Holy Spirit in Islam

This article is about the Islamic view of the Holy Spirit. For the Holy Spirit in Christianity, see Holy Spirit in Christianity. For the Holy Spirit in Judaism, see Holy Spirit in Judaism. For the Holy Spirit in other religions, see Holy Spirit (disambiguation).

The Holy Spirit (Arabic: روح القدس, Rūḥ al-Qudus) in the Islamic faith is mentioned several times in the Qur'an, and is often times interpreted by Muslims as a created messenger named Jibrayil, however various interpretations take different views on the term. The Arabic phrase "al-Qudus" (القدس) translates to English as "the Holy One" or "the Exalted One". Jerusalem, considered a holy site in Islam, is referred to in Arabic as "Bayt al-Muqaddas" (بيت المقدس), a term which has the same phonetic root as the Arabic phrase "al-Quds". "Al-Quddūs" is one of the 99 Names of God in Islam.[1]

The Holy Spirit, Ruh al-Qudus, in the Qur'an

The Holy Spirit, as referred to by the phrase Ruh al-Qudus, is expressly mentioned four times in the Qur'an:

"And verily we gave unto Moses the Scripture and We caused a train of messengers to follow after him, and We gave unto Jesus, son of Mary, clear proofs (of Allah's sovereignty), and we supported him with the Holy Spirit."
Qur'an, sura 2 (Al-Baqara), ayat 87 [2]
"Of those messengers, some of them We have caused to excel others, and there are some unto whom Allah spake, while some of them He has exalted in degree; and We gave Jesus, son of Mary, clear proofs (of Allah's sovereignty) and We supported him with the Holy Spirit."
Qur'an, sura 2 (Al-Baqara), ayat 253 [3]
"(The day) when God saith: 'O Jesus the son of Mary! Recount My favour to thee and to thy mother. Behold! I strengthened thee with the Holy Spirit, so that thou didst speak to the people in childhood and in maturity."
Qur'an, sura 5 (Al-Ma'ida), ayat 110 [4]
"Say: the Holy Spirit has brought the Revelation from thy Lord in Truth, in order to strengthen those who believe, and as guidance and glad tidings to Muslims."
Qur'an, sura 16 (An-Nahl), ayat 102 [5]

The Spirit, al-Ruh, in the Qur'an

The phrase al-Ruh in the Qur'an is used ambiguously. It may be interpreted alternatively as either referring to God himself or to the divine Holy Spirit, as with the phrase Ruh al-Qudus, possibly as a shorthand for that phrase. It appears in several verses throughout the Qur'an:

"When I have fashioned him (in due proportion) and breathed into him of My Spirit, fall ye down in obeisance unto him."
Qur'an, sura 15 (Al-Hijr), ayat 29 [6]
"And (remember) her who guarded her chastity: We breathed into her of Our Spirit, and We made her and her son a sign for all peoples."
Qur'an, sura 21 (Al-Anbiya), ayat 91 [7]
"But He fashioned him in due proportion, and breathed into him something of His Spirit. And He gave you (the faculties of) hearing and sight and feeling (and understanding): little thanks do ye give!"
Qur'an, sura 32 (As-Sajda), ayat 9 [8]
"Raised high above ranks (or degrees), (He is) the Lord of the Throne (of Authority): by His Command doth He send the Spirit (of inspiration) to any of His servants he pleases, that it may warn (men) of the Day of Mutual Meeting."
Qur'an, sura 40 (Ghafir), ayat 15 [9]
"Thou wilt not find any people who believe in God and the Last Day, loving those who resist God and His Apostle, even though they were their fathers or their sons, or their brothers, or their kindred. For such He has written Faith in their hearts, and strengthened them with a Spirit from Himself."
Qur'an, sura 58 (Al-Mujadila), ayat 22 [10]
"And Mary the daughter of 'Imran, who guarded her chastity; and We gave to her of Our Spirit; and she testified to the truth of the words of her Lord and of His Revelations, and was one of the devout (servants)."
Qur'an, sura 66 (At-Tahrim), ayat 12 [11]

