The Finality of Prophethood

Understanding Islam – Abul Al\’a Maududi


This brings us to the question of the finality of prophethood. Let us now consider this aspect of the prophethood of Muhammad (peace be upon him).  We have already discussed the nature of prophethood, and this discussion makes it clear that the advent of a prophet is not an everyday occurrence. Nor is the presence in person or the prophet essential for every land, people, and period. The life and teachings of the prophet are the beacon-light to guide a people to the Right path and as long as his teachings and his guidance are alive, he is, as it were, himself alive. The real death of a prophet consists not in his physical demise but in the mitigation of his teachings and the interpolation of his guidance.

The earlier prophets have died because their followers have adulterated their teachings, interpolated their instructions, and besmirched their life examples by attaching fictitious events to them. Not one of the earlier books-Torah, Zabur (psalms of David), Injeel (Gospel of Jesus), etc.; exists today in its original text and even the followers of these books confess that they do not possess the original book. The life histories of the earlier prophets have been so mixed up with fiction that an accurate and authentic account of their lives has become impossible. Their lives have become tales and legends and no trustworthy record is available anywhere. Not only that the records have been lost and their life precepts forgotten but even this cannot be said with certainty as to when and when and where a certain prophet was born and bred, how he lived and what code he gave to mankind.

In fact, the real death of a prophet consists in the death of his teachings.  Judging the facts on this criterion no one can deny that Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his teachings are alive. His teachings stand uncorrupted and are uncorruptible. The Qur’an-the book he gave to mankind-exists in its original text, without the slightest alteration of letter, syllable, jot, or title. The entire account of his life-his sayings, instructions and actions-is preserved with complete accuracy, so much so that even after the lapse of thirteen centuries its delineation in history is so clear and complete that it seems as if we are seeing him with the eyes under our brows. The biography of no other human being is so well preserved as that of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam (peace be upon him). In each and every matter of life we can seek the guidance of Muhammad (peace be upon him) and take a lesson from his life-example. That is why there is no need of any other prophet after Muhammad, the last prophet (peace be upon him).

Furthermore, there are three things which necessitate the advent of a new prophet: it not just the replacement of a departed prophet. These may be summed up as follows:  

1. That the teachings of the earlier prophets have been interpolated or corrupted or they have died, and their revival is needed. In such a case a new prophet is raised so that he may purge the impurities from the lives of the people and restore religion to its pristine form and Purity, or

2. That the teachings of a prophet who has passed away were incomplete and it is necessary to amend them, improve upon them, or add something to them, when a new prophet is sent is sent to affect these improvements or

3. That the earlier prophet was raised particularly for a certain nation or territory and a prophet for another nation, people, or country be required. 

These are the three fundamental conditions which necessitate the raising of a new prophet. A careful perusal of the facts shows that none of these conditions exists today. The teachings of the last prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon him), are alive, have been fully preserved, and made immortal. The guidance he has shown unto mankind is complete and flawless and is enshrined in the Holy Qur\’an. All the sources of Islam are fully intact and each and every instruction or action of the Holy Prophet can be ascertained without the least shadow of doubt. Thus, as his teachings are totally intact, there is no need of any of new prophet on this count. 

Secondly, God has completed His revealed guidance through Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and Islam is the complete religion for mankind. God has said that, \”Today I have perfected your Faith-religion-for you, and have completed My bounty upon you,\” and a thorough study of Islam as a complete way of life proves the truth of these Qur’anic words. Islam gives guidance for life in this world and in the hereafter and nothing essential has now been perfected and there is no ground for new prophethood on the plea of imperfection.  Lastly, the Message of Muhammad (peace be upon him) was not meant for any particular people, place, or period. He was raised as the world prophet-the messenger of the truth for the entire mankind.

The Qur’an has commanded Muhammad (peace be upon him) to declare: \”O mankind, I am God’s Messenger to all of you.\” He has been described as \”a blessing for all (the people of) the worlds\” and his approach has been universal and human. That is why after him there remains no need for new prophethood and he has been described by the Qur’an as khatam-un-Nabiyyin (the last of the chain of the true prophets). Now therefore, the only source for the knowledge of God and His Way is Muhammad (peace be upon him). We can know of Islam only through his teachings which are so complete and so comprehensive that world does not need any new prophet; it needs only such people as have full faith in Muhammad (peace be upon him) who become the standard-bearers of his message, propagate it to the world at large, and endeavor to establish the culture which Muhammad (peace be upon him) gave to Man. The World needs such men of character as can translate his teachings into practice and establish a society which is governed by Divine Law, whose supremacy Muhammad peace be Muhammad (peace be upon him) and on its success hinges the success of Man



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