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Chapter V

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The prophet of the prophets or Nabi-Al-Anbia & Faith

THE THIRD CONTENTION is that of Akramah who expounding the revelation: "There is not one of the people of the Book but shall believe in him before his death", said, "No Jew or Christian dies but he professes faith in Muhammad al Rasul Allah (sallallaho alaihi wasall-am)," According to the opinion of Akramah the pronoun in the words 'believe in him' refers to the Holy Prophet and every Jew and Christian admits faith in Muhammad (sallallaho alaihi wasallam) before his death.

MUHAMMAD NOT JESUS IS THE TARGET OF FAITH

Inshallah (if God wishes) I shall put forth solid arguments in proof of the opinion held by Akramah that Muhammad and not Jesus is the target of faith. God mentioning the eminence of His slave Muhammad (sallallaho alaihi wasallam), to whom He blessed with His love, said:

When God made his covenant1 with the prophets, (He said): Behold that which I gave you of the Scripture and knowledge. And after there will come unto you Apostle confirming that you possess. Ye shall believe in him and ye shall help him. He said: Do ye agree, and will ye take up My Covenant as binding on you. They answered we agree. He said bear ye witness I am a witness with you then whosoever after this shall turn away, they will be perverted transgressors. (3/81,82)

  1. From the above inspiration of the Holy Quran we learn that:
  2. God took Covenant from all the prophets.
  3. The Covenant was taken for one particular Prophet.
  4. In this Covenant all the prophets were asked to affirm faith in that particular Prophet.
  5. The sign of that particular Prophet was also told.
  6. They were covenanted to render help to that particular Prophet.
  7. God attributed this Covenant to Himself and said, "take this My Covenant as binding on you."
  8. The importance of the Covenant was further elevated as God established witnesses on it. This heightens the dignity of that particular Prophet.

(2) Saeed bin Jubair inquiringly asked from Abdullah bin Abbas that few people in place of the words 'The covenant of the Prophets' recite the 'Covenant of the people who were given the Book'. He replied, "No doubt God took Covenant from all the prophets on behalf of their peoples." (Ibn Jarir, Ibn Abi Matim and Ibn el Manzar). Ibn Abbas said, "God Covenanted from all the prophets binding their people to affirm faith in Muahmmad (sallallaho alaihi wasallam) and render him help whenever he came." (Ibn el Manzar, Ibn Jarir).

Ibn Jarir and Ibn Abi Hatim related from EI-Sudi who explaining the above revelation said, "Allah did not send any prophet from the time of Noah but he took the Covenant of faith in Muhammad (sallallaho alaihi wasallam), and to render him help if he found him in his life time, and the prophet made his people to believe in Muhammad (sallallaho alaihi wasallam) and to render him help if they found him in their life time." (Dur al Mansur).

Ibn Jarir narrated Ali Bin Abi Talib said, "God did not send any prophet including Adam and others after him, except that he took Covenant of faith in favour of Muhammad bin Abdullah, that if He sent Muhammad (sallallaho alaihi wasallam) during his life time he should believe in him and should render him help and that he would bind his people under this Covenant, and then Ali bin Abi Talib recited the revelation, 'Behold God took the Covenant of the Prophets' " (Dur al Mansur).

AI-Baghwi explaining the revelation in question said, "When God created the spirits of all the children of Adam, among them the souls of the prophets were glittering like lamps and glow worms, then he took Covenant of faith from them in favour of Muhammad (sallallaho alaihi wasallam)."

Taoos, Al Hasan Basri, and Qatada said, "God took Covenant of the Prophets to confirm each other." Ibn Kathir wrote, "This opinion does not dissent the opinion of Ali and Ibn Abbas but only confirms it. In another version of Abdul Razzak Taoos also said what was said by Ali and Ibn Abbas."

