“These people have imagined that the flow of God's all-encompassing grace and plenteous mercies, the cessation of which no mind can contemplate, has been halted.” – Bahá’u’lláh
The Jewish scholars of the Torah also assert that no independent Prophet will come after Moses with a new Law. Based on their personal understanding of certain verses they maintain that a descendant of the House of David will be made manifest Who will promulgate the Law of the Torah, and help establish and enforce its commandments throughout the East and the West. This is one of the reasons they were deprived of the recognition of both Christ, and Muhammad.
"'The hand of God,' say the Jews, 'is chained up.' Chained up be their own hands! And for that which they have said, they were accursed. Nay, outstretched are both His hands!" - [Qur'án 5:64]
The followers of the Gospel, likewise, hold as impossible that the Bearer of a new Revelation should again shine forth from the dayspring of the Will of God after Jesus, Son of Mary -- peace be upon Him! In support of this contention, they adduce the following verse from the Gospel:
"Heaven and earth shall pass away, but the words of the Son of Man shall never pass away."- [Luke 21:33]
They maintain that neither the teachings nor the commandments of Jesus -- peace be upon Him! -- may ever be altered and that whensoever the promised Beauty is made manifest and all the signs are revealed, He must re-affirm and establish the law proclaimed in the Gospel, so that there may remain in the world no faith but His faith. This is their fundamental belief. And their conviction is such that were a person to be made manifest with all the promised signs and to reveal that which is contrary to the letter of the law of the Gospel, they must assuredly renounce him, refuse to submit to his law, declare him an infidel, and laugh him to scorn. This is proved by what came to pass when the sun of the Muhammadan Revelation was revealed. Had they sought with a humble mind from Prophet Muhammad the true meaning of these words revealed in their sacred books -- words the misapprehension of which have caused men to be deprived of the recognition of their God -- they surely would have been guided to the light of the Sun of Truth, and would have discovered the mysteries of divine knowledge and wisdom.
Observe how in this day also, all the people have continued to occupy themselves with such foolish absurdities. For over a thousand years they have been reciting this verse of the Holy Qur'an - "'The hand of God,' say the Jews, 'is chained up."' - [Qur'án 5:64], and unwittingly have pronounced their criticism against the Jews, utterly unaware that they themselves, openly and privately, are voicing the sentiments and belief of the Jewish people!
"Thou art surely aware of their idle contention, that all Revelation is ended, that the portals of Divine mercy are closed, that from the day springs of eternal holiness no Sun shall rise again, that the Ocean of everlasting bounty is forever stilled, and that out of the Tabernacle of ancient glory the Messengers of God have ceased to be made manifest...These people have imagined that the flow of God’s all-encompassing grace and plenteous mercies, the cessation of which no mind can contemplate, has been halted." - Baha'u'llah
All the peoples of the world are awaiting two Manifestations Who will come in succession after each other in the promised "Day of God"; all Faiths including Islam wait for the fulfilment of this promise.
In the Bible the Jews have the promise of the coming of the "Lord of Hosts" and the "Messiah"
In the Gospel the coming of "Elijah" followed by the "return of Christ" is promised to the Christians.
The followers of Shí'ah Islam anticipate the coming of the "Qá'im" (He Who ariseth), and the return of the "Imam Husayn".
The followers of Sunni Islam anticipate the coming of the "Mihdi" (One Who is guided), and the descent of the "Spirit of God" (Jesus Christ).
This Divine Promise made to the followers of all Faiths, including Muslims, that there will be the appearance of two more Divinely sanctioned Personages in the Day of God in itself shows that Muhammad's title "Seal of the Prophets" does not mean that Divinely sanctioned and inspired Personages will never appear on earth, otherwise there would never have been the promise of these two Holy Personages.
Although the Day of God has arrived, and these two Holy Personages have appeared (The Báb, and Baha'u'llah), the followers of Islam in this era still wait in expectation of beholding the promised One who should uphold and spread the Law of the Muhammadan Dispensation. The Jews and the Christians in like manner upheld the same protests in the past and based on their interpretations of certain verses were convinced that God would send another Apostle simply to reinforce and spread the previously revealed laws, rather than reveal a new Faith.
