Introduction to Tahdhīr un-Nas By ‘Allāmah Khālid Mahmood
All praise to Allah, the Lofty, the Great, and blessings and peace be upon the Prophet, the bringer of good news, the warner, and on his family, draped in the garment of purification, and his companions, guided in the light of the illuminating lamp through the guidance of the All-Hearing, All-Seeing.
The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: “This knowledge will be carried in every generation by its righteous men: they will negate from it the distortion of the extremists, the false claims of the falsifiers and the interpretations of the ignorant.”
The Subject Matter of Tahdhīr un-Nas
The book Tahdhīr un-Nas by Hujjatul Islām Hazrat Mawlāna Muhammad Qāsim Nānotwī (may Allah have mercy on him), is in your hands. Its subject matter is a narration from Hazrat ‘Abdullāh ibn ‘Abbās (may Allah be pleased with him). In it, he warned people against rejecting the saying of a Sahābī of Rasūl for no reason. Instead, an effort should be made to understand the statement. Ahlus Sunnah have always stood guard over the knowledge and practice of Sahābah. It is not possible of them to not give importance to the statement of a Sahābī. All of the Sahābah are stars of guidance, and it is not permissible to deflect from any one Sahābī. Muslims should be wary of this.
In writing on this subject, is Hujjat al-Islām (may Allah have mercy on him) the first person, or did the scholars of Islam write something on this before him? In this last era, what was the wisdom of writing on this [subject] with this much detail? You will find the answers to these questions also in this introduction. First, the basic subject will be introduced.
This narration of the interpreter of the Qur’an (tarjumān al-Qur’ān) Hazrat ‘Abdullāh ibn ‘Abbās (may Allah be pleased with them) is found as follows in the books of hadith:
أخبرنا أحمد بن يعقوب الثقفي: حدثنا عبيد بن غنام النخعي: أنبأنا علي بن حكيم: حدثنا شريك عن عطية بن السائب عن أبى الضحى عن ابن عباس رضي الله عنهما أنه قال: الله الذي خلق سبع سموت ومن الأرض مثلهن. قال: سبع أرضين في كل أرض نبي كنبيكم وآدم كآدم ونوح كنوح وإبراهيم كإبراهيم وعيسى كعيسى. هذا حديث صحيح الإسناد ولم يخرجاه. مستدرك الحاكم ج. ٢ ص. ٤٩٣
Ahmad ibn Ya‘qūb ath-Thaqafī reported to us: ‘Ubayd ibn Ghannām an-Nakha‘ī narrated to us: ‘Alī ibn Hakīm informed us: Sharīk narrated to us from ‘Attiyyah ibn as-Sā’ib from Abud Duhā from Ibn ‘Abbās (may Allah be pleased with them) that he said: “‘Allah it is Who hath created seven heavens, and of the earth the like thereof.’” (Qur’an, 65:12) He said: “Seven earths. In each earth is a prophet like your prophet, a Nūh like Nūh, an Adam like Adam, an Ibrāhīm like Ibrāhīm, an ‘Isā like ‘Isā.” This is a hadith with a sahīh chain, and they did not transmit it. (Mustadrak al-Hākim, 2:493.)
From this [hadith], it is known that Allah created seven earths. Support for this is found in a narration of Tirmidhī Sharīf. In each one of these, the laws of Allah, Lord of Glory, whether creative or legislative, descend. In each one, a chain of prophethood proceeded. In every earth, the one that was the start of the chain, like the Adam (peace be upon him) of our earth, is the Adam of that earth. And the one who is the last of the chain is the khātam of that earth.
What will be the relationship of the khātams of those earths to our Khātam an-Nabiyyīn (Allah bless him and grant him peace)? Is the blessed prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) the khātam of only the prophets of this earth, or is he the khātam of all prophets absolutely, on whosoever the word “nubuwwah” occurs, whether he is from this earth or from those earths? Hazrat Mawlāna Muhammad Qāsim Nānotwī (may Allah have mercy on him) concluded in his research that his khātamiyyah is not restricted to this earth at all. He is the Khātam an-Nabiyyīn absolutely. The khātams of those earths will be khātams with respect to their earths. However, keeping all earths at the fore, the khātam of all prophets is the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace). The prophet [of those earths] either appeared at the same time as him or some time before him. And if a prophet appeared at the same time as him, he would be a follower of the Shari‘ah of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace). It is not valid for any new prophet to appear on any earth after him. He (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is the last prophet from every perspective, whether chronological or spatial, and is the Khātam an-Nabiyyīn absolutely. And in terms of status too, none is ahead of the Prophet.
