All sects of Islam maintain that the Prophet Muhammad is the final prophet, the last divine messenger for all time.

That means most Muslims acknowledge the founders of several previous religions, such as Moses, Jesus and even Zoroaster as inspired, but deny there will ever be any new messenger or new, divinely-revealed religion after Muhammad. Since the Baha’i Faith claims to be the next major Faith after Islam, this single point often prompts some Muslims to regard the Baha’i Faith as illegitimate. It has even caused deadly persecution of the Baha’is in predominately Islamic countries like Iran and Egypt.

So let’s start at the beginning–the Baha’i Faith emerged from the background of Islam, much as Christianity emerged from Judaism. Baha’is, along with Muslims, revere the Qur’an as the Word of God. This includes Qur’an 33:40, the verse on which the doctrine of Muhammad’s finality is based:

Muhammad is not the father of any one of your men, but the Messenger of God, and the Seal of the Prophets; God has knowledge of everything. (Arberry).

Clearly, Baha’is actually do accept Muhammad as the Seal of the Prophets—but reject the interpretation that Islamic orthodoxy reads into this verse. One reason: the Qur’an itself raises the possibility of future divine messengers after Muhammad.

Qur’an 7:35 (Surat al-A‘raf) contains this solemn warning addressed to all humanity:

Children of Adam! If there should come to you Messengers from among you, relating to you My signs, then whosoever is godfearing and makes amends—no fear shall be on them, neither shall they sorrow. And those that cry lies to Our signs, and wax proud against them—those shall be the inhabitants of the Fire, therein dwelling forever. – Verses 35-36.

This verse first opened my heart, as a convert to Islam earlier in my life, to the possibility of new revelations from God. It calls to mind another verse from the Qur’an, which tells how on Judgment Day, God will say to the world:

Company of jinn and mankind, did not Messengers come to you from among you, relating to you My signs and warning you of the encounter of this your day?’ They shall say, ‘We bear witness against ourselves.’ – Qur’an 6:130ff.

MeccaI did not want to be in that group—bearing witness that I had turned away from God’s verses. So as a Muslim I resolved to investigate the Baha’i claims on their own merits, and not simply dismiss them.

Some people object that Qur’an 7:35 is a conditional statement, and thus does not categorically state that new Messengers will come—only that if they do, we must heed them. But this objection misses the mark, since, if the mainstream Islamic understanding of ‘the Seal of the Prophets’ is correct, a new Messenger after Muhammad is flatly impossible. Why would God warn us that something is possible in one verse, and then say it is impossible in another? For new divine Messengers to even be possible, Muhammad’s title of ‘the Seal of the Prophets’ must mean something other than ‘last divine Messenger, period.’

Others argue that this verse does not address all humanity, but just Adam’s immediate offspring, referring only to the Messengers from Noah to Muhammad. While the beginning of Qur’an chapter seven does tell the story of Adam, it is separated from this verse by a number of others, some of which are clearly addressed to Muhammad’s own audience in 7th century Arabia (for example, 7:27-28). There is no basis to conclude that verse 35, warning of Messengers to come, belongs to the story of Adam and not to the series of exhortations that intervene.

The exclamation “O children of Adam,” like the Qur’an’s oft-recurring “O children of Israel,” covers the entire people descended from the ancestral figure, not just their immediate offspring. We can see this clearly in Qur’an 36:60 or 17:70:

We have honoured the Children of Adam and carried them on land and sea, and provided them with good things, and preferred them greatly over many of those We created.

If we take it at face value, Qur’an 7:35 warns humanity during Muhammad’s time, and us today, to be on the watch for God’s messengers from among us, and to obey them when they appear. The Baha’i writings have a similar warning, specifically about the term “Seal of the Prophets:”

…thou dost witness how the people of the Qur’án, like unto the people of old, have allowed the words “Seal of the Prophets” to veil their eyes. – Baha’u’llah, The Book of Certitude, p. 213.

So if new messengers are possible according to the Qur’an, how do we understand Muhammad as ‘the Seal of the Prophets’? Please follow along as we turn to this subject in the next article in this series.

The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of BahaiTeachings.org or any institution of the Baha’i Faith.

