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In the Qur'an, the Holy Spirit is also known as the Spirit of/from Allah. This article attempts to explain who or what the Holy Spirit is in relation to the angel Gabriel and compares this to Biblical explanations of the Holy Spirit and Gabriel, since the Qur'an claims to confirm the previously revealed scriptures.
The Holy Spirit
In regards to Adam
Allah's Spirit was breathed into Adam.
So, when I have made him and have breathed into him of My Spirit, do ye fall down, prostrating yourselves unto him.
Such is the Knower of the Invisible and the Visible, the Mighty, the Merciful, Who made all things good which He created, and He began the creation of man from clay; Then He made his seed from a draught of despised fluid; Then He fashioned him and breathed into him of His Spirit; and appointed for you hearing and sight and hearts. Small thanks give ye!
And when I have fashioned him and breathed into him of My Spirit, then fall down before him prostrate,
In regards to Jesus
The Holy Spirit supported Jesus.
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. Is it ever so, that, when there cometh unto you a messenger (from Allah) with that which ye yourselves desire not, ye grow arrogant, and some ye disbelieve and some ye slay?
Of those messengers, some of whom We have caused to excel others, and of whom there are some unto whom Allah spake, while some of them He exalted (above others) in degree; and We gave Jesus, son of Mary, clear proofs (of Allah's Sovereignty) and We supported him with the holy Spirit. And if Allah had so wiled it, those who followed after them would not have fought one with another after the clear proofs had come unto them. But they differed, some of them believing and some disbelieving. And if Allah had so willed it, they would not have fought one with another; but Allah doeth what He will.
Jesus was a spirit from Allah.
O People of the Scripture! Do not exaggerate in your religion nor utter aught concerning Allah save the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah, and His word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers, and say not "Three" - Cease! (it is) better for you! - Allah is only One Allah. Far is it removed from His Transcendent Majesty that He should have a son. His is all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. And Allah is sufficient as Defender.
The Holy Spirit strengthened Jesus.
When Allah saith: O Jesus, son of Mary! Remember My favour unto thee and unto thy mother; how I strengthened thee with the holy Spirit, so that thou spakest unto mankind in the cradle as in maturity; and how I taught thee the Scripture and Wisdom and the Torah and the Gospel; and how thou didst shape of clay as it were the likeness of a bird by My permission, and didst blow upon it and it was a bird by My permission, and thou didst heal him who was born blind and the leper by My permission; and how thou didst raise the dead by My permission; and how I restrained the Children of Israel from (harming) thee when thou camest unto them with clear proofs, and those of them who disbelieved exclaimed: This is naught else than mere magic;
The Spirit of Allah assumed the form of a human man and came to Mary with a message.
And make mention of Mary in the Scripture, when she had withdrawn from her people to a chamber looking East, And had chosen seclusion from them. Then We sent unto her Our Spirit and it assumed for her the likeness of a perfect man. She said: Lo! I seek refuge in the Beneficent One from thee, if thou art Allah-fearing. He said: I am only a messenger of thy Lord, that I may bestow on thee a faultless son. She said: How can I have a son when no mortal hath touched me, neither have I been unchaste? He said: So (it will be). Thy Lord saith: It is easy for Me. And (it will be) that We may make of him a revelation for mankind and a mercy from Us, and it is a thing ordained. And she conceived him, and she withdrew with him to a far place.
Allah breathed something of his Spirit into Mary to create Jesus.
And she who was chaste, therefor We breathed into her (something) of Our Spirit and made her and her son a token for (all) peoples.
And Mary, daughter of 'Imran, whose body was chaste, therefor We breathed therein something of Our Spirit. And she put faith in the words of her Lord and His scriptures, and was of the obedient.
All other possible references
Go, O my sons, and ascertain concerning Joseph and his brother, and despair not of the Spirit of Allah. Lo! none despaireth of the Spirit of Allah save disbelieving folk.
He sendeth down the angels with the Spirit of His command unto whom He will of His bondmen, (saying): Warn mankind that there is no Allah save Me, so keep your duty unto Me.
Say: The holy Spirit hath delivered it from thy Lord with truth, that it may confirm (the faith of) those who believe, and as guidance and good tidings for those who have surrendered (to Allah).
They are asking thee concerning the Spirit. Say: The Spirit is by command of my Lord, and of knowledge ye have been vouchsafed but little.
And lo! it is a revelation of the Lord of the Worlds, Which the True Spirit hath brought down Upon thy heart, that thou mayst be (one) of the warners, In plain Arabic speech.