Similarly Qatada also agreed with Ali and Ibn Abbas when he said, "This Covenant was taken from all the prophets that they should confirm each other, and would announce the Scripture and apostleship. So the prophets proclaimed the Scripture and apostleship to their peoples and they took the affirmation of faith in Muhammad (sallallaho alaihi wasallam) from their peoples that confirming his teachings they would help him."

All the above citations proved that the Covenant was taken in favour of Muhammad al Rasul-Allah (sallallaho alaihi wasallam).

(3) This Covenant of Faith in Muhammad Mustafa was not restricted to the prophets only, but its application included their peoples.

To understand the application we take the following example. The government intends to cause the tribes to agree on a certain matter. The government will call their chiefs, and will take covenant from them. Going back they will announce that covenant among their tribes, so that it may be obeyed and abided by all. The affirmation of a chief to a covenant is the affirmation of his tribe. Similarly the affirmation of the prophets to the Covenant of faith in Muhammad Mustafa is the affirmation of their people. Because every prophet under obligation to God's Covenant bound his people (followers) to keep faith in Muhammad (sallallaho alaihi wasallam). As it is the bounden duty of a tribe to obey what is covenanted by its chief, likewise it is obligatory on the people of a prophet to obey what is covenanted by their prophet. It was, therefore, not necessary to mention the peoples of the Book with the 'Covenant of the prophets', because all the people of the Book are tied with their prophets respectively.

(4) When God took Covenant, all the prophets professed faith in Muhammad (sallallaho alaihi wasallam), this profession gave rise to another duty i.e. to render help to Muhammad, that is why God after saying 'latuminanna bihi (ye shall believe in him) mentioned 'latansaru-nn (ye shall help him), i.e. he took the promise of rendering him help after the assertion of faith in Muhammad (sallallaho alaihi wasall am). But it was in God's knowledge that Muhammad would not be sent during the life time of any of the prophets. This proved that this promise of rendering help was intended for their peoples, so that every one among their peoples should stand 'stead' fast to the truth preached by Muhammad (alaihi as-salato wa al-salam), and they should be his helpers in spreading faith.

(5) Further all the prophets were made to embrace faith in Muhammad (alaihi assalato wa al-salam), so that they might know that Muhammad is the target of faith; and all the prophets are his assistants; and he is their Chief or Nabi al Anbia, on whose hands the 'Message' or the truth*1 which they all carried would reach its perfection establishing his supremacy over the all.

The Most Glorious, the Most Sublime attributing this 'Covenant' to his dignified Self proved that he did' not create any one greater than Muhammad (sallallaho alaihi wasallam). "And the very purpose of creation of this universe was that every animate being should know the utmost eminence*2 given to him by His Lord." In another tradition, God told Adam "Had it not been for Muhammad, I would have not created*3 you."

From Adam to Jesus all the prophets after getting committed to the Covenant were sent to their people giving continually good news of the advent of Muhammad and they made their people to affirm faith in Muhammad (sallallaho alaihi wasallam). They told them his such signs that every body should recognize him.

(6) Umar bin Al Khattab asked Abdullah bin Salam if he identified Muhammad (sallallaho alaihi wasallam) as he knew his own sons. He said, "Yes, and much more than it, as Gabriel guided Jesus to all his qualities and all that we found in him, but as to our sons we rely on the statement of our ladies. (2/146 Ibn Kathir). In another version Abdullah bin Salam said, "we found all his qualities specified in the Bible so our recognition to him is more than the recognition of our sons." (Dur al Manthur).

Mujahid said that the people of the Book veiled the truth though they found the Prophet mentioned in Torah and the Gospel. (Dur al Manthur).

Jesus annunciating his prophet-hood, to the sons of Israel gave the glad tidings of the Apostle Ahmad (Muhammad's another name (61/6). The very announcement of the good news of Muhammad (sallallaho alaihi wasallam) proves that Jesus was committing his people to keep faith in Muhammad and to render him help, and thus he made them witness to the fact for which he was covenanted before God. As God said, "Then bear ye witness I will be a witness with you." i.e. to say you be witness on each other for the communication of the Covenant and the prophets individually should bear witness for its proclamation before their peoples.

