From Merchant to Messenger
The Seal of the Prophets
The End is Near
Allah's Apostle said, "I have been sent and the Hour (is at hand) as these two," showing his two fingers and sticking (separating) them out.
33:40 Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but is the Messenger of Allah and the seal of the Prophets. Allah is Cognizant of everything.
Is the Prophet Muhammad the last of the Messengers as implied in Allah’s revelation about His greatest Messenger being “the seal of the Prophets”?
6:32 The earthly life is nothing but sport and amusement, and the world to come is surely better for those who are God-fearing. Do you not understand?
28:59 Your Lord, however, never destroys the cities, unless He first sends to their mother-city a Messenger, to recite to them Our Revelations. And We never destroy any cities, unless their inhabitants are wrongdoers.
28:60 Whatever you have been given is merely the pleasure of this life and its finery; but what Allah has in His possession is better and more lasting. Do you not understand?
30:7 They know the outward aspect of the present life, but they are heedless of the Hereafter.
30:8 Have they (the Meccan unbelievers) not considered within themselves that Allah did not create the heavens and the earth and what is between them except in truth and at an appointed time? Yet many people disbelieve in the Encounter of their Lord.
30:9 Have they not travelled in the land to see what was the fate of those who preceded them? They were stauncher than them in strength, and they ploughed the earth and built it up better than they themselves built it up, and their Messengers came to them with the clear proofs. Allah would never wrong them, but they wronged themselves.
30:10 Then, evil was the end of those who committed the gravest sin; for they have denounced Allah’s Signs and used to scoff at them.
33:63 People will ask you about the Hour. Say: “The knowledge thereof is with Allah.” And what do you know? The hour may be close at hand.
47:18 Do they, then, only expect that the Hour should come upon them suddenly? In fact, its signs have already come. How then, when it comes, will they regain their recollection?
47:19 So, know that there is no god but Allah, and ask forgiveness for your sins and for the believers, men and women. Allah knows your goings and comings, and your settling down.
Forget about Allah’s apparent admission that He fought evil with evil and that denying His Signs is the gravest sin (under Islamic law, shirk, associating other gods with Allah is the worst sin) but consider the implication for Mecca of Allah revealing in 30:9 that He has destroyed a people who were “stauncher than them in strength”.
Do the Meccans and everyone on earth have only a short time to abandon the “pleasure of this life“, a life of “sport and amusement” if they hope to attain an even better, more indulgent to the nth degree sexually fulfilling life in the Hereafter?
There are many indications in the Koran of impending doom for the Meccans, with implications for the world. The 21st surah, The Prophets, begins with an attention grabbing announcement that “Mankind’s reckoning is drawing near” and not to expect another messenger after the Prophet Muhammad. This is addressed to the Meccan believers and unbelievers, as are most of the 86 Meccan surahs.
In The Prophets, Allah also reminds the Meccans of all the civilizations that have not heeded His warning and which He annihilated on less than a moment’s notice. Mecca’s destruction, if not the world is at hand, or so it would seem.
In the Name of Allah,
the Compassionate, the Merciful
21:1 Mankind’s reckoning is drawing near*, but they are turning away heedlessly.
* This is to warn the people that the time of Resurrection when they will have to appear before their Lord to render their accounts is not far. The coming of the Holy Prophet was a sign and a clear evidence of the fact that mankind had entered the last stage of its history. The Holy Prophet himself explained it by holding out two of his adjoining fingers and said, "I have been sent at a time which joins to the time of Resurrection just as these two fingers adjoin". By this he meant to say, "No other Prophet is coming between me and the Resurrection. Therefore mend your ways now, for after me no guide is coming with good news and warning.
21:2 No new reminder comes to them from their Lord but they listen to it while they are at play.
21:3 Their hearts are distracted. The wrongdoers say in secret: “Is this not a mortal like you? Will you then take to sorcery, with your eyes wide open?”
21:4 He (Muhammad) said: “My Lord knows what is said in the heavens and the earth, and He is the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.”
21:5 “No”, they say: “It is just a load of dreams. He has rather forged it; he is rather a poet. Let him bring us a sign, just as the former [Prophets] were sent [with].”
