Sunday, 28 July 2019

I am Seal of the Prophets While Adam Was Unformed in Clay

At present a doctrinal controversy is raging in Pakistan within the Barelwi maslak regarding the Nubuwwa of Prophet Muhammad (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam). Apparently, the standard creed of the Barelwis and many other Muslims is that Prophet Muhammad (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) was a prophet in prehistory, according to the supposed Hadith:
كُنْتُ نَبِيًّا وَآدَمُ بَيْنَ الْمَاءِ وَالطِّينِ
“I was a prophet (when) Adam was between water and clay.”
But this is an outright fabrication on the Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam). One of the major figureheads of the Barelwis, famous for apologetics and debates defending his sect, Sa’id As’ad, came out and denounced the standard Barelwi creed, claiming it presents an irreconciliable paradox for the doctrine of khatm un-Nubuwwa. If Prophet Muhammad (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) was a prophet from prehistory before the creation of primordial Adam was even complete, then the coming of a multitude of prophets after him, from Adam to Jesus, numbering perhaps as many as 124 thousand, logically means that Prophet Muhammad (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) was not the last and final prophet after whom there is no other prophet. While we accept the view of the Barelwi mulla Sa’id As’ad in this matter and commend his courage for going against his own maslak, it is important to understand his basic motivation for doing so. Truth is, Sa’id As’ad had made a name for himself in criticizing the rival Deobandis for having “opened the door” for Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and the Qadianis. This is in reference to the founder of Deoband, Muhammad Qasim of Nanawta, having written the treatise Tahdhir un-Nas, which controversially sought to redefine the meaning of khatam an-Nabiyyin to mean something other than strict chronological finality. Now according to the Barelwis, the meaning of khatam an-Nabiyyin is that sayyidina Muhammad (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) is the last and final prophet absolutely in the chronological sense, and the slightest qualification of this basic doctrine is tantamount to outright kufr, i.e., rejection of Islam. Therefore, in order to remain consistent in their criticism of the Deobandis and Qadianis, Sa’id As’ad feels the Barelwis must reject the idea that Prophet Muhammad (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) was a prophet in prehistory before the creation of Adam was complete, and stick with the belief of other Muslims that Prophet Muhammad (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) became a prophet at the age of forty after his experience in the Cave of Hira. Now keep in mind that Sa’id As’ad’s apparent concern for maintaining a strict literal understanding of the doctrine of khatm an-nubuwwa which doesn’t allow for even the slightest, nuanced qualification is the product of modern day political developments and the mainstream Sunni Ulama’s reaction to the Ahmadiyya/Qadiani movement. Otherwise, numerous statements from the explanation of the classical Ulama and the mystics of Islam can easily be cited demonstrating that those elders of our Religion did indeed have a very nuanced and qualified understanding of the finality of prophesy based on their enlightened wisdom and deep understanding of the spirit of Islam. The narrations presented by Barelwis and others to prove the prehistoric nubuwwa of Prophet Muhammad (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) actually deal with the pre-decree of Allah and His having preordained matters. For example:
عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، قَالَ : قَالُوا : يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ مَتَى وَجَبَتْ لَكَ النُّبُوَّةُ ؟ قَالَ : وَآدَمُ بَيْنَ الرُّوحِ وَالْجَسَدِ
Abi Huraira (radi Allahu anhu) narrates: They asked: “O Messenger of Allah, when was prophesy ordained for you?” He (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) said: “(When) Adam was between spirit and body.”
(Jami at-Tirmidhi)
In another Hadith:
إِنِّي عَبْدُ اللَّهِ فِي أُمِّ الْكِتَابِ لَخَاتَمُ النَّبِيِّينَ ، وَإِنَّ آدَمَ لَمُنْجَدِلٌ فِي طِينَتِهِ
“I am the slave of Allah in the Mother of the Book, Seal of the Prophets (while) Adam was unformed in clay.”
(Musnad Ahmad)
Sa’id As’ad has correctly explained the matter and brought various examples. He mentions the incident of when Prophet Muhammad (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) ascended Mount Uhud with three of his successors, sayyidina Abi Bakr, sayyidina Umar and sayyidina Uthman (radi Allahu anhum) and the mountain suddenly began to shake, so he (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) said:
“Be firm, Uhud, for there is not upon you except a prophet, a siddiq and two martyrs.” (Sahih al-Bukhari)
So he (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) named sayyidina Umar and sayyidina Uthman (radi Allahu anhuma) martyrs before they had attained martyrdom.

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