(7) Khazin said, "Mithaq (Covenant) is an agreement which is made firm by swearing its fulfillment." This Covenant had further been strengthened with affirmation of faith in Muhammad (Latuminanna bihi) i.e. 'ye shall believe in him'. The pronoun him refers to Muhammad Thereafter, the last but not the least ingredient of establishing witness remained to be instituted on this agreement, Therefore, God the Unique made the prophets, the angels and Himself as the witness of this great Covenant, making the Apostle-ship of Muhammad al Rasulallah as an axis of faith, and the magnetic force of the affirmation of faith annexed every prophet to this axis. And so all the prophets revolving on this axis performed their duties of prophet-hood, inviting their people to this central axis by calling them to keep faith in Muhammad (sallallaho alaihi wasallam).

The Holy Quran reminds to this calling:

"He (God) hath already made a Covenant with you, if ye are men of faith." (57/8)

Baghwi said, "it refers to the same 'Covenant' which was taken when Allah created all the spirits of the children of Adam including the prophets and their peoples."

(8) On account of the severe persecutions of Quraish, the Prophet permitted the Muslims to migrate*1 to Ethopia which was ruled by a just King Negus. Quraish sent a delegation to reclaim those Muslims. In short to annoy the King they also said these Muslims oppose you in their beliefs about Jesus and his mother Mary. Jafar bin Abi Talib said, "We say what God said. He was word of God and His spirit which was conveyed to Mary. She was damsel, no human had touched her and could never had a child." The King said, raising a small stick from the ground, "0 People of Ethopia, clergymen and monks. By God they do not exaggerate even to the extent of this small stick. I welcome you and welcome the teachings of the Holy Prophet. I stand witness that he is the Apostle of God, he is the one to whom we find in the New Testament. He is the one for whom Jesus son of Mary gave glad tidings. You may stay wherever you like. By God had I not been entangled into the country matters, I would have served him."

The event of King Negus proved that Jesus took the aforesaid affirmation of faith from his people in favour of the axis of faith Muhammad al Rasulallah. King Negus did announce his belief in Muhammad (sallallaho alaihi wasallam) before his people, clergymen, and monks. And he openly confirmed all the Quranic teachings about Jesus etc. That was the reason that the Prophet held congregational prayer on the death of King Negus.

Referring to the revelation, "He (God) said: Then bear ye witness. I am a witness with you," Ibn Jarir related from Ali Bin Abi Talib who explaining the aforesaid revelation said: 'Ye (for the prophets), they would bear witness on their people and I (God) also a witness with you (prophets) over yourselves and over your peoples and then whosoever turned away from amidst all the people from you 0 Muhammad! after this Covenant they will be 'perverted transgressors' i.e. they are the sinners in blasphemy." (Dur al Mansur).

It is more evident than sunlight that no prophet can turn away from the Covenant taken in favour of Muhammad, therefore, the words 'faman tawalla' (turn away) are used for the peoples of the prophet. This also proved that the Prophet (sallallaho alaihi wasallam) is the axis of faith and every prophet had attached his people to this axis by taking from them the Covenant of faith in Muhammad (sallallaho alaihi wasallam) and to turn away from this Covenant is to become infidel.

(9) Abdullah bin Thabit narrated, Umar bin AI-Khattab came to the Prophet and said, 'On my request a brother Jew from tribe Quraiza wrote main parts of Torah which I read before you' (after hearing this), the Prophet's face changed with anger, I (Abdullah bin Thabit) prevented Umar (from reading) and said, "Don't you see the indignation on the face of the Prophet"? (immediately after noticing the rage on the face of the Prophet) Umar said, 'I am contented with God as my Lord, with Islam as religion, and with Muhammad as Apostle.' Hearing this the Prophet got pacified and said, "By God if Moses comes among you; and leaving me you follow him; you will go astray. Among all the Prophets and peoples I am for you all." (Musnad Ahmad).

