The difference between a Messenger and a Prophet?

There are similarities and differences between messengers (rusul) and prophets (anbiyaa): They were all men. They were all trustworthy and honest. They all had the same mission: to spread the concept of tawheed. They all carried out their missions successfully.

The differences between messengers and prophets are that messengers were sent with new laws that everyone had to follow. The new laws cancelled out some or all of the previous laws of the other messengers. In addition, Allah sent down a Divine Book to each of His messengers:

We have already sent Our Messengers with clear evidences and sent down with them the Scriptures…

(Soorat al-Hadeed : 25)

Therefore, things that were forbidden for one messenger may have been allowed for another and vice versa. The reason for this was the wisdom and mercy of Allah. Although it is good to explore Allah’s wisdom, it is incorrect to question the reasons behind Allah’s actions. Muslims accept, reject, love or dislike, just as Allah orders them to do.

All the prophets followed the teachings of the messengers that came before them. They did not come with new legislation, but they were sent to support the laws of the previous messengers.

It is important to know that all the messengers were prophets, but not all the prophets were messengers.

All prophets and messengers received revelation from Allah, and all had the basic message of inviting people to worship Allah alone:

And We certainly sent into every nation a Messenger, (saying), “Worship Allah and avoid taaghoot.”

(Soorat an-Nahl : 36)

The exact number of prophets and messengers that were sent by Allah is unknown. However, it is known that Allah sent many more of them than we may be aware of. Aadam was the first prophet, and Nooh was the first messenger sent by Allah.

Muslims Believe in All the Messengers and Prophets of Allah

Allah sent Messengers and Prophets to call people to worship Him alone. He chose these men to carry out this important mission because they were fully capable of doing so. It was through the wisdom of Allah that He chose these men, guided them and blessed them with Prophethood.

All Prophets and Messengers carried out their duty devotedly and were successful in what they did. Some Prophets did not have any followers, but this does not mean that they failed. They were successful because they fulfilled their mission in calling people to Tawheed.

There are many verses in the Qur’aan where Allah mentions that He chose certain men to become Messengers and Prophets:

And that was Our (conclusive) argument which We gave Ibraaheem against his people. And We gave him Is-haaq and Ya’qoob – all (of them) We guided. And Nooh, We guided before; and among his descendants, Daawood and Sulaimaan and Ayyoob and Yoosuf and Moosaa and Haaroon. And Zakariyyah and Yahyaa and ‘Eesaa and Ilyaas – and all were of the righteous. And Ismaa’eel and Al-Yasa’ and Yoonus and Loot – and all (of them) We preferred over the ‘Aalameen. And (some) among their fathers and their descendants and their brothers – and We chose them and We guided them to a Straight Path.

(Soorat al-An’aam:83-87)

Muslims believe in all of the Messengers and Prophets of Allah and make no distinction between them:

The Messenger has believed in what was revealed to him from his Rabb, and (so have) the believers. All of them have believed in Allah and His angels and His books and His messengers, (saying), “We make no distinction between any of His Messengers”.

(Soorat al-Baqarah:285)

Muslims believe that the Messengers and Prophets were human beings chosen by Allah, and that the Messengers are neither gods, demigods nor the children of Allah. Belief in the Messengers means believing that they conveyed the message of Allah perfectly. Believing in the Messengers and Prophets of Allah is a pillar of Iman and denying that any Messenger or Prophet existed means to deny this pillar of Iman. an outright denial of any of the pillars of Iman puts a person outside the fold of Islam.

Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the Last Messenger of Allah

Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the last messenger of Allah; after him there will be no other Messenger or Prophet.

“Muhammad is not the father of [any] one of your men, but [he is] the Messenger of Allah and seal [i.e., last] of the prophets”.

(Soorat al-Ahzaab: 40)

This verse is proof that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the last of the Prophets and that his message is the final revelation of Allah to humankind. This verse is supported by many ahaadeeth of the Prophet (peace be upon him), of which the following is an example:

Aboo Hurayrah narrated that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “My comparison with the other Prophets before me, is that of a man who has built a house nicely and beautifully, except for a place of one brick in a corner. The people go around it and wonder at its beauty, but say: ‘Would you not put in that brick?’ So I am that brick, and I am the last of the Prophets.”

(Al-Bukhaari and Muslim)

Allah chose Muhammad (peace be upon him) from all humankind, including the prophets and messengers, to be His last prophet. This important position makes Muhammad (peace be upon him) the best of all prophets. Being the final and best of them meant that he (peace be upon him) had special qualities and important duties, which other prophets did not have.

As the final messenger of Allah, Muhammad (peace be upon him) had the honor of being the one to complete the mission with which Allah sent all the previous prophets. Each of the messengers contributed towards this task, but Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the one to complete the mission and to perfect it in every way.

This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favor upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion.

(Soorat al-Maa’idah: 3)

Muhammad (peace be upon him) had the honorable task of conveying the final message, Islam, to all of humanity. Allah sent each of the previous messengers to a particular people, but Muhammad was sent as the final messenger to all of humankind.

Say, [ Muhammad ], ” humankind, indeed I am the Messenger of Allah to you all, [from Him] to whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth.

( Soorat al-A’raaf : 158 )

The Messenger of Allah has said that Allah blessed him with six qualities one of which is that he was sent to all humankind and that he was the last of the prophets.

prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) fulfilled all the duties that Allah has charged him with in the best possible manner. There will be no messenger after him. The responsibility of conveying Allah’s message now rests on the shoulders of his followers.

Why Did Allah Send the Prophets and Messengers?

Allah chose men from among His creation as Prophets and Messengers to give glad tidings and warnings. They reminded the people about Allah’s Oneness and warned them against worshipping others besides Allah. Prophets and Messengers were sent to their people however the Prophet Muhammad was sent as a Prophet and Messenger to mankind. All were sent to call the people to Tawheed and warn them against shirk.

Indeed, Allah does not forgive association with Him…

(Soorat An-Nisaa: 48)

The consequence of this was also highlighted in many ahaadeeth, for example:

Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said, “Whoever dies while worshipping others besides Allah will enter Hellfire .”


The matter of tawheed and shirk is very important, as it determines one’s Afterlife: an everlasting life in Paradise or in Hell. Allah created all people. He will only accept Islam from them. However, Allah did not leave the people to discover tawheed on their own. He did not create people and expect them to automatically worship Him without teaching them first. Therefore, the Merciful Allah sent special people to teach everyone about tawheed. These people were His messengers and prophets. They invited the people to Islam and showed them the correct way to worship Allah. Allah sent either a messenger or prophet to every nation. All the messengers and prophets called to tawheed:

And We certainly sent into every nation a Messenger, (saying), “Worship Allah and avoid taaghoot.”

(Soorat an-Nahl :36)

This is the main reason why Allah sent messengers and prophets. They were sent to guide all people to the truth.Their mission was to call people to worship Allah alone and to avoid all forms of shirk and innovated forms of worship. They were successful in their tasks and were truthful in everything they did. They called people to tawheed and told them about the great reward of worshipping Allah alone. The prophets and messengers also warned people against shirk and informed them of its dangerous consequences. From the teachings of the prophets and the messengers, it is known that those who worship Allah alone will enter Paradise and those who die committing shirk will go to the Hellfire. This was the basic message of all the prophets and messengers. The Merciful Allah sent these great people to spread the word of tawheed.







ICO’s Publications – Islamic Studies curriculum – Grade 6/ Part1