Rasool literally means messenger. A rasool (messenger) is someone who is sent to deliver a message (risaalah). This messenger has to be from someone trustworthy as he is going to represent the person who sent him wherever he is sent.
This word can be used for anyone who is sent on a duty. In the Quran we find general messengers who fulfilled this role as an occupation, there are others who were divinely inspired and commanded as messengers with a specific message from Allah and then there are the angels who are also messengers of Allah to convey miracles, bring good news to some, and even punishment to others.
The Messengers from among Mankind
Today we have many kinds of messengers from among mankind. Couriers are messengers who deliver documents to office buildings and corporations. They are responsible for getting valuable information to its destination and in most cases the information is of utmost importance.
The Quran also has examples of messengers sent to deliver important information. In Suratul Yusuf, we see that the King sent a messenger to him.
وَقَالَ الْمَلِكُ ائْتُونِي بِهِ ۖ فَلَمَّا جَاءَهُ الرَّسُولُ قَالَ ارْجِعْ إِلَىٰ رَبِّكَ فَاسْأَلْهُ مَا بَالُ النِّسْوَةِ اللَّاتِي قَطَّعْنَ أَيْدِيَهُنَّ ۚ إِنَّ رَبِّي بِكَيْدِهِنَّ عَلِيمٌ – 12:50
And the king said, “Bring him to me.” But when the messenger came to him, [Joseph] said, “Return to your master and ask him what is the case of the women who cut their hands. Indeed, my Lord is Knowing of their plan.”
The Quran also has the story of Balqess who was a Queen in the land of Seba. She and her people did not worship Allah. Prophet Sulaiman, upon Him be peace, sent a letter to her in hopes she would believe in Allah. When she read the letter, she immediately wanted to send someone to him. The Quran says,
وَإِنِّي مُرْسِلَةٌ إِلَيْهِم بِهَدِيَّةٍ فَنَاظِرَةٌ بِمَ يَرْجِعُ الْمُرْسَلُونَ – 27:35
But indeed, I will send to them a gift and see with what [reply] the messengers will return.”
The Messengers of Allah (Rusulullaah)
The messengers who were sent by Allah are those who have been given revelation with a new legislation to deliver to the people. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala has chosen mankind and preferred them over other creations and He chose from mankind, the believers and preferred them over others.
He chose from the believers the prophets and preferred them over others. He chose from the prophets, the messengers and preferred them over other prophets. So these messengers have been tested and deemed trustworthy by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.
He did not send just anyone with His legislations. In the past some people stated that they would never believe until they were given the same revelation that had been given to the messengers. Allah responded to them saying that He knew best who to send His message through.1
Out of the 25 prophets mentioned in the Quran, some are messengers like, Muhammad, ‘Isa, Musa, Dawood, Ibraheem, and others. May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon them all. All messengers are prophets but not all prophets are messengers. But the exact number of messengers is only known to Allah. Each and ever one of these special men were tasked to deliver the message of Allah to mankind and to give glad tidings to the believers and warnings to the disbelievers. 2
It is upon us to believe in all of the messengers and we do not separate or segregate between them in ranks of importance; as their message was one and from the same source, Allah. In fact, our Lord says that He will reward us for not discriminating between his messengers. We find in the Quran,
4:152 وَٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ بِٱللَّهِ وَرُسُلِهِۦ وَلَمْ يُفَرِّقُوا۟ بَيْنَ أَحَدٍۢ مِّنْهُمْ أُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ سَوْفَ يُؤْتِيهِمْ أُجُورَهُمْ ۗ وَكَانَ ٱللَّهُ غَفُورًۭا رَّحِيمًۭا
But they who believe in Allah and His messengers and do not discriminate between any of them – to those He is going to give their rewards. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful.
So we should believe in Allah and His messengers and follow the last messenger ever sent to mankind, Muhammad, ﷺ. He only came to deliver the message of Allah and He likened following the messenger to following Him. As it says in the Quran,
مَّن يُطِعِ الرَّسُولَ فَقَدْ أَطَاعَ اللَّهَ ۖ وَمَن تَوَلَّىٰ فَمَا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ عَلَيْهِمْ حَفِيظًا – 4:80
He who obeys the Messenger has obeyed Allah; but those who turn away – We have not sent you over them as a guardian.
The Messengers among the Angels
The angels are beings created soley for Allah’s worship. They carry out his commands without any deviation. They have various tasks. From among their tasks is that of messenger.3
Angel Jibreel is an example of one of the messengers from the angels. We find that Allah sent him to Maryam to give her the glad tidings that she would have a son. But she was afraid of him and sought refuge in Allah from him. We find the angel Jibreel’s response in the Quran,
قَالَ إِنَّمَا أَنَا رَسُولُ رَبِّكِ لِأَهَبَ لَكِ غُلَامًا زَكِيًّا – 19:19
He said, “I am only the messenger of your Lord to give you [news of] a pure boy.”
Another example is the angels Allah sent to destroy the town Lut was in. Before going to this town, the angels appeared before Ibraheem and he was hospitable towards them. However, when they did not eat, he questioned who they were and what were they there for.
قَالَ فَمَا خَطْبُكُمْ أَيُّهَا الْمُرْسَلُونَ – 51:31
[Abraham] said, “Then what is your business [here], O messengers?”
They were sent to that town, informed Lut of their mission, and fulfilled the work they were commanded to do.
Conjugations found in the Quran:
رسول = Messenger
رسل = Messengers
مُرْسَلُ = Messenger
مُرْسَلُونَ = Messengers
مُرْسِلَةٌ = Sender (feminine)
رِسَالَة = Message
- Surah 6:124
- Surah 4:164-165
- Surah 22:75
- Surah 51:31