This narration of Hazrat Ibn ‘Abbās (may Allah be pleased with them) is found in the books. The critic of the science, ‘Allāmah Shams ad-Dīn adh-Dhahabī (may Allah have mercy on him) asserted it has a sahīh chain in Talkhīs al-Mustadrak. As a follow-up to it, Hākim presented a second chain up to Muhammad ibn Subayh.
If the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is accepted as the khātam of even those earths, as Hazrat Hujjat al-Islām (Allah bless him and grant him peace) explicated, there remains no opposition to any Shar‘ī Islamic principle. Wherever we accept chronological khatm nubuwwah, we also accept spatial khatm nubuwwah. In this, his status of khātamiyyah is further illuminated. This was not said only by Hazrat Mawlānā Muhammad Qāsim (may Allah have mercy on him). Hazrat Mawlānā ‘Abd al-Hayy Lakhnawī has also written a separate treatise on this. Mawlānā ‘Abd al-Hayy (may Allah have mercy on him) wrote:
“It should be believed that the khātams of the remaining earths did not appear after the prophetic era. They appeared either before or at the same time. And assuming [one appeared at] the same time, he would be a follower of the Muhammadan Shari‘ah, and his khatm will be relative to his earth. The khatm of our Hazrat is all-encompassing. I have elaborated on all these issues as they deserve in two treatises, one called al-Ayāt al-Bayyināt ‘alā Wujūd al-Anbiyā’ fit Tabaqāt and the second called Dāfi‘ al-Waswās fi Athar Ibn ‘Abbās.”
Hazrat Mawlānā Muhammad Qāsim Nanotwi (may Allah have mercy on him) also endeavoured that the Muslims do not fall into denial [of the statement] of a Sahābī of Rasūl, Hazrat ‘Abdullāh ibn ‘Abbās (may Allah be pleased with him). It is true that this hadith of Hazrat Ibn ‘Abbās is not categorical in its establishment (qat‘ī al-thubūt), but is it not also the case that most of the hadiths in the Sihāh Sittah are not categorical in their establishment? Only the hadith that is mutawātir is qat‘ī. We do not call anyone kāfir for denial of akhbār al-āhād (solitary reports). However, this does not mean that the hadith that is not categorical in establishment will arbitrarily be rejected. According to the Ahlus Sunnah, denial of akhbār al-āhād is incorrect. It must be avoided. This is the subject matter of Tahdhīr un-Nās, that for no reason the narration of Hazrat Ibn ‘Abbās (may Allah be pleased with them) should not be rejected.
Pīr Karam Shāh’s View of Tahdhīr un-Nas
If any Shī‘ah ignored the statement of a Sahābī of Rasūl, it would be understandable, but it is unfortunate that Bhera’s Pīr Karam Shāh Sāhib wrote these words:
“This faqīr, with great regret, also says with respect to Mawlānā (Muhammad Qāsim), that if only he did not give this much importance to this narration, and the amount of time he spent clarifying it, he spent in rectifying the unclear aspects of some more important subject.” (Tahdhīr un-Nās Merī Nazar Meh, p. 60)
Not giving importance to the statement of a Sahābi is even more regretful. And showing regret over the defence of a Sahābi is even more regretful. Can this be expected of any Sunnī Muslim? You make this decision yourself. It appears that Pīr Sāhib only made this comment to make those people happy who themselves entertain this deviant belief about Mawlānā Ahmad Ridā Khān:
“Seeing him, the longing to meet the Sahābah is lessened.” (Wasāyā Sharīf, p. 24)
From this angle, Pīr Sāhib ought to be praised, that in an earlier letter he openly said that Mawlānā Muhammad Qāsim Nānotwī did not deny chronological khatm nubuwwah, and the accusation of denying khatm nubuwwah based on Tahdhīr un-Nās is incorrect. Now, in his new treatise (Tahdhīr un-Nās Merī Nazar Meh), he also openly refuted Mawlānā Ahmad Ridā Khān.