The Exalter of Ranks, the Lord of the Throne. He causeth the Spirit of His command upon whom He will of His slaves, that He may warn of the Day of Meeting,
And it was not (vouchsafed) to any mortal that Allah should speak to him unless (it be) by revelation or from behind a veil, or (that) He sendeth a messenger to reveal what He will by His leave. Lo! He is Exalted, Wise. And thus have We inspired in thee (Muhammad) a Spirit of Our command. Thou knewest not what the Scripture was, nor what the Faith. But We have made it a light whereby We guide whom We will of Our bondmen. And lo! thou verily dost guide unto a right path,
Thou wilt not find folk who believe in Allah and the Last Day loving those who oppose Allah and His messenger, even though they be their fathers or their sons or their brethren or their clan. As for such, He hath written faith upon their hearts and hath strengthened them with a Spirit from Him, and He will bring them into Gardens underneath which rivers flow, wherein they will abide. Allah is well pleased with them, and they are well pleased with Him. They are Allah's party. Lo! is it not Allah's party who are the successful?
A questioner questioned concerning the doom about to fall upon the disbelievers, which none can repel, from Allah, Lord of the Ascending Stairway (whereby) the angels and the Spirit ascend unto Him in a Day whereof the span is fifty thousand years.
On the day when the angels and the Spirit stand arrayed, they speak not, saving him whom the Beneficent alloweth and who speaketh right. That is the True Day. So whoso will should seek recourse unto his Lord.
The angels and the Spirit descend therein, by the permission of their Lord, with all decrees.
To understand the Holy Spirit in the Bible, one must also understand the language used. The word "ruach" comes from the Hebrew meaning "spirit", "wind", "breath", or "air". The Greek equivalent is "pneuma" and the Latin is "spiritus". Some examples of its usage in relation to God:
- "Ruach Ha-Kodesh" means Holy Spirit.
- "Ruach Elohim" means Spirit of God.
It would be highly impractical to quote every Bible verse that speaks about the Spirit of God [ie the Holy Spirit]. However, here are some verses that seem to best represent what/who the Holy Spirit is from the books the Qur'an claims to confirm:
The Spirit of God was with God in the beginning.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
God breathed into Adam the breath of life.
the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
God's Spirit contended with man.
Then the LORD said, "My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal ; his days will be a hundred and twenty years."
God's Spirit can be with people.
Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
God creates when he sends his Spirit.
When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth.
Mary conceived through the Holy Spirit.
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit."
People can be baptized with the Holy Spirit.
"I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire."
The Spirit of God descended on Jesus.
As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him.
The Holy Spirit can speak through people.
"Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you."
The Holy Spirit drives out demons.
But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.
And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
Women can be filled with the Holy Spirit.
When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!"
The Holy Spirit is the Counselor.
But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
Jesus gave people the Holy Spirit.
Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."
Gabriel revealed the Quran to Muhammad's heart.
Say (O Muhammad, to mankind): Who is an enemy to Gabriel
! For he it is who hath revealed (this Scripture) to thy heart by Allah's leave, confirming that which was (revealed) before it, and a guidance and glad tidings to believers
; Who is an enemy to Allah, and His angels and His messengers, and Gabriel and Michael! Then, lo! Allah (Himself) is an enemy to the disbelievers.
Gabriel is one of Muhammad's protecting friends.
If ye twain turn unto Allah repentant, (ye have cause to do so) for your hearts desired (the ban); and if ye aid one another against him (Muhammad) then lo! Allah, even He, is his Protecting Friend, and Gabriel
and the righteous among the believers; and furthermore the angels are his helpers.
Gabriel gave Zechariah the message that his wife would give birth to John the Baptist.
In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. Both of them were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord's commandments and regulations blamelessly. But they had no children, because Elizabeth was barren; and they were both well along in years. Once when Zechariah's division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside. Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him
, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." Zechariah asked the angel, "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years." The angel answered, "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news.
And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time."
Gabriel gave Mary the message that she would give birth Jesus Christ.
In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel
to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin's name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, "Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you."
NOTE: The Book of Daniel also mentions Gabriel twice. See Daniel 8:16 and 9:21 (NIV).
Muslims believe Gabriel is the Holy Spirit of Allah.
If that is the case, then we can substitute Gabriel for Allah's Spirit in the following Quran verses:
So, when I have made him and have breathed into him of Gabriel, do ye fall down, prostrating yourselves unto him.
Such is the Knower of the Invisible and the Visible, the Mighty, the Merciful, Who made all things good which He created, and He began the creation of man from clay; Then He made his seed from a draught of despised fluid; Then He fashioned him and breathed into him of Gabriel; and appointed for you hearing and sight and hearts. Small thanks give ye!
And when I have fashioned him and breathed into him of Gabriel, then fall down before him prostrate,
And she who was chaste, therefor We breathed into her (something) of Gabriel and made her and her son a token for (all) peoples.
And Mary, daughter of 'Imran, whose body was chaste, therefor We breathed therein something of Gabriel. And she put faith in the words of her Lord and His scriptures, and was of the obedient.
So, who or what exactly is Gabriel?
- Is he the Spirit of Allah's revelation?
- Is he Allah's "breath of life" as was given to Adam?
- Is he the fertilizer of Mary?
This page is featured in the core article, People of the Book which serves as a starting point for anyone wishing to learn more about this topic