Rasul and Nabi
In the name of Allah, the most Beneficent, the most Merciful.
The word “Nubuwwat” is derived from the word “Naba” which means “a great and important message”. In this case it means that important Message from Allah (SWA) which he intends for his servants and He conveys it via his chosen Messengers (Alaihimus Salaam).
Some scholars are of the opinion that the word “Nubuwwat” means to “raise” or “high”. The Messengers have to convey such elevated knowledge from Allah (SWA) which even the greatest intellectuals are incapable of understanding. Also they are granted such great status and rank that others are not, hence they are called “Nabis”.
The word “Rasul” is derived from the word “Risaalat”. Risaalat refers to a representation between Allah (SWA) and his intelligent creation.
As for the difference between a “Nabi” and a “Rasul”, some scholars say they are the same, but the correct version is that a Rasul is higher in status than a Nabi. It is mentioned in a hadith that the total number of Ambiyaa exceeds 100,000 whereas the number of Rasuls are 313. From this we can deduce that every Rasul is a Nabi but not necessarily that every Nabi is a Rasul.
Some scholars have differentiated between the two by saying that a Rasul is one who is bestowed with a new Kitaab or a Shariah whereas a Nabi is not.
Other scholars say that a Rasul is blessed with a speciality or distinguishing factor. It is not necessarily that a Rasul has a new Kitaab or Shariah because there is a consensus that the Prophet Ismaeel Alayhi Salam was a Rasul but he did not come with a new Kitaab or Shariah.
Shaikul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (RA) says that a Nabi is that person who speaks about the unseen things from Allah (SWA) and wahi is revealed upon him and the person who has these qualities and he is also deputed to propagate to a disobedient nation, then he is called a Rasul. (Aqaaidul Islam – Maulana Idris Khandhawi p.59 – p.60)
Adam Alayhi Salam was the very first prophet and the Prophet of Allah Sallallahu Alahi Wasalam is the very last prophet and there will be no prophets thereafter.
Allah (SWA) in the Holy Quran has said:
“Muhammad is not the father of any male among you but he is the Messenger of Allah and the seal of Prophets and Allah is aware of all things” (Surah Ahzaab v.40)
The Prophet of Allah Sallallahu Alahi Wasalam had said “I am Muhammad, I am Ahmad, I am the Al-Mahi (the effacer) in that through me infidelity shall be erased; I am the Al-Hashir (Assembler) in that people shall be assembled after me. And I am the al-Aqib (the last). (Sahih Bukhari p.500 v.1)
The Prophet of Allah Sallallahu Alahi Wasalam also said “The Children of Israel used to be guided by Prophets. When a prophet passed away, another prophet succeeded him. But no Prophet will come after me…” (Sahih Bukhari p.491 v.1)
Only Allah Knows Best
Mohammed Tosir Miah
Darul Ifta Birmingham