21:6 No city We destroyed, before them, actually believed. Will they, then, believe?
21:7 And We did not send before you but men to whom We revealed. So ask those acquainted [with the Scriptures] if you do not know.
21:8 And We did not make them (the Messengers) as mere bodies that did not eat food; nor were they immortal.
21:9 Then We fulfilled the promise, and so We delivered them together with whomever We pleased, and We destroyed the extravagant.
21:10 We have indeed sent down to you a Book (the Qur’an) in which there is admonition for you. Do you not understand, then?
21:11 How many an unjust town We have levelled down and created in its wake another people.
21:12 Then, when they sensed Our Might, behold, they started running away from it.
21:13 “Do not run. Return to what you enjoyed of luxury, and to your dwellings, that perchance you may be questioned.”
21:14 They said: “Woe to us! We have indeed been wrongdoers.”
21:15 This continued to be their lament, until We [cut them down] to stubble, senseless.
The entire immoderate reputation of Allah as the embodiment of Compassion and Mercy is built on His promise to forgive those who repent for whatever they did wrong while living and breathing. But as is the case here, and as was the case with Thamud and others, this is simply not so. But I digress.
21:16 We did not create the heavens and the earth and what is in between them in sport.
21:17 Had We wished to take to Ourselves a means of sport, We would have found it within Us, if We wanted to do it.
21:18 No, We hurl the truth against falsehood and it overcomes it; and behold it has vanished. Woe unto you (the Meccans), for what you describe (the way you describe Allah e.g. fun-loving god).
21:19 To Him belongs what is in the heavens and on earth; and those with Him (the angels) are not too proud to worship Him, nor do they tire;
21:20 Glorifying Him night and day without growing weary.
21:21 Or have they taken to themselves gods out of the earth, able to raise the dead?
21:22 Were there in them both (heaven and earth) other gods than Allah, they would surely have been ruined. Allah be exalted, the Lord of the Throne, above what they describe.
21:23 He is not questioned about what He does, but they are questioned.
21:24 Or, have they taken, besides Him, other gods? Say: “Bring your proof.” This is the Reminder (the Qur’an) of those with me and the Reminder of those before me. However, most of them do not know the truth, so they turn away.
The End In the Prophet's Lifetime
Surah 21 began with a warning from Allah that the end is near and culminates with an admission from His Messenger that he does not know how near is near, revelation 21:109.
21:106 Surely, there is in this (the Qur’an) a Message to a worshipping people.
21:107 And We have only sent you (Muhammad), as a mercy to the whole of mankind.
21:108 Say : “It is revealed to me that truly your God is One God; will you then submit?”
21:109 If they turn away, then say: “I have warned you all equally, but I do not know what you are promised is near or far.”
21:110 He (Allah) knows what you say openly, and He knows what you conceal.
21:111 I do not know whether if it is perhaps a trial for you, and an enjoyment for a while.
21:112 He (Muhammad) said: “Lord, judge rightly. Our Lord is the Compassionate Whose help is sought to counter what you (the Meccan unbelievers) allege.”
More revelations pointing to a Judgement Day during the Prophet’s lifetime; the most significant probably being revelation 15:99 where it seems clear that Allah intends to bring It about during His Messenger's lifetime.
15:98 So (Muhammad), celebrate the praise of your Lord and be one of those who prostrate themselves.
15:99 And worship your Lord, till the certain [Hour] overtakes you!
50:39 Bear up with what they say and proclaim the Praise of your Lord before sunrise and before sunset.
50:40 And in the night and in the wake of the prostrations, glorify him.
50:41 And listen on the Day the caller shall call out from a nearby place;
50:42 The day they shall hear the Cry of Truth, “That is the day of rising again.”
50:43 It is We who give life and cause to die and unto Us is the ultimate return;
50:44 The Day the earth shall be rent asunder around them, as they hasten forth. That, indeed, is an easy mustering for Us.
50:45 We know better what they say and you are not a tyrant terrorizing them. So, remind, by the Qur’an, him who fears My Warning.
53:56 This is one of the first warnings.
53:57 The Last Day is imminent;
53:58 It has, apart from Allah, no disclosure.