In this promised Day of God both Promised One's have come, and have eloquently explained the meanings of terms such as "Seal of the Prophets". The Apostle of God alone has the authority to Interpret the Word of God. Throughout history every Apostle of God has explained the meaning of verses in a manner which varied with the opinions of the religious leaders of the time and for this reason they were persecuted and rejected by the people:
"As oft as an Apostle cometh unto you with that which your souls desire not, ye swell with pride, accusing some of being impostors and slaying others.” [Qur’án 2:87]
As history has revealed to us, safety cannot be found in the interpretations of religious clergy or popular religous opinion. Neither is safety to be found in submission to tradition, or the inheritance of religion from one's parents and ancestors. Because a time like today will come when a new Apostle of God has appeared in the world, and we will be obliged to break from tradition, and place our whole reliance on God alone. Whenever a new Apostle of God appears, there is no longer any safety in submission to the Faith of our forefathers.
"But say they: 'Verily we found our fathers of that persuasion, and verily, by their footsteps do we guide ourselves.' ...Wherefore we took vengeance on them, and behold what hath been the end of those who treated our messengers as liars!" - [Qur’án 43:20]
In the days of Christ, the scholars of Judaism were convinced that certain verses in the Torah were proof that no new revelation would appear, they also disagreed on many other concepts that Jesus Christ revealed, for example they disagreed on Christ's view of the Law of the Sabbath - to which Christ replied:
"The Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day" - Matthew 12:8
Between the religious leaders of Judaism, and Jesus Christ - who actually had the authority to interpret the Word of God in the Torah? It is Jesus Christ who had this authority and not the religious scholars of Judaism.
Likewise in the days of Muhammad, the scholars of Christianity were convinced that certain verses in the Gospel were proof that no new revelation would appear, they also disagreed on many other concepts that Muhammad revealed. They protested against Muhammad saying: "No independent Prophet, according to our Scriptures, should arise after Moses and Jesus to abolish the Law of divine Revelation. Nay, he that is to be made manifest must needs fulfil the Law." Thereupon, the following Divine verse, testifying to the truth that the flow of the grace of the All-Merciful can never cease, was revealed:
"And Joseph came to you aforetime with clear tokens, but ye ceased not to doubt of the message with which He came to you, until, when He died, ye said, 'God will by no means raise up a Messenger after Him.' Thus God misleadeth him who is the transgressor the doubter." - Qur'án 40:34
Between the religious leaders of Christianity, and Prophet Muhammad - who actually had the authority to interpret the Word of God in the Gospel? It is Prophet Muhammad who had this authority and not the religious scholars of Christianity.
In this Day also, the people of the Quran, like unto the people of the past, are convinced that certain verses in the Quran are proof that no new revelation would appear, and they have allowed the words "Seal of the Prophets" to veil their eyes, and yet they themselves testify to this verse:
"None knoweth the interpretation thereof but God" - [Qur'án 3:7]
And when He Who is the Apostle of God revealeth that which is the least contrary to their desire and understanding, they bitterly oppose Him and shamelessly deny Him.
"Know of a certainty that the people in every age, clinging to a verse of the Book, have uttered such vain and absurd sayings, contending that no Prophet should again be made manifest to the world. Even as the Christian divines who, holding fast to the verse of the Gospel to which We have already referred, have sought to explain that the law of the Gospel shall at no time be annulled, and that no independent Prophet shall again be made manifest, unless He confirmeth the law of the Gospel. Most of the people have become afflicted with the same spiritual disease." - Bahá’u’lláh
The authority to interpret the Word of God always belongs with the Apostle of God, not the religious leaders of the times. It is therefore more befitting for every Muslim to prayerfully, and independently investigate the proofs of Baha'u'llah's Revelation, rather than to judge the truth of the Apostle of God based on personal understanding of Islamic Scriptures - understandings most of which have been influenced by the teachings of their religious leaders. This turning away from the proofs, Words, and explanations of the Apostle of God Himself, and instead turning towards one's own personal interpretations of Scripture, or the personal interpretations of one's religious leaders has throughout history been a cause of the denial of each of God's Apostle's.
