This is an undeniable fact that the Divine teachings of Prophet Hadhrat Muhammad (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam) is meant for all times and places. Regardless of who a person may be or where he may be, Islam should be his religion and his way of life. This is just as much true for those who lived during the lifetime of the Prophet Hadhrat Muhammad (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam), or those who will live in 2525 — if Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) wills that there shall be such a year.
The correct understanding of this point revolves around a number of issues. The first important issue is that of the finality of prophethood as vested in the Prophet Muhammad (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam). The second concerns the perfection of the religion and the manner in which it is able to guide humankind during all eras.
The Finality of Prophethood
Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) decreed that the Prophet Hadhrat Muhammad (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam) would be His Final Messenger. Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) says:
مَّا كَانَ مُحَمَّدٌ أَبَآ أَحَدٖ مِّن رِّجَالِكُمۡ وَلَٰكِن رَّسُولَ ٱللَّهِ وَخَاتَمَ ٱلنَّبِيِّۧنَۗ وَكَانَ ٱللَّهُ بِكُلِّ شَيۡءٍ عَلِيمٗا [سورة الأحزاب40:]
“Muhammad is not a father of any of your men, but he is a messenger of Allah and the last of the prophets. And Allah has the Knowledge of everything.” (Al-Ahzaab 33:40)
The Prophet Muhammad (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam) himself said:
وَأُرْسِلْتُ إِلَى الْخَلْقِ كَافَّةً وَخُتِمَ بِيَ النَّبِيُّونَ
“I have been sent to all mankind and the line of prophets is closed with me.” (Muslim)
Again, Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) said:
انَتْ بَنُو إِسْرَائِيلَ تَسُوسُهُمُ الأَنْبِيَاءُ، كُلَّمَا هَلَكَ نَبِيٌّ خَلَفَهُ نَبِيٌّ، وَإِنَّهُ لاَ نَبِيَّ بَعْدِي
“The Children of Israel were led by the prophets; whenever a prophet died, a prophet succeeded (him). Lo! There will be no prophet after me.” (Bukhari & Muslim)
Thus, there finally came the Prophet who explicitly declared that he is the Final Prophet. The Prophets who came before the Prophet Hadhrat Muhammad (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam) — as far as can be seen from what is narrated from them — did not make such a claim regarding themselves. Thus, for example, God is telling Moses that He is going to send another messenger “like unto him” in the future:
“And the LORD said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him. (Deuteronomy 18:17-19 KJV)
In the New Testament, Jesus speaks of “another Comforter” being sent by God.
“If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.” (John 14:15-16 KJV)
Also at other places, Jesus speaks of someone coming in the future: “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:7-8 KJV)
“I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” (John 16:12-13 KJV)
On the other hand, the Prophet Muhammad (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam) made it very clear that no prophet would come after him.
Being sent as the Final Messenger for humankind, there had to be some aspects that were unique concerning this Last Prophet.
These aspects include:
First, since no one could come later to correct any mistakes or distortions, the revelation received by the Last Prophet had to be preserved in its pristine purity. It is obviously beyond the scope of this short article, but a study of the history of the Quraan and Sunnah would demonstrate that both of them were minutely preserved.
Second, the nature of the “sign” of the Last Prophet would have to be different as well. This is because this sign would have to affect not only the people who were alive during the time of the prophet, but also all those who would come later. The “sign” of the Prophet Muhammad (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam) was the Quraan, and its miraculous nature can still be appreciated today and will continue to be appreciated in the future.
Third, this Final Prophet could not simply be sent for one community among humankind — each then having their own final prophet and then differing with one another. This Final Prophet had to be sent for all of humankind, putting an end to the succession of prophets and being suitable for the world as a whole. The Prophet Muhammad (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam) was the only prophet to make it known that he was not sent only for a certain people, but rather for all the various peoples of the world. The Jews, for example, consider themselves to be a chosen race and that their message is meant exclusively for themselves. Thus, many orthodox Jews do not believe in proselytizing their faith.
The New Testament also makes it clear that Jesus’ mission was to the Tribes of Israel: “These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 10: 5-6 KJV)
Jesus is reported to have said when the Canaanite woman came to him for help: “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24 KJV)
This limited mission of Jesus’ is also affirmed in the Quraan:
وَإِذۡ قَالَ عِيسَى ٱبۡنُ مَرۡيَمَ يَٰبَنِيٓ إِسۡرَٰٓءِيلَ إِنِّي رَسُولُ ٱللَّهِ إِلَيۡكُم مُّصَدِّقٗا لِّمَا بَيۡنَ يَدَيَّ مِنَ ٱلتَّوۡرَىٰةِ وَمُبَشِّرَۢا بِرَسُولٖ يَأۡتِي مِنۢ بَعۡدِي ٱسۡمُهُۥٓ أَحۡمَدُۖ [سورة الـصّـف6:]
“(Remember) when ‘Eesaa, son of Maryam, said: ‘O children of Isra‘il! I am a messenger of Allah sent towards you, confirming the Torah that is (sent down) before me, and giving you the good news of a messenger who will come after me, whose name will be Ahmed…’” (As-Saff 61:6)
In the case of the Prophet Muhammad (SallAllaho ‘Alaihe WaSallam), however, Allah (Subhaanahu Wa Ta’aalaa) says:
قُلۡ يَٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلنَّاسُ إِنِّي رَسُولُ ٱللَّهِ إِلَيۡكُمۡ جَمِيعًا ٱلَّذِي لَهُۥ مُلۡكُ ٱلسَّمَٰوَٰتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضِۖ [سورة الأعراف158:]
“(O Prophet Muhammad!) Say: ‘O people! I am a messenger of Allah (sent) to you from the One to whom belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth.” (Al-A’raaf 7:158)
Another Aayah (Verse) of Quraan reads:
وَمَآ أَرۡسَلۡنَٰكَ إِلَّا كَآفَّةٗ لِّلنَّاسِ بَشِيرٗا وَنَذِيرٗا [سورة سبإ28:]
“And We have not sent you except as a bearer of glad-tidings and a warner to all mankind.” (Sabaa 34:28)