Taking three passages from three different places (pages 65, 85 and 41) of Tahdhīr un-Nās, Mawlānā Ahmad Ridā Khān joined them together to concoct one passage, and based on this new forged passage, he accused Hazrat Mawlānā Muhammad Qāsim of denying chronological khatm nubuwwah. Even now, Pīr Karam Shāh Sāhib, gave his decision against Mawlānā Ahmad Ridā Khān, and I cannot avoid praising him for this determination. He wrote:
“I do not think it correct to say that Mawlānā Nānotwī (may Allah have mercy on him) denied the belief in khatm nubuwwah, because this passage, by way of the clear meaning of the text and indication of the text, without doubt, shows that Mawlānā Nānotwī (may Allah have mercy on him) had certainty that chronological khatm nubuwwah is from the necessities of religion, and he regarded its evidences as categorical and mutawātir. He has stated this matter explicitly, that the one who denies chronological khatm nubuwwah of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is a kāfir and outside the circle of Islam.” ((Tahdhīr un-Nās Merī Nazar Meh, p. 58)
Thus, Pīr Karam Shāh Sāhib has stated here that Mawlānā Muhammad Qāsim Nānotwī’s belief in khatm nubuwwah is undoubtedly clear. These words “without doubt” are worthy of attention. The question arises that since the statements of Hazrat Mawlānā Nānotwī (may Allah have mercy on him) prove this belief without doubt, why was Mawlānā Ahmad Ridā Khān not able to understand it? Is this not ignorance? And if he understood, but deliberately accused Hazrat of denying khatm nubuwwah, is this not deception?
The Belief in Khatm Nubuwwah and Mawlānā Qāsim Nānotwī
Now I wish to give some insight on the question of khatm nubuwwah and the services of the true ‘ulamā’ in this matter, keeping the fitnah of Qādiyānis in mind. By means of this, understanding this book will inshā Allah become very easy.
The belief of the khatm nubuwwah of the blessed Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is from those foundational beliefs of Islam, which till today the entire ummah have faith in without any interpretation. No prophet will be born after Huzur Khātam an-Nabiyyīn. This was always the consensus belief of the people of Islam. After the death of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace), Musaylamah Kadhdhāb made claim of non-legislative prophethood, and he said that prophetic revelation comes down on him. Hazrat Abū Bakr as-Siddīq (may Allah be pleased with him) sent an expedition against him, and it was first in the Siddīqī era that the Sahābah reached consensus that the denier of khatm nubuwwah is not Muslim, and it is compulsory on the Muslim government to uproot this tree of apostasy.
Hazrat Mawlānā Muhammad Qāsim Nānotwī (may Allah have mercy on him), author of Tahdhīr un-Nās, with the Siddīqī lineage, was guardian over this Siddiqī attribute, and the book Tahdhīr un-Nās prepared the groundwork to cut off fitnahs that appeared later.
It was destined in divine knowledge that Mirzā Ghulām Ahmad would attack the belief of khatm nubuwwah. Allah (Exalted is He) wanted that through the means of Hazrat Mawlānā Muhammad Qāsim Nānotwī (may Allah have mercy on him), this fallacy will be eradicated from before him. To understand this, it is necessary to first look at the explanation of khatm nubuwwah by Mirzā Ghulām Ahmad.
