With this thread I hope to get some more understanding on messengers and prophets. IshaAllah in the end we will all get a little wiser.
A big part of the Quran is about messengers and prophets and their stories. As Muslims we have to believe in them and take lesson from their stories and we have to obey the messengers. But I believe, to understand and learn from their stories, and what we have to obey from the messengers, we first have to determine what exactly does the "title" they are given means. The Quran not only makes a difference between these 2 “groups” but there is also some distinction/differences within these groups, which we can discuss later inshaAllah, such as (AlNabiyeen, AlAnbiya, AlRoessoel, AlMursaleen etc).
Let first take a look at the roots of the words.
According to the people who derived the roots, the root for what we call prophet in Arabic is: nūn bā hamza (ن ب أ)
which I believe means in the most general form something like “informing”. Thus I believe that the definition of “prophet” is not the same as the Bible were a prophet is someone who makes a prophecy, while in the Quran it’s someone who informs.
For the people who rely only on translations, the word that we most of times translate as prophet is called nabi in The Quran.
And for messenger the root is: root is rā sīn lām (ر س ل)
. Which I believe means in the most general form something like “messaging/sending”.
For the people who rely only on translations, the word that we most of times translate as messenger is called rasoel in The Quran.
If we examine The Quran verses we see that these two groups are not the same, there are differences between them but we see also some similarities.
A nice example where we can learn that one group is not by default included in the other group is the next verse:
22:52 And We did not send before you any rasoelin OR nabiyeen
, without having the devil interfere with his wishes. God then overrides what the devil has cast, and God secures His revelations. And God is Knower, Wise.
Ok let’s now take a deeper look to what a rasoel is.
16:35 And those who were polytheists said: "If God had wished, we would not have served a thing other than Him; neither us nor our fathers; nor would we have made unlawful anything other than from Him." Those before them did exactly the same thing; so are Al Roesoel required to do anything except deliver with clarity?
So the duty of AlRoesoel is only the clear delivery. Does this always mean the delivery of The Book? No I don’t think so, Well it can be, but not always. We have in The Quran a couple of examples from AlRoesoels whom job was not to deliver The Book.
Lets take a look at some of these examples.
19:19 He said: "I am the messenger of your Lord
, to grant you the gift of a pure son
19:20 She said: "How can I have a son when no human being has been with me, nor have I desired such?"
19:21 He said: "It is such that your Lord has said
, it is easy for Me. And We shall make him a sign for the people and a mercy from Us. It is a matter already ordained."
Did this messenger bring a Book? No this messenger brought the news of a son not more not less. Ok but maybe this is not a fair example as this messenger was not a human being. Is there a other example? Yes there is.
26:16"So both of you go to Pharaoh and say
: 'We are rasoelu of the Lord of the worlds'
26:17 'So send with us the Children of Israel'"
This was the message for Musa and Haroen to Firaun. No book, no hikma, this was the only thing that Firaun had to do, releasing Bani Israel.
Did they deliver the message? Yes they did:
7:104 And Moses said: "O Pharaoh, I am a rasoelun from the Lord of the worlds
7:105 "It is not proper for me to say about God except the truth; I have come to you with a proof from your Lord. So send with me the Children of Israel
Please note that he says rasoel not nabi. Am I sure that this was the only message that Musa had to deliver to Firaun? Yes, I am pretty sure. Yes Musa and Haroen had a conversation with Firaun but that conversation was not part of the message they had to deliver. Please also note this verse:
28:43 We had given Moses the Book AFTER We had destroyed the earlier generations
; as an example for the people and a guidance and a mercy, perhaps they will take heed.
But was Musa not a messenger to Bani Israel? Yes he was, from my knowledge Musa was 2 times a messenger in his life. First time a messenger to Firaun, second time to his people (after the 40 nights on the mountain were he was given the book).
14:5 And We sent Moses with Our signs
: "You shall bring your people out of the darkness and into the light, and remind them of the days of God."
In this are signs for everyone patient and thankful.
Please note that 14:5 it says that Musa was sent to HIS people thus NOT Firaun.
There other examples of roesoels who bring not The Book. Please read for example the stories of Salih and Hoed what their exact message was to Aad and Thamoed or the roesoels sent to Ibrahim and the people of Lut.
Thus from my understanding a rasoel who is sent by the authority of Allah is someone who is sent with a proof somewhere with a task/message. As this message/task is from Allah, the messenger has to be obeyed, because not obeying the messenger is thus directly not obeying a command from Allah. Obeying the messenger can be "release of Bani israel" for the case of Firaun or it can be something different. please read 7:59-93 for some messengers and the message they had to deliver.
Sorry for the long read, and I am not finished yet
. inshaAllah Wednesday I will post my understanding on what a nabi is and I believe that I can also give a clear example of a nabi who was not a rasoel and what I think what is the key difference with a rasoel. I believe the verse mentioned above (14:5) already gives a nice hint what the difference is. In the meantime please correct me where you think I might be wrong.
ps sorry for my bad english