Imamat vs. Prophethood (Part II)

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Difference between Nabi and Rasool


In Arabic there are no separate words for Messenger and Apostle. The

distinction is between Nabi (Prophet) and Rasool (Messenger or Apostle).

1- Nabi (=Prophet)

2- Rasool (=Messenger=Apostle)

Note that the degree of prophethood is lower than the degree of


By definition:

1. A Prophet (Nabi) is a person to whom the Divine Law (Shari'ah) descends;

this divine law may be concerned with beliefs (`aqa-id) or with

practical activities (Ibadat, like prayer). This Divine Law either

deals with the Nabi's OWN life or with that of his community; or both.

This is the fundamental definition of prophethood, though the prophet

may also be informed of other things. The descent of the Divine Law

(Shari'ah) may be direct, or through an intermediary like an angel.

2. A Human Messenger/Apostle (Rasool) is a Prophet who receives a Divine

Law that concerns himself and people other than himself.

So every (human) Rasool is Nabi, while the reverse is not true. Also every

Nabi whom Quran has mentioned along with a community (Umma), is

consequently a Rasool.

Thus when Quran states that Mohammad (PBUH&HF) is the last Prophet (33:40),

then by the above definition, he is the last Messenger/Apostle also.

Note that the word "Human" is important in the definition of Rasool because

the Quran uses the term "Rasool" also for angels who issue a command at the

will of Allah (SWT):

"Allah chooses Messengers from ANGELS and from men, for Allah is He

Who hears and sees (all things). [22:75]"

"There came Our Messengers to Abraham with glad tidings. They said,

"Peace!" he answered, "Peace!" and hastened to entertain them with a

roasted calf. [11:69]"

"When Our Messengers came to Lut, he was grieved on their account and

felt himself powerless (to protect) them. He said: This is a

distressful day. [11:77]"

"(The Messengers) said: O Lut! we are Messengers from thy


----Also see: 7:37, 15:57, 15:61, 19:19, 29:31, 29:33.

However, a Nabi is only a human being -- no angel can be called a Nabi. So

every (human) Rasool is a Nabi, while every human Nabi is not necessarily a


The number of Messengers (Rusul) is LESS than the number of Prophets

(Nabiyoon); and EVERY Rasool received a book, while SOME Nabees received a

book. In addition, since he has to convince his people to accept a NEW

religion with new practices, a Rasool's work is much harder than that of a

Nabi. This is on top of the fact that people's needs, minds, and abilities

have changed; and accepting a new religion is not an easy task. This is

while a Nabi's NEW religious instructions are for himself (unless he

is a Rasool). Surely a Nabi invites people toward Allah (SWT); however, he

does not set any new practices for the people. So, in essence, if a

Nabi is NOT a Rasool, the people that he invites to Allah (SWT) would be

ordered to follow the custom and practices of a previous Rasool.

Among Rasools, however, there are five individuals who are higher than the

others. As you might know, the only difference between those five and other

rasools is that they are assigned universally (for the whole mankind at

their time), while the rest of rasools were locally (just for one city or

area). My recollection is that the word 'Alameen and/or Jamee'an has been

used in Quran for Prophet Jesus (AS) supporting this idea.

Once a Bahai claimed that Rasools (who came before Bab!) were only those

five who had book. But the rest were Nabi. This is not correct since Quran

states that Dawood had Zaboor and yet he is not counted among those five

great Messengers. So he is Rasool because he brought a book for people.




Imam means a person who is appointed by God as a leader and as a guide (see

Quran 21:73 and 32:24) to whom obedience is due, and whom people should

follow. Messengers are Warners and Imams are Guides (13:7). Imams are the

Stars of Guidance (6:97).

Imam does not receive divine revelation about Sharia (divine law). He does

not receive any commands concerning new religous paractices, and so on.

However, he may be informed of the events about the past and future.

Another difference between Rasool and Nabi and Muhaddath (i.e., Imam)

is on how they communicate with the angels, and is given in Usul Kafi,

kitabul Hujjah usder verse 22:52:

Rasool sees and hears the angel in awakness and sleep. Nabi hears the angel

and sees him while asleep, but does not see him while awake though hears

the speech. Imam (muhaddith) is the one who hears the angel in awakness

while does not see him in awakness or sleep.

In the previous part we quoted from Quran that Mary (AS) had communication

with angels. If according to Sahih al-Bukhari, Fatimah (AS) was the best of

ladies in this world and in hereafter, then why can't she communicate with

the angels?

Sahih al-Bukhari Hadith: 4.819

Narrated 'Aisha:

The Messenger of Allah said to Fatimah (who was crying at her father's

deathbed): "Are you not satisfied that you are the chief of all the

ladies of Paradise or the chief of all the believing women?"

Furthermore, Ibn Abbas (RA) narrated:

The Messenger of Allah (PBUH&HF) said: Four women are the mistress of

the worlds: Mary, Asiya (the wife of Pharaoh), Khadija, and Fatimah.

And the most excellent one among them in the world is Fatimah."


