According to the Quran Allah is the holy one, or the one who is holy:
He is Allah, than Whom there is no other God, the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One (al-quddoosi), Peace, the Keeper of Faith, the Guardian, the Majestic, the Compeller, the Superb. Glorified be Allah from all that they ascribe as partner (unto Him). S. 59:23 Pickthall
All that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth glorifieth Allah, the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One (al-quddoosi), the Mighty, the Wise. S. 62:1 Pickthall
He’s also the one that the angels laud as holy:
And when thy Lord said to the angels: Truly, I am assigning on the earth a viceregent. They said: Wilt Thou be One Who Makes on it someone who makes corruption on it and sheds blood, while we glorify Thy praise and sanctify Thee (wanahnu nusabbihu bihamdika wanuqaddisu)? He said: Truly, I know what you know not! S. 2:30 Dr. Laleh Bakhtiar https://www.islamawakened.com/quran/2/st46.htm
Note how the following versions translate this passage:
“… while we glorify Your praises and proclaim Your holiness?…” The Clear Quran by Mustafa Khattab https://www.islamawakened.com/quran/2/st60.htm
“… and we glorify THEE with THY praise and extol THY holiness…” Sher Ali
“…while we already glorify You with Your true praise and extol Your holiness…” Amatul Rahman Omar https://www.islamawakened.com/quran/2/st9.htm
“… when we glorify You by praising You and exalt Your Holiness?…” Mir Aneesuddin https://www.islamawakened.com/quran/2/st60.htm
“And when your lord said to the angels, “Surely I am placing on earth a kalefah.”  They said, “Will you place in it those who will vandalize in it and shed the blood, and while we nusabah  with your praise and extol your holiness?” He said, “Surely I know what you do not know.” (Usama Dakdok. The Generous Qur’an: An accurate, modern English translation of the Qur’an, Islam’s holiest book [Usama Dakdok Publishing, LLC., 2009], p. 49; bold and italicized emphasis ours)
16 viceroy, non-Arabic word of Berber/Syriac origin
17 praise, non-Arabic word of Aramaic/Hebrew/Syriac origin (Ibid., p. 108)
Moreover, Islamic theology teaches that the adjective al-quddus happens to be one of the names of Allah, one that cannot be ascribed to any creature, no matter how highly exalted s/he may be:
As-Subbûh, Al-Quddûs: The All-Perfect, Utterly Pure
Subbuh is from Subhan, which is glorification and tanzih, disconnecting and elevating Him above any others. He is All-Perfect, All-Pure, All Glorious, far removed from everything evil and imperfect.
Quddus means pure (tahir, munazzah), pure and free of any imperfection. He is far removed from every imperfection or impurity or from anything that would detract from His glory, and disconnected from every description perceived by the senses and thought,All-Holy, All-Pure, All-Perfect.
Some say Subbuh denies imperfection and Quddus affirms perfection.
Al-Quddus is one of the Ninety-Nine Names. (Aisha Bewley, The Divine Names https://bewley.virtualave.net/names.html)
And here is another one of Allah’s incommunicable names:
Al-Amîn: The Secure
He who is secure with respect to the accidents of fortune. (Bewley)
An account of those who said this:
‘Ali [b. Dawud al-Tamimi]–Abu Salih [‘Abd Allah b. Salih]–Mu’awiya [b. Salih]–‘Ali [b. Abi Talha]–Ibn ‘Abbas said, concerning His statement the Muhaymin, “The Witness”. Another time, he said, “The Truth (al-Amin)”…
OPINION: Others said: The Muhaymin is the Truthful (al-Amin).
An account of those who said this:
Yunus [b. ‘Abd. Al-A‘la]–Ibn Wahb–Ibn Zayd concerning His statement the Muhaymin, “He confirms as true all that has happened.”
[Ibn Zayd] recited wa-muhayminan ‘alayhi (Q. 5:48) and said, “The Qur’an confirms as true all the Books that preceded it, and God confirms as true all that He has said happened in the past in the temporal world, all that has remained, and all that He has said regarding the Hereafter.” (Tabari: Selections from The Comprehensive Expositions of the Interpretations of the Verses of the Qur’an, translated by Scott C. Lucas [The Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought & The Islamic Texts Society, 2017], Volume II, p. 269)
Amin refers to someone who is faithful, reliable, honest, truthful, and/or trustworthy.
Now this is where it gets rather interesting, especially for Muslims. The Quran ascribes these very unique divine names to the spirit himself!
