Rasool Allah ﷺ said: “From Adam to me, Allah sent a hundred and twenty-four thousand Prophets, of whom three hundred and fifteen were Messengers (i.e. entrusted with a book).”  A simple difference between a prophet and a messenger is that the former was chosen for prophethood but not revealed a book while the latter was not only honored with prophethood but also received a divine message which his followers collected in a book format. Apparently the hadith seems to provide no more than a figure of Prophets & Messengers that lived in the past. But if we ponder closely over the wording and ask why more prophets than messengers, we actually learn a profound lesson. It helps us gain an understanding about the very institution of prophethood. If the role of a prophet was simply to deliver the book, as some misguided people tend to argue, there should have been as many books and messengers as the prophets! But the very fact that there have been many prophets without a book firmly establishes the need for real life examples is greater than books. Real life examples are absolutely necessary as they are the prime source of inspiration just as the saying "actions speak louder than words". Its just like I have a book with info & instructions but if I do not have a teacher to teach and practically show me how to implement those teachings then most likely I am bound to make tons of mistakes. In the case of Imaan (faith) which is a matter of hereafter we need to act with utmost care, as there's even more at stake than life or death, its a matter of eternal paradise or eternal hellfire.
Many Muslims don’t realize that the 1st chapter of the Quran i.e. Surah Fatiha which we recite 17 times a day (in 5 times salaah) has the following words in one of its verses: "Guide us to the straight path. The path of those on whom You have bestowed Your grace. Not the path of those who earned your wrath and niether of those who go astray”  Notice that Allah ﷻ did not instruct us to recite "Guide us to the path of book or Quran", no! In fact what He has instructed us to ask to be guided on the path of “Those upon whom you have bestowed Your Grace” obviously meaning that we are asking Allah ﷻ to provide us a model, a practical example. Thus what could be best than emulating the life of the best teacher and man to ever have walked on the face of this earth: "Indeed, in the Messenger of Allah you have an excellent example..." The Hadith and Sunnah literature in Islam was not just collected for historical record. What Muslims have collected is unprecedented science of knowledge which no other nation has of their Prophet. Its equivalent cannot be found in other religions. Hence the importance of this literature in the contemporary lives of the Muslims is greater than ever.
To understand how and why Allah ﷻ has declared in the Quran that Prophet Muhammad's example is the best for entire human race, please read this topic - Prophet Muhammad ﷺ: The Best Role Model For All
 Musnad Ahmad Hadith # 21257
 Al Quran 1:6–7
 Al Quran 33:21
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