In the Name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
The difference between “prophet” and “messenger” according to Quran
[55:1-2] The Most Gracious, teacher of the Quran
With this promise in mind, one has to remember that the teaching of God is the BEST teaching, and the knowledge given by God is the most accurate knowledge. All the teachings or knowledge given by the human beings can be compared to that given by God and only those teachings which agree with the teachings of God can be accepted as truth, irrespective of how many scholars agree or disagree with it. As God promised, those who will not accept the words of God in the Quran will not have access to understanding the Quran. They have shields placed around their hearts and deafness in their ears. 6:25, 17:46 and 18:57
[18:57] Who is more wicked than one who is reminded of the proofs of His Lord, then disregard them, while unaware of his sin ? Consequently, we place shields on their hearts, to prevent them from understanding (Quran), and deafness in their ears. Thus, if you invite them to the guidance, they can NEVER EVER be guided.
One of the issues that always comes up when discussing the Quran is the issue of the definition of the Prophet (Nabi) and the definition of the messenger (Rasoul). As a believer would imagine, NO ONE can define these better than the One who sent them both, the prophets and the messengers. It is interesting to note that the definition of the prophet and messenger is very clear in the Quran. Most of the scholars, and their followers, however, do not accept the definition given by God and instead accept the definition they gave themselves or given in the dictionary by older scholars.
Believing in God means to believe Him and accept His teaching and His word. Choosing the scholars or the dictionary over God reflects a disbelief in God and His word (Quran). God called this kind of practice, idol-worship.
[9:31] They have set up their religious leaders and scholars as lords; instead of God.....
God's Definition of PROPHET and MESSENGER (Nabi and Rasoul)
In 3:81 God described exactly the function of the Prophet (Nabi) and the function of the Messenger (Rasoul). Both definitions come in the middle of a very important verse that is dealing with the Messenger of the Covenant. For the sincere believer both definitions are clear and well described by the Teacher of the Quran, the Most Gracious.
[3:81] God took a covenant from the PROPHETS, saying, "I will give you the SCRIPTURE AND WISDOM. Afterwards, a MESSENGER will come to CONFIRM all existing scriptures. You shall believe in him and support him." He said, "Do you agree with this, and pledge to fulfill this covenant?" They said, "We agree." He said, "You have thus borne witness, and I bear witness along with you."
Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall translated 3:81 as follows:
"When Allah made (His) covenant with the PROPHETS, (He said): Behold that which I have GIVEN you of the SCRIPTURE AND KNOWLEDGE. And afterward there will come unto you a MESSENGER, CONFIRMING that which ye possess. Ye shall believe in him and ye shall help him. He said: Do ye agree, and will ye take up My burden (which I lay upon you)in this (matter)? They answered: We agree. He said: Then bear witness. I will be a witness with you."
Verse 3:81, among many other verses, provides the definitions of "Nabi" (Prophet) and "Rasoul" (Messenger). Thus, "Nabi" is a messenger of God who delivers a new scripture, while "Rasoul" is a messenger commissioned by God to confirm existing scripture; he does not bring a new scripture. According to the Quran, every "Nabi" is a "Rasoul," but not every "Rasoul" is a "Nabi." It is not logical that God will give a scripture to a prophet, then ask him to keep it exclusively for himself, as stated by some Muslim "scholars" (2:42,146,159).
The Quranic definition of Prophet, and how all the prophets were given Scripture to deliver, is also confirmed in the following verse:
[2:213] The people used to be one community when God sent THE PROPHETS as bearers of good news, as well as warners. HE SENT DOWN WITH THEM THE SCRIPTURE, bearing the truth, to judge among the people in their disputes.
Those who are not sufficiently familiar with the Quran tend to think that Aaron was a "Nabi" as stated in 19:53, who did not receive a scripture. This claim can only be made by those who do not believe the Quran, since God ascertains in 2:213 that all the prophets were sent with the Scripture. Moreover, the Quran clearly states that Aaron received what Moses did ; both received a scripture or a statute book (21:48, 37:117).
In other terms ALL THE PROPHETS are MESSENGERS, but NOT ALL the MESSENGERS are PROPHETS.
MORE PROOFS from the Quran
PROPHETHOOD AND SCRIPTURE:
Whenever God mentions prophethood in the Quran, He mentions scripture and sometimes wisdom. The association of prophethood and scripture cannot be missed except by those blocked by God from seeing the truth. The following are some examples:
[3:79] Never would a human being whom GOD blessed with the scripture and prophethood say to the people, "Idolize me beside GOD." Instead, (he would say), "Devote yourselves absolutely to your Lord alone," according to the scripture you preach and the teachings you learn.
