by Zameelur Rahman
Mawlana Manzur Nu’mani wrote Faisla Kun Munazara (written in: 1373 H/1953 CE) (available here) in reply to Ahmad Rida Khan’s Husam al-Haramayn. The following summarises his reply (from pages 37-63) to the claims made about Mawlana Qasim al-Nanotwi’s Tahzir al-Nas inHusam al-Haramayn.
Ahmad Rida stated in Husam al-Haramayn: “Qasim al-Nanotwi, the author of Tahzir al-Nas, who stated therein: “If it were supposed in his (Allah bless him and grant him peace) time, rather were it to occur after him (Allah bless him and grant him peace), a new prophet, that would not infringe on his sealship; and it is only the laypeople who assume that he (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is the Seal of the Prophets in the sense of the last of the prophets, although there is no excellence at all in this according to the people of understanding,” to the end of what he mentioned of irrational talk. It says in al-Tatimmah and al-Ashbah and others: “When one does not recognise that Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is the last of the prophets, he is not a Muslim, for indeed it is from the necessities.””
Mawlana Nu’mani says this statement of Ahmad Rida Khan is nothing besides deception, and he gives the following reasons:
1. Ahmad Rida constructed the quote from three separate places from Tahzir al-Nas, from pages 3, 14 and 28, and he made it appear that this was one continuous sentence. He also did not arrange it in the order they appear in the book: he first quotes p. 14 (“If it were supposed in his (Allah bless him and grant him peace) time”), then 28 (“rather were it to arise after him (Allah bless him and grant him peace), a new prophet, that would not infringe on his sealship”) then 3 (“and it is only the laypeople who assume that he (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is the Seal of the Prophets in the sense of the last of the prophets, although there is no excellence at all in this according to the people of understanding”). Ahmad Rida tried to make it appear from these sentences that Mawlana Nanotwi denied the finality/lastness of prophethood, but if read in their correct places such a misunderstanding would not arise. Mawlana Nu’mani states that this is an exact illustration of yuharrifun al-kalima ‘an mawadi’ihi – they change the words from their places (Qur’an 5:13). In fact, in the first and second parts of his contrived quotation from Tahzir al-Nas, he created one sentence from parts of two different sentences, not even quoting the intact sentences. Mawlana Nu’mani quotes from a book of Ahmad Rida in which he castigates someone for joining three separate words of the Qur’an to make it into one phrase; but he commits this very offence here. Then, he gives several examples of how changing word orders in Qur’an completely changes the meanings.
2. The sentence from p. 3 of Tahzir al-Nas in the Urdu states: magar ahl fahm pur roshun ho ga keh taqaddum ya ta’akhkhur zamani meh bizzat kuch fazilat nehih (but, it is clear to the people of understanding that coming before or after in time does not in and of itself confer excellence), which Ahmad Rida translated as “مع أنه لا فضل فيه أصلا عند أهل الفهم” (although there is no excellence at all in this [i.e. being the last prophet] according to the people of understanding). However, the sentence in Tahzir al-Nas implies that although in and of itself coming later has no virtue, due to secondary factors (bi l-ard) it does confer excellence; yet, Ahmad Rida translated this to mean it has no virtue at all, which is another example of his dishonesty and deception.
3. Ahmad Rida did not translate or quote the parts of the sentences that appear before and after the quoted sections which would have corrected his misrepresentation (elaborated later).
4. Ahmad Rida’s claim is that Mawlana Nanotwi denied the finality of prophethood, whereas from the beginning of Tahzir al-Nas to its end, he does not deny khatamiyya zamaniyya (chronological sealship) but seeks to establish it along with khatamiyya zatiyya (essential sealship).
With regards to khatamiyya zamaniyya there are clear statements in Tahzir al-Nas on its necessity. Shortly after the last sentence Ahmad Rida quoted (from p. 3), Mawlana Qasim Nanotwi said:
balkah bana’ khatamiyyat aur bat pur hey jis sey ta’akhkhur zamani aur sadd bab mazkur (ya’ni sadd bab mudda’iyan nubuwwat) khod ba khod lazim ata hey aur fazilat nabawi dobala ho jati hey
Translation: “However, there is another explanation for sealship [which he elaborates on in the book] by which coming later in time and closing the aforemention door [i.e. of claimants to prophethood] is necessitated automatically, and the excellence of prophethood is multiplied.”
In this passage, he clearly states that his explanation of khatamiyya/sealship necessitates coming last in time and closing the door of false claimants to prophethood.