Jabir narrated, the Apostle of God said, "You don't ask any thing from the people of the Book; they will never show you the right path; but lead you astray; so that you believe in false-hood and falsify the truth. No doubt had Moses been alive among you, there would have been nothing lawful for him except to follow me. (Abu Yala).

The above traditions finally establish that all the prophets and apostles had already believed in Muhammad (sallallaho alaihi wasallam) under the 'Covenant'. The next step after the profession of faith is to obey and follow the order given by the Prophet, so had Moses been sent during the life time of the Prophet, he would have obeyed and followed Muhammad (sailallaho alaihi wasallam). As God had already taken the Covenant of faith in Muhammad (sallallaho alaihi wasallam) from all the prophets, and they had affirmed their faith in him saying 'aqrarna' (we agree), and in compliance to this Covenant all the prophets made their nations to believe in Muhammad (sallallaho alaihi wasallam) and render him help i.e. to stick to the truth preached by him and help in upholding the cause of religion. Allah also told that those who turn back are perverted transgressors. Thus all the facts recounted by the Quran and Hadith prove that in 'latuminanna bihi (3/81), the Holy Prophet is the axis of faith for all the prophets and their nations or peoples, similar to that the pronoun in 'layouminanna bihi' (4/159) refers to the Holy Prophet as Jesus Christ had taken faith in him from his people.

(10) 'No Jew or Christian dies but professes faith in Jesus', by saying this, Ibn Abbas didn't intent the real faith. Because the discernment of faith of a dying man will not benefit him, but His (God's) real intention is to make the people of the Book admit those facts which they refused to acknowledge in this world. This is only a vengeful act by the Omnipotent on account of disavowal of Jesus' teaching that His angels smiting them take their souls and make them to say that Jesus was not God but His slave; and he didn't die, neither, was crucified; nor killed; but was taken alive over the sky. And when the pangs of death reach to their throat, then the angles make him to confess faith in Muhammad (sallallaho alaihi wasallam), because of their denial to the Covenant taken by Jesus from their people in favour of Muhammad (sallallaho alaihi wasallam).

Khazin*1 and Ibn Kathir echoed the contention of Akramah. Opposing Ibn Jarir who does not agree with the opinion of Akramah, Ibn Kathir said, "one who expounding this revelation (4/159) said that none of the people of the Book dies till he professes faith in Jesus and Muhammad (alaihima al salam) is a true fact. As the truth dawns on the one who is overtaken by the agonies of death, so he admits faith in them, but this profession of faith will not benefit him when he saw the angels as said by God. The forgiveness*1 'is not for those who do ill deeds, until when death attendeth upon one of them, he saith: Lo! I repent now,'and as God said:*2 'Then when they saw Our doom, they said: we believe in God only and reject (all) that we used to associate with (Him). But their faith could not avail them when they saw Our doom.' The above verses denounce Ibn Jarir who remonstrated against Akramah on a weak supposition that when a dying man confesses faith, he should not be inherited by his infidel heirs, as this forced confession before death does not make him a real Muslim under the aforesaid revelations. (Ibn Kathir Vol. II, p. 435 impression 1970 Beirut.)

Imam AI-Baghwi (margin of Tafsir Khazin Vol. 6, p. 153), explaining the following verse, "When the angels take their souls at death, and smite their faces and their backs?" (47/27),referred Ibn Abbas who said, "The angels smite because they hid what was written in Torah and denounced faith in Muhammad (sallallaho alaihi wasallam). This assertion of Ibn Abbas confirms what is held by Akramah and as such when the angels gather, they make them to acknowledge faith in Jesus but when the pangs of death reach to their throat, the angels taking a forced confession of faith in Muhammad (sallallaho alaihi wasallam) kill them.