Mirzā Ghulām Ahmad Qādiyānī did not deny the title of khatm nubuwwah. Neither he nor his followers said that they do not accept that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is Khātam an-Nabiyyīn. He explained the meaning of khatm nubuwwah as the Prophet being the centre of prophethood. [He claimed that] those who received nubuwwah earlier, and whoever will receive prophethood in the future, his nubuwwah has sealed them. Mirzā Ghulām Ahmad, in his explanation, maintained the belief in positional khatm nubuwwah. He considered positional khatm nubuwwah as being parallel with chronological khatm nubuwwah. Hence, he accepted positional khatm nubuwwah and denied chronological khatm nubuwwah. In his mind, these are two conflicting ideas. Thus, the followers of Mirzā Ghulām Ahmad accept positional khatm nubuwwah and deny chronological khatm nubuwwah
The Muslim masses maintain great belief in the station and position of the blessed Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace). When they hear from the Qādiyāni preachers that the original meaning of khatm nubuwwah is that all perfections are sealed by the blessed Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace), and this is the khatm nubuwwah of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace), then through the zeal of belief many commoners would fall in the heresy of the Qādiyānis. Chronological khatm nubuwwah is certainly a nuanced belief. But positional khatm nubuwwah is nonetheless more nuanced and it is apparent that it would capture the people more.
From the lineage of Hazrat Abū Bakr as-Siddīq, Allah (Exalted is He) created a man of truth, in whose heart Allah inspired the reality that positional khatm nubuwwah is naturally a belief of Islam. He said this and he emphasised that if you accept positional khatm nubuwwah, you cannot reject chronological khatm nubuwwah. Rather, these two ideas can be brought together at one time. And it is the belief of Islam that all perfections were sealed on the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace), and that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is also the last of all in terms of time. This man of truth was Hazrat Mawlānā Muhammad Qāsim Nānotwī (may Allah have mercy on him).
In the belief of Mirzā Ghulām Ahmad Qādiyānī, positional khatm nubuwwah and chronological khatm nubuwwah are two conflicting and parallel ideas. In affirming positional khatm nubuwwah, there is rejection of chronological khatm nubuwwah. But in the belief of Mawlānā Qāsim Nānotwī, these two notions came together in the honourable self of the blessed Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace). Thus, in affirming positional khatm nubuwwah, he never denied chronological khatm nubuwwah.
Passages from Mawlānā Qāsim Nānotwī
Hazrat Mawlānā wrote in Tahdhīr un-Nās:
“In sum, in the attribute of nubuwwah, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) bears the attribute intrinsically (bidhdhāt), and the other prophets besides him, bear the attribute extrinsically (bil ‘ard).
“In this scenario, if the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) was placed at the start or in the middle (of the series of prophets), then:
“a) If the Shari‘ah of the later prophets was contrary to the Muhammadan Shari‘ah, it would entail that the lesser abrogated the greater [and this goes against the verse of the Qur’an, ‘Whatever We abrogate from a verse (of revelation), or cause it to be forgotten, We produce better than it or the like of it’ (2:106)] and
“b) If the Shari‘ah of the later prophets was not contrary [to the Muhammadan Shari‘ah], then for certain, revelation would have come to the later ones and they would be effused with sciences – for otherwise, what is the meaning of nubuwwah? Then in this scenario, if these are Muhammadan sciences, what was the need for the decisive promise, ‘Verily We are its protectors,’ (Qur’an, 15:9)? And if the sciences of the later prophets was other than the Muhammadan sciences, then this book being ‘a clarification for all things’ (Qur’an, 16:89) would be erroneous.
“In this way, chronological finality is a necessity of khatm nubuwwah in the meaning proposed.”
It is realised from this passage that Hazrat Mawlānā Muhammad Qāsim Nānotwī (may Allah have mercy on him) made the premise of khātamiyyah on bearing the attribute of nubuwwah intrinsically, but he said that part of the reality of acquiring this khātamiyyah is that chronological finality is necessary. He has also stated this explicitly in Tahdhīr un-Nās.
He wrote in another place:
“Khātamiyyah too has been established in the best way, and chronological khātamiyyah is also not lost from one’s hand.”
It is realised from this that where Hazrat Mawlānā Muhammad Qāsim (may Allah have mercy on him) said that in the understanding of the commoners, the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is khātam in the meaning that he is the last prophet, the intent of this is not to refute this belief. His intent is that to restrict the meaning of the word khātam to this meaning is the understanding of commoners. In his belief, chronological finality is necessary for Khātamiyyah. And in this there is also closing the door of future claimants to prophehood.
