One May Wonder What is the difference between terminology Rasul and Nabi, following is the important information to understand the difference of these two great positions :
The Quran has used both the words, Nabi and Rasul, which shows that there were two kinds of messengers.
1. Some of the messengers were Nabi only.
2. Some messengers were both Nabi and Rasool.
The difference between Rasul and Nabi is that,
1. A Rasul was a messenger of Allah who was given a new Shariat (codes of law) from Him. And a Nabi was also the messenger of Allah, but he was not given any new Shariat and followed the shariat of earlier Rasul. Sheikh Mufid, a great scholar of Islam writes in his book, Awa’il al-Maqalat, “every messenger is a prophet [Nabi], but not every Prophet is a Rasul [Apostle]. All Rasules were Nabi but all Nabis were not Rasuls.
2. A Prophet is always a Nabi by birth, but a prophet become Rasul when he officially receives the post and declares it. For example, our Prophet Muhammad (sws) was Nabi by birth, but became Rasul when he officially got and delivered the message of Risalat at the age of 40.
3. The Rasul [Apostle] receives the message from Allah Taala in many different manners such as, vision during sleep, direct communication with angels when he is awake. i.e., he can see and speak to the angels during communication of Divine message. But the Nabi [prophet] differs from the Rasul in that he does not see the angels when awake but sees during sleep.
4. The Rasul is higher in rank than a Nabi.
Out of 25 Prophets mentioned in the Holy Quran, or among 124000 Nabis, Five were Rasul, and are called Ulu l-azm prophets, meaning those who possess a quality of determination and firmness.
The five Rasuls and Ulul-azm Prophets are:
1 – Hazrat Nooh (as)
2 – Hazrat Ibrahim (as)
3 – Hazrat Musa (as)
4 – Hazrat Isa (as)
5 – Hazrat Muhammad (sws)
Prophet Nooh(as) was given a Shari’ah which was followed by other prophets up to the time of Hazrat Ibrahim(as).
Prophet Ibrahim(as) was given a Shari’ah which remained in force up to the time of Hazrat Musa. i.e., Hazrat Yaqub, Hazrat Lut, Hazrat Yousuf (as) etc. followed the Shariat of Ibrahim.
Prophet Musa(as) was given a new Shari’ah which was followed by all the prophets of Bani Israel until the time of Hazrat Isa (as).
Prophet Isa (as) was given a new Shariat which remained in force upto the time of the Holy Prophet.
Prophet Muhammad (sws) was given the last and the most perfect Shariat which will remain in force up to the last working day of the world.
The Shariat -e- Muhammadi can never be changed as Prophet Muhammed (sws) is the last prophet and no prophet will come after him. Our Prophet, Hazrat Muhammad (sws) has the highest position and rank among all the Prophets.