Sunni references: Ibn Asakir, as quoted in Tafsir al-Durr al-Manthoor

For those who love Sahih al-Bukhari, I will quote this book once more which

confirms that Lady Fatimah (AS) had, indeed, communication with Gabriel:

Sahih al-Bukhari Hadith: 5.739

Narrated Anas:

When the ailment of the Prophet (PBUH) got aggravated, he became

unconscious whereupon Fatima said, "Oh, how distressed my father is!"

He said, "Your father will have no more distress after today." When he

expired, she said, "O Father! Who has responded to the call of the

Lord Who has invited him! O Father, whose dwelling place is the Garden

of Paradise (i.e. al-Firdaus)! O Father! We convey this news (of your


death) to Gabriel." When he was buried, Fatima said, "O Anas! Do you


feel pleased to throw earth over Allah's Apostle?"

Not only that, but also Sunnis reported that Imam Hasan Ibn Ali has said

that Gabriel used to descend to Ahlul-Bayt. It is reported that Imam al-

Hasan Ibn Ali (AS) said the following in a discourse which he delivered on

the martyrdom of Imam Ali:

"I am from the Ahlul-Bayt that Gabriel used to descend on us and

ascend (back to heavens) from among us."

Sunni reference: al-Mustadrak, by al-Hakim, "Chapter of understanding the

virtues of companions," v3, p172

Now, when Imam Hasan uses the word "us", it means that it was not just

prophet who used to received Gabriel. Surely Gabriel did NOT reveal

anything of Quran to Imam Hasan. But, the above Sunni tradition shows that,

they could communicate with the Gabriel.

Mushaf (book) of Fatimah (AS) was also of this type. Some booklets of

hatred and lie published by anti-Shi'i groups allege that based on Usul

Kafi, Shia believe there is a Quran called "Quran of Fatimah"! This is a

false accusation. There is no tradition in Usul Kafi saying "Quran of

Fatimah". There are however, very few traditions in one chapter of Usul

Kafi which assert that Fatimah (AS) wrote a book (mushaf). The tradition

states "The book of Fatimah". Surely Quran is a book (mushaf), but any book

is NOT Quran. This allegation is as silly as saying "Quran of al-Bukhari"

instead of "book of al-Bukhari"!

Also those few traditions in al-Kafi clearly state that there is NO single

verse of Quran in the Book of Fatimah. This shows that the book of Fatimah

is TOTALLY different than Quran. Of course, it was three time bigger than

Quran in length.

In one tradition it said that Lady Fatimah (AS), after the Prophet

(PBUH&HF) passed away, used to write what she was told that would happen to

her descendants and stories about other rulers to come (up to the day of

resurrection). It was the sayings of Gabriel about what will happen. As I

mentioned and proved by Quran and Hadith, talking to angels is not

exclussive to the prophets and messengers. Fatimah (AS) recorded (or asked

Imam Ali to record) those information, which was kept in her family of

Imams, and was called "The Book (Mushaf) of Fatimah". A tradition which

follows this one clearly states that what is referred to by "The Book of

Fatimah" is not a part of Quran and has NOTHING to do with Allah's

commandments/halals/harams. It does NOT have anything to do with Shari'ah

(divine law) and the religious practices. Let me give you some of those


Abu Abdillah (AS) said: "... We have with us the Book of Fatimah, but

I do not claim that anything of the Quran is in it." (Usul al-Kafi,

Tradition #637)

Abu Abdillah (AS) also said about the book of Fatimah: "There is

nothing of what is permitted and what is forbidden (al-Halal and al-

Haram) in this; but in it is the knowledge of what will happen." (Usul

Kafi, Tradition #636)

Abdul Malik Ibn Ayan said to Abu Abdillah (AS): "The Zaydiyyah and the

Mu'tazilah have gathered around Muhammad Ibn Abdillah (Ibn al-Hasan,

the second). Will have they any rule?" He (AS) said: "By Allah there

are two books in my possession in which every prophet and every ruler

who rules on this earth (from the beginning of the earth till the day

of Judgment) has been named. No, by Allah, Muhammad Ibn Abdillah is

not one of them." (Usul Kafi, Tradition #641)

"Mushaf" refers to a collection of "Sahifa" which is singular for "page".

The literal meaning of Mushaf is "The manuscript bound between two boards".

In those days they used to write on leather and other materials. They

either rolled the writings -- what is known as scroll in English. Or they

kept the separable sheets and bound them together, in what could be called

as "Mushaf", a book in today's terms. The equivalent to the word book

"Kitab" used to (and still is) refer to either a letter (e.g. of

correspondence) or to an document that was written down or recorded. The

Arabic word for wrote "Kataba" is a derivative of the same word.

Although the Quran is commonly called a "Mushaf" today, perhaps referring

to its "collection" after it was dispersed. Quran is a Mushaf (book), but

any Mushaf (book) is not necessarily the Quran! There is no Quran of

Fatimah! As the above and many other traditions suggest, The book of

Fatimah has absolutely no connection with Quran. This concept is commonly

pulled out of context and published by anti-Shi'i groups due to their

hatred toward the Followers of the Members of the House of Prophet

(PBUH&HF). I have seen it mentioned in a book printed by the government of

Saudi Arabia.