All the above facts of the Quran and Hadith prove that as per the contention of Akramah, the pronoun in 'layouminanna bihi' refers to Muhammad and every one among the people of the Book dies acknowledging faith in Muhammad (sallallaho alaihi wasallam). (11)

"And on the Day of Judgement he will be a witness against them." (4/159)

Imam AI-Baghwi in his commentary wrote, "Allah will assemble all the people (on the Day of Reckoning), and ask the disbelivers, hadn't come to them any warner? They will refuse and say, 'No messenger of cheer or any warner did ever come to them,' Then God will question the prophets, they will say these disbelievers are making lies and they had pronounced the (Message) among them. The disbelievers will again ask for a clear proof." The prophets will produce the people of Muhammad as their witness. So this Ummah will testify that the prophets had conveyed the Message to them. The disbelievers will again dispute saying that this Ummah came after them, how could they testify. On being interrogated as to the source of their information they will say, '0 God! you sent to us a Prophet and descended upon him a Book (Quran) and you told us in that Book about the conveying of the Message by all the prophets and you are true 0 God! of what you told us.' Then Muhammad will finally confirm the truth testified by his people." (2/143 ) AI-Baghwi on the margin of Tafsir Khazin Vol. I, p. 101).

So we see that this is the privilege of the Prophet of the prophets to stand as last and final witness upholding the fulfillment of their works in their times. We, therefore, find that the revelation, "Thus We have appointed you a middle nation, that ye may witness against mankind, and that the Messenger (Muhammad) may be a witness against you," (2/143),*1 only confirms that the pronoun in "'layouminannan bihi' refers to Muhammad the Prophet of the prophets and at the time of the agonies of death a forced confession of faith in Muhammad is extracted from every Jew and Christian by the angels as they rejected faith in Muhammad (sallallaho alaihi wasallam) against the teachings of their prophets.

(12) The original Holy Books, the Torah and the Gospel frequently celebrated the advent of the Prophet Muhammad al Rasulallah, Allama Seouti in his commentary 'Dur al Manthur' has referred to many narrations in praise of the Prophet into the above Books while expounding the verse, "Whom they will find described in the Torah and the Gospel." (7/157).

Imam Ahmad related, a 'Bedouin' narrated, "During the time of the Prophet I went to sell milk in the city of Medina. After closing the sale I intended to see the Prophet and listen to him. I saw him coming accompanied with Abu Bakar and Umar. I followed them till they reached to a Jew who was the announcer of Torah, and was reading to console himself and his most handsome son who was on death bed. The Apostle of God said, "I give you oath of the One who descended Torah, did you get the news of my advent and my qualities? (of recognition). He shook his head in the negative. But his son said affirming, 'By the One Who descended Torah, no doubt we do find your advent and your qualities duly specified in our Book. and Lo! I testify that there are no partners to God, He is Unique and I testify that you are the Apostle of God.' Hearing this the Prophet requested to keep away the Jews from him, and after his death the Prophet himself arranged his shroud and offered for him the salat al Janaza (the prayer praying forgiveness for the dead). Ibn Kathir said this tradition is very strong and has its evidence in AL-Bukhari narrated by Anas. The dying man speaks the truth and his statement is admitted in law of evidence as dying declaration. The profession of faith of the aforesaid young man proves that Muhammad (sallallaho alaihi wasallam) is the axis of faith for whom the prophets in their times had given glad tidings in fulfillment of the Covenant in question. The declaration of faith of the young man was before the institution of the pangs of death, therefore, the Prophet himself stood for his burial.

AI-Baghwi in his Tafsir (commentary) narrated, "Attar bin Yasir requested Amar bin AI-Aas to recount the qualities of Muhammad (sallallaho alaihi wasallam) which are specified in Torah. He said by God his qualities are mentioned in Torah as these are mentioned in the Quran......" In another narration of AI-Baghwi, Kab bin Ahbar (who was a great Rabbi) in a long tradition related that he found all the specific qualities of Muhammad (sallallaho alaihi wasallam) duly mentioned......" The very intention to specify Muhammad (sallallaho alaihi wasallam) in Torah and Gospel was that the people of the Book should renew their faith in, him as was committed by them during the life time of their prophets.