Furthermore, after giving his explanation on khatamiyya/sealship (i.e. that the prophethood of the Prophet – peace be upon him – is essential and not derived whereas the prophethood of other prophets is derived from his, so all perfections of prophethood derive from him and culminate in him), he writes:
so agar itlaq aur ‘umum hey tob to subut khatamiyyat zamani, warnah taslim luzum khatamiyyat zamani bidalalat iltizami zurur sabit hey. idhar tasrihat nabawi misl anta minni bimanzilat Haruna min Musa illa annahu la nabiyya ba’di aw kama qal jo bizahir bitarz mazkur esi lafz khatam al-nabiyyin sey ma’khuz hey is bab meh kafi hey kyunkeh yeh mazmun darajah tawatur ko pehnch giya hey. phir is pur ijma bhi mun’aqid ho giya. gur alfaz mazkur bisanad mutawatir manqul neh ho, so yeh adam tawatur alfaz ba wujud tawatur ma’nawi yaha eysa hi hoga jeysa tawatur a’dad rak’at fara’iz wa witr wa ghayruh alfaz ahadis mush’ir ta’dad rak’at mutawatir nehi, jeysa unka munkir kafir hey eysa hi is ka munkir bhi kafir hoga
Translation: “Therefore, if [the sealship] is absolute and general [i.e. includes all three sealships: chronological, spatial and essential], then the establisment of chronological sealship is obvious. Otherwise [i.e. if only essential sealship is taken as the meaning of “seal”], accepting the necessity of chronological sealship by implicative indication (dalala iltizami) is immediately established [for the reasons why see the explanation here]. Here, the explicit statements of the Prophet, like: ‘You [i.e. Ali] are to me at the level of Harum to Musa but there is no prophet after me,’ or as he said, which apparently is derived from the phrase khatam al-nabiyyin in the aforemention manner, are sufficient in this subject because it reaches the rank of tawatur. Furthermore, consensus (ijma) has convened on this [i.e. khatamiyya zamaniyya – chronological sealship/coming last in time]. Although the aforementioned words were not transmitted by mutawatir chain, despite this lack of tawatur in the words, there is a tawatur in the meaning here, just like the tawatur of the number of rak’at of the obligatory prayers, Witr etc. Although the words of the narrations stating the number of rak’at are not mutawatir, just as the one who denies that is a disbeliever, in the same way, the one who denies this [i.e. khatamiyya zamaniyya] is a disbeliever.”
Mawlana Nu’mani states that in this passage, Mawlana Nanotwi not only says chronological sealship is firmly established from mutawatirhadith, but also that this is derived (ma’khuz) from the phrase khatam al-nabiyyin showing that according to him the finality of prophethood is strongly connected to this phrase in the Qur’an.
From this and previous passages, Mawlana Nanotwi established chronological sealship in five ways:
1. By the complete signification (dalalat mutabiqi) of khatam al-nabiyyin if it includes both types of sealship (chronological – zamani – and essential – zati)
2. Or by the generality of the metaphor (‘umum majaz) [which is a famous principle mentioned in books of Usul, which Mawlana Nanotwi says is a principle which may apply here], khatam includes both types
3. Or its indication is fully to only one of the two, i.e. essential sealship, but the implicative signification of this is chronological sealship. All three of these are based on the direct text of the Qur’an.
4. From hadiths that are mutawatir-in-meaning
5. By the consensus of the ummah
After mentioning these five ways chronological sealship is firmly established, Mawlana Nanotwi says its denier is a disbeliever. Mawlana Nu’mani says: “After such explicit statements from Tahzir al-Nas, to claim that he denied chronological finality, if it is not injustice and deception, what is it?”
Mawlana Nu’mani says such explicit statements are not found only in one or two places in Tahzir al-Nas, but it is difficult to miss it on almost every page. He then quotes other passages from Tahzir al-Nas, and quotes many statements from other books by Mawlana Nanotwi in which he makes very clear statements that chronological sealship is an established article of faith and no one disagrees with it. [Mawlana Sayf al-Rahman Qasim has collected many of Mawlana Nanotwi’s explicit statements on the Prophet’s chornolological finality including in Mawlana Nanotwi’s Arabic marginalia to the last parts of Mawlana Ahmad ‘Ali Saharanpuri’s commentary on Bukhari (the book is available here).]
