Question: Some people, in order to represent their masters as rasûls, say, “A prophet to whom a Book was sent is called a nabî (prophet), while a prophet to whom no Book was sent is called a rasûl (messenger).” Has prophethood not ended? Is our Prophet not the last prophet?
Such claims that have nothing to do with the Islamic faith are of the tactics and ruses of the enemies of Islam who want to demolish our religion from within. Saying “Only the Qur’ân!” and interpreting the âyât (Qur’anic verses) according to their own minds, they show no regard for the explanations given by the Messenger of Allah. They consider all ahâdîth to be made-up.
A prophet to whom a Book was sent is called a rasûl. A nabî, on the other hand, is a prophet who disseminated the religion of the rasûl coming before him. A prophet who did not bring a new religion but invited people to the previous religion is called a nabî. Every rasûl is a nabî at the same time, yet every nabî is not a rasûl. Payghambar is a Persian word which is used in the meaning of rasûl or nabî. Our master the Prophet is referred to as a Rasûl, and sometimes as a Nabî, in many places of the Qur’ân al-karîm. His being referred to as a nabî does not prevent him from being a rasûl. That is, calling a rasûl a nabî does not mean that he is not a rasûl. It is similar to sometimes calling the chief of the general staff a general, a senior military officer, or a soldier.
In the communication (tablîgh) of commands and in calling the people to Allahu ta’âlâ’s religion, there is no difference between a rasûl and a nabî. The 27th verse of ‘Ankabût Sûra purports, “We gave him [Ibrâhîm] Ishâq and Ya’qûb [after Ismâîl] as well. We bestowed on his descendants prophethood [being a nabî] and the Books [the Tawrât, the Injîl, the Zabûr, the Qur’ân].” According to this verse, as prophethood [being a nabî] was bestowed upon the descendants of Ibrâhîm ‘alaihis-salâm, so there were also rasûls among his descendants who were given Books. (Baydâwî, Madârik, Jalâlayn)
Let us give examples of rasûls with a Holy Book. Hadrat Mûsâ (Moses) was a rasûl. The purport of some Qur’anic verses is as follows:
(Mûsâ said, “O Pharaoh! Undoubtedly, I am a rasûl sent by the Rabb of the worlds.) [Sûrat-ul-A’râf, 104]
(Even this verse alone suffices to show up their lies. The Tawrât was descended to Hadrat Mûsâ; that is, a Book was sent to him. For this reason, he is called a rasûl. As a Book was revealed to our master the Prophet as well, many verses mention him as a rasûl. The word rasûl appears a lot more because when the word rasûl is used, it also includes the word nabî in itself. In the same way, the word rasûl appears in the Kalama-i shahâdat. If being a nabî were higher in rank, then that word would have been used.)
(We sent Mûsâ with Our miracles to Pharaoh and his establishment. Mûsâ said, “I am the Rasûl of the Rabb of the worlds.”) [Sûrat-uz-Zukhruf, 46] (He explicitly states in this verse that Hadrat Mûsâ was a rasûl.)
Hadrat Mûsâ, like our master the Prophet, was both a rasûl and a nabî. The purport of the following verse declares:
(Remember Mûsâ in the Book. Certainly, he was a servant with ikhlâs, and he was a nabî, a rasûl.) [Sûrat-u Maryam, 51]
Hadrat ‘Îsâ (Jesus), too, was a rasûl with a Book. The purport of a verse is as follows:
(The Messiah [‘Îsâ], son of Maryam, is only a rasûl.) [Sûrat-ul-Mâ’ida, 75]
(Because of their saying, “We killed ‘Îsâ, son of Maryam, Allah’s Rasûl,” We cursed them [the Jews] and expelled them from Our compassion.) [Sûrat-un-Nisâ’, 157]
Mûsâ ‘alaihis-salâm, a rasûl with a Book, desired that Hârûn (Aaron), his brother, should be his vizier, that is, his helper.
