Quran is around us for more than 1400 years but it is unfortunate that the terms ‘prophet’ and ‘messenger’ are not clear to many of us. However, the Arabic counterpart of ‘messenger’ is “Rasuul” and that of ‘prophet’ is “Nabiy” while there are 331 instances of ‘messenger’ and 75 instances of ‘prophet’ in the Quran. According to the traditional Muslim scholars, the definition of these two terms are opposite as found in the Quran, i.e., the messengers are chosen to deliver the scripture but the prophets are not and the messengers are given higher status than the prophets. While according to definition of these two terms given by the Ahmadiyya Muslim scholars is synonym, i.e., there is no difference between these two terms. However, our inquiry into the Quran can give us the correct answer like other matters, which is the most authentic source to know the truth from God disregarding how many scholars agree or disagree with it.
Definition of prophet from the knowledge base
The definition of a prophet in a broader sense, is an individual who is claimed to have been contacted by the supernatural or the divine to serve as an intermediary with humanity to deliver the new knowledge from the supernatural entity to other people. The message that the prophet conveys is called a prophecy. A prophet is basically a person chosen by God to speak to people on behalf of God and convey a divine message or teaching.
Definition of ‘prophet’ from the Quran
The terms ‘scripture’ and ‘prophethood’, and often ‘wisdom’ are associated with ‘prophets’ in the Quran, which are clues to derive the definition of ‘prophet’ from the Quran making it different from ‘messenger’. Hence, some people who are inspired by God to deliver the scripture to their communities are prophets while some people who are inspired by Him to perform certain duty to their communities are messengers. Thus, by definition, both prophets and messengers deliver God’s message to their communities but the messengers who deliver the scripture, are referred to prophets while the messengers who deliver God’s message as well but not the scripture are referred to messengers. However, the difference between ‘prophet’ and ‘messenger’ is very clear in the Quran while these two terms are not synonym, and all these matters can be confirmed from reviewing the following verses of the Quran:
[2:213] The people has been one community as God has raised up the prophets as bearers of good news and warners, and He has sent down with them the scripture with the truth that it may judge between the people in what they have differed in it. And has not differed in it except those who have been given it after what has come to them the clear proofs due to jealousy between themselves. Then God has guided those who have believed that which they have differed in it of the truth with His permission. And God guides whomever He wills to a straight path.
Note: The definition of ‘prophet’ is very straightforward in the verse. Prophets are those who have been given the scripture, which is used to judge any disputes among people who have believed while they are bearers of good news and warners as well.
[6:89] Those were the ones whom we have given them the scripture, and the wisdom, and the prophethood. Then if anyone of these would disbelieve in them, then certainly, we would have entrusted with them to a people who had not been disbelievers in them.
[19:30] He (Jesus) said: “I am a servant of God. He has given me the scripture and has made me a prophet.”
[29:27] And we granted him (Abraham) Isaac and Jacob, and we gave his descendants the prophethood and the scripture, and we gave him his reward in this world. And indeed, in the Hereafter he is surely, among the righteous.
[57:26] And we sent Noah and Abraham, and we granted their descendants prophethood and the scripture. Some of them were guided while many were wicked.
Note: The above verses have also confirmed the association of the scripture and prophethood to the prophet.
[3:81] And when God has taken a covenant of the prophets: “Surely, whatever I have given you of scripture and wisdom, then has come to you a messenger confirming that which is with yourselves. You must believe in him and must support him.” He said: “Have you affirmed and taken My covenant on that?” They said: “We have affirmed.” He said: “Then you shall bear witness, and I am with you among the witnesses.”
Note: The definition of ‘messenger’ is also straightforward in the verse as the duty of the messenger assigned is to confirm the delivery of all the scripture without associating the scripture, which was the future event at the time of revelation of the Quran.
[22:52] And we have not sent before yourself (Muhammad) any messenger (min rasuulin) nor a prophet (wa-laa-nabiyyin), except that when he has recited the devil has cast in his recitation, while God nullifies what the devil casts. Then God establishes His revelations, and God is Knower, Wise.
Note: The verse explains that the terms ‘prophet’ and ‘messenger’ are not synonym as defined by the Ahmadiyya Muslim scholars.
Prophets mentioned by name in the Quran
There are many names mentioned in the Quran while some names are repeatedly mentioned in the different contexts. However, the names which are associated with the scripture and prophethood are detailed out below to derive the names of those who were given the scripture are prophets according to the definition established by the above mentioned verses as well as to determine the number of scripture sent down to humanity:
[2:136] Say: “We believe in God and what was sent down to us and what was sent down to Abraham, and Ismail, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the patriarchs, and what was given to Moses and Jesus, and what was given to the prophets from their Lord; we do not make a distinction between any of them and to Him we are submitters.”
