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The Timelessness of Prophet Muhammad’s Message

Muslims believe in all the prophets and messengers that came before Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon them), and they believe that they all came with essentially the same message.

But Prophet Muhammad’s message is regarded as the final one, as part of God’s plan to give humanity one final, universal reminder before declaring their religion complete.

The Quran itself asserts that this is a final revelation, the most perfect, complete, and comprehensive code of life, when it says what means:

This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed my favor on you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion. (Al-Maidah 5:3

Why Does Prophet Muhammad Appear in 600 AD?

But why at this particular point in history, does the final revelation appear?

It is amazing that no Prophet or messenger before Prophet Muhammad claimed that his message was the last one, or the conclusion.

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On the contrary, we find that both in the Old and New Testaments, prophets are always speaking about somebody, some prophet, who is to come, and no one claims that he is the final prophet.

Only in the case of Islam do we find this documented in the word of God in the Quran as well as in the words of Prophet Muhammad. This is a significant point.

To start with, we have to say that the selection of the proper time was not something that was done by a person but by God Himself.

God chose that time as the most appropriate time. If we, as humans, try to understand why, then it is only our human attempt to understand. We cannot really judge the wisdom of God.

However, there are at least four basic points that are very relevant to this issue.

Reason 1

First of all, there is the question of the means of transportation and communication. In the past it was very difficult to communicate widely. It was not practical to have a prophet who had enough followers to spread out all over the world and bring the message to other people.

There were degrees, of course, but you could say that from the seventh century AD onward, the extent of movement and contact between people had become greater, and now with modern technology, it is becoming much easier to communicate the message.

Reason 2

A second basic reason concerns with the means of writing and preserving the message. A prophet was a human being. He would live for a few decades, and then die.

The only authentic teaching would be something that was preserved, preferably in writing, so it would not be forgotten or mixed up.

We know this, and there is a lot of evidence available that the revelations given to previous prophets were not kept intact over the centuries.

There were various reasons: the believers were attacked, they were persecuted, their holy books were destroyed, and some people started to write whatever they recalled.

So, there were problems and this is something that everybody readily admits when they study the historicity of the various scriptures before Islam.

With these difficulties then, it is quite possible that even though all prophets were truthful in communicating what had been given to them, this message after their deaths might have experienced some partial loss, and possibly some changes.

Reason 3

A third possible reason is that whatever remains of the teachings of the prophets before Muhammad has often become mixed up with philosophical ideas, with theological speculation, and sometimes even with some of the mythology that preceded the mission of this prophet.

That has made it very difficult for people to sift out what were the exact words of the prophets and what was just mere theorizing, or putting theology and philosophy into the picture.

Reason 4

The fourth and perhaps most important reason, is the stage of maturity of humanity. Previously, a prophet would be sent, then another prophet would come with some kind of slightly modified mission, even though the message is basically the same.

It made more sense that when humanity reached a certain level, a universal general message could be given to them that carried the elements of flexibility and applicability so that there would be interaction between the divine laws and framework of life which the human mind tries to interpret and find details and specific applications, depending on the needs of time and place.

Now, if you look at all these important points, you find that with the appearance of Prophet Muhammad, and ample historical evidence is there, the message given to him was preserved intact, and not mixed up with the teachings of anyone else.

What you find in the Quran is separate even from the words of Muhammad when he is not receiving revelation in words (that is the Hadith, or prophetic traditions). It is even in separate books.

So the purity of revelation has been preserved, and we also see that within a few years after his death, the message of Islam reached nearly half of the known world at that time, and today it has reached the rest of the world.

So, as mentioned above, the timing was selected by God, but there are a good number of logical reasons why that particular time was chosen.

(From Discovering Islam’s archive.)

About Jamal Badawi
Dr. Jamal Badawi is a professor at Saint Mary's University in Halifax, Canada, where he currently teaches in the areas of management and religious studies. He is the author of several works on various aspects of Islam.