Prophet vs Messenger
One issue that often creeps up between people trying to explain Quran, the holy book of the Muslims, is the issue of difference between Prophet and Messenger. It is a fact that God knows better than all of us as He is the one who designed these prophets and messengers to play important roles in spreading the religion of Islam around the world. Though there are clear definitions of both prophets and messengers, there is a lot of confusion among people, especially those who are not followers of Islam. In fact, there are many who use the terms prophet and messenger interchangeably. Let us take a closer look.
Prophet is considered to be the chosen one, a man to whom God makes revelations in the form of scriptures. The divine laws contained in scriptures are communicated to prophets by God and sent to serve the mankind. These prophets are chosen by God, to be saviors of mankind as they are required to reveal the truths and warnings contained in these scriptures to their people. Prophets are referred to as Nabis in Holy Quran. There are in total 25 prophets in Islam, and many of them have been messengers, as well. However, the main criterion to be a prophet is to be chosen by God, to be a recipient of scriptures and wisdom. Prophet is the individual to whom God reveals scriptures in his dreams. As such there is a direct communication between God and a prophet.
Messenger is referred to as Rasool in Holy Quran and is the chosen one to whom God reveals scriptures and commands him to convey these scriptures to the disbelievers. By the name itself, a messenger is one who has to convey the message of Islam as revealed by God to him. Some of the prominent messengers in Islam are Muhammad, Jesus, and Moses. These are people who have been described as chosen ones who have received scriptures from God and are supposed to carry forward these revelations in the form of a Deen or a religion. Angels appear in person and reveal scriptures to messengers who are required to spread the message among the non-believers.
What is the difference between Prophet and Messenger?
• There are many more prophets than messengers in Islam.
• While Prophets are chosen ones receiving revelations from God, messengers are ones chose by God, to carry these scriptures among non-believers.
• Jacob, Ismail, Solomon, and David are considered prophets whereas Muhammad, Jesus, and Moses are considered as messengers.
• Messengers are called Rasool whereas prophets are called Nabis in Holy Quran.
• There are some who interpret Prophets as chosen ones who receive revelations in their dreams from God.
• God communicates directly with the prophets through their dreams whereas angels appear in front of messengers, to reveal divine laws.
• There are many prophets who have performed the additional role of messenger.
• All messengers are not prophets while all prophets are also not messengers.
• If a prophet is commanded to spread the revelations, he is also a messenger.
A prophet remains nabi if he is not commanded by God to spread scriptures among the people.