Note: The prophets mentioned by their names are: (1) Abraham, (2) Ismail, (3) Isaac, (4) Jacob, (5) Moses and (6) Jesus while the commandment for us not to make a distinction between any of them.
[3:39] The angels called him (Zachariah) while he was praying in the temple: “God gives you a good news of John, confirming with a word of God, and a honorable and ethical and a prophet from the righteous.”
Note: The prophet mentioned by his name in the above verse is John.
[3:68] Surely, the close relationship of people with Abraham are those who followed him and this prophet, and those who have believed. And God is Protector of the believers.
Note: The prophet mentioned by his name in the above verse is Abraham.
[3:84] Say: “We believe in God and what was sent down to us and what was sent down to Abraham, and Ismail, and Isaac, and Jacob, and the patriarchs, and what was given to Moses and Jesus, and what was given to the prophets from their Lord; we do not make a distinction between any of them and to Him we are submitters.”
Note: The prophets mentioned by their names are: (1) Abraham, (2) Ismail, (3) Isaac, (4) Jacob, (5) Moses and (6) Jesus while the commandment for us not to make a distinction between any of them.
[4:163] Indeed, we have revealed to you (Muhammad) as we revealed to Noah and the prophets after him. And we revealed to Abraham, Ismail, Isaac, Jacob, the patriarchs, Jesus, Job, Jonah, Aaron, and Solomon. And we gave David the Psalms.
Note: The prophets mentioned by their names are: (1) Noah, and after Noah: (2) Abraham, (3) Ismail, (4) Isaac, (5) Jacob, (6) Jesus, (7) Job, (8) Jonah, (9) Aaron, (10) Solomon and (11) David.
[6:83] Such was our argument which we gave to Abraham against his people. We raise to higher rank whomever we will. Your Lord is Most Wise, Omniscient.
[6:84] We granted him Isaac and Jacob, both of them we guided, and Noah we guided from before and of his descendants: David, Solomon, Job, Joseph, Moses, and Aaron. Thus, we reward the righteous.
[6:85] And Zachariah, John, Jesus, and Elias; all were righteous.
[6:86] And Ismail, Elisha, Jonah, and Lot, and all we preferred over all the people.
[6:89] Those were the ones to whom we have given the scripture, wisdom, and prophethood. If these people disbelieve in it, then we will entrust it to a people with it who will not disbelieve in it.
Note: (1) Abraham, (2) Isaac, (3) Jacob, (4) Noah, (5) David, (6) Solomon, (7) Job, (8) Joseph, (9) Moses, (10) Aaron, (11) Zachariah, (12) John, (13) Jesus, (14) Elias, (15) Ismail, (16) Elisha, (17) Jonah and (18) Lot mentioned in the above verses (6:83-86) are confirmed as prophets by their names in the verse (6:89) associating them with the scripture, wisdom and prophethood.
[7:157] “Those who follow the gentile messenger prophet (Muhammad) whom they find written for them in the Torah and the Gospel; he enjoins them to the right, and prevents them from the evil, and he makes lawful for them the good things, and forbids the bad things for them, and he removes their burden on them and the shackles that are upon them. So, those who believe in him, and honor him, and support him, and follow the light that was sent down with him; these are the successful ones.”
[7:158] Say: “O people, I am a messenger of God to you all, the One to whom is the sovereignty of heavens and the earth. There is no other god beside He, He gives life and causes death.” So you shall believe in God and His gentile messenger prophet, who believes in God and His words, and follow him so that you may be guided.
Note: The prophet mentioned in the above verses is Muhammad but not by his name while he has been designated as the gentile messenger prophet, which confirms that any part of the Quran was not copied from the previous scripture as he had no knowledge of the previous scripture. But what we see now that the critics of the Quran accused him of some content of sura 19 to be copied from the previous scripture as an evidence to call him a false prophet.
[17:55] And your Lord is Knower of whoever is in the heavens and the earth. And certainly, we have preferred one of the prophets over other, and we have given Psalms to David.
Note: God has given scripture to every prophet and every scripture is different from the other, and David is a prophet mentioned by name, who has been given Psalms.
[19:30] He said: “I am a servant of God. He has given me the scripture and He made me a prophet.”
