The Holy Prophet Muhammad PBUH was the last of Allah’s apostles. He is termed as Khatam-an-Nabiyyin The primary meaning of Khatam is a “seal” and the secondary meaning is the end or the last part or portion of a thing.
Dr Fazl-ur-Rehman Ansari in his book, The Quranic Foundations and Structure of Muslim Society, has pointed out that the “Holy Prophet Muhammad PBUH is the last and final Divine messenger and the Muslims are the last divinely raised religious group.”
According to some scholars, there are verses in the Holy Quran which furnish evidence in one way or the other, of the absolute finality of the Prophethood of Hazrat Muhammad PBUH. The most emphatic and clearest declaration on this point is contained in verse 40 of Sura Ahzab where it is said:
“Muhommad is the Messenger of Allah and the seal of the Prophets.” (33: 40)
Abdullah Yusuf Ali, in his commentary on this verse remarked:
“The Holy Prophet Muhammad PBUH closed the long line of Apostles there has been and will be no Prophet after Muhammad.”
The Quran says that the appearance of the Holy Prophet was foretold by each one of the foregoing Prophets. Jesus Christ had said:
“When he, the spirit of Truth, is come, he will guide you to all truths. (John: 16:13)
The Quran tells us what Jesus said to Bani Israel:
“I am the messenger of Allah (sent) to you, confirming the law (which came) before me, and giving glad tidings of a messenger to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad.” (61:6)
The process of revelation started with Adam and revelation was also received by other apostles who preceded Hazrat Muhammad PBUH. It is clear that everything which has a beginning must have an end and that when there is no further need for a thing it should cease to exist. Prophets were needed in each age to purge the evils brought about by human beings in the Divine teachings and to bring the religion of Allah by gradual evolution to complete development. As the human mind became more and mor developed, more light was cast by revelation through Prophets on matters relating to Allah and other mysteries of religion.
Though the institution of Prophethood was universal yet the difference between Hazrat Muhammad and other prophets was that while the latter were more or less national prophets sent to a chosen people, to a particular tribe or race, Hazrat Muhammad was sent as a messenger for all mankind.
All castes, races and creeds were unified under the common banner of Islam by the universal Prophet, Hazrat Muhammad. He not only conveyed the message revealed to him, but instructed and explained it further with wisdom, acted upon it himself and urged mankind to follow it.
The Holy Prophet’s PBUH personality and mission form a landmark in the history of mankind. He came as the last messenger of Allah with the final revelation in the form of the last Book of Allah, the Holy Quran. He gave to humanity a Book which is a complete and comprehensive guide for human beings. a perfect code of life for all its various problems without any limitations of time and territory.
The Holy Quran compares the personality of the Prophet to the radiant sun while the previous prophets were like Divine lamps. The light of the sun cannot be replaced by any other light. It is universal and no other light is needed thereafter. So after the advent of Prophet Muhammad PBUH no necessity is felt of any other prophet following him.
Religion being made perfect and Prophethood made complete, there remains no need for another religion and another law and consequently, for another prophet. Hence the revelation:
“This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favour upon you and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.” (5: 3)
And as the Prophet PBUH himself said about the finality of Prophethood:
“Whenever a Prophet perished another Prophet followed him and surely there will be no Prophet after me.” (Bukhari)
In another tradition, he said: “My relation to the long line of prophets can be understood by the parable of a building. The building was most beautifully built. Everything was complele therein except the place for one brick. I have filled the place and now the building has been completed.” (Bukhari, Muslim)
To sum up, Khatam-an-Nabiyyin is the exclusive and distinctive title of the Holy Prophet and Allah did not confer this title on any other prophet or apostle. Belief in Hazrat Muhammad as the last of the prophets and apostles is necessary for a true Muslim.