"But having weighed the testimony of God by the standard of their own knowledge, gleaned from the teachings of the leaders of their faith, and found it at variance with their limited understanding, they arose to perpetrate such unseemly acts...." - Baha'u'llah
One of the Proofs of Baha'u'llah's Revelation is His Sacred Writings, even as God has said:
"Is it not enough for them that We have sent down unto Thee the Book?" - Qur'án 29:51
"Content thyself with that which He, Himself, hath revealed: 'Is it not enough for them that We have sent down unto Thee the Book?'[Qur'án 29:51] This is the testimony which He, Himself, hath ordained; greater proof than this there is none, nor ever will be: "This proof is His Word; His own Self, the testimony of His truth." - Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 91)
Although in previous Faith's the Apostle of God would reveal one Holy Book, in this Day of God, Baha'u'llah has revealed over one hundred Sacred Books, one of which is the Kitab-i-Iqan which was revealed by Baha'u'llah in the span of two days. Those who have been priviledged to recognize the Voice of God in the Holy Quran will also be able to recognize the same Voice of God in the Writings of Baha'u'llah. Refer to it so that you may be assured that Baha'u'llah is the Messenger of God for this Day.
The promised "Mihdi" appeared in Persia in the year 1844. His name was Siyyid Alí Muḥammad, and he was known as The Báb. During the brief nine years of His ministry so much upheaval occurred,and so many souls were transformed by His Revelation that over ten thousand righteous and blameless souls willingly and joyfully gave their lives for His sake as martyrs in His Path.
In one of His Tablets, The Báb said:
"Since thou hast faithfully obeyed the true religion of God in the past, it behooveth thee to follow His true religion hereafter...He Who hath revealed the Qur'án unto Muhammad, the Apostle of God, ordaining in the Faith of Islam that which was pleasing unto Him, hath likewise revealed the Bayan, in the manner ye have been promised, unto Him Who is your Qá'im, your Guide, your Mihdi, your Lord, Him Whom ye acclaim as the manifestation of God's most excellent titles. Verily the equivalent of that which God revealed unto Muhammad during twenty-three years, hath been revealed unto Me within the space of two days and two nights. However, as ordained by God, no distinction is to be drawn between the two. He, in truth, hath power over all things.
I swear by the life of Him Whom God shall make manifest! My Revelation is indeed far more bewildering than that of Muhammad, the Apostle of God, if thou dost but pause to reflect upon the days of God. Behold, how strange that a person brought up amongst the people of Persia should be empowered by God to proclaim such irrefutable utterances as to silence every man of learning, and be enabled to spontaneously reveal verses far more rapidly than anyone could possibly set down in writing. Verily, no God is there but Him, the Help in Peril, the Self-Subsisting." - The Báb
The promised Messiah appeared in Persia in the year 1853. His name was Mirza Husayn Alí, and he was known as Bahá’u’lláh.
In one of His Tablets, Bahá’u’lláh said:
"Consider the eagerness with which certain peoples and nations have anticipated the return of Imam-Husayn, whose coming, after the appearance of the Qá'im, hath been prophesied, in days past, by the chosen ones of God, exalted be His glory. These holy ones have, moreover, announced that when He Who is the Day Spring of the manifold grace of God manifesteth Himself, all the Prophets and Messengers, including the Qá'im, will gather together beneath the shadow of the sacred Standard which the Promised One will raise. That hour is now come. The world is illumined with the effulgent glory of His countenance. And yet, behold how far its peoples have strayed from His path! None have believed in Him except them who, through the power of the Lord of Names, have shattered the idols of their vain imaginings and corrupt desires and entered the city of certitude." - Baha'u'llah
"As to those who have debarred themselves from the Revelation of God, they have indeed failed to understand the significance of a single letter of the Qur'án, nor have they obtained the slightest notion of the Faith of Islam, otherwise they would not have turned away from God, Who hath brought them into being, Who hath nurtured them, hath caused them to die and hath proffered life unto them, by clinging to parts of their religion, thinking that they are doing righteous work for the sake of God....
God hath made His Own Self known unto you, but ye have failed to recognize Him; and the thing which will, on the Day of Judgement, turn you aside from God is the specious character of your deeds. Throughout your lives ye follow your religion in order to attract the good-pleasure of God, yet on the Last Day ye shut yourselves out from God and turn away from Him Who is your Promised One." - The Báb
Although the Day of God has arrived, and these two Holy Personages (the 'Mihdi', and the return of Christ) have already appeared, the followers of Islam in this era still wait in expectation of beholding the promised One who should uphold the Law of the Muhammadan Dispensation. The Jews and the Christians in like manner upheld the same protests in the past and based on their interpretations of certain verses imagined that God would send another Apostle simply to reinforce and spread the previous laws.
