Question: Some people, in order to represent their masters as rasūls, say, A prophet to whom a Book was sent is called a nabī (prophet), while a prophet to whom no Book was sent is called a rasūl (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 Qurān! and interpreting the āyāt (Quranic verses) according to their own minds, they show no regard for the explanations given by the Messenger of Allah. They consider all ahādīth to be made-up.
A prophet to whom a Book was sent is called a rasūl. A nabī, on the other hand, is a prophet who disseminated the religion of the rasūl coming before him. A prophet who did not bring a new religion but invited people to the previous religion is called a nabī. Every rasūl is a nabī at the same time, yet every nabī is not a rasūl. Payghambar is a Persian word which is used in the meaning of rasūl or nabī. Our master the Prophet is referred to as a Rasūl, and sometimes as a Nabī, in many places of the Qurān al-karīm. His being referred to as a nabī does not prevent him from being a rasūl. That is, calling a rasūl a nabī does not mean that he is not a rasūl. It is similar to sometimes calling the chief of the general staff a general, a senior military officer, or a soldier.
In the communication (tablīgh) of commands and in calling the people to Allahu taālās religion, there is no difference between a rasūl and a nabī. The 27th verse of Ankabūt Sūra purports, We gave him [Ibrāhīm] Ishāq and Yaqūb [after Ismāīl] as well. We bestowed on his descendants prophethood [being a nabī] and the Books [the Tawrāt, the Injīl, the Zabūr, the Qurān]. According to this verse, as prophethood [being a nabī] was bestowed upon the descendants of Ibrāhīm alaihis-salām, so there were also rasūls among his descendants who were given Books. (Baydāwī, Madārik, Jalālayn)
Let us give examples of rasūls with a Holy Book. Hadrat Mūsā (Moses) was a rasūl. The purport of some Quranic verses is as follows:
(Mūsā said, O Pharaoh! Undoubtedly, I am a rasūl sent by the Rabb of the worlds.) [Sūrat-ul-Arāf, 104]
(Even this verse alone suffices to show up their lies. The Tawrāt was descended to Hadrat Mūsā; that is, a Book was sent to him. For this reason, he is called a rasūl. As a Book was revealed to our master the Prophet as well, many verses mention him as a rasūl. The word rasūl appears a lot more because when the word rasūl is used, it also includes the word nabī in itself. In the same way, the word rasūl appears in the Kalama-i shahādat. If being a nabī were higher in rank, then that word would have been used.)
(We sent Mūsā with Our miracles to Pharaoh and his establishment. Mūsā said, I am the Rasūl of the Rabb of the worlds.) [Sūrat-uz-Zukhruf, 46] (He explicitly states in this verse that Hadrat Mūsā was a rasūl.)
Hadrat Mūsā, like our master the Prophet, was both a rasūl and a nabī. The purport of the following verse declares:
(Remember Mūsā in the Book. Certainly, he was a servant with ikhlās, and he was a nabī, a rasūl.) [Sūrat-u Maryam, 51]
Hadrat Īsā (Jesus), too, was a rasūl with a Book. The purport of a verse is as follows:
(The Messiah [Īsā], son of Maryam, is only a rasūl.) [Sūrat-ul-Māida, 75]
(Because of their saying, We killed Īsā, son of Maryam, Allahs Rasūl, We cursed them [the Jews] and expelled them from Our compassion.) [Sūrat-un-Nisā, 157]
Mūsā alaihis-salām, a rasūl with a Book, desired that Hārūn (Aaron), his brother, should be his vizier, that is, his helper.
An āyah purports as follows:
(O my Rabb! From my family, appoint Hārūn, my brother, to be my helper. Support me with him, and make him a partner in my task.) [Sūrat-u Tāhā, 29-32]
Accepting his (this) prayer, Allahu taālā declares:
(Allah said, O Mūsā! You have been given what you asked.) [Sūrat-u Tāhā, 36]
(We gave Mūsā the Book, and We appointed Hārūn, his brother, to be his helper.) [Sūrat-ul-Furqān, 35]
It was Hadrat Mūsā who was given a Book and who was a rasūl. Hadrat Hārūn, on the other hand, was his vizier, that is, his helper. Could his helper be higher than he? When Hadrat Mūsā was a rasūl, Hadrat Hārūn was appointed as a nabī. The purport of a verse is as follows:
(Out of Our mercy, We granted him his brother Hārūn as a nabī.) [Sūrat-u Maryam, 53]
Hadrat Hārūn was a nabī, who disseminated the religion brought by Mūsā alaihis-salām, that is, the Musawī religion (true religion of Hadrat Mūsā).
(When Zakariyya was performing salāt in the mihrab, the angels called out to him saying, Allah gives you good news of Yahyā [John], who is a confirmer of Kalimullah [Jesus], who is a chief [leader of his tribe], who controls his nafs, and who is a nabī from among the pious.) [Sūrat-u Āl-i Imrān, 39] (The fact that Hadrat Īsā was a rasūl with a Book has been made known with the verses above. Hadrat Yahyā was a nabī, who spread the religion brought by Hadrat Īsā, that is, the Isawī religion [true religion of Hadrat Īsā].)
As it is seen clearly from these examples, a prophet to whom a Book was given is called a rasūl. A prophet who spread the religion brought by a rasūl is called a nabī. Every rasūl is a nabī at the same time. No nabī will succeed our master the Prophet. As a matter of fact, an āyah purports as follows:
(He is the Rasūl of Allah and the last of the nabīs.) [Sūrat-ul-Ahzāb, 40]
Since no nabī will succeed him, a rasūl never succeeds him because the rank of being a rasūl is more special and higher than the rank of being a nabī. Having cited these Quranic verses, now let us list the pertinent ahādīth:
(Nubuwwa [prophethood] and risāla [messengership] ended. No nabī or rasūl will succeed me.) [Tirmudhī]
(The coming of nabīs ended with me.) [Muslim]
(The first of the rasūls is Ādam and the last is Muhammad.) [Hakim, Tabarānī]
(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 nabī]. I am the final of them all and the first of intercessors.) [Dārimī]
(My status in comparison with the other nabīs 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 nabīs.) [Bukharī, Muslim]
(O Alī! Whatever Hārūn was in relation to Mūsā, you are the same in relation to me. But no nabī will come after me.) [Bukhārī, Muslim, Tirmudhī, Ibn Māja, Imam-i Ahmad, Tabarānī]
Our master the Prophet is not only the rasūl of his time and of Arabia but also the rasūl of all people that will exist up until the end of the world and of the whole world. An āyah 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.) [Sūrat-u Saba, 28]
A hadīth-i sharīf purports: (I have been sent to all humankind.) [Muslim]
(We have sent you a rasūl from among you, who will recite Our āyāt 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.) [Sūrat-ul-Baqara, 151]
(This verse, too, proves that a Book was sent to a rasūl, not a nabī.)
After proclaiming that the Messenger of Allah is the last nabī, the Qurān al-karīm 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.) [Sūrat-ul-Māida, 3]
Now that Allahu taālā has completed His religion by sending His last nabī and rasūl and now that there is no deficiency left in the religion, looking for another religion and prophet means denying the Qurān al-karīm.
The 164th verse of Nisā Sūra, which purports, We also sent rasūls whose parables We have not related to you, demonstrates that the number of rasūls has not been stated in the Qurān al-karīm. It is declared in a hadīth-i sharīf:
(There are 124 000 nabīs and 313 rasūls.) [Hakim]
This hadīth-i sharīf shows that rasūls, who brought Books, is fewer than nabīs in number. The reason why nabīs are more in number is that they promulgated the religions of rasūls.