Thursday, 30 August 2018

Reality of the Holy Spirit (Part 1)

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

والصلاة والسلام على رسوله الكريم

وعلى اهل بيته الطيبين الطاهرين المظلومين

والعاقبة للمتقين

Concerning the Holy Spirit, I wrote: “Many Muslims believe that the Holy Spirit is none other than Angel Gabriel, the Angel of Revelation and Prophecy. However, I argue that the latter view expressed by many Muslims is not very well established in the sacred Texts of Islam. Nowhere in the Holy Qur’an or Hadith is the Holy Spirit explicitly identified with the Angel Gabriel.” To further elaborate on this point, here I shall quote one of the inspired verses of sayyidina Hasan bin ThabitRA:

جِبْرِيلٌ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ فِينَا وَرُوح الْقُدُسِ لَيْسَ لَهُ كِفَاءُ

“Gabriel, Allah’s Messenger, is among us, and the Holy Spirit for whom there is no match”

(Sahih Muslim)

The presence of the waw al-aatifah “and” as a prefixed particle of conjunction renders the meaning of both Angel Gabriel and the Holy Spirit being “among us”. Consequently, it is established here that Angel Gabriel and the Holy Spirit are not synonymous, but two distinct things. Allah exalted is He says:

تَنَزَّلُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ وَالرُّوحُ فِيهَا بِإِذْنِ رَبِّهِم مِّن كُلِّ أَمْرٍ

The Angels and the Spirit descend therein by the permission of their Lord for every matter

(Surah 97:4)

Imam al-Qurtubi, in his commentary of this Ayah, brings forward one of its interpretations:
وقيل: «الرُّوح» الرحمة ينزل بها جبريل عليه السلام مع الملائكة في هذه الليلة على أهلها؛ دليله
{ يُنَزِّلُ ٱلْمَلاۤئِكَةَ بِٱلْرُّوحِ مِنْ أَمْرِهِ عَلَىٰ مَن يَشَآءُ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ }
(The Spirit) The Mercy which Gabriel – peace be upon him – descends with along with the Angels in this Night upon its people. Its evidence:

يُنَزِّلُ الْمَلَائِكَةَ بِالرُّوحِ مِنْ أَمْرِهِ عَلَىٰ مَن يَشَاءُ مِنْ عِبَادِهِ أَنْ أَنذِرُوا أَنَّهُ لَا إِلَـٰهَ إِلَّا أَنَا فَاتَّقُونِ

He sends down the Angels with the Spirit of His command upon whom He wills of His slaves [saying]: “Warn, that there is no god except Me, so fear Me!”

(Surah 16:2)

There are a variety of views concerning the reality of the Ruh (Spirit) mentioned here, but it is generally agreed, in light of this verse (16:2) that the Spirit is something apart from the Angels, who are tasked with bringing it down. They say it refers to Wahi (revelation), or Nubuwwah (prophecy), or Rahmah (mercy) (Tafsir Ibn Jarir al-Tabari).

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