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Quran has used two words Nabi (Prophets) and Rasool (Messenger) interchangeably but there are 6 differences between them as explained below.
- Nabi نبي = Prophet.
- Rasool رسول = Messenger.
Although it is not a major difference most of the Rasool came with a Sharia Law while Nabi followed and preached the Sharia of previous messengers.
There are some exceptions to this rule as well. Prophet Isa عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ was a Rasool but he continued to follow the sharia of Prophet Musa عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ.
Rasool v/s Nabi
Another difference is that every Rasool is a Nabi but not every Nabi is a Rasool. If you compare a Messenger v/s Prophet, Messenger has a greater grade than Nabi.
Prophethood by Birth
Another major difference is that a Nabi is a prophet by birth, while he becomes Rasool when he gets orders from Allah to preach Islam. For example, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was a Nabi by birth but became a Messenger at the age of 40.
Rasool is sent to a community
The major difference is that a Rasool is sent toward a particular community or Ummah while a Nabi just preaches to the people around him.
For example, Prophet Lut عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ was sent to a particular community to preach while Prophet Yousuf عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ continued preaching the people around him.
Non-followers of Rasool are cursed
Another major difference is that if a community or Ummah doesn’t follow the Rasool, Allah’s wrath is delivered to them while this is not the case with Prophets. For example, the people of Aad were destroyed by Allah when they refused to follow the Prophet Hud عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ.
If an Ummah or community does not listen to the message of a Rasool who has been specially sent towards them from Allah, it is against the dignity of the Almighty to spare non-believers.
A Rasool cannot be killed
Another major difference is that there has been no case reported in the history of mankind where a Rasool was killed by non-believers, but this is not the case with Nabi. There are several cases when Nabis were killed by non-believers.
The reason a Rasool was never killed by non-believers is that his death would be taken as the failure of Almighty (Astaghfirullah) as he is sent by Allah, especially to a particular community or Ummah.
How many Rasool are in Islam?
Although there is no authentic hadith quantifying the number of Prophets, it is commonly believed that there were as many as 124,000 Nabi in Islam out of which only 25 are written in the Holy Quran.
According to a Hadith, there are 313 Rasool or messengers in Islam out of which we know the names of only 16;
1- Prophet Adam عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ was sent down in 4004 BC and died in 3074 BC at the age of 930 years. He is buried in Makkah.
2- Prophet Sheeth عليه السلام was born in 3874 BC and died in 2902 BC at the age of 972 years. His grave is in Lebanon.
4- Prophet Noah عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ in mentioned 43 times in Quran. He was born in 2948 BC and died in 1998 BC at the age of 950 years. His grave is in Jordan.
5- Prophet Hud عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ was born in 2283 BC and died in 1819 BC at the age of 464 years.
6- Prophet Saleh عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ name is mentioned 9 times in the Quran. He was born in 2083 BC. His grave is in Oman.
8- Prophet Lut عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ was born in 1980 BC and died in 1805 BC at the age of 175 years.
10- Prophet Shoaib عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ was born in the 15th century BC. He is buried in Palestine.
11- Prophet Musa عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ – Maryam 19:51
13- Prophet Dawood عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ was blessed with Zaboor.
15- Prophet Isa عَلَيْهِ ٱلسَّلَامُ – As-Saf 61:6
16- Prophet Muhammad ﷺ – Al-Fath 48:29