53:59 Do you then marvel at this discourse?
53:60 You laugh and do not cry;
53:61 While you are fully distracted.
53:62 Prostrate yourselves before Allah, then, and worship Him.
THE WAYS OF ASCENT
In the Name of Allah,
the Compassionate, the Merciful
70:1 A questioner asked about an imminent punishment,
70:2 Of the unbelievers, that none can avert;
70:3 From Allah, Lord of the Ways of Ascent.
70:4 Unto Him the angels and the spirit (Gabriel) ascend on a Day the duration thereof is fifty thousand years.
70:5 Bear up patiently then (Muhammad).
70:6 They think it is distant;
70:7 But we think it is close.
A Matter of Time
A bedouin came to the Prophet and said, "O Allah's Apostle! When will The Hour be established?"
The Prophet said, "Wailaka (Woe to you), What have you prepared for it?"
The bedouin said, "I have not prepared anything for it, except that I love Allah and His Apostle."
The Prophet said, "You will be with those whom you love."
We (the companions of the Prophet) said, "And will we too be so?
The Prophet said, "Yes." So we became very glad on that day.
In the meantime, a slave of Al-Mughira passed by, and he was of the same age as I was.
The Prophet said. "If this (slave) should live long, he will not reach the geriatric old age, but the Hour will be established."
Allah in revelation 21:2 said “that no new reminder comes to them from their Lord” and in 33:40 He refers to Muhammad as “the seal of the Prophets” i.e. no more Messengers, the Prophet Muhammad is it. But is He? It all depends what Allah meant when He revealed “the reckoning is drawing near”, verse 21:1 and what His Messenger understood that to mean.
With Allah, in the surah The Prophets, again reminding those who cared to listen, of all the cities and civilizations He has destroyed for what we know were minor transgressions, if transgressions they were, against lesser Prophets, and His admonition to the Meccan unbelievers to take Him seriously “but they listen while they are at play” it would be reasonable to assume that Allah was getting ready to level more than a few “unjust towns”, revelation 21:11. In fact, He may have been getting ready to wipe the slate clean, to sound “the Hour”. That, indeed, the end was near; during the lifetime of those “at play”, by all indications.
Allah will not destroy or punish a city until He has sent its inhabitants a Messenger, and they either deny him or humble themselves. In revelation 17:58 Allah reveals that He will destroy or punish terribly every city on earth before Judgement Day i.e. Day of Resurrection. It's in the Book!
17:58 There is no city but We will destroy before the Day of Resurrection, or will punish terribly. That is written in the Book.
Does 17:58 presage more Messengers after the Prophet Muhammad thereby not making him the last of the line? If God’s Messenger thought the Day of Resurrection was imminent, new nations would probably not have been created, and therefore would not have required Allah to send them later Messengers, the obligatory Prophets of Doom and tattletales who will testify against their kin and neighbours on Judgement Day.
Verse 10:47 also implies more Messengers, and like 17:58, would contradict revelation 33:40 unless God’s Messenger expected Judgement Day to occur within his lifetime, or shortly thereafter.
Revelation 10:47 is very much, from a layman’s perspective, a verse out of place, a revelation haphazardly tossed into a group of verses which have more to do with the omnipresent Judgement Day.
The context in which the revelation about possible future messengers begins with the accusation about the Koran being a forgery.
10:38 Or do they say: “He (the Prophet) has forged it.” Say: “Come up, then, with a single Surah like it, and call upon whomever you can, apart from Allah, if you are truthful.”
Allah responds with an accusation of His own, that those who make that charge do not know what they are talking about – not unlike those who came before and whom He annihilated.
10:39 No, they deny that (the Qur’an) whereof they have no knowledge, and whose interpretation has not yet come to them. That is how those who came before them denied [it]. Look, then, what was the fate of the wrongdoers.
A few somewhat disjointed comparisons as to why His Messenger has difficulties getting some people to believe, and how confused they will be when Judgment Day stares them in the face (perhaps another indication that the Day was imminent when Allah revealed what He revealed).
10:40 Some of them believed in it, and some do not; but your Lord knows best the mischief-makers.
