The Difference between a Prophet and Messenger

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The Difference between a Prophet and Messenger(may Allah’s peace and blessing be upon them all)

Praise belongs to Allah. The One who sees, hears, knows and controls everything in the heavens and the earth. I bear witness that He is Alone without any partners and that He sent Muhammad as His last messenger to mankind and Jinn. May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon our final Messenger Muhammad. Now to our topic

These are a few beneficial points taken from a book titled “ Tanweer Al-‘Uqul fee Farq baynah Nabee wa Rasul” this book was authored  by Shaykh Abu Nasr Muhammad ibn Abdullah Al-Imam(May Allah Preserve him). I noted a few points that benefited me when I read this book, and I hope that these points will profit the English speaking Muslims. This is a wonderful book for Aqeedah. And other sections of the book cover issues like: the wisdom of sending Prophets, their jobs, the worst punished is the one who killed a Prophet, the Prophets don’t die until Allah decides, the Prophets and Messengers are buried where they die, the Prophets and Messengers are alive in their graves, The earth doesn’t consume the Prophets and Messengers bodies and much more.

بسم االه الرحمن الرحيم

Point 1: The Definition of a Prophet and Messenger

  • A Prophet: A servant that Allah chooses, gives him Revelation and he acts in accordance to the revelation sent to him. The majority of the ulema view Khidr as a Prophet given a special legislation.
  • A Messenger: A servant, who Allah chooses, gives him revelation and sends him to   disbelieving people.

Point 2: The conditions of Prophet hood and Messenger ship

1.      Manhood

وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِن قَبْلِكَ إِلا رِجَالا نُّوحِي إِلَيْهِمْ

We sent not before thee (any messengers) save men whom We inspired

[ Yusuf 108]

2.      Must be a human being not an Angel.

قُل لَّوْ كَانَ فِي الأَرْضِ مَلآئِكَةٌ يَمْشُونَ مُطْمَئِنِّينَ لَنَزَّلْنَا عَلَيْهِم مِّنَ السَّمَاء مَلَكًا رَّسُولاً

If there were settled, on earth, angels walking about in peace and quiet, We should certainly have sent them down from the heavens an angel for a messenger.

3.      Must not be a Jinn

4.      Must be free and not a slave. Allah never chose a slave and made him Prophet.And Allah knows best,butThis is based on the proof we have from the Quran and Sunnah.

Point 3: Prophet hood isn’t established for anyone unless there is legitimate evidence

Many historians and scholars of Tafsir mention names of Prophets and Messengers taken from Christian and Jewish books. I(Shaykh Muhammad Imam) have mentioned in my book “ Thathirul ‘Atqeeyah Min ‘Eabadahtee Quburul An-Biyah wa Awleeya” names of Prophets established by absolute proof and names of people mentioned as being prophets which were baseless. The rule for us is “We don’t declare anyone as being a prophet without legitimate evidence.

Point 4: The Principle” Every messenger is a Prophet, but every Prophet isn’t a messenger

A large number of scholars have attested that ever “ Every Messenger is a Prophet, but every Prophet isn’t a Messenger”

1.      Al-Qurtubee(may Allah have mercy upon him) said:…This is the correct stance, every Messenger is a Prophet, but every Prophet isn’t a Messenger” [ Tafsir 12/45]

2.      Al-Qadee ‘Iyad said: The correct opinion which the majority of the scholars hold is that every Messenger is a Prophet, but every Prophet isn’t a Messenger…” [ Asheefa]

3.      Ibn ‘Atteeyah said: A Messenger is more specific than a Prophet. Most of the Prophets weren’t dispatched to people. Every Messenger is a Prophet, but every Prophet isn’t a Messenger…[ Tafsir 10/ 307 ]

4.      Al-Baghawee said: every Messenger is a Prophet, but every Prophet isn’t a Messenger. [Tafsir 4/ 126]

5.      Al-Baaqa’ee said: the correct thing to say is: a Prophet is someone who is given divine revelation about a new or old legislation. And if he is sent to disbelieving people he’s a Messenger. [  Nathm Ad-Durur fee Tanasab Ayat wa Sur 13/70 ]

6.      Ash-Shawkani after mentioning the various definitions about the Prophet and Messenger  he said : Based on all these meanings a Prophet is more general than a Messenger. [ Nayl 1/30]

7.      Al-Bayhaqqee said: Every Messenger is a Prophet, but every Prophet isn’t a Messenger.[ Ashu’ib 1/383]

8.      Shaykul Islam Ibn Taymeeyah said: every Messenger is a Prophet, but every Prophet isn’t a Messenger.[ Majmu’ Fataawa 10/290]…

 Point 5 : The Difference between the Prophets and Messengers

1.    A Prophet is someone who Allah communicates with and a Messenger is one that He communicates with and sends him to disbelieving people. Allah communicated to   Prophet Muhammad by means of Jibril in the verse.

اقْرَأْ بِاسْمِ رَبِّكَ الَّذِي خَلَق

Proclaim! (or read!) in the name of thy Lord and Cherisher, Who created

[ Al-Alaq 1]

Subsequently, He sent him to the Kuffar in the verse.

قُمْ فَأَنذِرْ

Arise and deliver thy warning![Al-Muddaththir 2 ]

2.   Most of the Messengers were sent to disbelieving people.

كَذَّبَتْ قَوْمُ نُوحٍ الْمُرْسَلِينَ

The people of Noah rejected the apostles

إِذْ قَالَ لَهُمْ أَخُوهُمْ نُوحٌ أَلَا تَتَّقُون

Behold, their brother Noah said to them: “Will ye not fear (Allah?)