The deceased Mawlānā writes:
“In the understanding of the commoners, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) being khātam is with the meaning that his time is after the time of the earlier prophets, and he is the last prophet of all. But it will be illuminated to the people of understanding that coming earlier and later chronologically has intrinsically no virtue. Then how can it be correct to say ‘but the menssenger of Allah and Khātam an-Nabiiyyīn,’ (33:40) in this scenario, is in a place of praise? …Rather, the basis of khātamiyyah is another reality, from which chronological finality and closing the aforementioned door will automatically be necessitated, and the virtue of the Prophet will be multiplied.”
Look at this passage, and look at it again and again. You yourself will realise that he is not refuting the belief of the commoners. He is only correcting the restriction of it to this one meaning. The reality which he determined as the basis of khātamiyyah, being the last becomes automatically necessitated, and this too is extrinsically virtuous. Only intrinsic virtue has been negated.
The aspect of positional khātamiyyah under which the previous prophets received his effusion, and they found illumination from him in the same way that the moon is illuminated by sun, is not specific to the external individuals of prophets (those who actually appeared on the earth); this can also be said with respect to hypothesised individuals, that if hypothetically any prophet is assumed after him, even still his positional khātamiyyah will be intact, and they will be subordinate to him. Yes, if it actually happening, that would entail that chronological khatm nubuwwah is broken, and this is against the Islamic belief, because having belief in chronological khatm nubuwwah is from the necessities of Dīn.
The Wisdom of Chronological Finality
The Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is the last prophet. After him, no prophet will be born. This is known to every Muslim. The one who does not recognise the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) as the last prophet is not Muslim, because having belief in his being the last prophet is from the necessities of the religion of Islam.
Firmly grounded ‘ulamā’ not only know the rules [of Islam], but also recognise their principles, reasons and causes. No part of the wise religion is bereft of wisdom. What other wisdom does the foundation of the blessed Prophet being last prophet have? It was from the responsibilities of the ‘ulamā’ of Islam to answer this question. The commoners only knew that the time of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is after the time of the earlier prophets, and he is the final prophet, and that’s all. This is why, the reason why he is the final prophet still needed explanation.
Those ‘ulamā’ of the ummah who clearly explain the secrets and wisdoms of the Shari‘ah, from them, after Imam Ghazāli and Shāh Walī Allāh Muhaddith Dehlawī (may Allah have mercy on them), the name of Hazrat Mawlānā Muhammad Qāsim Nānotwī is at the top of the list. He investigated the foundation and wisdom of khatm nubuwwah. And the reality is that he fulfilled the due of this topic which is deserving of utmost respect.
Contemplate on what can be the reason for calling the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) Khātam an-Nabiyyīn, and consider what is the reason for making him the last prophet. There can be several reasons for this:
- Since there was an eternal promise of preservation of the book that was given to him. This is why there was no need for any future prophet. The reason why the door of prophethood and messengership closed on him is that now there is no need for it.
- It was the will of the Creator (Exalted is He) that after him no prophet will be sent. This series has to be sealed at the end. This is why he referred to him as the last prophet. The reason for announcing [he is Khātam an-Nabiyyīn] is to close the door to claimants to prophethood, who will misguide the creation by their false claims.
- His Shari‘ah is perfect and accomplished from all perspectives. This is why there can be no need for any prophet or messenger after him. Since there is no need, this is why he was made the last prophet.
- It was destined in divine knowledge that the group of the noble Sahābah (may Allah be pleased with them) prepared by him, will remain true to this religion till the end, and one group of the ‘ulamā’ of the ummah will remain steadfast on the truth. This is why the door of prophethood was closed on his sel, because the work of prophethood will remain intact through the heirs of the prophets.
These reasons are undoubtedly true, but are not the reason of reasons. The foundational reason should be such that the Prophet’s (Allah bless him and grant him peace) station is directly elevated. The first reason is an explanation of the station of the Noble Qur’an, which indirectly is a sign of the greatness of the Prophet, not directly. The basis of the second reason is saving the ummah from trials. In the third reason, the status of Shari‘ah is considered. And in the fourth, the truthfulness of the companions of the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and the ‘ulamā’ of the ummah are discussed. The greatness of the one whose perfection is realised by means of these perfections, which is intrinsic to his esteemed self, is not known from these aforementioned reasons; whereas that should be the basic reality. The reason of reasons is that from which the Prophet’s (Allah bless him and grant him peace) station and position is realised. These are all consequences of his position of khātamiyyah. Behind them, the reason of reasons exists which is connected to the esteemed self of the Prophet directly. Mawlānā Muhammad Qāsim wished to offer guidance on this reason of reasons.