What is also very important to recognize and understand is that belief in

Mushaf Fatimah is NOT a requirement of BELIEF to the Shia. It is just very

few traditions which report such a thing. It is nothing crucial for us as

the followers, nor any Shia (except Imam Mahdi) has access to it.


Some Side Comments


A Wahhabi mentioned that the Shia believe:

> * The Imams know when they will die, and they do not die execpt with

> their choice.

Well, this is also granted to the prophets. So consequently I don't see why

Imam should not have it. Here are the two traditions in Sahih al-Bukhari

which confirms such claim for Moses:

Sahih al-Bukhari Hadith: 2.423 and 4.619

Narrated Abu Huraira:

The angel of death was sent to Moses and when he went to him, Moses

slapped him severely, spoiling one of his eyes. The angel went back to

his Lord, and said, "You sent me to a slave who does not want to die."

Allah restored his eye and said, "Go back and tell him (i.e. Moses) to

place his hand over the back of an ox, for he will be allowed to live

for a number of years equal to the number of hairs coming under his

hand." (So the angel came to him and told him the same). Then Moses

asked, "O my Lord! What will be then?" He said, "Death will be then."

He said, "Let it be now." He asked Allah that He bring him near the

Sacred Land at a distance of a stone's throw. Allah's Apostle

(PBUH) said, "Were I there I would show you the grave of Moses by

the way near the red sand hill."

Sahih Al Bukhari

Arabic English

Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan

v2, p236 ( 2.423 reference )

Chapter : Whoever desired to be buried in the Sacred Land .....

Sahih Al Bukhari

Arabic English

Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan

v4, p409 ( 4.619 reference )

Chapter : The death Of Moses and his rememberance after his death.

According to the above tradition in Sahih al-Bukhari, Moses alleged to

resist against death, and then was told by Allah when he would die (the

number of hairs). Again Moses asked God to change that decision to be now.

The mockery tone of the above tradition by al-Bukhari is questionable for

us, but since you call it authentic, then you should agree that prophets

may know their death time. So why not Imam?

Here I should mention that according to Islamic teaching, Allah

didn't/doesn't relinquish His authority to prophets and Imams. The

authority of prophets and Imams is not independent of God. This authority

is GIVEN to them by Allah and is controlled by Allah too. If they disobey

Allah, such authority will be taken away immediately. So if Moses or other

prophets and Imams died in their choice, we should keep in mind that such

sinless people do not desire anything that Allah does not desire. So their

wish about the time of their death is exactly what Allah wished, since they

are absolutely obedient toward Allah. Actually what I just said here is

somehow contradicting the report of Abu Huraira given by al-Bukhari (saying

that Moses resisted). But since you believe in al-Bukhari, then you

actually go further than the claim written in al-Kafi. In other words, the

above tradition of al-Bukhari suggests that a prophet can resist and change

the order of God and even knock out the angel of death. (May Allah protect

us from such evil words).


> * All of the Earth belongs to the Imams. (p.407)


Allah, to whom belong Might and Majesty said:

"The earth is Allah's. He gives it as a heritage to whom He will,

and the good end is for the righteous servants." (Quran 7:128).

 إِنَّ الْأَرْضَ لِلَّهِ يورِثُهَا مَنْ يشَاءُ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ وَالْعَاقِبَةُ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ(الأعراف/128)

> May Allah guide those who have such beliefs to the True Islam.

> And make this net and its members a cause to that.

May Allah help all of us to understand the above Quranic verses, and may

Allah let us understand the traditions mentioned above which are from

authentic Sunni books and let us not die in ignorance. AMEN

> Their is no denying that Ali was one of the most knowledgeable of the

> sahaba. Even if we do accept that Ali is the most knowledgeable, what

> then? Would that mean no one else had any knowledge?

No. It means others had much less knowledge. This implies those who

chose other inferior people in knowledge to lead the community for their

own desires, are responsible for the Misfortune of all Muslims throughout

the history. Shiats say that Imam must possess above all such qualities as

knowledge, bravery, justice, wisdom, piety, love of God etc., in order to

assure the prosperity of the Islamic community.

>> Is Quran correct that Imamat is a degree higher than prophethood and

>> messengership?


> There are different levels of imamat. The imamat of the Prophets

> is higher than any other imamat. Certainly, an imam of a masjid

> is by no means higher than a Prophet or Messenger.

Certainly you did not answer my question. I was not talking about the

degrees of Imamat. Please read the question again. As for Imam of Masjid,

this shows you did not read the definition that I gave for the Imam in my

original article. I said:

Imam means a person who is appointed by God as a leader and as a guide

to whom obedience is due, and whom people should follow.

Does the above definition fit to Imam of Masjid?! Allah said that Prophet

Muhammad is a warner, and for every community (generation) there exists a

guide (Imam). (Quran 13:7). It is clear that there is no prophet after

Prophet Muhammad. So those guides who are for every generation are not


> because even the best pious person can only be pious if he believes

> in all the Prophets, how then can he become better than one in whom he

> must believe in order to be considered pious?

Prophet Mohammad believed in all prophets before him, but his position is

higher than all of them. Agreed?

End of Part 2 of 2

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