إِنِّي لَكُمْ رَسُولٌ أَمِينٌ

[ Ash-Shura 105-107] “I am to you an apostle worthy of all trust:

 Also read Al-Ankubut 16, Al-‘Anam 74, Hud 96, Ibraheem 5 Furqun 35…

3.   The Messenger speaks the same language as his people.

وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِنْ رَسُولٍ إِلَّا بِلِسَانِ قَوْمِهِ لِيُبَيِّنَ

 We only sent Messenger to people with the language of that People.

This verse shows that the messengers were sent to their people only, but our Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) was sent to all of mankind including the Jinn. Also from this verse we learn that every messenger speaks and addresses his people in his own language.

4.   The Messenger remains with his people until they accept the message or Allah destroys them.

ثُمَّ أَرْسَلْنَا رُسُلَنَا تَتْرَا كُلَّ مَا جَاء أُمَّةً رَّسُولُهَا كَذَّبُوهُ فَأَتْبَعْنَا بَعْضَهُم بَعْضًا وَجَعَلْنَاهُمْ أَحَادِيثَ فَبُعْدًا لِّقَوْمٍ لَّا يُؤْمِنُون

Then  We sent  our messengers in succession: every time there came to a people their apostle, they accused him of falsehood: so We made them follow each other (in punishment): We made them as a tale (that is told): So away with a people that will not believe! [ Al-Mu’meenoon 44]

5.   The legislation given to the Messengers is different, and the Prophets follow the legislation of the Messengers. And most of the Prophets sent to Ban’i  Israel followed the legislation of Musa(peace and blessings be upon him)

لِكُلٍّ جَعَلْنَا مِنْكُمْ شِرْعَةً وَمِنْهَاجًا

To each among you, We have prescribed a law and a clear way..”[ Al-Ma’idah 48 ]

6.   The first Messenger sent to mankind was Nuh

فَيَأْتُونَ نُوحًا فَيَقُولُونَ يَا نُوحُ أَنْتَ أَوَّلُ الرُّسُلِ إِلَى أَهْلِ الأَرْضِ…

“ …the People will go to Nuh and say you were the first Messenger sent to Mankind…[Bukhari 3340 and Muslim 495]

.      This hadeeth clearly establishes the fact that the first messenger sent to the son    of Adam was Nuh. And before him there were Prophets on earth. The first Prophet was Adam (peace and blessings be upon him). Between Adam and Nuh there were ten centuries of pure Tawheed on earth.

     . The number of messengers and Prophets are different.

يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ كَمْ وَفَّى عِدَّةُ الأَنْبِيَاءِ قَالَ « مِائَةُ أَلْفٍ وَأَرْبَعَةٌ وَعِشْرُونَ أَلْفاً الرُّسُلُ مِنْ ذَلِكَ ثَلاَثُمِائَةٍ وَخَمْسَةَ عَشَرَ جَمًّا غَفِيراً

Oh Messenger of Allah How many prophets were sent to mankind? He (peace and blessings be upon him)said, 124,000. And from that great number 315  were messengers.”  [ Ahmed 5/265]

8        Allah saved the Messengers before he destroyed their people.

َنجَيْنَاهُ وَمَن مَّعَهُ فِي الْفُلْكِ الْمَشْحُون

So We delivered him and those with him, in the Ark filled (with all creatures).[Ash-Shura 119]

Also read[ Hud 58, 66, 94,  Ash-Shura , 54,170.] When the Jews wanted to kill Essa Allah raised him and when the kufar of Mecca wanted to kill Muhammad Allah saved him. Now on the other hand Allah allowed the some Prophets to be killed. Allah says,

وَيَقْتُلُونَ النَّبِيِّينَ بِغَيْرِ الْحَقِّ

and slaying His Prophets without just cause.. [ Al-Baqarah 61]

9      The People deny their Messengers because they bring a new legislation, whereas the Prophets in most cases aren’t rejected. The reason they aren’t rejected is because they judge by previous legislation.

10    The Scholars differ if whether Maryam, Aseeyah and Hajar were Prophets, but they unanimously agree that they weren’t Messengers. And Ibn Kathir mentioned some words from Abu Hasan Al-Ashari: He said “ Ahulus Sunnah wa Jamah hold that no women were given Prophet hood, they were just considered to be righteous and upright.

11

: There is no evidence from the Quran or Sunnah which prove that two messengers were sent to two separate people during one era. The Messengers were sent to a particular people during a specific time. Read about Nuh, Hud, Salih, Lut, Shu’iab, Musa and Essa. Now on the other hand the opposite can be proven about Prophets. Sometimes they were from the same family and lived during the same era. Yaqub was a Prophet and his son Yusuf was a Prophet and Messenger. Dawud and Sulayman were both kings and Prophets during one era. And sometimes a Prophet was alive at the same time as a Messenger. For Example Essa was a Messenger and Yahya was a Prophet. They both lived during the same period.

A questioner might ask what about Musa and Harun? Wasn’t he a Messenger during the time of Musa?

Answer: Yes, but he followed the same legislation of Musa and he wasn’t given his own. And Allah the Most high knows best.

Translated by : Abu Aaliyah Abdullah Ibn Dwight Lamont Battle

Doha, Qatar Rabi’ Al-Awal 12th, 1429  ©

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