10:41 If they deny what you say, then say (O Muhammad): ”What I do is mine, and what you do is yours. You are quit of what I do, and I am quit of what you do.”
10:42 And some of them listen to you; but can you make the deaf hear, even if they do not understand?
10:43 And some of them look at you; but can you guide the blind, even if they do not see?
10:44 Surely, Allah does not wrong people at all, but people wrong themselves.
10:45 And on the Day He musters them, it is as though they have only tarried for one hour of the day, recognizing each other. Those who have disbelieved in meeting Allah are the real losers, and are not well-guided.
10:46 And whether We show you (during your lifetime) part of what We promised them or cause you to die, surely unto Us is your return; and then Allah is witness of what they do.
To every nation Allah sends a messenger:
10:47 Every nation has its Messenger; and when their Messenger comes, they will be justly judged, and they will not be wronged.
And to every nation there is a term:
10:48 And they say: “When is this promise, if you are truthful?”
10:49 Say: “I have no power to harm or to profit myself, except as Allah wills. To every nation is a term, when its term comes, it will not put it back a single hour, nor will it put it forward.”
7:34 For every nation there is a [fixed] term, so that when its term comes, they will not be able to put it back or bring it forward a single hour.
More nations to come mean more messengers to come. This should be the end of the discussion as to whether the Prophet Muhammad is the last of the Messengers. I include the remaining revelations in surah Yûnus i.e. Jonah, one of the more intriguing surahs, so as to give an appreciation, at this late juncture, of the discussions about Judgement Day, and whatever, between Allah and His Messenger, and the Prophet’s interaction with his audience. Much of what you are about to read will be déja vu all over again as you may have come to expect.
10:50 Say: “Tell me, if His punishment overtakes you by night or day, what part of it will the wicked sinners seek to hasten (after seeing the terrible punishment, will the wicked sinners still seek to hasten it through mockery and disbelief)?”
10:51 It is then, when it has overtaken you, that you will believe in Him? Now [you believe] while you were seeking to hasten it!
10:52 Then it will be said to the wrongdoers: “Taste the everlasting punishment. Will you be rewarded except for what you did?”
10:53 And they ask you to tell them: “Is it true?” Say: “Yes, by my Lord, it is the truth, and you cannot escape [punishment].”
10:54 Had every soul which did wrong possessed whatever is on earth, it would offer it as a ransom, and they will feel remorseful when they see the punishment; but they will be justly judged, and they will not be wronged.
10:55 Indeed, to Allah belongs what is the heavens and in the earth. Indeed, Allah’s promise is true, but most of them do not know.
How many times have you heard 10:56 before:
10:56 He gives life and causes death, and unto Him you shall be returned.
10:57 O mankind, there has come to you from your Lord an admonition (the Qur’an), a healing for what is in the hearts, and a guidance and a mercy for the believers.
10:58 Say: “In Allah’s Bounty and Mercy – in those let them rejoice. It is better than that which they amass.”
Before Allah came up with His dietary plan people had their own ideas about what was haram or halal which they insisted had His approval.
10:59 Say: “Have you considered the provision Allah has sent down for you, and how then you made some of it unlawful and some lawful?” Say: “Has Allah allowed you or are you lying about Allah?”
10:60 And what will those who impute lies to Allah think on the Day of Resurrection? Allah is bountiful to mankind, but most of them are not thankful.
10:61 You (Muhammad) do not go about any affair, nor do you recite any portion of the Qur’an, nor do you (the Prophet and the Muslims) do anything, but We are witnesses thereof, as you press on with it. And not a speck’s weight in the earth or in the heavens escapes Allah; and nothing smaller or bigger than that, but is in a Manifest Book.
10:62 Indeed, the friends of Allah have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.
In revelation 2:106, Allah revealed that abrogating i.e. replacing one revelation with another was His prerogative. A stupefying concept in and of itself: an Omniscient i.e. All-Knowing, All-Seeing, Wise, Sagacious God not getting it right the first time.
2:106 Whichever verse We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring instead a better or similar one. Do you not know that Allah has the power over all things?
There will be no altering of Allah’s Words after they have been delivered by Him or by you. He will replace some verses by others, such as He did for the punishment for adultery, at least once if not twice; but replacing is not altering!