That reason of reasons, in his words, is this:
“In sum, in the attribute of nubuwwah, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) bears the attribute intrinsically, and the other prophets besides him, bear the attribute extrinsically.” (Tahdhīr un-Nās, p. 51)
Mawlānā wants to say that the nubuwwah of all the remaining prophets is an effusion and effect of his nubuwwah. Just as the moon receives light from the sun, similarly, every messenger receives light from this sun of nubuwwah. He is not only the prophet of this ummah. From his capacity as sun of prophethood, he is prophet of prophets, and by extension, prophet of their nations. This is the basis of khātamiyyah. From its effects and consequences is that he comes right at the end. This chronological khatm nubuwwah is a necessity of this basis of khātamiyyah. This aspect of his positional status is not restricted to earlier prophets; but if it hypothesised that there was any prophet after him, even then, there would be no difference to this meaning of khātamiyyah. Positional khātamiyyah would in all situations be intact. But it was the demand of divine wisdom that upon his advent, together with this foundation of khātamiyyah, chronological khatm nubuwwah is also necessitated. The result of which is that his time is the last time, and after him no prophet will be born. And this is the belief of Islam.
Hazrat Mawlānā Muhammad Qāsim Nānotwī said that if the meaning of bearing the attribute intrinsically is taken as the meaning of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) being the khātam, then hypothetically if there was any prophet in his time, despite this, his positional khātamiyyah would stay intact. Mawlānā stated:
“The objective is that if Khātamiyyah in the meaning I presented [i.e. positional khātamiyyah] is determined, then his position as the khātam will not be specifically in relation to past prophets, but if hypotehtically in his own time any prophet appeared, even then his position as the khātam will remain sound.” (Tahdhīr un-Nās, p. 65)
This whole discussion hinges on “if this meaning is determined.” Thereafter, its consequence is mentioned. What is this meaning? That the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) intrinsically bears the attribute of nubuwwah. It is obvious that by consideration of this, if there was any nubuwwah in his time, his being the khātam in terms of positional khatm nubuwwah will by definition remain intact. It is unfortunate that the heretics completely omit these underlined words, and confuse the issue.
Explaining this sentence by omitting the condition and not taking the intent of khātamiyyah as positional khatm nubuwwah, is a great injustice to this passage. For the complete belief of Islam, positional khatm nubuwwah and chronological khatm nubuwwah should both be accepted. Thus, in another place of Tahdhīr un-Nās, page 84, he says:
“Yes, if khātamiyyah in the sense of an intrinsic embodiment of the quality of nubuwwah 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 hypothesised that after the time of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) any prophet was born, even then there would be no difference to the Muhammadan Khātamiyyah.”
To explain something by hypothesising something that will not happen is never worthy of objection according to the people of knowledge. It says in the Qur’an: “If there were gods in them (i.e. heaven and earth) besides Allah, they would have been corrupted.” And the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said: “If there was a prophet after me, it would be ‘Umar.” (Tirmidhī, 2:209). Faqih Abul Layth Samarqandi said in answer to the question that if in the battlefield a prophet mounted the camel of any Muslim, what should the Muslim do? He said: ‘That prophet should be asked.’ (Al-Ashbāh wan-Nazā’ir, p. 372) At that time no one claimed that Faqih Abul Layth believes there is a possibility of prophethood and he denied khatm nubuwwah.
Here, this issue was explained using the aforementioned condition, and the subject matter that is being discussed is positional khatm nubuwwah. If any prophet is hypothesised after the time of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace), he too would be regarded as having taken the light from the sun of nubuwwah of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace), and in this there really would be no difference in the positional khātamiyyah of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace).
Explaining this statement by omitting the condition, and taking the meaning of chronological khatm nubuwwah from the final words “there would be no difference to the Muhammadan Khātamiyyah” is great injustice to this passage.