30 Comments

characters remaining
  • francis bernadone
    Sep 21, 2017
    the Koran is satan's stealth religion; created by satan (mixing sacredness with evil),
    to trick many who love GOD to do the devil's bidding!
  • francis bernadone
    Sep 21, 2017
    Islam happens to be the only religion,
    whereas if one becomes devout, he becomes a monster (merciless to the infidel!)
  • francis bernadone
    Sep 21, 2017
    seal of prophets is a lie!
    Guru Nanak (sikhs) & Bahalllah (Bahai) are prophets post mohammed!
    islam happens to be the devils's stealth religion!
  • Feb 23, 2016
    this article also exists on the topic of Seal of the Prophets: http://oneglobalfaith.org/for-the-religious/muslims/seal-of-prophets-finality-of-islam/
    • Feb 23, 2016
      (with explanations from the Writings of Bahaullah and direct quotations from the Quran)
  • Oct 26, 2015
    I Must notice that quotated ayats only interprets the term "rasool". Term "khatama annabiyyeen" is not questioned in any way.
    Also, Muslim sholud obey the ayats starting with imperativ such as:"Come(taʿālaw) to what Allah has revealed and to the Messenger(er-Rasool),"4:61
    Here is not any rasool ih past or future. That is er-Rasool Muhammad a.s.
    So, if you can obey ErResool and some rasool at the same time go ahead!
  • Jul 08, 2015
    Dan, I would encourage you to at least change the title of this article as it misrepresents the faith's position and creates unnecessary conflict with Muslim readers. We DO believe that Muhammad is the "Seal of the Prophets" but that the meaning has been distorted over time.http://bahai-library.com/bahaullah_lawh_hasan_shahabadi
  • Mar 23, 2015
    the title is misleading and can be offensive even though the article itself does not say this , and Baha'u'llah says otherwise and Bahais believe that He IS the Seal of the Prophet and the Last One as well ...“We made reply: "Muhammad, the Seal of the Prophets, and the most distinguished of God's chosen Ones, hath likened the Dispensation of the Qur’an..” (Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 40) and “Even as the "Seal of the Prophets" hath said:.. (Baha'u'llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 233) and a dozen other quotes... I know often the writers think its ...chic to have a flamboyant title and then a balanced article to draw attention, but in this world of sound bites, most people dont' go beyond the title and can be turned away by a misleading sentence... so beware beware...
    Read more...
    • Apr 03, 2015
      Dan Gebhardt
      Dear Dan, Thank you very much for your reply to my post though I was not expecting it, it feels good nonetheless to have been acknowledged :). I read the whole article before commenting so I won't be doing any injustice to you. The whole article in done well and well investigated. I specially like your take on Seal as 'Seal of approval' , which I thought I was the only one thinking of it that way. This matter of the Seal was not a stumbling block for me, though it is for most ...seekers.
      I do teach classes on Islam from Baha'u'llah's angle in Iqan and tell my story quite often but shy away from writing for two reasons. The first is English being my 4th language I don't feel I am good enough in it to write and 2nd is , I am quite passionate about my story and in our world of dry rational, passion doesn't fit too well. Thanks for the encouragement though. and Thank you for a great article. Salutations !
      Read more...
    • Apr 03, 2015
      Dear Ghazala,
      I think you are right about the potential for people to misunderstand by not reading the article. This is a concern I expressed at different times to the editors. We'll have to see if the title gets changed to something a bit less confrontational. Anything on this subject is bound to offend many people, but to provvoke unnecessarily or be cavalier was never my goal.
      However, when the Holy Qur’an refers to the idea that Christ is "the Son of God," it is only to deny the false meaning read into this phrase by many Christians, "their saying ...with their mouths," not the true meaning. There is also a false meaning read into "Seal of the Prophets." As I see it, that is what the title of this article denies.
      Thank you for your words of caution, and good point.
      Btw have you written, or considered writing, about your journey from Sunni Islam to the Baha'i Faith? If your circumstances permit, it could do a lot of good!
      Dan
      Read more...
  • Mar 23, 2015
    Q'ran is full of contradictions, no consistency whatsoever, vegetarianism is the way to peace on earth......