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Muhammad: The First and the Last Prophet

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Without a doubt everything has been created from the secret treasure / For the sea of love rose and moved with the winds of love

Aziz Mahmud Hudâyi

Haqiqat-i Muhammadiyya and Nur-i Muhammadi within Sufi Culture

The Sufi understanding states that all the other Prophets were the proxies of Prophet Muhammad in this world before he emerged. This act of proxy is the representation of Haqiqat-i Muhammadiyya. (1)

When Prophet Muhammad was asked: "When did you become a Prophet?" he replied; "I was a Prophet when Adam was between the water and the mud -before he came into existence." (2) In the Sufi perception, another concept that symbolizes this Haqiqat-i Muhammadiyya", which encompasses all the prophets from the first prophet, Adam to the final prophet, Muhammad, is the concept of Nur-i Muhammadi. It is known that Prophet Muhammad is described in the Holy Quran (Al-Ahzab 33:46) as a "lamp that gives light". In another verse, it is conveyed to us that Prophet Muhammad is a "light from Allah" (Al-Maida 5:15). (3)

Another appellation used for Prophet Muhammad is Nuru'l-Huda (Light of God).

Bursawi emphasizes that Prophet Muhammad is presented within the Quran as a "lamp that gives light". Within this verse, Prophet Muhammad is likened to a candle. If there were no candles, it would not be possible to reach a destination; likewise if the candle of Prophet Muhammad's existence had not existed, everybody would have remained in the dark and would not have found the path to the light of existence and would not have reached the path where the source of prosperity existed. (4)

The Light on the Foreheads of Our Ancestors

For Islamic scholars this light is of more than a mere symbol. According to some accounts, when Allah created Adam He placed on Adam's forehead a pearl-like light which shone like a sun in daytime and like a moon in nighttime. This light was passed on to his pregnant wife Eve and then on to Seth. The father and the mother of Prophet Muhammad were the final link of the light, which had passed from a hundred people, fifty of whom were male, and the other fifty female. (5) Ibn Ishaq, (d. 150/767) speaks about a woman who tried to seduce Abdullah, the father of Prophet Muhammad just before he married his wife Amina. After Prophet Muhammad was conceived, Abdullah saw the same woman, yet the woman turned her face away. When he asked her why she had acted in such a way, the woman replied "The light I saw on you has forsaken you today." According to Ibn Ishaq, this woman had seen a bright mark between the eyes of Abdullah, which disappeared after Prophet Muhammad was conceived. Ibn Ishaq states that this woman was the sister of Waraqa ibn Nawfal (although she is given different names in different sources); she had been warned by her brother that the arrival of a prophet was imminent. Naturally, what the woman had seen on the face of Abdullah was the light of prophethood. This story was used by later historians. (6)

In relation to the light inherited from the forefathers, it is even said that the ancestors of Prophet Muhammad had been informed about his arrival by means of a light or glowing trees being perceived in their dreams.(7)  An incident regarding Abdulmuttalib which supports this is as follows:

According to reports, while Abdulmuttalib, the grandfather of Prophet Muhammad was sleeping in Hijr, he suddenly awoke startled.

Abbas tells us: "Then I was just a child, who hardly understood what was being said. I followed Abdulmuttalib. He came to the Quraishi oracles and said: ‘In my dream, I saw a silver chain coming out of my back. This chain had four ends. One end stretched to the east, one to the west, one end to the depths of the sky and the other end stretched to the depths of the earth. While I was looking at this chain, it turned into a radiant green tree. While I was standing in this position, two old men passed by. To one of the men I said:

‘Who are you?'

He replied ‘I am Noah, the prophet of Almighty God.'

To the other man I said: ‘And who are you?'

He replied: ‘I am one dear to Almighty God.' And then I woke up.

The Quraishi oracles replied to him ‘If you really had this dream, then it means that a prophet will emerge from your descendents; everybody on earth and in the sky will have faith in him. The links of the chains are interconnected, which shows that the subjects and the helpers of the prophet will become abundant and strong. The transformation of the chain into a tree shows that the religion brought by this prophet will last forever and that he will have a high level of honor.' Later, on the day of Hunayn, Prophet Muhammad said "There is no denying this, I am a prophet. I am the grandson of Abdulmuttalib" (8); he was speaking of Abdulmuttalib's dream." (9).