Before explaining the three passages quoted by Ahmad Rida, Mawlana Nu’mani first gives a brief summary of Mawlana Nanotwi’s thesis, which can be found in a little more detail here. In sum, there are two (or three) types of sealship Mawlana Nanotwi espouses: chronological sealship and essential sealship; the first is that his time is after the time of other prophets and no prophet will be sent after him, and the second is that his prophethood was received directly from Allah whereas the prophethood and the perfections of prophethood in other prophets was derived from him, so he is the “seal” of the perfections of their prophethood as they all culminate in him.
The first passage Ahmad Rida quotes, in full is:
garz ikhtitam agar ba yeh ma’ne tajwiz kiya jae jo me ne ‘arz kiya to ap ka khatam hona anbiya gazashteh ki nisbat khas neh hoga balkah agar bi l-farz ap keh zamaneh meh bhi kohih aur ko’i nabi ho jab bhi ap ka khatam ho na bedustur baqi rehta hey
Translation: “The objective is that if sealship in the meaning I presented [i.e. essential sealship] is stipulated, then his being the seal will not be specifically in relation to past prophets, for if it were assumed that in his own time any prophet appeared, even then his being the seal will remain sound.”
This was clearly stated with regards to “essential sealship” as is obvious from the part before “if it were assumed…” from where Ahmad Rida began his quote. This is even more clear in the second passage quoted by Ahmad Rida, when cited in full:
ha agar khatamiyyat bi ma’na ttisaf zati biwasf nubuwwat lejye jeysa is hechumdan arz kiya to phir suwae rasulullallah sallallahu alayhiwasallam aur kisi ke afrad maqsudah bi l-khalq meh se mumasil nabawi sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam nehi keh sukte. bulkeh is surat meh faqt anbiya ke afrad khariji hi pur ap ki fazilat sabit neh hogi. afrad muqaddarah pur bhi ap ki fazilat sabit ho jae gi. balkah agar bi l-farz ba’d zamanah nabawi sal’am bhi ko’i nabi peda ho to phir bhi khatamiyyat muhammadi meh kuch farq neh ae ga
Translation: “Yes, if sealship in the sense of an intrinsic embodiment of the quality of prophethood is taken, as this humble one has submitted, then besides Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) any other individual intended for creation cannot be considered equal to the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace). Rather, in this way not only is his superiority over external individual prophets established, his superiority over even conceivable (muqaddara) individuals is established. Therefore, even if it were assumed after the time of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) that any prophet was born, then even then there would be no difference to the Muhammadan sealship.”
In both of these passages, Mawlana Nanotwi is speaking of essential sealship, that with respect to this sealship, if it were assumed any prophet appeared in his time or after his time, this sealship would be unaffected, as he would remain the one from whom the prophethood of all other prophets is derived. Of course with respect to chronological sealship, which is firmly established in Tahzir al-Nas and is nowhere negated, if it were supposed a prophet came after him, this sealship would not be unaffected. However, the context of the previous two quotes shows he was speaking only in relation to essential sealship, so it would be incorrect based on these two passages to conclude he denied chronological sealship as it was not the point of discussion. In short, essential sealship, which he seeks to establish in the book, is applicable to all real and assumed prophets, whereas chronological sealship, which he confirms and provides evidence for, applies only to the real past prophets.
Regarding the last part of the quote from Husam al-Haramayn which is from the opening section of Tahzir al-Nas, it means the laypeople are incorrect in their understanding that sealship only means last in time, not that they are incorrect in this understanding altogether. Mawlana Nanotwi in his explanation does not deny the meaning he attributes to the laypeople but states sealship in the Qur’an means much more than just being last in time. By this explaination, the accusation by Ahmad Rida in another book, al-Mawt al-Ahmar, in which he said that Mawlana Nanotwi considered the prophets and sahabah “laypeople” as they also believed khatam means last, is refuted, as it is not established that they believed it only meant last. Mawlana Nu’mani quotes another book of Mawlana Nanotwi in which he clarified that prophets and scholars are not included in “laypeople.”
Mawlana Nu’mani then quotes from Ahmad Rida’s al-Dawlat al-Makkiyya where he explained that the people of understanding realise multiple non-contradictory meanings from verses of the Qur’an, and this is precisely what Mawlana Nonotwi did in the explanation of this verse. Furthermore, Ahmad Rida said in his book Jaza Allah ‘Aduwwah that all spiritual perfections originate in the prophet and everything else in creation receives it from him, which is precisely what Mawlana Nanotwi says is the meaning of “essential sealship.”
The following is a translated quote from Hakim al-Tirmidhi’s (d. 320) Kitab Khatm al-Awliya in which he offers a similar deeper significance to “Khatam al-Nabiyyin” and denounces the opinion that it only entails chronological finality in much the same way as Mawlana Nanotwi. The book can be downloaded here and the passage in question is found on pages 338-42.
So Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) became an intercessor for prophets and saints and those besides them. Do you not see his (upon him peace) speech regarding the station of the Praised Platform: “Until Ibrahim the Friend of the Merciful will need me on that day”? That was narrated to me by Jarud from al-Nadr ibn Shumayl from Hisham al-Dastawa’i from Hammad who traced it to Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace). Do you not see that Allah (Blessed and Exalted is He) mentioned good news [to the believers] in many verses but did not mention it except with a condition: “and give good news to those who believe and do righteous works” (2:25) and he mentioned it here without a condition [i.e. without the condition of “righteous works”]: “and give good news to those who believe that they have a foot of truth with their Lord,” informing them that the salvation of all on that day is through this true foot [i.e. the Prophet (peace be upon him)]?
As for the proof, it is as though He says to the prophets (upon them peace): “O assembly of prophets! This is Muhammad. He came at the end of time, weak in body, weak in might, weak in livelihood, short in life. He produced what you have seen of true servitude and copious knowledge. And you in your speech and your lives and your bodies did not produce what he produced.” Thereupon, the veil over the seal will be removed, and all talk will end, and it will become a proof over all creation; because the thing that is sealed is guarded. And thus is Allah’s (Exalted is He) administration over us in this world: that when a thing is found with its seal, doubt is removed and argumentation ends amongst people.
So Allah gathered the particles of prophethood for Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and He perfected them for him and He sealed them with his seal. So neither his self (nafs) nor his enemy find a path to enter the place of [his] prophethood due to that seal. Do you not see the hadith of al-Hasan al-Basri (Allah have mercy on him) from Anas ibn Malik (Allah be pleased with him) in the hadith of intercession from Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) that he said: “When they come to Adam they will ask him to intercede for them to their Lord, Adam will say to them: ‘What is your opinion, if one of yours goods were collected in his absence and then they were sealed [i.e. tied away], will the goods only be approached but from the route of the seal? So go to Muhammad for he is the Seal of the Prophets.’” Its meaning according to us is that prophethood in its entirety has culminated in Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace); so his heart was made a vessel for the perfection of prophethood and then it was sealed. This tells you that the sealed book and the sealed vessel, there is no path to it for anyone, to decrease from it or to add to it of that which is not from it; and indeed all the remainder of the prophets (upon them peace), He did not seal for them their hearts, so they are not safe from the self finding a path to it [i.e. their prophethood].
Allah did not leave the proof concealed in the inside of his heart for He made it manifest; so between his shoulders was that seal manifest like the egg of a pigeon. And this is for him a great station the story of which is long.
Indeed the one who is blind to this information, he thinks that the interpretation of “the seal of prophets” is [only] that he is the last of them in being sent. But what virtue is there in this? And what [perfection in] knowledge is there in this? This is the interpretation of ignorant people.
Most recite khatam with a fath on the ta’; as for those from the Salaf who recited with a kasr on the ta’, its interpretation is that he a khatim (sealer) in the meaning of a doer; i.e. that he sealed prophethood by that seal which he was given. From that which affirms this is what was narrated in the hadith of the Ascension (mi‘raj) from the hadith of Abu Ja‘far al-Razi from al-Rabi‘ ibn Abi al-‘Aliyah from what he mentioned regarding the meeting of the prophets in the Aqsa mosque: “So every prophet mentioned the favour of Allah upon him, and it was from the speech of Allah’s Messenger (Allah bless him and grant him peace) that he said: ‘He made me the sealer and the opener.’ So Ibrahim (upon him peace) said: ‘By this, Muhammad is superior to [all of] you.’”
فإذا برز الديان في جلاله وعظمته، في ذلك الموقف، وقال: يا عبيدي، إنما خلقتكم للعبودة، فهاتوا العبودة، فلم يبق لأحد حس ولا حركة، من هول ذلك المقام، إلا –سيدنا- محمدا صلى الله عليه وسلم. فبذلك القدم (الصدق) الذي له، يتقدم على جميع صفوف الأنبياء والمرسلين، لأنه قد أتى بصدق العبودية لله تعالى ، فيقبله الله منه، ويبعثه إلى المقام المحمود ، عند الكرسي فيكشف الغطاء عن ذلك الختم، فيحيطه النور وشعاع ذلك الختم يبين عليه. وينبع من قلبه على لسانه من الثناء ما لم يسمع به أحد من خلقه .