"They idly contend that the laws formerly revealed, must in no wise be altered. And yet, is not the object of every Revelation to effect a transformation in the whole character of mankind, a transformation that shall manifest itself both outwardly and inwardly, that shall affect both its inner life and external conditions? For if the character of mankind be not changed, the futility of God's universal Manifestations would be apparent" - Baha'u'llah
Notwithstanding the truth that every Revelation of God is intended to transform the whole character of mankind, rather than to perpetuate the past, in the Qur'án it has been mentioned that each people has an appointed time, and each time has its own book in which God has Authority to change or keep whatever He wishes:
"Every nation hath its set time. And when their time is come, they shall not retard it an hour; and they shall not advance it." - [Qur'án 7:34]
"Neither too soon, nor too late, shall a people reach its appointed time" - [Qur'án 23:43]
"To each age its Book. What He pleaseth will God abrogate or confirm: for with Him is the source of revelation." - [Qur'án 13:38]
In each era God reveals the perfect measure of His knowledge and bounty to mankind, a measure which is in keeping with mankind's capacity to receive it, however there is no limit to the knowledge or bounty of God. The Word and Knowledge of God is inexhaustible, and infinitely larger than what He revealed in the Holy Quran:
"Say: Should the sea become ink, to write the words of my Lord, the sea would surely fail ere the words of my Lord would fail, though we brought its like in aid." - [Qur'an 18:109]
"If all the trees that are upon the earth were to become pens, and if God should after that swell the sea into seven seas of ink, His words would not be exhausted: for God is Mighty, Wise." - [Qur'an 31:27]
The Infinitude of God's Knowledge and bounty is gradually revealed to mankind in accordance with mankind's capacity to receive and comprehend it. Throughout history each Apostle of God reveals the perfect measure which God has pre-destined to be revealed in that era. In the Words of Baha'u'llah:
"By My spirit and by My favor! By My mercy and by My beauty! All that I have revealed unto thee with the tongue of power, and have written for thee with the pen of might, hath been in accordance with thy capacity and understanding, not with My state and the melody of My voice." - Baha'u'llah
The Jewish scholars based on their interpretation of certain verses in their sacred Scriptures were convinced that God was obliged to never again send a new Revelation. They even referred to His Hand as being "chained up" [Qur'an 5:64] in this regard.
"How can the hand of Him Who is the King in truth, Who caused the countenance of Moses to be made manifest, and conferred upon Him the robe of Prophethood -- how can the hand of such a One be chained and fettered? How can He be conceived as powerless to raise up yet another Messenger after Moses? Behold the absurdity of their saying; how far it hath strayed from the path of knowledge and understanding!" - Bahá’u’lláh
The majority of the followers of Prophet Muhammad - Peace be upon Him, outwardly claim belief that God is truly unconstrained and that He "doeth as He willeth" [Qur'an 3:40, 14:27, 22:18], and that whatever His choice is "He is to be Praised in His doings", nevertheless if God's Apostle Baha'u'llah were to reveal anything which in the slightest degree is at variance with their personal understandings and interpretations of the Quran they will immediately oppose it, like the peoples of the past opposed the Apostle that God had sent them.
"As oft as an Apostle cometh unto you with that which your souls desire not, ye swell with pride, accusing some of being impostors and slaying others.” [Qur’án 2:87]
The Prophets of God have throughout history always come in a manner which varied with the expectations of men, and so they have always been the object of men's repudiation and denial. Even as He saith in the Holy Quran:
“Each nation hath plotted darkly against their Messenger to lay violent hold on Him, and disputed with vain words to invalidate the truth.”- [Qur’án 40:5]
“No Messenger cometh unto them but they laugh Him to scorn.” - [Qur’án 36:30]
If God is truly "Unconstrained", and if whatever His choice He is to be "Praised in His doings", then this alone should be sufficient to allow the followers of Islam to comprehend that God is free to raise up any Prophet He pleases, with any Message He pleases, and in any manner which He pleases. Man's duty is to humbly investigate the Proofs of the Apostle of God, and obey Him once His Authority has been established.