Prophet Muhammad describes his mother's dream as follows:

"When Adam was still mud, I was assigned by Allah as hatamu'n-nabiyyin (the last of the Prophets). I will show you my first signs now. They are my father's prayer, good news of Jesus and the dream my mother had when she was pregnant. In that dream, my mother saw a light emitting from her that illuminated the castles of Damascus." (10)

Approach in Sufi Classics

Sahl ibn Abdullah Tustari (d. 283/896) is considered to be the first Sufi to have used the Nur-i Muhammadi approach within Sufi literature. (11) Tustari suggested that Allah had created Muhammad for the first time from His own light and he pointed out that the Muhammadi presence existed before the presence of the universe. Within the tafsir of Surah Al-Baqarah, verse 30; "Before Allah created Adam, He said unto the angels: I am to place a viceroy on earth and He created Adam from the mud of excellence and from the light of the Muhammad. (12)

Shaykh Abdulqadir al-Gilani interprets the "Light verse" in reference to Prophet Muhammad as follows: The dead body of Prophet Muhammad is the oil lamp of His Spirit. Within the oil lamp exists the vessel of the light of revelation. His conveyance of the imparted revelation is a lamp. When the light of prophethood spreads the vessels of the lamp of the heart, light is added onto light. (13)

In the thirteenth century, Yunus Emre set out in the following verses the Muhammadi light's existence before the universe:

He created Muhammad seventy thousand years earlier

He loved Muhammad himself, the excuse is a star

That star had the soul of Adam in it

Even before the names of the Prophets were known

Scholars would not know this, not even the most intelligent of them

This is divine guidance made known to Yunus through his master (14)

The Earth and the Heavens were created for the sake of Muhammad

"Had it not been for you" is the proof that the Earth and Heavens would not have existed without him. (15)

Sufis indicate two ways of creation. The first one is the creation of something without an instrument. In this respect, the thing created is the essence of Prophet Muhammad. What is meant by "Allah creating things out of nothing" is this sort of creation. The second creation is calling something into being with the help of an instrument and creating it out of something else. In this context, the act of creating is the creation of things other than the essence of the Prophet. Thus, the fact that the essence of Prophet Muhammad as the first essence is an instrument between the other essences and the One or Absolute Existence is not something that occurred once or ceased to be. The essence of the Prophet Muhammad is the first reflected essence of the manifestation which arises constantly and perpetually from the One, and at the same time it is the essence that enables the first manifestation to reach the other essences. The fact that Ibn Arabi saw within the essence of Prophet Muhammad an individualistic manifestation results from this aspect. Ibn Arabi explains this incident by saying "Prophet Muhammad is the most competent entity among humanity, thus the duty (act of creating or emerging) began with him and came to an end with him." (16)

Ibn Arabi says that when the essence of Prophet Muhammad existed, it existed as the ruler, sultan and the one who is guarded. When the creation of the body was delayed, Allah created agents on behalf of him. His first agent and viceroy was Adam. Then the reproduction and proliferation of humanity began; Allah had always created viceroys through all eras until the pure body of the Prophet Muhammad was achieved. The body of Prophet Muhammad appeared like a strong sun. Now all the lights were contained in his vivid light, all the verdicts were hidden in his verdicts, all the laws yielded to him and his hidden rule emerged. As a consequence, Prophet Muhammad is the "first, last, spiritual and the all knower. (17)

Prophet Muhammad is one who possessed the meanings of all names, because he was granted with javamiu'l-kelim. "Allah" is the one who encompasses all the innate capabilities and abilities with this title. This is known as the "shadow of Allah" or the "first shadow". Moreover, within the masivallah the shadow of Allah is the man of maturity. (18)

Maulana evaluated the creation of the Prophet with love, and in his Masnawi interpreted with love the sacred hadith (saying of the Prophet) "If you had not existed, I would not have created the heavens":

Love boils the sea like clay. Love smashes and melts the mountains like sand.

Love ruptures the sky, opening hundreds of cracks. Love shakes the earth with no reason.

The immaculate love was equivalent to Prophet Muhammad...

Because of love, God said to him "If you had not existed...." He was solely of love. Thus, God selected him from among the prophets.

