Islam is not a new religion that came into existence 1400 years back. Islam is an Arabic word which means ‘submission to God’. This religion of submission of God is in existence since the beginning of humanity. Islam teaches that there is Only One God. It also teaches that God sent many different prophets and messengers to guide humanity.
For We assuredly sent amongst every People an apostle, (with the Command), “Serve God, and eschew Evil”: of the People were some whom God guided, and some on whom error became inevitably (established). So travel through the earth, and see what was the end of those who denied (the Truth). [Quran 16:36]
Quran mentions a few of these prophets by name, like Adam, Noah, Abraham, David, Moses, Jesus Christ, etc. However Quran clearly mentions that prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was the Last and Final prophet of God.
Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but (he is) the Apostle of God, and the Seal of the Prophets: and God has full knowledge of all things. [Quran 33:40]
Now certain people pose a question, that why did the prophethood end? If God sent several prophets before prophet Muhammad (PBUH), why does it have to end with Muhammad (PBUH)? Haven’t it been better if we had prophets to guide us today as well?
A common reply given is that since Quran was to be the final revelation, prophet Muhammad (PBUH) automatically became the final prophet. However, even if Quran was to be the final revelation, there surely could have been prophets after him even if the law was not to be changed, just as it was the case with many prophets between Moses (PBUH) and Jesus (PBUH). Then why did the prophethood end?
To understand, let us consider the following example.
When a father teaches his child to ride a bicycle, he initially holds the bicycle and lets the child ride it. Slowly, slowly he lets the child go and walks with him but holds it whenever the child loses control. However when the child reaches a stage where he has learnt how to drive the cycle, he provides him with a few basic instructions and lets the child go on his own.
God made the first man a prophet, so that he might guide his children by God’s revelations. Thereafter God sent prophets to guide people as and when required. However when humanity reached the intellectual status at which it was ready to receive the final revelation from God and able to derive correct laws from it through Ijtihad (analogy) for every new thing that came his way, God sent down His final revelation and taught through his prophet the methodology of ijtihad.
There is now no need for any new prophet. Muslim scholars have since been deriving laws for every new thing that has come our way through analogy, based on the general guidance that has been provided in Quran and Sunnah.