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Salamun Alaikum (Peace be upon you)





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Copyright © 2009 Joseph A Islam: Article last modified 26th March 2011 v.2



There is a common understanding amongst many Muslims today that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was 'indeed' the greatest messenger in distinction and rank as compared to the other messengers / prophets of God.


Albeit this may be true and only God knows best, there is no confirmation given to us of this belief by God.


These beliefs, which emanate from Islamic secondary sources have absolutely no support from the Quran which strongly prohibits believers from drawing any such distinctions between God's messengers. Most of the following verses are self explanatory and require little or no elaboration. 


It is useful to note that the Arabic word used and commonly translated as 'distinction' is 'nufarriqu' from the root word 'FA-RA-QAF' which means to separate, to distinguish, discriminate, divide, decide, split or to make a distinction.




Source: Edward Lanes Lexicon   [1]




Say: We believe in God and that which had been revealed to us, and that which was revealed to Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and the tribes, and that which was given to Moses and Jesus, and that which was given to the prophets from their Lord, we do not make any distinction (Arabic: Nufarriqu)  between any of them, and to Him do we submit.




The messenger believes in what has been revealed to him from his Lord, and (so do) the believers; they all believe in God and His angels and His books and His messengers; We make no difference (Arabic: Nufarriqu) between any of His messengers; and they say: We hear and obey, our Lord! Thy forgiveness (do we crave), and to Thee is the eventual course.


Say: "We believe in God, and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and in (the Books) given to Moses, Jesus, and the prophets, from their Lord: We make no distinction (Arabic: Nufarriqu) between one and another among them, and to God do we bow our will (in Islam)."




And those who believe in God and His messengers and do not make a distinction (Arabic: yufarriqu)  between any of them - God will grant them their rewards; and God is Forgiving, Merciful.




And it is your Lord that knows best all beings that are in the heavens and on earth: We did bestow on some prophets more (and other) gifts than on others: and We gave to David (the gift of) the Psalms.





And Peace on the messengers!





And commemorate Our Servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, possessors of Power and Vision. Surely We purified them for a pure quality; the keeping in mind of the (final) abode. And most surely they were with Us, of the elect, the best. And remember Ismail and Al-Yasha and Zulkifl; and they were all of the best.




He said: O Moses! I have preferred you above mankind by My messages and by My speaking (to you). So hold that which I have given you, and be among the thankful.






Regrettably, despite clear prohibitions by the Quran not to draw distinctions between messengers of God, many Muslims make use of the following verse as proof that God has chosen Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in greater rank than other messengers of God.  Unfortunately, the whole essence and purport of the verse is missed.



We have made some of these messengers to excel the others among them are they to whom God spoke, and some of them He exalted by rank / degrees (Arabic: Darajatin); and We gave clear miracles to Jesus son of Mary, and strengthened him with the Holy spirit. And if God had pleased, those after them would not have fought one with another after clear arguments had come to them, but they disagreed; so there were some of them who believed and others who denied; and if God had pleased they would not have fought one with another, but God brings about what He intends”


It is clear from this verse that some messengers excelled others and others were exalted in rank. However, apart from Prophet Jesus (pbuh) who is mentioned by name, no other Prophet or messenger of God is named. This includes Prophet Muhammad. (pbuh)


Please note that messengers (in a plural context) have also been indicated as having been spoken to by God directly (min-hum man kallama l-lahu - Among them were those with whom God spoke). Prophet Moses (pbuh) is one such example cited by the Quran but not mentioned in this verse (By inference only). However, from this verse it is also clear that there were other messengers with whom God also spoke but are not mentioned in the Quran by name. Prophet Jesus (pbuh) remains the only messenger mentioned by name in this verse who excelled and by way of citing an example.







A true believer makes no distinctions between any of God’s messengers. Ranks are only with God. This is an instruction given by the Quran itself to all believers.


‘We hear, and we obey’ (2:285)


See related article: Exclusiveness of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)





[1] LANE. E.W, Edward Lanes Lexicon, Williams and Norgate 1863; Librairie du Liban Beirut-Lebanon 1968, Volume 6, Page 2383

Highlights marked in red on the lexicon excerpt are my own insertions. They have no bearing on the original text other than they emphasise relevance to the topic at hand. These are merely illustrations and have solely been utilised for educational and explanatory purposes.




Joseph Islam

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