10:63 Those who believe and are righteous;
10:64 Theirs is the good news in the present life and the Hereafter. And there will be no alteration of the Words of Allah. That is the great triumph.
More kind words, but no divine intervention from the All-Powerful Owner of everything who created night and day and does everything by Himself, for a beleaguered tenant except for the usual invectives against those who cause him grief.
10:65 And let not what they say grieve you. All power is Allah’s; He is the All-Hearing, the All-Knowing.
10:66 Indeed, to Allah belongs whoever is in the heavens or on the earth. Those who call upon others, apart from Allah, do not follow any associate. They only follow conjecture and they are only lying.
10:67 It is He Who created the night for you to rest therein and the day to see. Surely, in this are signs for a people who listen.
10:68 They say: “Allah has taken a child.” Glory be to Him! He is the self-sufficient; His is everything in the heavens and on the earth. You have no authority for this. Do you attribute to Allah what you do not know?
10:69 Say: “Those who invent lies about Allah will not prosper.”
Allah never lets you forget about the punishment.
10:70 [It is only] a little enjoyment in this life; then unto Us is their return; then We will make them taste the terrible punishment, on account of their disbelief.
Back to our original discussion, with Allah telling His Messenger to tell his audience to look up, then down.
10:101 Say: “Behold what is in the heavens and the earth.” But neither the signs nor the warnings will avail a people who do not believe.
An indication that the Prophet believed Judgement Day was imminent, revelation 10:102, and that he, and the believers, would experience the equivalent of the Christian Rapture, 10:103.
10:102 Do they, then, expect anything other than the like of the days of those who passed away before them? Say: “Wait on, I am with you one of those who wait.”
10:103 Then, We shall deliver our Messengers and the believers; it is only right that We should deliver the believers.
10:104 Say: “O people, if you are in doubt regarding my religion, [know that] I worship not those you worship, apart from Allah; but I worship Allah who causes you to die, and I have been commanded to be one of the believers.”
10:105 And [it was said to me]: “Set your face towards religion, in an upright way, and do not be one of the polytheists.”
10:106 “And do not call, apart from Allah, on anything which neither profits nor harms you. If you do, you are then one of the wrongdoers.”
10:107 And If Allah afflicts you with adversity, none can lift it other than He; and if He wills any good for you, none can bar His Bounty. He will accord it to whomever He pleases of His servants and He is the All-Forgiving, the Merciful.
10:108 Say: “O people, the truth has come to you from your Lord; whoever is well-guided is well-guided only to his own advantage, and whoever goes astray goes astray only to his disadvantage, and I am not a guardian over you.”
The last revelation in this surah may also be an indication that the Prophet believed, based on Allah’s admonition to “be patient and steadfast, until Allah judges”, that Judgement Day would occur during his lifetime, effectively making him Allah’s last Messenger.
10:109 And (O Muhammad) follow what is revealed to you and be patient and steadfast, until Allah judges; for He is the Best of judges.
Then there is Allah's promise of a happy ending in revelation 20:132, and His admonition to His Messenger in revelation 20:135 to wait and they would soon all know who were "the well-guided”.
20:128 Did He not reveal to them (the Meccan unbelievers) as a guidance, how many generations before them We destroyed as they were walking inside their dwellings? Surely, in that are signs for people of understanding.
20:129 And but for a Word which preceded from your Lord and an appointed term, it (the punishment) would have been inexorable.
20:130 So bear (Muhammad) patiently what they say, and celebrate the praise of your Lord before the rising of the sun and before its setting; and glorify him during the hours of the night and at the two ends of the day, that you may be well-pleased.
20:131 And do not allow your eyes to reach out to what We allowed some to enjoy of the flowers of the present life, so as to try them thereby. Your Lord’s provision is better and more lasting.
20:132 And enjoin your family to pray and be constant therein. We do not ask you for any provision; We rather provide for you. The happy ending is reserved for righteousness (sic).
20:133 They say: “If only he would bring us a sign from his Lord.” Has not a clear proof come to them in the previous scriptures?
20:134 And had We destroyed them with a punishment before him (the Prophet Muhammad), they would have said: “Lord, if only you had sent us a messenger, we would have followed your Revelations before we were humiliated and disgraced.”
