Mohammed is not the father of any man among you; but the apostle of God, and the seal of the prophets: And God knoweth all things. (Qur’an 33:40)
The traditional and predominant understanding of this verse is as follows:
- Seal means last.
- Muhammad is the seal of the prophets.
- Therefore, Muhammad is the last of the prophets.
- All messengers are prophets but not all prophets are messengers.
- Therefore, Muhammad is the seal or last of the prophets and messengers.
When teaching Muslims, the following argument is most likely raised: How can the Báb and Bahá’u’lláh be prophets and/or messengers if according to Qur’an 33:40, Muhammad is the seal or last of the prophets and messengers?
Some Bahá’is respond that Muhammad is the seal of the prophets, not the messengers. I disagree because the following verse from Bahá’u’lláh refutes this.
Glorified art Thou, O Lord my God! I beseech Thee by Thy Chosen Ones, and by the Bearers of Thy Trust, and by Him Whom Thou hast ordained to be the Seal of Thy Prophets and of Thy Messengers, to let Thy remembrance be my companion, and Thy love my aim, and Thy face my goal, and Thy name my lamp, and Thy wish my desire, and Thy pleasure my delight. (Prayers and Meditations by Bahá’u’lláh, XXV)
My response is to point out that Muslims are using the same argument to reject the return of Christ that Jews used and still use today to reject Christ Himself. So how are they any better? Don’t believe me? Take a look at the following arguments presented by Jewish apologetics.
Jesus was not a prophet. Prophecy could only exist in Israel when the land is inhabited by a majority of world Jewry. During the time of Ezra (~300 BCE) the majority of Jews refused to move from Babylon to Israel, thus prophecy ended upon the death of the last prophets (Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi). Jesus appeared on the scene approximately 350 years after prophecy had ended. (Shamash, 2017)
Prophecy can only exist in Israel when the land is inhabited by a majority of world Jewry, a situation which has not existed since 300 BCE. During the time of Ezra, when the majority of Jews remained in Babylon, prophecy ended upon the death of the last prophets – Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi.
Jesus appeared on the scene approximately 350 years after prophecy had ended, and thus could not be a prophet.
Keep in mind that they were using these arguments long before Muhammad was even born. So I have two options. Either I could accept the traditional understanding of Scripture from religious scholars and become a Jew or adopt the notion that God still sends guidance to humanity from time to time and become a Bahá’i. Your pick.