The Qur'an against the Trinity

The Qur'an emphatically states that neither God nor the Holy Spirit are part of a trinity, condemning the view held in most denominations of Christianity that God consists of a Holy Trinity composed of a Father, a Son, and the Holy Spirit:

"They do blaspheme who say: God is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One God. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them.
Qur'an, sura 5 (Al-Ma'ida), ayat 73 [12]
"Say: He is God, the One and Only; God, the Eternal, Absolute; He begetteth not, nor is He begotten; And there is none like unto Him.
Qur'an, sura 112 (Al-Ikhlas), ayat 1-4[13]
"Say: "O People of the Book (i.e., Jews and Christians)! Come to common terms as between us and you: That we worship none but Allah; that we associate no partners with Him; that we erect not, from among ourselves, Lords and patrons other than Allah." If then they turn back, say ye: "Bear witness that we (at least) are Muslims (bowing to Allah's Will)."
Qur'an, sura 3 (Al-Imran), ayat 64 [14]

As interpreted to refer to the Archangel Gabriel

In the view of Muslims the term Ruh al-Qudus refers to the Archangel Gabriel (referred to as Jibral, Jibrīl, Jibrael, 'Džibril, Jabrilæ or Jibrail (جبريل, جبرائيل, [dʒibræːʔiːl], [dʒibrɛ̈ʔiːl], or [dʒibriːl]) in Islam),[15][16] the archangel who, according to the Qur'an, was assigned by God to reveal the Qur'an to the prophet Muhammad. He is also the angel who delivered the Annunciation to Mary.[15]

In the two suras in which the Qur'an refers to the angel Gabriel, it does so by name.[17] However, some hadith and parts of the Qur'an may arguably lend support to the alternative view.

It appears to be indicated by the Quran in sura Maryam ayat 16-21, that it was the angel Gabriel who gave to Mary the tidings that she was to have a son of immaculate conception:

She chose to seclude herself (from her people); then we sent to her Our Spirit, and he appeared before her in the form of a man in all respects. She said: "Verily! I seek refuge with the Most Beneficent (God) from you, if you do fear God." (The man) said: "I am only a messenger from your Lord, (to announce) to you the gift of a righteous son." She said: "How can I have a son, when no man has touched me, nor am I unchaste?" He said: "So (it will be), your Lord said: 'That is easy for me (God): And (we wish) to appoint him as a sign to mankind and a mercy from us (God), and it is a matter (already) decreed (by God).' " [Quran 19:17]

It is narrated in hadith that the angel Gabriel accompanied Muhammad during the Mi'raj, an ascension to the heavens in which Muhammad is said to have met other messengers of God and was instructed about the manner of Islamic prayer (sujud). (Bukhari Sahih al-Bukhari, 1:8:345). It is also held by Muslims that the angel Gabriel descends to Earth on the night of Laylat al-Qadr ("The Night of Power"), a night in the last ten days of the holy month of Ramadan (Islamic calendar) which is said to be the night on which the Qur'an was first revealed.[18]

Military campaigns

According to Islamic tradition, the Angel Gabriel (Jibrayil in Arabic) was involved in many military campaigns of Muhammad helping, protecting and guiding him. The first was the Invasion of Dhi Amr. According to the Muslim scholar Sami Strauch, it is reported in Sahih Bukhari that it was raining, and Muhammad took his garments off and hung it on a tree to dry, while the enemy was watching, Ghwarath ibn al-Harith went to attack Muhammad. He threatened Muhammad with his sword and said "who will protect you from me on this day". Then according to Muslim Scholars the Angel Gabriel came and thumped Ghawrath in the chest and forced him to drop his sword. Muhammad then picked up the sword and said "who will protect you from me".[19]

Ghawrath replied: "no one, and I testify there is no God worthy of worship but Allah" and he then converted to Islam.[19] The Quran says regarding this incident:

O ye who believe! Call in remembrance the favour of Allah unto you when certain men formed the design to stretch out their hands against you, but (Allah) held back their hands from you: so fear Allah. And on Allah let believers put (all) their trust. [Quran 5:11]

Muhammad spent 11 days on this expedition and then returned to Medina.

