Islam, the Last Manifestation of Revelation
On 27th Rajab 13 years before the Hijrah God Almighty formally commanded the 40-year-old Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) to declare his universal message of Islam to mankind as the Last of the Divine Messengers – an unbroken chain that had started at the dawn of human creation with the Father of the Human Race, Adam and which included such immortal paragons of virtue as Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and others, all of whom had foretold about the coming of Prophet Mohammad (SAWA).
From the first, Islam has said that it is the last message, and Muslims, which means those who submit to God alone, have accepted this fact with wisdom and with love, and have realized that Islam is the last manifestation of revelation, prophethood and the culmination of the previously revealed religions. Muslims, on the basis of ayahs in the Qur'an, whose initial verses were revealed today to the Messenger of Peace on Mount Noor in Mecca by Archangel Gabriel, believe that Prophet Mohammad (SAWS.) is the last Messenger of Allah who was the recipient of human leadership. The glorious Qur'an has explained the universality of the dynamic religion of Islam in many ayahs and has shown that Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) is the last emissary sent by God, as is evident in ayah 40 of Surah Ahzaab: "Mohammad is not the father of any of one of your men, but the Messenger of Allah and the Seal of the Prophets; and Allah has knowledge of everything."
A hadith from the Prophet himself reads in this regard: "I am the last brick in the building of prophethood. With my coming the prophets have come to an end."
He also said to his cousin, ward, son-in-law and divinely-decreed vicegerent, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS), who as a young boy was incidentally present on Mount Noor this day when the Prophet was formally entrusted the universal message of Islam: "In all respects your relation to me is like that of Aaron to Moses (i.e. if Aaron was Moses' brother, I also take you as a brother according to the rules of brotherhood; if he was Moses' successor, you also will be my successor). Except that Moses was not the last prophet, and I am the last."
One of the greatest causes of Islam's ever-lastingness is its all-inclusiveness. In other words, the message entrusted by God to Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) is not something time-bound like the missions of the previous prophets who were sent to specific geographical area and people. Thus, Islam is a comprehensive project based on the human disposition, and it embraces all aspects of life: individual, social, material, spiritual, doctrinal, emotional, economic, legal and so forth, and it explains the basis of each in the most acceptable way, most realistically, for all peoples and all levels of people, in every time and place. For this reason, Islam preaches the equality of all, and the Prophet practically showed us the way in this regard. Superiority of race or segregation is not only eliminated and void in the eyes of Islam, but the equality of man is an absolute reality from its point of view, and it says that all human beings are equal, all are from one father and one mother and are members of one family, and from the aspect of nobility, origin and connections they are equal partners. No one is better than anyone else, except in purity and devoutness. The Qur'an says in ayah 13 of Surah Hujuraat: "O mankind, we have created you male and female and appointed you races and tribes that you may know one another. Surely the noblest among you in the sight of Allah is the most god fearing of you; Allah is All-knowing All-aware."
The message that Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) preached was, and is, the message of Freedom of Thought. He emancipated minds and souls from the fetters of negative thinking by opening new vistas of guidance for them. Not just for the Arabs, amongst whom he was sent, but for all world people. This is the reason that today Islam is the world's fastest growing religion. Islam is a firm supporter of logic, rational argument and freedom of thought. Imposition of ideas or beliefs, or the stifling of voices does not exist in Islam. As ayah 256 of Surah Baqarah says: "No compulsion is there in religion. Rectitude has become clear from error."
In view of this fact, belief is a duty for every individual, and it is an obligation for everyone not to accept anything without proof, and if some commands and precepts are obligatory and must be accepted without why and wherefore, it is because they are from the source of revelation which cannot be in error, and because they have been stated through the Prophet and his divinely-decreed Infallible Imams. Islam censures those who blindly follow the beliefs of their fathers and ancestors, and commends self-investigation and deep examination. It rejects feeble-mindedness and vain speculation, and urges only to the perusal of knowledge and certainty. Islam grants its opponents the right to set forth their queries in reasonable discussion and to enumerate their proofs and listen to the answers. This was the reason that many Jews, Christians and those from other groups who initially took a stand against Islam, came to the Prophet or to his Infallible Successors, the Imams of the Ahl al-Bayt, and sat down and discussed their religious ideas.
Islam lends great value to thinking, it asks the learned and wise to think and think again about creation, time, night and day, the sky, the earth, animal life, man and the universe and what is in it. Ayah 164 of Surah Baqarah says in this regard: "Surely in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of night and day, and the ship that runs in the sea with profit to men, and the water Allah sends down from the sky therewith reviving the earth after it is dead, and His scattering abroad in it all manner of crawling thing, and the turning about of the winds and the clouds compelled between heaven and earth, surely there are signs for a people having understanding."