[19:34] That was Jesus, the son of Mary, and this is the truth of the matter in which they doubt.
Note: The statement made by the infant to be a prophet in the verse (19:30) is Jesus who has been mentioned by his name in the verse (19:34) to confirm him to be a prophet.
[19:41] And mention in the scripture Abraham. Indeed, he was a saint prophet.
[19:49] So when he (Abraham) left them and what they worshipped other than God, we bestowed upon him Isaac and Jacob, and we made each a prophet.
[19:51] And mention in the scripture Moses. Indeed, he was chosen and he was a messenger prophet.
[19:53] And we bestowed to him (Moses) from our mercy, his brother Aaron as a prophet.
[19:54] And mention in the scripture Ismail. Indeed, he was truthful to the promise, and he was a messenger prophet.
[19:56] And mention in the scripture Idris. Indeed, he was a saint prophet.
Note: The prophets mentioned by their names in the above verses are: (1) Jesus, (2) Abraham, (3) Isaac, (4) Jacob, (5) Aaron, (6) Ismail and (7) Idris.
[19:58] Those are the ones whom God has bestowed favor upon them of the prophets from the descendants of Adam, and of those whom we carried with Noah, and from the descendants of Abraham and Israel, and of those whom we guided and we chose. When the revelations of the Most Merciful were recited to them, they fell prostrating and weeping.
Note: The prophets mentioned by their names in the above verses were chosen from the descendants of Adam and of those who were carried with Noah as well as from the descendants of Abraham and Isaac.
[33:7] And when we took from the prophets their covenant, and from you (Muhammad), and from Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus the son of Mary. And we took from them a solemn covenant.
Note: The prophets mentioned by their names are: Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus including Muhammad as prophet but not by his name.
[33:40] Muhammad has not been a father of anyone of your men but has had a messenger of God and a seal of the prophets. And God has done being Knower of everything.
Note: The prophet mentioned by his name is Muhammad who has been given a messenger of God and a seal of the prophet while the message in the verse extends to: (1) the response for Muhammad’s contemporaries who made fun of him not to have a son, (2) Quran is the final edition of God’s scripture, (3) the prophethood ended with the revelation of the Quran, (4) Muhammad has been neither the last prophet nor the last messenger and (5) he was a messenger prophet and the message given is also a messenger.
[37:112] And we gave him (Abraham) good news of Isaac, a prophet from the righteous.
Note: The prophet mentioned by his name is Isaac from the righteous.
[21:48] And we gave Moses and Aaron the statute book, a light, and a reminder for the righteous.
Note: The prophets mentioned by their names are: Moses and Aaron referring to the scripture but highlighting as the statute book, a light and a reminder, which does not confirm that they have been given the same scripture.
[37:114] And indeed, we bestowed favor on Moses and Aaron.
[37:117] And we gave both of them the clear scripture.
Note: The above two verses together contributes to the fact that the same scripture was given to both Moses and Aaron mentioned by their names.
The term ‘scripture’ is consistently associated with ‘prophets’ in the Quran, and if we count the number of prophets named in the above verses of the Quran, we find a total of 20 prophets mentioned by name referring to Muhammad to be the gentile messenger prophet, who has delivered the final edition of the scripture while Moses and Aaron were given the same scripture:
1. Enoch (19:56), 2. Noah (4:163, 6:84, 33:7), 3. Abraham (2:136, 3:84, 4:163, 6:83, 19:41, 33:7), 4. Ismail (2:136, 3:84, 4:63, 6:86, 19:54), 5. Isaac (2:136, 3:84, 4:163, 6:84, 19:49, 37:112), 6. Lot (6:86), 7. Jacob (2:136, 3:84, 4:163, 6:84, 19:49), 8. Joseph (6:84), 9. Job (4:163, 6:84), 10. Moses (2:136, 3:84, 6:84, 19:51, 33:7), 11. Aaron (4:163, 6:84, 19:53), 12. David (4:163, 6:84, 17:55), 13. Solomon (4:163, 6:84), 14. Elias (6:85), 15. Elisha (6:86), 16. Jonah (4:163, 6:86), 17. Zachariah (6:85), 18. John (3:39, 6:85), 19. Jesus (2:136, 3:84, 4:163, 6:84, 19:30, 19:34, 33:7), 20. Muhammad (33:40, 7:157, 7:158).