[6:89] Those were the ones to whom we have given the scripture, wisdom, and prophethood. If these people disbelieve, we will substitute others in their place, and the new people will not be disbelievers.
[29:27] We granted him Isaac and Jacob, we assigned to his descendants prophethood and the scriptures, we endowed him with his due recompense in this life, and in the Hereafter he will surely be with the righteous.
[45:16] We have given the Children of Israel the scripture, wisdom, and prophethood, and provided them with good provisions; we bestowed upon them more blessings than any other people.
[57:26] We sent Noah and Abraham, and we granted their descendants prophethood and the scripture. Some of them were guided, while many were wicked.
MESSENGER PROPHET and not, PROPHET MESSENGER:
The first example for messenger prophet comes from 7:157, and 7:158 where God described the Prophet Muhammed as, "the messenger the prophet" and not as "the prophet the messenger," not a coincidence, [God does not have coincidences]. The reason is that not every messenger is a prophet and therefore the word PROPHET is used to further define and clarify the description of that messenger.
[7:157] follow the messenger, the prophet (gentile prophet) (Muhammed), whom they find written in their Torah and Gospel . . .
[7:158] ..........therefore you shall believe in God and His messenger, the prophet (gentile prophet), who believes in God and His words. Follow him, that you may be guided.
MOSES, THE MESSENGER PROPHET:
In 19:51, Moses was described by God as a messenger prophet (Rasoulan Nabyya), and NOT as a prophet messenger (Nabyyan Rasoula).
ISMAIL, THE MESSENGER PROPHET
In 19:54, Ismail is described with the same words, 'Rasoulan Nabyyan'.
The reason is that, NOT every Rasoul (Messenger) is a Nabi (Prophet), BUT every Prophet (Nabi) is a Messenger (Rasoul), so God defined the word Rasoul by adding to it Nabyya. God does not make mistakes and He does not choose His words haphazard, it is meant to be in this order.
OTHER EXAMPLES are found in the Quran to clarify this description:
HUMAN BEING MESSENGER:
[17:93] Am I more than a human messenger (Basharan Rasoula)
Notice, " a human messenger" and NOT "a messenger human (Rasoulan Bashara)."
The reason is that not every Bashar (human) is a Rasoul (messenger) while every Rasoul (messenger) from among us is a Bashar (human).
17:94, has the same expression again, human messenger (Basharan Rasoula), not (Rasoulan Bashara)
[17:95] . . . we would have sent to them from the sky an angel messenger (Malakan Rasoula)
Notice, "an angle messenger" and NOT "a messenger angel (Rasoulan Malaka). The reason is that not every angel is a messenger but every messenger FROM God's soldiers is an angel.
In 19:41, God described Abraham as "a Siddiqan Nabyya (Saint Prophet)" and NOT as a Nabyyan Siddiqa, (Prophet Saint). The reason is that not every Siddiq (Saint ) is a prophet, while every prophet is a siddiq.
If God would say, Abraham was a Nabbyan Siddiqua (prophet saint), this would indicate that not every prophet is a saint while every saint is a prophet.
In 19:56, God described the prophet Idris the same way, as a Siddiquan Nabyya (Saint prophet).
NO WHERE in the whole Quran does God use these terms different. God never described a prophet as a prophet messenger ( Nabbyan Rasoula), or prophet saint (Nabyyan Siddiqua).
'MESSENGER NOR A PROPHET' :
Perhaps one of the strongest indications in the Quran that the words prophet and messenger do not have the same meaning, is found in the following verse:
[22:52] We did not send before you any MESSENGER NOR A PROPHET, without having the devil interfere in his wishes. GOD then nullifies what the devil has done. GOD perfects His revelations. GOD is Omniscient, Most Wise.
If the words prophet and messenger had the same meaning God would not be saying "MESSENGER NOR A PROPHET" ...... would He ? Had the two words had exactly the same meaning , then mentioning one of them would have been sufficient.
Quran is clear that EVERY PROPHET (NABI) IS A MESSENGER (RASOUL) BUT NOT EVERY MESSENGER IS A PROPHET.
Now that we have the definition of Prophet (Nabi) and Messenger (Rasoul) by God Almighty Himself, the Teacher of Quran, NO SCHOLAR's opinion can change that fact. We, however are FREE to side with God or side with the scholars. Generations before you did just that and were described by God in Quran in 9:31:
[9:31] They have set up their religious leaders and scholars as lords, instead of God . . .
This kind of idol-worship is leading only to one place, and it is not Heaven