The Qur'an also asks Muslims to research into the lives of those who came before, their thoughts and the causes of their decline and fall, so that they may keep far from the precipices of their destruction. In ayah 137 of Surah Aal-e Imraan, God says: "Certain [Divine] precedents have passed before you; so travel over the land and then observe how was the fate of the deniers!"
In short, Islam desires that man should think deeply and freely and travel across the far horizons of thought and knowledge and take everything that is best for the improvement of his being. For this reason Islam values scientific advances and discoveries which are for the help of humanity, and this is why scientists and scholars rose up in the centuries following the advent of Islam, to decorate the high road of human civilization with the jewels of their scientific endeavors
From the view of Islam, there is no opposition between the material and the spiritual life, the world and religion. Similarly, those who do not work in this world or make no effort are not approved of, although those who do not think of anything apart from individual benefit and consumption and profit are also detested from the point of view of Islam. Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) set everlasting examples in this regard by teaching us the benefits of the both the material and spiritual worlds. The Prophet was neither an ascetic nor a recluse, but he showed us how maintain an appropriate balance in life by enjoying things permitted by God, but without excesses. The Prophet's 6th Infallible Heir, Imam Ja'far Sadeq (A.S.), has said: "He who abandons this world for the next - i.e. he who withdraws from the activities of life in the name of asceticism - and he who gives up the next world for this world, both are not from among us."
So it can be said that in this matter Muslims should adjust their actions with equal movement in this world, advancing with its happiness, and in the spiritual world. Therefore in Islam there is no monasticism, being a burden on society, social withdrawal, egoism or seclusion. The Prophet said: "There is no monasticism for us; the monasticism for my followers is jihad in the way of Allah."
Perhaps some might ask: Does Islam Dispense with Contemporary Ideologies and Systems of Thought? The answer to such a question should be rational since Islam means the code of laws that was revealed to Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) and not made by him. Here we ought to understand that there is no doubt that man has progressed far in the way of knowledge, but scientists themselves confess that what they know in the world of creation is not comparable with what they do not know. And basically, since their vision is limited, they cannot find out all the secrets of the world. Moreover, each leap forward that man makes is not immune from error. Therefore, in the area of human aspirations, not everything that comes forward, in every field, can be one hundred percent imbued with certainty, because it is possible that environmental factors and other unforeseen things have an effect on man's thinking and outlook and take him far from reality. But the fundamental project of Islam, since it grows from the root of revelation, has nothing to do with the possibility of mistake, and can give trustworthy guidance at all times of course, with the condition that these pure laws are not inserted within the framework of other deviated systems, whereupon they become completely incapable of deriving advantage.
Some imagine that the meaning of the conclusive nature of the Prophet's mission is that after him connection with the hidden, divine world has been interrupted and stopped. This is not valid because the meaning of its conclusiveness is only that after Prophet Mohammad (SAWA), no other prophet or religion will come, and this does not that connections with the unseen world are severed. This is evident by the fundamental principle of Imamate and Wilayat of the Twelve Infallible Successors of the Prophet, whose leadership means this connection is everlasting and is continued by means of these dynamic figures. And this is one of the distinctive points of the school of the Ahl al-Bayt, also known as Shi'ites. The Safavid era philosopher, Mullah Sadra, writes in his worldk Mafatih al-Ghayb – for Keys of the Unseen -"Revelation, that is to say the descent of the angel to the delegated and prophetic eyes, has been forever cut off, but the door of inspiration and illumination has not and will never be closed, and it is not possible for it to be interrupted."
Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) bequeathed intact to posterity whatever God revealed to Him so that the universal religion of Islam could be practiced in every age and geographical place. Basically, control and reform of the environment can be considered as one of the most pressing duties. The prophets have also taught us by their lives the lesson of the struggle against the aberrations of the times. They never followed the perverse desires of the pulsation of their own societies or the various passions of the environment; eventually they made the environment their own environment. Prophet Mohammad (SAWA) struggled constantly against the aberrant and amoral customs of the ignorance of his time, and in the process he built another society and environment.
Class differences, the inferiority of women, idol-worship, tribal wars, and tens of other kinds of amorality were among the conventions and customs and beliefs of the people of those days, but the courage of the Prophet saw that all of them were destroyed. Some of the chiefs of the Quraysh, such as 'Utbah, were very unhappy about the Prophet's method, so they arranged a meeting. After they conferred together with him to make him deviate from his way by promise and threat, the Prophet replied to them: "This is what I was delegated to do. I swear by Allah that even if the sun were put in one of my hands and the moon in the other I would not deviate from my way, nor give up my faith, till victory or death ensue." So on the day of Mab'ath, let us reaffirm our allegiance to the Last and Greatest of all Prophets with a pledge of practical adherence to the dynamism of the shari'ah iron-willed leader and envoy of Allah.