Islamic tradition states that Gabriel was also involved in the Invasion of Banu Nadir. Muslim scholars (like Mubarakpuri) claim, the Banu Nadir were attacked because the Angel Gabriel told Muhammad that some of the Banu Nadir wanted to assassinate him.[20] Watt contends it was in response to the tribe’s criticism of Muhammad and doubts they wanted to assassinate Muhammad. He says "it is possible that the allegation was no more than an excuse to justify the attack".[21]

He was also apparently involved in the Invasion of Banu Qurayza. According to The Sealed Nectar, a modern Islamic biography of Muhammad written by the Indian Muslim author Saif ur-Rahman Mubarakpuri, the Angel Gabriel visited Muhammad while he was washing clothes at Umm Salama’s house, asking that he should unsheathe his sword and to go to the Banu Qurayza and fight them. Mubarakpuri claims Gabriel said that he with a procession of angels would go ahead the fort of Banu Qurayza and cast fear in their hearts.[22] This is also mentioned in the Sunni hadith collections in Sahih al-Bukhari, 4:52:68 .

Ibn Kathir, mentioned the sequence of events in his Tafsir, as follows:

The Messenger of Allah returned to Al-Madinah in triumph and the people put down their weapons. While the Messenger of Allah was washing off the dust of battle in the house of Umm Salamah, may Allah be pleased with her, Jibril, upon him be peace, came to him wearing a turban of brocade, riding on a mule on which was a cloth of silk brocade. He said, "Have you put down your weapons, O Messenger of Allah" He said, "Yes" He said, "But the angels have not put down their weapons. I have just now come back from pursuing the people." Then he said: "Allah, may He be blessed and exalted, commands you to get up and go to Banu Quraiza. According to another report, "What a fighter you are! Have you put down your weapons" He said, "Yes". He said, "But we have not put down our weapons yet, get up and go to these people." He said: "Where?" He said, "Banu Quraiza, for Allah has commanded me to shake them." So the Messenger of Allah got up immediately, and commanded the people to march towards Banu Quraiza, who were a few miles from Al-Madinah. This was after Salat Az-Zuhr. He said, No one among you should pray `Asr except at Banu Quraiza.[23]

[Tafsir ibn Kathir]

See also


  1. Quran 59:23, Quran 62:1
  2. Quran 2:87
  3. Quran 2:253
  4. Quran 5:110
  5. Quran 16:102
  6. Quran 15:29
  7. Quran 21:91
  8. Quran 32:9
  9. Quran 40:15
  10. Quran 58:22
  11. Quran 66:12
  12. Quran 5:73
  13. Quran 112:1–4
  14. Quran 3:64
  15. 1 2 What is meant by the Holy Spirit in the Qur'an? Islam Awareness
  16. http://islam-qa.com/en/ref/14403/Gabriel%20spirit
  17. Quran 2:97-98,Quran 66:4
  18. "English Translations of Al-Quran - 3 English Translations of Al-Quran & 1 Commentary of each Surah (97. Al Qadr)". alquran-english.com. Retrieved 27 October 2011.
  19. 1 2 Strauch, Sameh (2006), Biography of the Prophet, Darussalam Publications, p. 472, ISBN 9789960980324
  20. Mubarakpuri, The Sealed Nectar, p. 189. (online)
  21. Tabari, Al (2008), The foundation of the community, State University of New York Press, p. xxxv, ISBN 978-0887063442, The main underlying reason for the expulsion of the clan of al-Nadir was the same as in the case of Quaynuqa, namely, that Jewish criticisms endangered the ordinary Muslim's belief in Muhammad's prophethood and in the Quran as revelation from God.
  22. Rahman al-Mubarakpuri, Saifur (2005), The Sealed Nectar, Darussalam Publications, pp. 201–205 (online)
  23. Ibn Kathir, Saed Abdul-Rahman (2009), Tafsir Ibn Kathir Juz'21, MSA Publication Limited, p. 213, ISBN 978-1-86179-611-0(online)
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