General Issues / Questions > Prophets and Messengers

difference between rasoel and nabi

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Bender:
Salaam all,
 
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.

Sallaam,
Bender

ps sorry for my bad english

Student of Allah:
Shalom,

Nice read.

My understanding was that :
messenger(book + warner),
prophet (warner)

Then I was convinced that they mean the same, then sometimes it looks this way, sometimes it looks the other way.

Currently, what my brain tells me is that it is more likely that they mean the same. The reason being, in an article (such as yours), or a simple reading that I do, we only consider verses that makes it look like messenger and prophets are different. I think , if I get some time, I will try to come to common terms with the opposing ideas and write an article on it. May be we end up ignoring the opposing ideas  and that is something which I hope we can solve by putting together good articles from both sides of the argument.

Peace, keep writing :)

--------------------------------- Student of Allah

Bender:
Sallaam,

According to some a nabi is always a also messenger because a nabi is someone who was given a book and the book is the message thus it’s a messenger. Lets find out if this is true.

2:213 The people used to be one nation, then God sent the prophets as bearers of good news and warners, and He sent down with them the Book with the truth so that they may judge between the people in what they were disputing. But after receiving the clarity, the people disputed in it due to animosity between them. And God guided those who believed with His permission regarding what they disputed in of the truth. And God guides whoever He wishes to a straight path.

This looks almost like a clear proof that prophets are always messengers, because it says “…then God sent the prophets…” thus they are always messengers. But let’s take a closer look on this verse. Does this verse really say “sent”? The word, for saying something which has to do with “sending”, has to contain at least the root of the word in my opinion. In the opening post the root for “sending” is rā sīn lām (ر س ل).  The word used in 2:213 is “faba3atha” and not “fa-arsala”. I am not entirely sure what “ba3atha” means, I believe it something like “raise” (when I look at other verses in The Quran where the same word is used), but it definitely does not mean “sending”. 
Thus nabi's are "raised" and not sent somewhere. When a nabi is sent somewhere than he becomes a “rassoelan nabiyan”.
 
Some other things to note from this verse are that the duty of a nabi is to bring good and bad news. By the way roessoels also bring good and bad news. But one of the main differences is, while a rasoel only delivers a nabi on the other hand judges with The Book between people in matters were they dispute. This means that one becomes only a nabi after he reaches a point in his life that he is able to give clear judgment on matters with the help of The Book.
I believe that a human rasoel is most of time (maybe even always, have to check this first) sent to people who went astray, and I believe that a nabi on the other hand is a person who was on first place accepted by his people, because people go to them when they are disputing on a matter. Please note that the animosity between the people and against the nabi is only after they receive a clear judgment from the nabi. This is also the moment I believe where sects arise. The bad people who think that the judgment of the nabi is in their disadvantage rebel against the nabi, and they start to make their own books with their own rules. But that is an other subject  ;)
 
I like to show a example of a nabi who was not a rasoel.

2:246 Did you not note the leaders of the Children of Israel after Moses, they said to their prophet: "Send us a king that we may fight in the cause of God;" he said: "Are you not concerned that if fighting is decreed for you, you will then not fight?" They said: "And why should we not fight in the cause of God when we have been expelled from our homes along with our children." So it was, that when fighting was decreed for them they turned away, except for
2:247 And their nabi said to them: "God has sent Saul to you as a king." They said: "How can he have the kingship when we are more deserving than him, and he has not been given an abundance of wealth?" He said: "God has chosen him over you and increased him in knowledge and physical stature." God grants His sovereignty to whom He chooses; and God is Encompassing, Knowledgeable.
2:248 And their nabi said to them: "The sign of his kingship shall be that he brings to you the ark in which there is tranquility from your Lord and the legacy of what was left behind by the descendants of Moses and the descendants of Aaron being carried by the angels. In this is a sign for you if you are believers."

Ok this person is thus never called rasoel. This person was “only” a nabi according to The Quran. But maybe this example doesn’t convince, maybe this nabi was in secret also a rasoel and the Quran just doesn’t mention this. For that case I “found” an other example. Actually it is a “sequel” to the story above. We will inshaAllah learn how a nabi can be raised among people. But first note that in 2:246 we learn that the children of Israel were expelled from their homes by some transgressors, thus we already have 2 main groups. I will call the transgressors “The bad guys  >:D” and the ones who were expelled from their homes “the good guys :)”. Ok let read further:

2:249 And when Saul set out with the army, he said: Lo! Allah will try you by a river. Whosoever therefore drinketh thereof he is not of me, and whosoever tasteth it not he is of me, save him who taketh in the hollow of his hand. But they drank thereof, all save a few of them. And after he had crossed, he and those who believed with him, they said: We have no power this day against Goliath and his hosts. But those who knew that they would meet Allah exclaimed: How many a little company hath overcome a mighty host by Allah's leave! Allah is with the steadfast.

(2:249 is not FM translation, but Pickthall, because I believe that the FM translation in this verse is a little bit inaccurate because it doesn’t really show that by the river the group will already be split in 3 groups.)

