verse of which “before you” is a part deals with the question of prophethood and the five aims it comprises. The phrase has absorbed these aims and been coloured by them. Signifying five subtle points, it exudes the five aims, which are reflected from these relationships.
The aims included [in prophethood] are these: Muhammad (Upon whom be blessings and peace) is a prophet; he is the most perfect of the prophets; he is the Seal of the Prophets; he was sent to all peoples; his Shari‘a abrogated all preceding ones and contains their virtues.
The manner the first aim is reflected in the phrase: [the words] “before you (min qablika)” are used only when ways are united and the road is one, as though the phrase is suggesting that by comparison all the proofs of the previous prophets and of the veracity of their scriptures form a decisive proof of the prophethood of Muhammad (UWBP) and the revelation of his Book. For all the causes and reasons confirming their prophethoods, prove his prophethood more explicitly and more powerfully. It is as though all their miracles form a single miracle proving his veracity.
The way in which the second aim, the perfection of Muhammad’s (UWBP) prophethood, is reflected in the phrase “before you:” in view of the facts that it is the custom for the king to appear before the people at the end of a ceremony, and in accordance with the law of human progress a later teacher is better than an earlier one, and generally those who come later are more proficient than those who preceded them, Muhammad (Upon whom be peace) was the Sovereign of the Prophets, and the best and most perfect of them, just as the Qur’an is more comprehensive and universal than their scriptures.
The way the phrase “before you” absorbs the third aim, which is Muhammad’s being the Seal of the Prophets: in accordance with the rule, “if one is multiplied it goes to infinity, stopping nowhere; but if a multiplicity of things are united, they acquire stability and come to a halt,” and as is inferred by the opposite idea, “before you” hints that “there will be no prophets after you,” and that Muhammad (Upon whom be blessings and peace) is the Seal of the Prophets.
The way the phrase “before you” is coloured by the fourth aim, the universality of his mission: it expresses this meaning: “You are their successor and they are all your predecessors.” Hence, according to the rule, “the successor shoulders the duties of his predecessor and takes his seat,” all of them were your predecessors and you are their deputy and the Messenger to all peoples. Yes indeed, it could only be thus! For the innate disposition