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Allah had sent numerous prophets throughout the centuries. However, He had determined that He should send a final messenger with a final message. This final messenger would be the messenger for all of humankind from his time until the Day of Reckoning. There was to be no later revelation and no later prophet to bring any changes to this revelation. Hence, this one had to differ from the previous in some ways.
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.
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.
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.
Fourth, the laws and teachings of this message had to be fixed in matters that need to be fixed for all of humankind until the Day of Judgment and guiding yet flexible or accommodating in those matters that need to be open to change due to the changing circumstances of human-kind.
On all of these points, one sees that it is the message of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) that fits all of these criteria. The Quran and the Sunnah were preserved in great detail. Similarly, the nature of his “sign,” the Quran, the ultimate miracle, can still be experienced today.
As for the third issue, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was the only prophet to make it known that he was not sent only for a certain people but he was sent 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. Matthew 10: 5-6 read: “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.” 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). This limited mission of Jesus’ is also affirmed in the Quran (61:6).
In the case of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), however,
Say (O Muhammad to the people), ‘O mankind! Verily, I am sent to you all as the Messenger of Allah
Another verse reads,
And We have not sent you (O Muhammad) except as a giver of glad tidings and a warner to all mankind
There are yet other verses giving the same purport. The Prophet Muhammad also stated that he was distinguished from the earlier prophets by five matters. The last he mentioned was, “The prophet would be sent to his people only while I have been sent to all of mankind.”
Allah decreed that this Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) should be His final messenger.
Muhammad is not the father of any man among you, but he is the Messenger of Allah and the seal of the Prophets. And Allah is Ever All-Aware of everything
The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) himself said, “I have been sent to all of the creation and the prophets have been sealed by me.” Again, he said, “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”
Hence, no one has the right to accept the other prophets while rejecting the Prophet Muhammad. No one has the right to say that Muhammad was truthful but, “I chose to still follow Jesus or Moses instead.” Logically speaking, one should not expect this to be acceptable to Allah. Allah has sent His final messenger to be believed in and followed, superseding and canceling what is left of the teachings of earlier prophets. In the Quran, Allah describes such an attitude:
And when it is said to them, ‘Believe in what Allah has sent down,’ they say, We believe in what was sent down to us.’ And they disbelieve in that which came after it, while it is the truth confirming what is with them
Allah has further declared people of this nature to be disbelievers. He has said,
Verily, those who disbelieve in Allah and His Messengers and wish to make distinction between Allah and His Messengers (by believing in Allah and disbelieving in His Messengers) saying, ‘We believe in some but reject others,’ and wish to adopt a way in between. They are in truth disbelievers. And We have prepared for the disbelievers a humiliating torment. And those who believe in Allah and His Messengers and make no distinction between any of them, We shall give them their rewards, and Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful
The Prophet said, “[I swear] by [God], the One in whose hand is my soul, there will be none of my addressed people, be he Jew or Christian, who hears of me and dies without believing in that with which I was sent except that he will be from the inhabitants of the Hell-fire.” The Prophet even told one of his companions, “If my brother Moses were alive today, he would have no option but to follow me.”