Benefit: Definition of a Prophet
In the Name of Allāh, the Ever Merciful, the Bestower of Mercy
تنوير العقول في الفرق بين النبي والرسول
Tanweerul-‘Uqool Fil-Farq Baynan-Nabī wal-Rasūl
(Enlightenment for the Mind in Explanation of:
The Difference between a Prophet and a Messenger)
Author: Shaykh Muḥammad al-Imām
We ask Allāh to make its completion possible.
Definition of an-Nabī النبي in the Language and Its Usage
The essence of the definitions from the scholars of the language for the term ‘an-Nabī’ can be summed up in three different sayings:
1. The meaning of it is: the one who brings information about Allāh and conveys His legislation, either being urged to do so (by Allāh) or without being urged. And this definition is the preference of most of the scholars of the language.1
2. That it is derived from the word: “النبو Al-Nubuw”” to be far off, distant. And it is الارتفاع al-Irtafāʿ (elevation). And an-Nabī with this definition means: The one who is favoured over the rest of the people with the raising of his rank. So he is elevated above the creation and his status is raised amongst them. And upon this definition some of the people of knowledge are united.2
3. Its meaning is: الطريق al-Ṭarīq (path or way) and he is called an-Nabī because he is the way to guidance.
These three definitions are (all correct). For verily, the Prophets are chosen (by Allāh) with Waḥi (revelation) from Allāh to convey His legislation and to follow it.
1 "Lisān al-ʿArab" 1/162, "Mukhtār al-Ṣiḥāḥ" page 642, "Muʿjam Muqāyīs al-Lughah" 5/385, "Al-Nihāyah" 5/3-4
2 "Lisān al-ʿArab” 15/302, "Muʿjam Muqāyīs al-Lughah" 5/385, "Ishtiqaaq-ul-Asmāʾ” by al-Zujājī, page 294