An âyah purports as follows:
(O my Rabb! From my family, appoint Hârûn, my brother, to be my helper. Support me with him, and make him a partner in my task.) [Sûrat-u Tâhâ, 29-32]
Accepting his (this) prayer, Allahu ta’âlâ declares:
(Allah said, “O Mûsâ! You have been given what you asked.”) [Sûrat-u Tâhâ, 36]
(We gave Mûsâ the Book, and We appointed Hârûn, his brother, to be his helper.) [Sûrat-ul-Furqân, 35]
It was Hadrat Mûsâ who was given a Book and who was a rasûl. Hadrat Hârûn, on the other hand, was his vizier, that is, his helper. Could his helper be higher than he? When Hadrat Mûsâ was a rasûl, Hadrat Hârûn was appointed as a nabî. The purport of a verse is as follows:
(Out of Our mercy, We granted him his brother Hârûn as a nabî.) [Sûrat-u Maryam, 53]
Hadrat Hârûn was a nabî, who disseminated the religion brought by Mûsâ ‘alaihis-salâm, that is, the Musawî religion (true religion of Hadrat Mûsâ).
(When Zakariyya was performing salât in the mihrab, the angels called out to him saying, “Allah gives you good news of Yahyâ [John], who is a confirmer of Kalimullah [Jesus], who is a chief [leader of his tribe], who controls his nafs, and who is a nabî from among the pious.”) [Sûrat-u Âl-i ‘Imrân, 39] (The fact that Hadrat ‘Îsâ was a rasûl with a Book has been made known with the verses above. Hadrat Yahyâ was a nabî, who spread the religion brought by Hadrat ‘Îsâ, that is, the Isawî religion [true religion of Hadrat ‘Îsâ].)
As it is seen clearly from these examples, a prophet to whom a Book was given is called a rasûl. A prophet who spread the religion brought by a rasûl is called a nabî. Every rasûl is a nabî at the same time. No nabî will succeed our master the Prophet. As a matter of fact, an âyah purports as follows:
(He is the Rasûl of Allah and the last of the nabîs.) [Sûrat-ul-Ahzâb, 40]
Since no nabî will succeed him, a rasûl never succeeds him because the rank of being a rasûl is more special and higher than the rank of being a nabî. Having cited these Qur’anic verses, now let us list the pertinent ahâdîth:
(Nubuwwa [prophethood] and risâla [messengership] ended. No nabî or rasûl will succeed me.) [Tirmudhî]
(The coming of nabîs ended with me.) [Muslim]
(The first of the rasûls is Âdam and the last is Muhammad.) [Hakim, Tabarânî]
(I am not saying this to boast [I am telling the truth]: I am the master of the mursals [all prophets who were sent either as a rasul or as a nabî]. I am the final of them all and the first of intercessors.) [Dârimî]
(My status in comparison with the other nabîs is like this exemplification: A person builds a nice house, but one brick is missing from it. The visitors like the house, only they say, “If only a brick had been put in this gap.” Lo! I am that brick. I am the last and completer of nabîs.) [Bukharî, Muslim]
(O ‘Alî! Whatever Hârûn was in relation to Mûsâ, you are the same in relation to me. But no nabî will come after me.) [Bukhârî, Muslim, Tirmudhî, Ibn Mâja, Imam-i Ahmad, Tabarânî]
Our master the Prophet is not only the rasûl of his time and of Arabia but also the rasûl of all people that will exist up until the end of the world and of the whole world. An âyah purports:
(We have sent you to all people only as a bringer of good tidings and as a warner, but most of people do not know.) [Sûrat-u Saba’, 28]
A hadîth-i sharîf purports: (I have been sent to all humankind.) [Muslim]
(We have sent you a rasûl from among you, who will recite Our âyât to you, who will purify you from every evil, who will teach you the Book and wisdom, and who will inform you about what you do not know.) [Sûrat-ul-Baqara, 151]
(This verse, too, proves that a Book was sent to a rasûl, not a nabî.)
After proclaiming that the Messenger of Allah is the last nabî, the Qur’ân al-karîm explains as follows the fact that the building of Islam has been completed:
(This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favor upon you, and approved for you Islam as the religion.) [Sûrat-ul-Mâ’ida, 3]
Now that Allahu ta’âlâ has completed His religion by sending His last nabî and rasûl and now that there is no deficiency left in the religion, looking for another religion and prophet means denying the Qur’ân al-karîm.
The 164th verse of Nisâ’ Sûra, which purports, “We also sent rasûls whose parables We have not related to you,” demonstrates that the number of rasûls has not been stated in the Qur’ân al-karîm. It is declared in a hadîth-i sharîf:
(There are 124 000 nabîs and 313 rasûls.) [Hakim]
This hadîth-i sharîf shows that rasûls, who brought Books, is fewer than nabîs in number. The reason why nabîs are more in number is that they promulgated the religions of rasûls.