"And should he encounter One Who layeth claim to a Cause from God, and Who holdeth from His Lord a testimony beyond the power of men to produce, he must needs follow Him in all that He pleaseth to proclaim, command and ordain, even were He to decree the sea to be land, or to pronounce earth to be heaven, or that the former lieth above the latter or below it, or to ordain any change or transformation, for He, verily, is aware of the celestial mysteries, the unseen subtleties, and the ordinances of God." - Baha'u'llah
"Consider how abject is the state of the disbelievers. They all give utterance to the words: 'Verily He is to be praised in His deeds and is to be obeyed in His behest.' Nevertheless if We reveal aught which, even to the extent of a needle's eye, runneth counter to their selfish ways and desires, they will disdainfully reject it. Say, none can ever fathom the manifold exigencies of God's consummate wisdom. In truth, were He to pronounce the earth to be heaven, no one hath the right to question His authority." - Bahá’u’lláh
The title of Muhammad "Seal of the Prophets", as proven in the sections above does not mean that the Lord of Creation has ceased to send Divine Guidance to His creatures. It has other meanings, three of which are explained below:
Throughout History, since the time of Adam each Prophet of God has announced to mankind the coming of the "Day of God", the most blessed, and fearful Day, when man's Faith would be Judged, and man would be privileged to attain the "Presence of God".
"What can such expect but that God should come down to them overshadowed with clouds" - [Qur’án 2:210]
Muhammad was the final Messenger of God to announce the coming of the Day of God - for after Him, the Promised One Himself appeared. The Prophetic cycle has ended, and the Promised One has come.
"This Day, however, is unique, and is to be distinguished from those that have preceded it. The designation "Seal of the Prophets" fully revealeth its high station. The Prophetic Cycle hath, verily, ended. The Eternal Truth is now come. He hath lifted up the Ensign of Power, and is now shedding upon the world the unclouded splendor of His Revelation." - Bahá’u’lláh
Another significance and meaning of the title "Seal of the Prophets" is that all of the Messengers of God are regarded as one and the same person, and as revealing the same Faith of God. All of the Prophets are both the “First” and the “Last” of the Prophets.
"If thou callest them all by one name, and dost ascribe to them the same attributes, thou hast not erred from the truth. Even as He hath revealed: 'No distinction do We make between any of His Messengers.' - [Qur’án 2:285]" - Bahá’u’lláh
"They resemble the sun which no matter how often it riseth and setteth is still the one and the same sun. Whoso maketh any distinction between any of Them hath truly failed to attain the ultimate purpose, and to reach the highest goal" - Bahá’u’lláh
"Consider the sun. Were it to say now, "I am the sun of yesterday," it would speak the truth. And should it, bearing the sequence of time in mind, claim to be other than that sun, it still would speak the truth. In like manner, if it be said that all the days are but one and the same, it is correct and true. And if it be said, with respect to their particular names and designations, that they differ, that again is true." - Bahá’u’lláh
Like the Sun, were Muhammad to say that He was the sunrise of yesterday, or the First sunrise - It would be true. And were He to say that He was the sunrise of tomorrow, or the Last sunrise - It also would be true.
And again He saith:
"Our Cause is but One." - [Qur’án 54:50]
Inasmuch as the Cause is one and the same, the Exponents of those Causes thereof also must needs be one and the same. Likewise, the Imams of the Muhammadan Faith, those lamps of certitude, have said: "Muhammad is our first, Muhammad is our last, Muhammad our all."
Another significance of the title "Seal of the Prophets" is that since eternity God has always tested the vitality and sincerity of man's Faith through tests such as these. For instance how could a follower of Islam today claim to have a genuine Faith in Prophet Muhammad, and be a true lover of God, if something as simple as a title "Seal of the Prophets" entirely shuts him out and prevents Him from recognizing the beauty of the Apostle of God Baha'u'llah in this Promised Day of God? Like a person outwardly claiming to recognize and love the poems and words of his beloved, but being unable to recognize a poem if the words were to be written in red ink instead of black ink.
"Acknowledge the truth that from time immemorial even unto eternity the Almighty hath tried, and will continue to try, His servants, so that light may be distinguished from darkness, truth from falsehood, right from wrong, guidance from error, happiness from misery, and roses from thorns. Even as He hath revealed: "Do men think when they say 'We believe' they shall be let alone and not be put to proof?" - [Qur'án 29:2.]" - Bahá’u’lláh
Except for direct quotations from the Baha'i Writings, all opinions expressed on this blog are simply personal understandings and therefore not authoritative. This site is an individual initiative and is not affiliated with any Baha'i Institutions. To visit the official website of the Baha’i Faith please visit www.bahai.org