The verse states:
39. Those who convey the Message of Allah and fear Him, and fear none save Allah. And Sufficient is Allah as a Reckoner.
Here, the Prophet (S.A) has been told by Allah that those about whom he has been informed (that his practice was in accordance to their practice), (they) were such servants of Allah who conveyed the message of Allah to those whom they were sent. They feared Allah alone and did not fear anyone besides Him. Their main concern was to fulfil the orders of Allah, even if it meant to be criticized, condemned or taunted by the people. They did not allow the conduct of the people (towards them) to deter them from doing that which was right and that which was in accordance to the instructions given by Allah. They feared Allah Alone and did not fear the people. Hence, they are worth emulating, and should be followed in their righteousness and piety.
The verse concludes with the words, ‘And sufficient is Allah as a Reckoner’. It means that it is Allah who will reckon everyone for all his actions and deeds. Hence, a person should fear Him alone, and should not fear anyone besides Him.
Sura Al Ahzab continues in verse 40 and states:
40. Muhammad (S.A) is not the father of any man among you, but he is the Messenger of Allah and the last (end) of the Prophets. And Allah is Ever All-Aware of everything.
This verse was meant to be a refutation and a way of nullifying the wrong statements made by some of the people at the Prophet’s time.
As mentioned before, when the Prophet (S.A) married Zainab (R.A), some of the people began to say, ‘Muhammad has married the wife of his son’. In response to this, Allah revealed the above verse, informing them that the Prophet (S.A) was not the father of Zaid. Instead, he was a Messenger of Allah who adopted him. Hence, Zaid was an adopted son and not a real biological son. As such, the prohibitions which came between a father and a real son (with respect to the marriage of the son’s wife) were not applicable here, and these did not come about. Therefore, it was totally wrong for one to say that the Prophet Muhammad (S.A) married the wife of his son.
The verse thus refuted this statement and corrected the perception of the people saying that an adopted son was not a real son, and the Prophet (S.A) was not the father of Zaid (R.A). This being the case, it was an act of sheer wickedness by the hypocrites to suggest that the Prophet (S.A.S) married the wife of his son.
As mentioned by many exegetes and scholars of the Holy Quran, this verse was meant to refute this wrong perception and statement of the hypocrites. It was not intended to convey a message that the Prophet (S.A) was not a father to others. Indeed he had four sons [Ibraheem, Qaasim, Tayyib and Mutahir (or Tahir)] all of whom died in infancy. He also had four daughters, namely, Zainab, Ruqayyah, Um Kulthum, and Fatimah. (Tafseer Al Qurtubi vol.14 pg. 173; Tafseer Ibn Katheer vol.3 pg. 492, 493; Tafseer Al Bahrul Muheet vol.8 pg. 484)
The verse further mentioned and clarified the position of the Prophet (S.A) by saying, ‘but he is the Messenger of Allah and the last of the Prophets’. It was made clear that the Prophet Muhammad (S.A) was indeed a Messenger of Allah (a Rasool) and was also honoured to be the seal of all prophets. He is the last and final prophet, after whom no prophet will come.
While commenting on this verse, the great exegete, Hafiz Ibn Katheer (A.R) writes, ‘This verse is an evidence (and a manifest proof) that shows that there is no prophet after the Prophet Muhammad (S.A). When there is no prophet after him, then to a greater extent, there will be no Rasool (Messenger) after him, since the station of Messengership is more special than the station of Prophethood. For certainly every Messenger (Rasool) was a Prophet (Nabi), but every Prophet (Nabi) was not a Messenger (Rasool).
Regarding this, many Mutawatir ahadith have been narrated from the Prophet (S.A) through the narrations of a large group of Sahabahs (R.A)’. (Tafseer Ibn Katheer vol.3 pg. 493 Amjad Academy Lahore 1982)
Regarding the fact that the Prophet (S.A) is the final prophet and messenger, he is reported to have said, ‘Certainly messengership and prophethood have come to an end, so there is no messenger after me and no prophet’. The Prophet (S.A) then said, ‘except Al Mubasharaat (glad tidings)’. The Sahabahs said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! What are Al Mubasharaat (glad tidings)?’ He said, ‘The dream of a Muslim, and it is a part of the parts of prophethood’. (Recorded by Ahmad from the tradition of Anas bin Malik (R.A); Imam Tirmizi has also narrated it and graded it as Saheeh (sound).
In another Hadith recorded by Imams Bukhari, Muslim and Tirmizi, the Prophet (S.A) said, ‘The chain of prophets has come to an end with me’.
Imam Muslim has narrated the tradition of Abu Huraira (R.A) in which he mentioned that the Prophet (S.A) said, ‘I have been honoured above all the Prophets with six things. I have been granted comprehensive speech; I have been helped with fear (being placed in the hearts of the enemies); the spoils of war have been made halaal (lawful) for me; the earth has been made as a place of prayer (Salaah) and a means of purification for me; I have been sent to the entire creation, and all the prophets have ended with me’. (Muslim, Ibn Majah, Tirmizi. Imam Tirmizi says that this hadith is good and sound)
Imam Ahmad has narrated the tradition of Abu Tufail (R.A) in which he mentioned that the Prophet (S.A) said, ‘There is no prophethood after me except glad tidings’. He was asked, ‘What are glad tidings (Al Mubasharaat), O Messenger of Allah?’ He said, ‘Righteous dreams’. (Ahmad)
In another narration recorded by Imams Bukhari, Muslim and Ahmad, the Prophet (S.A) is reported to have said, ‘The affairs of the children of Israel (Banu Israel) used to be looked after by their prophets. Whenever a prophet died another one took his place. However, there is no prophet after me, but there shall be Khulafa who will be in large numbers’. (Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad)
Imams Ahmad and Tirmizi have narrated the tradition of Anas (R.A) in which he mentioned that the Prophet (S.A) said, ‘Certainly messengership (Risalah) and prophethood (Nubuwah) have come to an end. Therefore, there shall be no Messenger (Rasool) after me, and there shall be no prophet (Nabi)’. (Ahmad, Tirmizi)
From the above traditions, as well as many others, it is clearly evident that Prophet Muhammad (S.A) was the final prophet and messenger. He is the seal of all the prophets and none will come after him. This is a belief which has the unanimity of all Sahabahs, Tabieen, At Ba’ut Tabieen, all the Imams of Fiqh, Hadith and Tafseer, and all the scholars from the early era of Islam until today.
While discussing this issue, the great commentator of the Holy Quran, Hafiz Ibn Katheer (A.R) writes, ‘It is from the mercy (Rahmah) of Allah to the servants that He has sent the Prophet Muhammad (S.A) to them, and then honoured him for them by concluding (ending) prophethood and messengership with him, thus bringing about the completion of the true religion for him’.
‘Allah has informed in His Holy Book, and the Messenger of Allah (S.A) (has also informed) in the well-established and firm traditions (narrated with succession from one generation to the other) that there is no prophet after him. (This was done) so that people will know that every such person who makes a claim for this position (of prophethood/messengership) after the Prophet (S.A), is a liar, deceiver, imposter, a deviated one and a misguided person. Even though this person may perform tricks and magic spells, sorcery, witchcraft etc., all of these are tricks and misguidance recognized by those who have knowledge and intelligence’.