If you had not been of immaculate love, if you had not possessed love, would I have created the heavens?

I glorified the divine sky for you to understand the divinity of love.

For you to smell the scent of the contemptibleness of lovers,

I completely degraded the soil and stretched it under mankind.

For you to understand how a poor one changes with love, I gave the soil greenery and freshness.

These unmovable mountains speak to you of the perseverance of lovers." (19)

In the following verses, Abdurrahman Jami expresses how the light of Prophet Muhammad was transformed into a source of life for all the prophets, from Adam to Jesus:

His light was seen on the forehead of Adam,

Therefore the angels prostrated their heads

In the hazards of the flood

Noah received his help in his tiny ark,

His scent of goodness reached Abraham,

And from Nimrod's wood bloomed his rose

Joseph was just a servant worth seventeen drachmas

In the palace of grace

His face illuminated Moses' fire

His lips taught Jesus how to resurrect the dead. (20)

He is Both the Source of the Light of the Universe and the Source of the Light of Adam (21)

Allah calls Himself the "Light" in the following verse: "Allah is the Light of the heavens and the earth" (An-Nur 24/35). The heavens and the earth were in darkness of non-existence. Allah revealed them by giving them existence. He calls Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) the "Light" as well, because the first light that Allah created and took from the darkness of non-existence was the light of Prophet Muhammad.. Afterwards, Allah created the universe and everything in it from the light of Prophet Muhammad and created them from each other. He called Prophet Muhammad the "Light" because all beings were created from his light. (22)

Imam Rabbani (d.1034/1624) said "The origin of something is its essence". (23)

There is significant information in Imam Rabbani's Maktubat on Haqiqat al-Muhammadiyya. Firstly, he states that Prophet Muhammad was the reason for the creation of the universe in the 44th letter: "If Prophet Muhammad had not existed, Allah would not have created the universe and He would not have revealed that He is the Creator. Prophet Muhammad was already a prophet when Adam was between the water and the earth."

Whoever takes this as an impetus in his works,

He shall not be bound with the binds of captivity of sins. (24)

According to Rabbani, love comes before existence and the center of this love is the Haqiqat al-Muhammadiya. The Haqiqat al-Muhammadiya, which is the haqiqat of all haqiqats, is the love of existence that is the starting point of existence and the creation of beings. This issue is referred to in a hadith al-qudsi: "I was a secret treasure; I wanted to be known and created the creatures for them to know Me." The first thing that came into existence in this secret treasure is the love that resulted in the creation of the creatures. If this love had not existed, the door of creation would not have been opened and the universe would have been left in non-existence. The importance of the following verse is related to this issue: "If I had not existed, I would not have created the heavens and I would not have shown my rububiyat." (25)

Prophet Muhammad as the Seal of Prophethood

Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) explains how he is the seal of prophethood by saying: "My role in comparison with the other prophets before me is that of a man who has built a house nicely and beautifully, except for the place of one brick in a corner. People wonder at its beauty, but say: "Shouldn't that brick be put in its place?" So I am that brick and I am the last of the Prophets." (26)

The Sufi approach evaluated the term hatam an-nabi (seal of the prophets) with two different meanings. The first one is that Prophet Muhammad is the last prophet and the second one is that with him the prophethood has been completed. (27)

People asked "What is the conclusion?" He answered "The conclusion is humans' returning to where they started from!" (28)

The relationship between the beginning and ending has an important place in Ibn Arabi's theory of existence. In a concept of circular existence, the beginning exists with the ending and the endings are added to the beginnings. The fact that Prophet Muhammad is the first prophet in ontological terms and the last prophet in chronological terms is consistent with the fact that he is the first prophet in terms of existence and the essence of the humans, but he is the last in terms of his appearance in the universe. (29)

Again Maulana Jalaladdin al-Rumi mentions Allah's promises about "the last Prophet" in his Masnawi:

"God's blessings made promises to Mustafa (Prophet Muhammad) and said: "Even if you die, this religion, this faith will not die. I shall praise your book and your miracle. I shall prevent the ones who try to erase something from or add something to the Holy Quran. I shall protect you in both worlds. I shall leave the ones who oppose your words and I shall make them ashamed... Do not look for a better protector than me! I shall increase your gleam day after day and I shall imprint your name in gold and silver. I shall build pulpits and niches for you. I love you so much that your sorrow is mine. They secretly say your name for they fear; they hide when they are performing the prayer. Your religion is secretly practiced because of the fear of the damned infidel...