The Muslim “holy” book identifies the spirit as al-amin,
“The Faithful Spirit (al-ruhu al-aminu) has descended with it,” S. 26:193 Shakir
And We gave to Moses the Book, and after him sent succeeding Messengers; and We gave Jesus son of Mary the clear signs, and confirmed him with the Holy Spirit (ruhi al-qudusi); and whensoever there came to you a Messenger with that your souls had not desire for, did you become arrogant, and some cry lies to, and some slay? S. 2:87 Arberry
“… And We gave Jesus son of Mary the clear signs, and confirmed him with the Holy Spirit (ruhi al-qudusi)…” S. 2:253 Arberry
“When God said, ‘Jesus Son of Mary, remember My blessing upon thee and upon thy mother, when I confirmed thee with the Holy Spirit (ruhi al-qudusi), to speak to men in the cradle, and of age…” S. 5:110 Arberry
Say, the Holy Spirit (ruhu al-qudusi) 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. S. 16:102 Y. Ali
According to two of Islam’s premiere commentators, al-qudus is actually the shortened form of the participle al-muqaddasa:
“… and We confirmed him We strengthened him with the Holy Spirit the expression rūh al-qudus is an example of annexing in a genitive construction the noun described to the adjective qualifying it in other words al-rūh al-muqaddasa that is Gabriel so described on account of his Jesus’s sanctity; he would accompany him Jesus wherever he went…” (Tafsir al-Jalalayn, Q. 2:87 https://www.altafsir.com/Tafasir.asp?tMadhNo=0&tTafsirNo=74&tSoraNo=2&tAyahNo=87&tDisplay=yes&UserProfile=0&LanguageId=2; bold and underline emphasis ours)
This simply further confirms that the Quran actually attributes to the spirit one of Allah’s very own descriptions, namely, al-quddus, which only makes sense since both qudus and quddus stem from the same Arabic root:
The triliteral root qāf dāl sīn (ق د س) occurs 10 times in the Quran, in five derived forms:
once as the form II verb nuqaddisu(نُقَدِّسُ)
four times as the noun qudus(قُدُس)
twice as the adjective quddūs(قُدُّوس)
twice as the form II passive participle muqaddas(مُقَدَّس)
once as the form II passive participle muqaddasat(مُقَدَّسَة) (Quran Dictionary http://corpus.quran.com/qurandictionary.jsp?q=qds)
Since qudus is nothing more than the noun form of the adjective quddus, the terms are therefore synonymous in meaning. In fact, qudus and all of its related forms are never used for any person besides Allah and the spirit.
This explains why certain Islamic scholars took the noun al-qudus (“the holy one”) as a reference to Allah himself:
“Ibn Ines said, He is the Spirit which was breathed into Christ. Allah related him to himself, honouring him (Christ) and setting Him apart. The ‘Holy’ is God, and the saying ‘We breathed in him of our Spirit’ is indicative of this…
“Ibn Jubair said, Spirit of the Holy is the supreme name for Allah and by it ‘Isa was raising the dead.
“Al Qashani said, Allah purposed to cleanse the body of ‘Isa from inherent impurities and he was an incarnate spirit in an ideal and spiritual body. He (Allah) cleansed his spirit and purified him from being influenced by natural instincts and environmental characteristics, so that he could be supported by the Holy Spirit in whose form he was…
“Ibn Abbas said, As it was, the Spirit which was breathed into him and the Holy One is Allah, so he is the spirit of Allah. (Abd Al-Fadi, The Person of Christ in the Gospel and the Qur’an https://the-good-way.com/eng/books/4301/format-xml#idp241658464; bold emphasis ours)
These scholars were of the opinion that ruh al-qudus literally means the spirit of the Holy One, e.g., the spirit that belongs to Allah. They apparently saw that this was a unique term, which they believed could only be employed for the Muslim deity.
This in turn provides further corroboration that al-qudus is a name for Deity, thereby confirming that it has the same meaning as al-quddus.
In light of this, the only way that the spirit could be called al-qudus is if he himself is God in essence. Otherwise, the author(s) and/or editor(s) of the Quran were guilty of the unpardonable sin of shirk (cf. Q. 2:22; 4:48, 116), since they ascribed the unique names and characteristics of Allah to a finite creature. This brings me to my next point.
What makes this all the more interesting is that the Quran never states that human beings possess a spirit. Rather, the Islamic scripture consistently speaks of humans having souls. The only one said to have a spirit is Allah:
The word, `Spirit’ or its derivatives are mentioned twenty-four times in the Qur’an and not once in relation to man. The word that describes the inner being of a man is `soul’, not `Spirit’. Dr Mustafa Mahmoud draws a distinction between the spirit and the soul in the Qur’an:
According to the common language, we mix between the soul and the Spirit. And so we say, `his spirit departed’, or `his spirit longs for such and such’, or `his spirit is in torment’ … All these are incorrect expressions and belong only to the soul, not the Spirit. For what departs from the body is the soul (Q 6:93), and what tastes death is the soul and not the spirit (Q 3:185) … The soul exists before birth, and during the lifetime of a person, and remains after death. The Spirit cannot be tempted (Q. 5:30, Q. 50:16), does not covet or lust (Q. 91:7&8), does not get bored (Q 9:118) and does not get tormented (Q. 9:55) … all these belong to the soul and not the Spirit.
