Christians interpret Ruhul-Quds as Allah's spirit. Is Hz. Isa (Jesus) Allah's spirit?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

The angel of revelation, Holy Spirit, (Ruhul-Quds) is made up of the combination of the words "ruh" and "quds". Both of those words are Arabic. The word "ruh" is used in the sense of life, the source of understanding and movement, the opposite of matter, spiritual being, revelation, word of Allah, the Quran, power, the angel of revelation, Jibril (Gabriel), feeling, emotion, etc. (Raghib al-Isfahani, al-Mufradat fi Gharibil-Qur'an, Egypt 1961, "ruh" item)

However, nobody but Allah can know the real meaning of “ruh”. For, Allah states the following regarding the issue:

"They ask thee concerning the Spirit (of inspiration). Say: ‘The Spirit (cometh) by command of my Lord: of knowledge it is only a little that is communicated to you, (O men!)’." (al-Isra, 17/85)

The word "quds" means holy, blessed and purified from all kinds of evil. The phrase "ruhul-quds", which is a combination of those two words, means holy and clean spirit that cannot be stained by any blemish, the angel of revelation, Jibril. (Elmalılı Hamdi Yazır, Hak Dini Kur'ân Dili, V, 3125).

The word ruh is mentioned in several places in the Quran in various senses. Ruhul-Quds is mentioned only in four places. Scholars have different interpretations about the meaning of it in the verses in which it is mentioned. However, according to the majority of the scholars, it means Jibril, the angel of revelation. The translation of the one of the verses in which the phrase ruhul-quds is mentioned is as follows:

"We gave Moses the Book and followed him up with a succession of messengers; We gave Jesus the son of Mary Clear (Signs) and strengthened him with the holy spirit." (al-Baqara, 2/87)

The different views of the scholars related to ruhul-quds is mentioned in this verse is as follows:

1. Ruhul-Quds is one of the names of Allah Almighty.

2. It means the holy book, the Quran, or, according to another view, the Gospel.

3. Ruhul-Quds means Allah's spirit.

4. It means Jibril, the angel of revelation. That is the view of the majority of the scholars because it is used in this sense in various hadiths and poems of poets. (at-Tabari, Jamiul-Bayan, Egypt 1954, I, 404 ff; al-Qurtubi, al-Jamiu li Ahkamil-Qur'an, Egypt 1967, II, 24; ar-Razi, at-Tafsirul-Kabir, III, 177).

According to the scholars who hold that view, Ruhul-Quds mentioned in the following verses means Jibril:

"Those messengers We endowed with gifts, some above others: To one of them Allah spoke; others He raised to degrees (of honor); to Jesus the son of Mary We gave clear (Signs), and strengthened him with the holy spirit." (al-Baqara, 2/253);

"Then will Allah say: "O Jesus the son of Mary! Recount My favor to thee and to thy mother. Behold! I strengthened thee with the holy spirit." (al-Maida, 5/110);

"Say, the Holy Spirit has brought the revelation from thy Lord in Truth, in order to strengthen those who believe, and as a Guide and Glad Tidings to Muslims." (an-Nahl, 16/102).

Ruhul-Amin is synonymous with Ruhul-Quds. That is, it means Jibril too. It is mentioned only in one verse in the Quran:

"With it came down the spirit of Faith and Truth." (ash-Shuara, 26/ 193)

When those words belonging to the language of the Quran are considered, it is understood that Ruhul-Quds is Jibril. However, in that case, the following question can come to mind:

"What is the meaning of the pronoun’s being attributed to Hz. Isa only, even excluding Hz. Musa, in the divine statement 'and strengthened him with the holy spirit', though Jibril was also sent to the prophets other than Hz. Isa too? Is it not understood from that statement that Ruhul-Quds is a special spirit other than Jibril?"

According to the explanation of tafsir scholars, the answer is "No!" The meaning of the attribution is as follows: Jibril has a special relation with Hz. Isa, which is not in question with other prophets because it is Jibril that gave Hz. Maryam (Mary) the glad tiding about his birth. Hz. Isa was born with his breathing, grew up with his education and support; He went everywhere with Hz. Isa. As a matter of fact, the following is stated in the chapter of Maryam:

"Then We sent her our angel, and he appeared before her as a man in all respects." (Maryam, 19/17)

The word "ruhana" (Our spirit) mentioned in the verse is ruhullah, Ruhul-Quds, Jibril.

In addition, as it is known, Sons of Israel uttered some words that were contrary to the innocence and chastity of Hz. Isa and his mother Maryam and that were contrary to their holiness; the real addressee of the verse was Jews; therefore, this verse about Hz. Isa was not sent for attribution but to purify and to support him in the face of those accusations and slanders of Jews. Therefore, the name "Ruhul-Quds", which means cleanliness, purification, was preferred.

It is necessary to remind here that Hz. Isa was strengthened with "Ruhul-Quds" but he is not the only one to be strengthened with Ruhul-Quds.

"Say, the Holy Spirit has brought the revelation from thy Lord in Truth." (an-Nahl, 16/102)

As it is stated in the verse above, the one that brought the Quran to the Prophet (pbuh) is Ruhul-Quds. It is a known fact the one that brought the Quran to him is Jibril. So, Ruhul-Quds is Jibril. It is Jibril in terms of power and strength, Ruhul-Quds in terms of innocence and purity.

According to what the poet Hassan narrates, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) prayed for him and said,  

"O Lord! Strengthen Hassan with Ruhul-Quds." When Hassan narrated it, he showed Abu Hurayra as his witness. (Bukhari, Salah, 68; Muslim, Fadailus-Sahaba, 151, 152; Nasai, Masajid, 24. See also Jibril item)

As it is known, some verses of the Quran are muhkam (clear; decisive) and some are mutashabih (allegorical; ambiguous). For instance, the following verses are muhkam:

“He begetteth not, nor is He begotten.” (al-Ikhlas, 112/3),

“It is not befitting to (the majesty of) Allah that He should beget a son.” (Maryam, 19/35),

“There is nothing whatever like unto Him.” (ash-Shura, 42/11)

That is, they include definite decrees; they cannot be interpreted differently. The verse below is mutashabih:

“Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) a messenger of Allah, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from Him.” (an-Nisa, 4/171)

Hz. Isa’s being a word of Allah was interpreted as his being created without a father based on the order “Kun: Be”; similarly, “being a spirit proceeding from Him” was interpreted as honor, that is, Allah’s compliment to the spirit. As a matter of fact, the following is stated in the chapter of al-Anbiya:

"We breathed into her (Mary) of Our spirit, and We made her and her son a sign for all peoples."

A kind of honoring and complimenting is in question in the phrase ‘of Our spirit’ mentioned in the verse. If God Almighty had said, ‘I granted you fish from My sea, fruits from My soil and light from My sun’, we would have understood each of them as a compliment to the sea, soil and sun. The phrase of Our spirit will be understood as “of Our creature called spirit”.

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