Here we learn that “the good guys” fragmented in 2 main groups. A big group who drank more then the limit, they stayed behind and did not took part in the fight, I like to call them “The Losers   :&  :nope:” .
And we have a small group who are called “Those who believed :pr”. And even this group resided in 2 groups. The ones who drank only one scoop with their hands and the ones who didn’t drank at all. This last group are those who knew that they will meet Allah, these people are “The Sallihien :pr :hail :muscle:" they are the best of the best and will be among the nabi’s and other very good company (please see 4:69). Sorry  :-[ I’m going in my own thread a little bit off-topic. Ok lets read further, because in the next 2 verses we learn who one of “The Sallihien” was and how Allah favored this man while he was still alive.

2:250 And when they came forth to Goliath and his soldiers, they said: "Our Lord grant us patience, and make firm our foothold, and grant us victory over the disbelieving people."
2:251 So they defeated them with the permission of God, and David killed Goliath, and God gave him the kingship and the wisdom and taught him what he wished. And if it were not for God defending the people against themselves, then the earth would have long been corrupted; but God has bestowed grace upon the worlds.

I believe the verses above describe how a nabi is raised. And this nabi is (as far as I know) never called anywhere in The Quran a rasoel or sent to some people. See this example:

21:78 And David and Solomon, when they gave judgment in the case of the crop that was damaged by the sheep of the people, and We were witness to their judgment.

and this:

38:22 When they entered upon David, he was startled by them. They said: "Have no fear. We are two who have disputed, and one has wronged the other, so judge between us with the truth, and do not wrong us, and guide us to the right path."

Thus my understanding is that a nabi is someone who informs people. And a rasoel is someone who is sent to some place. I believe the story of Musa gives a nice example of a human rasoel who is not yet a nabi and the story of David gives a nice example of a nabi who was never a rasoel.

Sorrrrrrrryyyyyyy this was again an unattended long post. For the one or two readers who actually read this, thank you for taking your time to read this. And please correct me were you believe I'm wrong. I also want to say that this is just my personal understanding and I only wanted  to give a general concept of my understanding with this thread. If someone is interested then we can discuss in more detail because I believe that there is much left to discuss. I have myself a couple of questions about some verses and some words.

Salaam,
Bender

Bender:

--- Quote from: Student of Allah on January 03, 2012, 06:55:24 AM ---Shalom,

Nice read.

My understanding was that :
messenger(book + warner),
prophet (warner)

Then I was convinced that they mean the same, then sometimes it looks this way, sometimes it looks the other way.

Currently, what my brain tells me is that it is more likely that they mean the same. The reason being, in an article (such as yours), or a simple reading that I do, we only consider verses that makes it look like messenger and prophets are different.

--- End quote ---

Salaam SoA,

thank you for reading the long post, the second one is even longer  :D.

For the red highlighted: I never do this  :nope: I really consider every verse that I find and even more the verses where I believe that there is something strange.
I can give you a lot of verses which really break my brains. I only didn't post them now because I actually want that someone else will post them, so that we can discuss this. If you like I can post on friday or monday (then I have inshaAllah enough time) a list of verses about rasoels and nabi's which really make me  :hypno: .
I have the feeling that my general concept about this subject is correct. But I have to admit that 3 weeks ago I had a very long list of questions. I still have a list of things that puzzle me but it's much shorter then 3 weeks ago.


--- Quote ---I think , if I get some time, I will try to come to common terms with the opposing ideas and write an article on it. May be we end up ignoring the opposing ideas  and that is something which I hope we can solve by putting together good articles from both sides of the argument.

Peace, keep writing :)

--------------------------------- Student of Allah

--- End quote ---

I would really appreciate it if you also did post your understanding. It really doesn't matter if it's correct or not, there is always something to learn.

Salaam,
Bender

Student of Allah:

--- Quote from: Bender on January 04, 2012, 05:04:58 PM ---Salaam SoA,

thank you for reading the long post, the second one is even longer  :D.

For the red highlighted: I never do this  :nope: I really consider every verse that I find and even more the verses where I believe that there is something strange.
I can give you a lot of verses which really break my brains. I only didn't post them now because I actually want that someone else will post them, so that we can discuss this. If you like I can post on friday or monday (then I have inshaAllah enough time) a list of verses about rasoels and nabi's which really make me  :hypno: .
I have the feeling that my general concept about this subject is correct. But I have to admit that 3 weeks ago I had a very long list of questions. I still have a list of things that puzzle me but it's much shorter then 3 weeks ago.

I would really appreciate it if you also did post your understanding. It really doesn't matter if it's correct or not, there is always something to learn.

Salaam,
Bender

--- End quote ---

Salamun alaikum,

I will have to take some time and read your new post. About the highlighted part, well I did not speak about you or any of us in that way. What I meant was that when we consider a meaning, our brain can hold only so much references at a time in our head. Our brain only highlights the verses that are most comforting to us. You wrote them down here, and I said that we should write down the "opposing ideas" too. That is so that we have everything infront of us when we derive a possible meaning. Thank you for not getting mad at me when I suggested to take the "opposing idea" in to consideration.

Inshallah, we will learn the truth. I like independent and non biased studies. As much as its possible to do. Some time people only write and explore the subject to "establish" another "agenda", not "study" of Qur'an .

Peace
------------- Student of Allah

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