While common language `mixes between’ soul and Spirit, using them interchangeably, the Qur’an does not treat the two words in this way, but instead uses the word `Spirit’ exclusively in relation to God. Dr Mahmoud continues:
The Spirit, however, is always mentioned in the Qur’an with a high degree of holiness, honour and Divine Transcendence. It is never described as suffering pain or coveting, or lusting or longing or desiring, or being purified or defiled, or ascending or descending or being bored. There is no mention that it leaves the body or suffers death … it is not associated with man, but is mentioned always in association with God (Q. 19:17). Of the creation of Adam God says, `When I have shaped him, and breathed My Spirit in him …’ (Q. 15:29). God says `My Spirit’, not `the spirit of Adam’ – that is, this Spirit is from God. So our Lord related the Spirit always to Himself. And again: `Even so We have revealed to thee a Spirit of Our bidding.’ The Spirit here is the Divine Word and the Divine command. Thus the Spirit is always related to God, and is in constant movement from God and to God … for this reason the Spirit is described in such high and lofty terms. For the Qur’an calls Gabriel `Spirit of Holiness’ … and `the faithful Spirit’. But the soul is related always to one’s self, its owner. `Whatever befell you from evil is from yourself [soul]’ (Q. 4:79).
In contrast to the soul,
The Spirit has no place in Paradise or Hell, but it is light from God’s light, related to God. It is from Him. It cannot be subjected to trial or judgment, or punishment or reward, but it is the highest example in the following Qur’anic verses, `God’s is the loftiest likeness; He is the All-mighty, the All-wise’ (Q. 16:60) and `His is the loftiest likeness in the Heaven and the earth’ (Q. 30:27).
This is the world of the radiant likeness that derives its holiness and radiance from being `from’ God and `from’ His bidding.
The Spirit then is always related to God, and belongs to the Divine level.
- Ibrahim Al-Qatan, quoting Dr Mustafa Mahmoud, Taysir At-Tafsir, Vol. 3, p. 6.
- Ibid. (M. N. Anderson, The Trinity: An Appreciation of the Oneness of God with Reference to the Son of God and the Holy Spirit for Christians and Muslims, The Spirit in the Quran https://answeringislam.net/Mna/trinity.html#08-SpiritInQuran; bold emphasis ours)
That’s not all. The Muslim scripture speaks of Allah breathing forth his spirit to perform exclusively divine functions, such as creating and giving life:
Remember when thy Lord said to the Angels, “I create man of dried clay, of dark loam moulded: And when I shall have fashioned him and breathed of my spirit into him, then fall ye down and worship him.” S. 15:28-29 Rodwell
And mention Marium in the Book when she drew aside from her family to an eastern place; So she took a veil (to screen herself) from them; then We sent to her Our spirit, and there appeared to her a well-made man. She said: Surely I fly for refuge from you to the Beneficent God, if you are one guarding (against evil). He said: I am only an apostle of your Lord: That I will give you a pure boy. S. 19:16-19 Shakir
And Mary, daughter of Imran, who guarded her private parts, and we breathed therein of our spirit and she verified the words of her Lord and His books, and was of the devout. S. 66:12 Palmer
This led many Muslim scholars and mystics to conclude that Allah’s spirit is not a creature:
… Further understanding of the Spirit is found in the writings of Ibn ‘Arabi, the Sufi mystic who believed that:
Gabriel is not to be identified with the angel associated with the Inspiration … But Gabriel is the Principle of Life in all that exists: he is the total Spirit – all that exists is permeated by It, irrespective of the levels of life they possess … Gabriel is the Truth Himself, manifested in this Total Spirit.
So according to Ibn ‘Arabi, Gabriel is not an angel but what Gilani, (another Sufi), calls the `Holy Spirit’. Gilani wrote:
Know that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of spirits. He is beyond and above the scope and range of the Divine creative command `be’ (kon). It cannot be said of Him that He is a creature, because He is a special aspect [literally, face] of the Truth [that is, of God]. By that aspect, existence came to be. He is a Spirit unlike other spirits, because He is the Spirit of God of which it was breathed into Adam, as is referred to by God’s word `and breathed My Spirit in him’. So the spirit of Adam is created and the Spirit of God is not created. He is the Holy Spirit; that is, the Spirit of Holiness, which is different from the defects and shortcomings of physical existence.
Gilani believed that the Holy Spirit is not a creature, as did Ibn Hanbal, one of the four leaders of the Islamic schools of thought, who said, `The claim that the Holy Spirit is a creature is a heresy.' In his view, it is a heresy to say that the Holy Spirit is a creature, just as he believed it is a blasphemy to say that the Word of God is created.