I shall place minarets all around the universe. Your servants shall take over cities and discover places. Your religion shall spread everywhere from the fish to the moon. Your Quran is like the rod of Moses and it wipes out blasphemy. You sleep under the earth, but that clean word is aware of everything like a rod. The hands of the attackers cannot reach that rod. Sleep o Sultan sleep... May your sleep be blessed! (30)

"The conveyance which brought Islamic law" was definitely sealed with the death of Prophet Muhammad. In the same that the Muhammadi haqiqat shed a light on history via other prophets before Prophet Muhammad came, it will continue with his successors. Above all, "Are not the guardians of this community like the prophets of the previous community?" (31)

Finally, Hudayi says:

Prophet Muhammad is the capital of earthly happiness and heavenly happiness.

Prophet Muhammad is the reason for the creation of Adam.

Although Adam came before Him in form,

Prophet Muhammad is the pioneer and leader.

Prophethood is a divine position, Hudayi,

But Prophet Muhammad is the friend of Allah

Prophet Muhammad is the last prophet. (32)


1. For the term Haqiqat, see: Ibn Manzur, Lisânu`l-Arab, Beirut, ts. X, 52; further, D.B. Macdonald, I.A., V, 100-1, Ist. 1977; Uludağ Süleyman, Tasavvuf Terimleri Sözlüğü, Ist. 1995, 215-6.

2. For this form of the hadith, see: Ibn Arabi, Futûhât, I, 243; Abu Bakr Sirajaddin, (Martin Lings) expresses that the other world existed before and after the time in its own unity and with all its traditional ranks. This understanding is expressed with the following hadith of Prophet Muhammad which refers to the creation of the body of Adam at the beginning of time and His own prophethood in the other world: “I was a Prophet when Adam was between the water and the mud” Therefore, it can be concluded that beyond mankind lies not only a historical and “horizontal” past, but also a spiritual and a “vertical” past. Abu Bakr Sirajaddin, The Book of Certainty; Yakîn Risâlesi, translated by Veysel Sezigen, Vural yay. Ist. 2006, 67-8; For an individual section on Haqiqati Muhammadiya, see: Michel Chodkiewicz, Seal of Saints, translated into English by Liadain Sherrard, Cambridge,1993, 60 et all.

3. Krs. Tabari, Tafsir, Saudi Arabia, 2003, VIII, 264; Bursawi, Tafsir, Translation, Hasan Kamil Yilmaz and others IV, 495; See also, Ferâh, 52, 91 yet, in some of the tafsirs this light is described as referring to the Holy Quran; Muhyiddin ibn Arabi, Rahmatun mina´r-Rahman, fi tafsiri isharati´l-Quran, Damascus, 1989, II, 13.

4. Bursawî, Ferahu´r-Ruh,68.

5. Nabhani, Yusuf ibn Ismail, Huccetullâhi ´ale´l-âlemîn, fî mucizâti seyyidi´l-murselin, Diyarbakir ts. 216-220; See also: The light over the foreheads of the forefathers. Ahatlı Erdinc, Peygamberlik ve Hz. Muhammed´in Peygamberligi, 89.

6. For information related to the issue See: A. Guillaume, The life of Muhammed; A.Translation of Ibn Ishâq´s Sîrat Rasul Allah; Karaci, 1982 68-9, Ibn Hisham, Sire, Beirut, 1971, I, 164-5; Abu Nuaym, Delail, I, 130 Haleb print, 90-1; Mawardi, A´lamu´n-Nubuvva, Beirut 1994, 291-2; Ibn Sad, Tabakat, Cairo, 1989, I, 95-6; Bursawi, Ferahu´r-Ruh, 89; Algul Huseyin, Islam Tarihi, I, 121; For a contemporary Persian sirat, the preface of which is written by Riza Tevfik and in which the desirer of this light, Fadima Al-Hashimiyya´s love for Abdullah is depicted exquisitely, See. Zeynel Abidin Rahnuma, Fahrialem, translated by Hayati Aydin, Cemil Sonmez, Ist. According to the work in 2004, Prophet Muhammad met this woman on the day of his mother´s death. For information on the issue See: “Nur-i Muhammadi” article of Louis Massignon in I.A, IX, 362, 1964.