20:135 Say: “Everybody is waiting, so wait; and then you will know who are the people of the Straight Path and who are the well-guided.”
A Disagreement Among Scholars
When learned individuals revert to name calling, it is often because they have lost the argument. Moududi alludes to a dispute among scholars of the Koran as to the meaning of a revelation which appears to brings together all the Messengers at the same place and at the same time, including the Prophet Muhammad.
23:51 O Messengers, eat from the good things and do what is right. Surely, I am aware of what you do.
Moududi labels stupid the literalists, experts, who, like the ordinary believers, take Allah’s Revelations at face value and argue that revelation 23:51 can only mean more Messengers after the Prophet Muhammad.
… the stories of some Prophets have been related as individuals, but in this verse all of them have been addressed together. However, it does not mean that they were present at one and the same place at the time of address. As a matter of fact, this way of address has been adopted to show that the Message of all the Messengers, who came to different countries in different ages, was the same and they all belonged to one and the same community. Therefore the Message to one Messenger was meant to be the Message for each one of them. In this verse, they have been addressed together as if they were present at one and the same place in order to emphasize this same aspect of the matter. But it is an irony that some stupid people of this age have concluded that this verse has been addressed to those messengers who were to come after Prophet Muhammad (Allah's peace be upon him).
The remaining revelations is this series are just as confounding, and Moududi’s elaborate explanations too long to include here. You’re on your own, but what you have read so far of The Seal of the Prophets should be helpful in coming to your own conclusions.
23:52 And this your nation is a single nation and I am your Lord; so fear me.
23:53 But they broke up, regarding their affairs, into factions, each party rejoicing in what they had.
23:54 So, leave them in their error for a while.
23:55 What? Do you think that in what We provide them with of money and children,
23:56 We are hastening to them our Bounties? No, they do not understand.
23:57 Those who are awed by the fear of their Lord,
23:58 And those who believe in the Revelations of their Lord,
23:59 And those who do not associate anything with their Lord,
23:60 And those who give what they give while their hearts tremble for fear that they are returning to their Lord;
23:61 All those shall hasten to do the right deeds and they are the first to attain them.
It should come as no surprise that the “servants” in Moududi’s interpretation of revelation 35:32 are not Messengers who will follow the Greatest but ordinary Muslims.
35:31 What We have revealed to you of the Book is the truth, confirming what preceded it. Allah is Well-Informed about His servants, All-Seeing.
35:32 Then We bequeathed the Book upon those servants We chose; but some of them wronged themselves, some are lukewarm and some are forerunners in good deeds, by Allah’s leave. That truly is the great distinction.
Show me Hell or Give Me Death
Allah, during the Prophet’s visit with Him in Paradise, and in subsequent visions, showed him what the punishment in the Hereafter is like. He did this after telling His Messenger that He would show him Hell or cause him to die, and everyone else shortly thereafter.
40:77 So, bear up patiently; Allah’s Promise is true. We will either show you (Muhammad) what We are promising them, or We will call you unto Us. Then unto us they will be brought back.
43:40 Are you able, then, to make the deaf hear or guide the blind and him who is in manifest error?
43:41 Were we to carry you off, We would then wreck vengeance upon them;
43:42 Or show you that which We have promised. For We certainly have power over them.
43:43 Cling then to what was revealed to you; you are certainly upon a Straight Path.
One interpretation of revelation 40:77 and 43:41 is that Judgement Day will quickly follow the Prophet’s passing, or should I say: “should have.”
Narrated Auf bin Mali:
I went to the Prophet during the Ghazwa (military expedition) of Tabuk while he was sitting in a leather tent. He said, "Count six signs that indicate the approach of the Hour:
the conquest of Jerusalem,
a plague that will afflict you (and kill you in great numbers) as the plague that afflicts sheep,
the increase of wealth to such an extent that even if one is given one hundred Dinars, he will not be satisfied;
then an affliction which no Arab house will escape,
and then a truce between you and Bani Al-Asfar (i.e. the Byzantines) who will betray you and attack you under eighty flags. Under each flag will be twelve thousand soldiers.