Imam Abu al-‘Azayem, another Sufi scholar, said:
The Spirit [whom God breathed from in Adam] is the summation of all truths and is perfect in description. For this reason God made man His vice-regent and made the angels to worship him.
This is a clear acknowledgment that the Spirit is not a creature, but Divine. Only if the Spirit breathed into Adam is divine is the worship by the angels of Adam permissible, for then it is not classed as the worship by one creature of another, but the worship by a creature of the Divine in Adam.
As stated earlier traditional Muslim scholars believe that the Qur’an portrays God as having a body, and soul. Even if the components of the body and the soul of Allah could be allegorised, the Qur’an definitely portrays Allah as having a spirit. We have also shown that the spirit is not a creature, but is capable of imparting life, and that which can impart life to man can’t possess less life than that of man. The life that the Spirit of God possesses implies that the Spirit can think, see, hear etc. Otherwise man the creature possesses more life than the Spirit of God who gave man life. Therefore according to the Qur’an, God is at least a dual being. Muslims then have the same difficulty in comprehending the nature of Allah as the Christians have in understanding the nature of God.
- Dr Abu al-‘Ala ‘Afifi, commenting on Fusus al-Hikam, Dar al-Kitab al-‘Arabi, Part 2, 1980, p. 180.
- Abd Al-Karim Al-Gilani, The Perfect Man, Al-Matba’ah Al-Azhareiah, Cairo, 1328H, Vol. 2, p. 8.
- Al-‘ustaz Mohammad Kamel So’aib, Megalat Al-massarah, 1966, p. 181. Quoted by Mr Hadad in Madkhal Ela Al-Hewar Al-Islami Al-masihi, Al-Maktabah Al-Boulesiah, Lebanon, 1969.
- Dr Mustafa Mahmoud, A-Sser Al-A’zam, Dar Al-‘Awdah, Beirut, 1986, p. 47. (Anderson, The Divinity of the Spirit https://answeringislam.net/Mna/trinity.html#09-TheDivinity; bold emphasis ours)
And yet since the spirit is not a creature he must therefore be fully divine, meaning he must be God!
To sum up our discussion concerning the Quranic depiction of the spirit of Allah, we discovered that:
The spirit is described with two of the unique names of the Muslim deity, namely al-qudus and al-amin.
The spirit is depicted as creating and giving life, which are also divine actions.
The spirit is said to be the breath of Allah, in that Allah breathes out the spirit from himself. This again confirms that the spirit is not a part of creation but an eternal and intrinsic aspect of the very being of Allah.
With the foregoing in perspective, what further proof do Muslims need to convince them that Allah is not a uni-personal deity? According to their own religious book their god is a composite being composed of distinct persons, one of whom happens to be the spirit.
In some of the citations I provided, the Muslim scholars identified the spirit as the angel Gabriel. In fact, traditional Islamic theology teaches that the holy and faithful spirit are simply different names for Gabriel.
However, this introduces a few problems for Muslims. First, since the spirit is described with two of the names of Allah, and creates and gives life, this means that Gabriel is now associated with the Muslim deity in the latter’s unique names, functions and abilities.
Yet according to the Islamic classification known as tauhid al-asma wa-sifaat (“the unity/oneness of the names and attributes”), the names of Allah in their definite forms, i.e., AR-Rahman (“THE merciful”), AL-Aziz (“THE mighty/irresistible”), can never be ascribed to a creature. And since the spirit is called AL-qudus and AL-amin, this proves that the spirit is truly divine. And if the spirit is really Gabriel then this means that Gabriel is a divine being.
In light of this, the Muslims are left with one of two options. Gabriel is a creature whom Allah has deified, taking him as his partner in his divine attributes and functions. If so then the Muslim god is guilty of committing shirk, since the very essence of shirk is to associate a creature with Allah in his unique characteristics and abilities (cf. Q. 2:22; 4:48, 116; 39:65).
OR Gabriel is not a creature, but one of the divine persons that make up the identity of Allah himself, which is similar to the position held by the Sufi mystic Ibn Arabi who was cited above.
Secondly, there isn’t a single passage in the entire Quran that comes out and states that the spirit is Gabriel. In fact, when Muhammad was asked about the spirit his response was that the spirit’s identity is basically unknown:
They are asking thee concerning the Spirit (al-ruhi). Say: The Spirit (al-ruhu) is by command of my Lord, and of knowledge ye have been vouchsafed but little. S. 17:85 Pickthall
This was the perfect opportunity for Muhammad to have said that the spirit is Gabriel. Instead he basically admitted being ignorant about who and what the spirit truly is, thereby refuting the Muslim assertion that the spirit is angel Gabriel.
The fact remains that the spirit cannot be a creature according to the Quran. Rather, the Islamic scripture depicts the spirit as a divine being, who is both inseparable from and subordinate to the Muslim god.