حتى يعلم الأنبياء كلهم أن –سيدنا- محمدا صلى الله عليه وسلم كان أعلمهم بالله عز وجل فهو أول خطيب، وأول شفيع فيعطي لواء الحمد، ومفاتيح الكرم.
فلواء الحمد لعامة المؤمنين، ومفاتيح الكرم للأنبياء ، ولخاتم النبوة بد وشأن عميق، أعمق من أن تحتمله. فقد رجوت أنه كفاك هذا القدر من علمه.
فصار-سيدنا- محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم شفيعا للأنبياء والأولياء، ومن دونهم ألا ترى إلى قوله عليه الصلاة والسلام، فيما يصف من شأن المقام المحمود؟: “حتى أن ابراهيم خليل الرحمن يحتاج إلي في ذلك اليوم” . حدثنا بذلك الجارود عن النضر بن شميل، عن هشام الدستوانى عم حماد رفعه إلى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم.
ألا ترى أن الله، تبارك وتعالى ذكر البشرى في غير آية؟ فلم يذكرها إلا مع الشرط “وبشر الذين آمنوا وعملوا الصالحات” وذكرها هنا ولم يشترط: ” وبشر الذين أمنوا أن لهم قدم صدق عند ربهم” يعلمهم أن نجاة الجميع ، في ذلك اليوم بهذا القدم الصدق.
وأما الحجة. فكأنه يقول: للأنبياء عليهم السلام: معاشر الأنبياء، هذا محمد جاء في آخر الزمان،ضعيف البدن، ضعيف القوة، ضعيف المعاش، قليل العمر. أتى بما قد ترون : من صدق العبودة ، وغزارة المعرفة والعلم، وأنتم في قواكم وأعماركم وأبدانكم، لم تأتوا بما أتى. ويكتشف له الغطاء عن الختم، فينقطع الكلام، وتصير الحجة على جميع خلقه.
لأن الشيء المختوم محروس . وكذلك تدبير الله تعالى لنا في هذه الدنيا: إنه إذا وجد الشيء بختمه زال الشك وانقطع الخصام فيما بين الآدميين.
فجمع الله تعالى أجزاء النبوة لسيدنا محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم وتتمها له وختم عليها بختمة فلم تجد نفسه ولا عدوه سبيلا إلى ولوج موضع النبوة، من أجل ذلك الختم. ألا ترى إلى حديث الحسن البصري، رحمه الله.
عن أنس بن مالك رضي الله عنه، في حديث الشفاعة، عن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أنه قال: فإذا أتوا آدم ، يسألونه أن يشفع لهم إلى ربه، قال لهم آدم : أرأيتم لو أن أحدكم جمع متاعه في غيبته ثم ختم عليها، فهل كان يؤتى المتاع إلا من قبل الختم؟ فأتوا فهو خاتم النبيين. ومعناه عندنا: إن النبوة تمت بأجمعها لسيدنا محمد صلى الله عليه وسلم فجعل قلبه، لكمال النبوة، وعاء عليها، ثم ختم.
ينبؤك هذا، أن الكتاب المحترم والوعاء المختوم، ليس لأحد عليه سبيل، في الانتقاص منه، و لا بالإزدياد فيه مما ليس منه. وإن سائر الأنبياء عليهم السلام لم يختم لهم على قلوبهم، فهم غير آمنين أن تجد النفس سبيلا إلى ما فيها.
ولم يدع الله الحجة مكتومة في باطن قلبه حتى أظهرها: فكان بين كتفيه ذلك الختم، ظاهرا كبيضة حمامة وهذا له شأن عظيم تطول قصته.
فإن الذي عمى عن خبر هذا، يظن أن “خاتم النبيين” تأويله أنه آخرهم مبعًا فأي منقبة في هذا؟ وأي علم في هذا ؟ تأويل البله، الجهلة.
وقرأ (الخاتم)، بفتح التاء وأما من قرأ من السلف بكسر التاء، فإنما تأويله (خاتِم) على معنى فاعِل، أي: أنه ختم النبوة، بالذي أعطى من الختم.
ومما يحقق ذلك ما روي في حديث المعراج من حديث أبي جعفر الرازي، عن الربيع بن أبي العالية فيما يذكر من مجتمع الأنبياء في المسجد الأقصى: “فيذكر كل نبي منة الله عليه. فكان من قول رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أنه قال: ” وجعلني خاتما وفاتحا ” فقال سيدنا إبراهيم عليه السلام: بهذا فضلكم محمد” –صلى الله عليه