7. U. Rubin, Pre-existence and Light:Aspects of the concepts of Nur-i Muhammed, Israel Oriental Studies, V/62-119, Tel Aviv, 1975.

8. Bukhari, Jihad, 97.

9. Bursawi, Tafsir, III, 377-8; VII, 277-8; Maulana interpreted the dream of a man in which a tree grew by sea as follows: “This infinite sea manifests the greatness of the Divine and Glorious Allah, the huge tree is the sacred existence of Holy Muhammad (pbuh), the branches of the tree are the ranks of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and the guardians, large birds, are their souls, and the sounds of these birds are the secrets and mysteries of their language.” Eflaki, Ariflerin Menkibeleri, translated by Tahsin Yazici, I, 595 Ist. 2001; See also; Annemarie Schimmel, and Muhammed is his Messenger, (Chapel Hill, 1985) 131; For a different version of the dream See: Ebu Nuaym, Delail, I, 99-100.

10. Ahmed ibn. Hanbal, Musnad, IV, 127; Bayhaqi, Delail, I, 83.

11. Böwering, Gerhard, Early Sufism Between Persecution and Heresy, this article was published within Islamic Mistisizm Contested, (ed. Frederick De Jong-Bernd Radke, Leiden, 1999). 60 vd. For the Turkish translation of the article, See; Abdurrezzak Tek, Zulme Ugrayan ve Ilhadla Suclanan Sufiler, UUIFD. XII, issue. 2, 2003, 361 et al. For a separate article related to Nur-i Muhammadi See; Demirci, Mehmet, Nur-i Muhammedi, DEUIFD. Izmir, 1983, I, 239; For Haqiqat-i Muhammedi and its historical development See; Same author, "Haqiqat-i Muhammediye", DIA, XV, 180; Kara, Mustafa, Tasavvuf ve Tarikatlar Tarihi, Ist. 1995, 147 et al.

12. Tustari, Tafsir, 15; For the interpretation of Sehl regarding Nur-i Muhammedi See; Böwering, Gerhard, The mystical vision of, existence in classical Islam: 149-151 Berlin, 1980; Böwering, "The prophet of Islam: The First and the Last Prophet", Within "The Message of the Prophet", 49-52 Annemaria Schimmel, ibid., excerpted from 125.

13. ureddin Ebu´l-Hasan, a.g.e., 141.

14. Yunus Emre, Divan, Prepared by Mustafa Tatci, 234.

15. Yunus Emre, ibid., 372.

16. İbnu´l-Arabî, Fususu´l-Hikem, Translation and commentary Ekrem Demirli, Commentary section, 522.

17. Futûhât, Translation, Ekrem Demirli, I, 390 et al.; 416.

18. Futûhât, Beyrut, ts. III, 312.

19. Maulana Jalaladdin al-Rumi, Mathnawî, V, 223-4.

20. Schimmel, a.g.e., 133; for the exquisite opinions on the light of Prophet Muhammad and his first place in creation, see also Maulana, Mathnawi, trans. Veled Çelebi, MEB. Yay. Istanbul, 1991, II, 69 vd., VI, 150.

21. Bursawi, Tafsir, III, 377.

22. Bursawi, a.g.e., IV, 496.

23. 496 Rabbanî, Maktubat, Istanbul, ts., II, 192; for the translation of the letters in three volumes see Talha Hakan Alp and his friends, Istanbul, 2004.

24. Imam Rabbani, Mektubat, I, 88.

25. Rabbani, ibid. II, 522-5.

26. Bukhari, Manaqib, 18; Muslim, Fazail, 22.

27. Hakim Tirmizi, Kitabu Hatmi al-Awliya, 342.

28. Mahmud Shabustari, Gulshen Raz, (trans.) Abdulbaki Gölpınarlı, Ist. 1989, 31-32.

29. Ibnu al-Arabi, Fususu al-Hikam, Translation and commentary, Ekrem Demirli, şerh kısmı, 512 et al.

30. Maulana, Mathnawi, III, 97-98.

31. Ibnu al-Arabi, Futuhat, I, 223.

32. Bursawi, Tafsir, IV, 152.

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