Rasūl — messenger (sent by the Divine), envoy, emissary, mouthpiece; special type of prophet or angel
The Arabic verb arsala literally means ‘to send’. Thus, Rusul are emissaries or envoys, whom Allāh has sent out or dispatched on a special mission, a noble task.
For example, the prophet Muḥammad ﷺ was normally called Rasūl Allāh, i.e. Allāh’s messenger, by the people who knew him.
Prophet who is initially rejected
According to Ḥadīth literature, Allāh sent about 124,000 prophets, but of those only 310 or so were messengers. The difference is that Allāh sends the Rasūl to a nation that doesn’t believe in him. Rasuls are more rare than Nabi. One Ḥadīth mentions that Allāh has sent slightly over 310 Rasuls. rasul is sent to nation that doesnt believe in him, has to prove his prophethood. word: to send. to a nation to nation that doesnt believe in him. he has to establish. to a disbelieving nation. doesn't accept him. sends them for tawhid.
Known human messengers
The Qurʾān mentions
- Nūḥ — Noah, sent to Noah’s people
- Yūnus — Jonah, sent to Nineveh
- Hūd — sent to people of ʿĀd
- Shuʿayb — Jethro, sent to Midian
- Ṣāliḥ — sent to people of Thamūd
- Ilyās — Elijah, messenger to the Baʿl worshippers
- Lūṭ — Lot, messenger to Sodom and Gomorrah
- Ibrahim (إبراهيم)
- Ishmael (إسماعيل)
- Jesus (عيسى)
- Muhammad (محمد)
- Musa (موسى)
- Shuayb (شعيب)
- Yunus (يونس)
Messengers sent to other civilizations
Qurʾān also admits there were other messengers whose names Allāh did not reveal to Muḥammad ﷺ.
- And for every Ummah (a community or a nation), there is a Messenger; when their Messenger comes, the matter will be judged between them with justice, and they will not be wronged. (Qur'an 10:47)
- And verily, We have sent among every Ummah (community, nation) a Messenger (proclaiming): "Worship Allah (Alone), and avoid (or keep away from) Taghut (all false deities, etc. i.e., do not worship Taghut besides Allah)." Thenof them were some whom Allah guided and of them were some upon whom the straying was justified. So travel through the land and see what was the endof those who denied (the truth). (Qur'an 16:36)
- And, indeed We have sent Messengers before you (O Muhammad(P)); of some of them We have related to you their story and of some We have not related to you their story, and it was not given to any Messenger that he should bring a sign except by the Leave of Allah. So, when comes the Commandment of Allah, the matter will be decided with truth, and the followers of falsehoodwill then be lost. (Qur'an 40:78)
"God's prophets, then, are humans divinely chosen but most often rejected by their people. Prophets must suffer and persevere until a community forms under their leadership that accepts prophetic authority and message and, in the end, defeats the rejectors. "
Every Rasūl is automatically a Nabī.
First Rasūl was Nuh.
Generally speaking, a Rasūl receives a new divine code or holy book (revelation) from Allāh. A Nabī continues propagating and establishing the divinely received way of life from the previous Prophet, which has been passed on to him.
A Rasūl is given a new Shariah by Allah, whilst a Nabi upholds the Shariah of a previous Rasool.
No distinction between messengers
(Qurʾān 2:285, trans. by Abdel Haleem)