In this sentence, first there is the condition, then its consequence is mentioned in three parts. The first part starts from “then.” And the second, from “Rather, in this way” and the third from, “Therefore, even if it were hypothesised.” Further, the third part is based on a hypothetical situation. And the entire statement hinges on the condition that khātamiyyah is taken in the meaning of an intrinsic embodiment of the quality of nubuwwah. The reality is that this was only an explanation of positional khatm nubuwwah not chronological.
Mawlānā Ahmad Ridā Khān Sāhib in the first passage from page 65 omitted the condition and he only took the second part of the consequence. Then, together with this, in the sentence mentioned on page 85, he omitted the condition, and even omitted the first and second parts of the consequence, and he joined only the third part [to the first sentence]. And thereafter, he added part of a sentence from page 41. In this way, Mawlānā Ahmad Ridā Khān Sāhib made up a continuous sentence by cutting and joining three different sentences of Tahdhīr un-Nās.
It appears from this continuous sentence that Mawlānā Muhammad Qāsim denied chronological khatm nubuwwah, and he wrote this passage for denial of chorological khatm nubuwwah. Whereas, he has affirmed chronological khatm nubuwwah in various places of this book. In another place, Mawlānā Muhammad Qāsim Nānotwī stated explicitly chronological khatm nubuwwah in this way:
“From amongst the motions [of time] is also the motion of the series of prophethood. Thus, due to attaining the greatest endpoint, the essence of Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace), that motion returns to rest. Definitely other motions [of time besides the motion of the series of prophethood] still remain. This is also another reason for his advent being at the end of time.” (Tahdhīr un-Nās)
The belief that the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) is the last prophet is so important and necessary that Hazrat Mawlānā Muhammad Qāsim declared its denier a kāfir:
“Therefore, if [khātamiyyah] is absolute and general [i.e. includes all three types of khātamiyyah: chronological, spatial and positional], then the establishment of Chronological khātamiyyah is obvious. Otherwise, accepting the necessity of chronological khātamiyyah by implicative indication (dalala iltizami) is immediately established. Here, the explicit statements of the Prophet, like: “You [i.e. Ali] are to me at the level of Harun to Musa, but there is no prophet after me,” or as he said, which apparently is derived from the phrase “Seal of the Prophets” in the aforementioned manner, are sufficient in this subject, because it reaches the level of tawatur. Furthermore, consensus (ijma‘) has been reached on this. Although the aforementioned words were not transmitted by mutawatir chains, despite this lack of tawatur in the words, there is tawatur in the meaning here, just like the tawatur of the number of rak’at of the obligatory prayers, the witr prayer 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. chronological khātamiyyah] is a disbeliever.” (Tahdhīr un-Nās, p. 56)
Then, Mawlānā writes in another place [in a book besides Tahdhīr un-Nās0]:
“It is my religion and belief that there is no possibility of there being any prophet aftter the Messenger of Allah. The one who does interpretation in this, I consider him a kāfir.”
The Deception of Ahmad Ridā Khān Barelwī
Observe how the deceased Mawlānā affirms chronological khātamiyyah again and again. And at the same time observe with what “attention,” “fear of Allah” and “carefulness,” Mawlānā Ahmad Ridā Khān took three incomplete sentences from pages 65, 84 and 41 of the deceased Mawlānā’s Tahdhīr un-Nās and joining them together, he concocted a continuous sentnece. And then he put this on the shoulders of the deceased Mawlānā. And then he took the fatwa of kufr from the ‘ulamā’ of the two Harams who do not know Urdu! I will now quote the sentence which Mawlānā Ahmad Ridā Khān arranged. Look at this sentence. Ponder over the profound and academic contents of Tahdhīr un-Nās which I quoted above. Notice the original book Tahdhīr un-Nās and do justice to the injustice of the oppressors. Mawlānā Ahmad Ridā Khān, in Husām al-Haramayn, presented the passage, by concocting it in this way:
“But if hypothetically in his own time any prophet appeared, even then his position as the khātam will remain sound; even if it were hypothesised that after the time of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) any prophet was born, even then there would be no difference to the Muhammadan Khātamiyyah. In the understanding of the commoners, the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) being khātam is with the meaning that his time is after the time of the earlier prophets, and he is the last prophet of all. But it will be illuminated to the people of understanding that coming earlier and later chronologically intrinsically is no virtue.”
