole practice, and the entire school of scholars is monitoring it from day one, so it becomes a universal truth in itself. Therefore, no evidence is required from outside. It is how our ancestors and predecessors used to prove the authority of religion. Thus, the great Imam Shafi of Muslims wrote about it in his book “Al-Risalah”:

ہذا مما کلف العباد أن يعقلوہ ويعملوہ ويعطوہ من أنفسہم وأموالہم وأن يکفوا عنہ ما حرم عليہ منہ وہذا الصنف کلہ من العلم موجودا نصا في کتاب اللہ وموجودا عاما عند أہل الاسلام ينقلہ عوامہم عن من مضی من عوامہم يحکونہ عن رسول اللہ ولا يتنازعون في حکايتہ ولا وجود بہ عليہم وہذا العلم العام الذي لا يمکن فيہ الغلط من الخبر ولا التأويل ولا يجوز فيہ التنازع (1/358)


These are the commandments that every person must understand, follow, fulfill his responsibilities through his life and property, and avoid forbidden deeds. All these rulings are mentioned in the Book of Allah in clear text and are regularly followed by Muslims. People pass them on from generation to generation, which has been going on since the Holy Prophet (PBUH) era. There is no difference of opinion regarding the transfer of rulings and obligations. It is the knowledge about which the information and its interpretation are free from all kinds of errors. There is no room for any disagreement in it.

Again read the last sentence about how this knowledge is free from all errors and disagreements.

The same comments are written by another great Imam of Hadith Hafiz Ibn Abd al-Barr (463 AH), in his book Jama Bayan Al-ilm wa Fadlah as follows:

There are two foundations of knowledge—the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH). There are two types of Sunnah. One that all people transmit to all other individuals (Naql Kafa un Kafa). It is the definitive proof (hujjat- qaateh) in which no disagreement is verified; its denial is equivalent to denying the divine texts. (S 625)

This was the method of proving the historical significance of religion that our ancestors had adopted. The religious teachings relating to the Messenger of Allah (may God bless him and grant him peace) have become an undeniable reality. That is something that no other religion in the world has. It should be clear that other than that, Muslims have also made arrangements to protect their beloved Prophet’s words, knowledge and speech as much as possible. It is a precious and significant collection. It helps understand the religion, practice it, and do ijtihad (new approach based on reasoning in problems of Islamic law) in new problems. But we did not discuss it here because this collection can be proof for us Muslims. For non-Muslims, if anything can be historical proof, it is the consensual transmission of religion, which is impossible to deny based on knowledge of history.

Summary Discussion

This discussion has become a little long, but it is of such extraordinary importance that it is essential to understand it in its entirety. Nowadays, because of the Internet, all the objections of non-Muslims are reaching our homes. So, it is mandatory for us that we must present the arguments regarding the truth of our religion to the people based on the undeniable proofs of knowledge. It is dangerous to hide one’s head in the sand like an ostrich or defend Islam from a weak point. If so, then we ourselves will weaken the case of our religion.