The names of 20 prophets are derived from 27 verses of 10 suras of the Quran. If the relevant sura and verse numbers are added, the total is a multiple of 19 =>2242 = 19x118 (see details in the table below):
Note: This mathematical confirmation is an explicit proof that God has sent 20 prophets and He sent down the Quran, the 19th and the final edition of the scripture to humanity to guide it until the end of the world through Muhammad, the gentile messenger prophet who was His 20th prophet and Jesus being His 19th prophet, while Moses and Aaron were given the same scripture.
Messengers mentioned by name in the Quran
God has informed us in the Quran that He has sent many messengers before the revelation of the Quran but some of them were mentioned in it while others were not (4:164, 40:78). The messengers mentioned by name are found in the Quran (26:124-125, 26:142-143 and 26:177-178):
[4:164] And messengers certainly, we have narrated them through you (prophet) before, and messengers we do not narrate them through you (prophet); and God had spoken a conversation to Moses.
[40:78] And certainly, we have sent messengers before yourself (prophet). Of them there are whoever we have narrated through you (prophet) and of them there are whoever we do not narrate through you (prophet). And it has not been for any messenger that he comes with a sign except by permission of God. So, when has come God’s command, it has been decided with the truth, and there has lost the falsifiers.
Note: The Quran clearly indicates that God has sent a number of messengers to humanity, but the names of all of them have not been mentioned in the Quran except a few.
[26:124-125] When their brother Hûd said to them, “Will you not fear? Indeed, I am an honest messenger to you.”
[26:142-143] When their brother Sãleh said to them, “Will you not fear? Indeed, I am an honest messenger to you.”
[26:177-178] When Shu`aib said to them, “Will you not fear? Indeed, I am an honest messenger to you.”
Note: The messengers mentioned by their names are: Hud, Saleh and Shu’aib, which is consistent with what is mentioned in 4:164 and 40:78.
In addition, Dhul-Kifl described as patient and righteous in 21:85 and 38:48 and Luqmaan was given the wisdom to be thankful to God in 31:12 while Adam has been mentioned as chosen in 3:33. Since the term ‘scripture’ or ‘prophethood’ is not associated with any of them, they are not prophets according to the definition of prophet given by God:
[21:85] And Ismail, Idris and Dhul-Kifl; all of them were patient.
[38:48] And remember Ismail, Elisha, and Dhul-Kifl; and all were among the best.
[31:12] And certainly, we gave Luqmaan the wisdom that you shall be thankful to God. And whoever is thankful, then he is only thankful for himself. But whosoever is unthankful, then God is Rich, Praiseworthy.”
[3:33] Indeed, God has chosen Adam, and Noah, and the family of Abraham, and the family of Imran over the people of the world.
Note: Anyone who is either a prophet or a messenger or a believer is to be patient and thankful to God to be included with the righteous.
God has chosen both prophets and messengers from among us from time to time to guide humanity to the right path while He has clearly made the difference between them. Thus, the difference between these two terms (2:213 and 3:81), the assurance from God that all the messengers sent to humanity in the past are not mentioned in the Quran (4:164, 40:78), the scripture is consistently associated with the names of the prophets, the name of the final prophet is specified (33:40), the two prophets Moses and Aaron were given the same scripture (37:114 and 117) are the hints in the Quran to derive the names of all 20 prophets sent to humanity with 19 scripture. Muhammad was the gentile messenger prophet who delivered the Quran, the 19th and the final scripture while there is a hint about Idris in 4:163 and 19:58 but not explicit to be the 1st prophet who was the grand father of Noah according to the Bible, and Jesus being the 19th prophet is confirmed but his second coming is a myth.
Hence, the review and the count with an explicit proof confirm that God Almighty has sent 20 prophets to humanity indicating the Quran, the final edition of His scripture revealed through Prophet Muhammad, while the prophethood has ended with the revelation of the Quran but not the communication of God with humans (3:81 and 42:51). According to Hadith, He sent 124, 000 prophets and from among them 315 were the messengers, the definition that a messenger brings a book that contradicts Quran, 25 prophets mentioned by their names including Adam, Hud, Saleh, Shuaib and Zal-Kifl according to traditional Muslim scholars are falsehood. In addition, prophethood claimants being Hadith based Mahdi and second coming of Jesus by Mira Golam Ahmad, founder of the Ahmadiyya community as an ummati Nabi (a prophet without scripture), and Bob and Baha’ullah according to the Baha’i faith as Manifestations of God after Muhammad were false claimants as there is an explicit proof that prophethood ended with the revelation of the Quran being the final edition of scripture God has revealed through His 20th prophet.
Peaceful Friday, salaam and God bless.