The last part which states from “understanding of the commoners” is on page 41 of Tahdhīr un-Nās. The starting sentence is from page 65 and the middle sentence from page 85. Mawlānā Ahmad Ridā Khān joined them in this sequence, to show them as one continuous sentence in Tahdhīr un-Nās.
Further, in the last words, consider the word “intrinsically” (bidhdhāt). The usages of bidhdhāt and bil ‘ard (extrinsically) are not hidden to the people of knowledge. Mawlānā Muhammad Qāsim’s (Allah have mercy on him) intent was that there is no intrinsic virtue in coming earlier or later, but there is extrinsic virtue. The one who has the highest position should be last.
When Mawlānā Ahmad Ridā Khān presented this sentence to the ‘ulamā’ of the Arabs, I present the Arabic translation that he did of this part. I have certainty that if at the time Mawlānā Ahmad Ridā Khān was translating his consciousness was alive, it was certainly reproaching him! Mawlānā Ahmad Ridā Khān translated it as:
مع أنه لا فضل فيه أصلا
“While there is no virtue in it at all.”
Hazrat Mawlānā Muhammad Qāsim did not say this at all. There was only negation of bidhdhāt. There was no negation of bil‘ard. But with the word “aslan,” Mawlānā Ahmad Ridā Khān negated both. Innā lillāhi wa innā ilayhi rāji‘ūn.
It will not be inappropriate here to answer two questions, which some people ask on this subject.
Question: Did anyone use the words aslī (original) and dhātī (intrinsic) for the nubuwwah of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) before Mawlānā Muhammad Qāsim Nānotwī?
Answer: In the commentary of Dalā’il al-Khayrāt, ‘Allāmah Fāsī under the name “dā‘ī,” wrote a detailed discussion on this. He quoted from Shaykh Abū ‘Uthmān Farghānī these words in respect to the station of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace):
فلم يكن داع حقيقي من الإبتداء إلى الإتهاء إلا هذه الحقيقة الأحمدية
“So there was no true caller from the start to the end besides this Ahmadī reality.”
In this discussion, he described the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace) as the original prophet of prophets.
Question: Doesn’t saying that the earlier prophets embodied the quality of nubuwwah extrinsically create the doubt that they were not in reality prophets?
Answer: According to the explanation of Hazrat Mawlānā Muhammad Qāsim Nānotwī, the intent of this is only that those prophets did not acquire prophethood from their start. But nubuwwah was incidental on them from the effusion of the nubuwwah of Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace). After this incidence, they became true prophets. For the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace), there was no such gap between when he came into existence and he gained prophethood. Rather, he was even a prophet when Adam (peace be upon him) was between body and spirit (Tirmidhī 2:201)
In Sharh Matāli‘ many meanings of dhātī were transmitted. From them, the sixth applies to the description of dhātī in the nubuwwah of the Prophet (Allah bless him and grant him peace):
السادس أن يحصل لموضوع بلا واسطة وفي مقابله العرضي
“Sixth, that the subject is acquired directly, and its opposite is ‘ardī.”
It is unfortunate that some ignorant people mistook ‘ardi (extrinsic) in this discussion of Tahdhīr un Nās as ‘āridī (temporary), and thought that Mawlānā Muhammad Qāsim Nānotwī (Allah have mercy on him) – ma‘ādha Allāh – said the nubuwwah of all the remaining prophets is temporary; while none of the Muslims say that after granting nubuwwah to someone, Allah takes it away. This was the belief of the Jews who had this belief with respect to Bal‘am ibn Bā‘ūd.
Although the book Tahdhīr un-Nās is a very academic book, nonetheless, in its subject, it is very clear and apparent, and there is no ambiguity anywhere that Hazrat Mawlānā Marhūm denied chronological khatm nubuwwah. Rather, in many places he affirmed it.
Tahdhīr un-Nās min Inkār Athar Ibn ‘Abbās, Idārah al-‘Azīz, pp. 7-30