Correcting Some Common Christian Misrepresentations of Islam Pt. 1

The Holy Spirit’s Identity According to the Quran

This is my first post exposing some of the errors commonly made by Christians in discussing the Islamic religion.

In the following session on Islam, right around the 53-minute mark, James White claimed that the Holy Spirit is the angel Gabriel according to the Quran: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJncN0FtlgY.

This is simply false since the Quran nowhere identifies the Holy Spirit as Gabriel. White is deriving this from later Islamic theology, not from the sound exegesis of the Quran itself. The fact of the matter is that the Muslim scripture identifies the Holy Spirit, who is also referred to as “the Faithful Spirit”, “the Spirit”, “My/Our Spirit”, i.e. Allah’s Spirit etc., as a divine Person who is basically coequal to Allah in essence and ability.

Here is a helpful summary of what the Quran teaches regarding the Spirit:

1. The Spirit can appear in human form, as he did to Mary, and can speak and be spoken to (cf. Q. 19:16-21). This shows that he is a divine Person, and not merely Allah’s power or creative force.

2. The Spirit is Creator and Life-giver since he animated the life of Adam in order to make him a living being, and he is also the one who caused Mary to conceive Jesus Christ while still a virgin. These acts of animating and creating life occurred after Allah breathed the Spirit into both Adam and Mary respectively (cf. Q. 15:28-29; 19:19; 21:91; 66:12). With that said, note what the following Ahmadiyya Muslim scholar and Quran translator says in his exegesis of Q. 15:29,

29a. This shows that man is made complete when the DIVINE SPIRIT is breathed into him. It should be noted that the DIVINE SPIRIT (Ar. ruh) does not mean here the animal soul in man, but the Spirit of Allah, that gives him perfection. (http://www.muslim.org/english-quran/ch015.pdf; Bold and capital emphasis ours)

And 32:9a:

9a. This verse shows that the spirit of God is breathed into every man. This points to a mystical relation between human nature and Divine nature. The word ruh does not here mean the animal soul, because the animal soul is common to man and the animal kingdom. It is something that distinguishes man from the animal world. It is due to THE SPIRIT DIVINE that he rules creation and its due to THE SAME DIVINE SPIRIT in him that he receives a new life after death – a life which he lives in God and with God – the meeting with God or liqa Allah, as it is called in v. 10. (http://www.muslim.org/english-quran/ch032.pdf; Bold and capital emphasis ours)

3. The fact that the Quran speaks of the Spirit being breathed out by Allah demonstrates that the Spirit is not a creature of Allah, but an essential and intrinsic aspect of Allah’s very own eternal being since he originates from him, not from creation (cf. Q. 15:29; 21:91; 32:9; 66:12).

4. The Spirit is said to have strengthened Jesus (cf. Q. 2:87, 253; 5:110), and is also responsible for strengthening all true Muslims the world over, no matter how many they happen to be, and no matter where they happen to live (cf. Q. 58:22). This shows that the Spirit is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent, and therefore fully and essentially divine, a fact which even the late Muslim translator Abdullah Yusuf Ali admitted in his commentary on Q. 58:22:

“… Cf. ii 87 and 253, where it is said that God strengthened the Prophet Jesus with the holy spirit. Here we learn that all good and righteous men are strengthened by God with the holy spirit. If anything, the phrase used here is stronger, ‘a spirit from Himself’. Whenever any one offers his heart in faith and purity to God, God accepts it, engraves that faith on the seeker’s heart, and further fortifies him with THE DIVINE SPIRIT, WHICH WE CAN NO MORE ADEQUATELY DEFINE IN HUMAN LANGUAGE THAN THE NATURE OF GOD.” (Ali, The Meaning of the Holy Quran, p. 1518, fn. 5365; Bold and capital emphasis ours)

5. There are passages which speak of the Spirit and the angels working together, thereby distinguishing the Spirit from the angels that accompany him (cf. Q. 16:2; 70:4; 78:38; 97:4). This proves that the Spirit is not an angel, since he is distinct from all angels, and therefore cannot be the angel Gabriel.

This brief overview of what the Quran actually says concerning the Holy Spirit demonstrates that the core foundational document of the Muslim faith does not teach unitarianism. Rather, the Quran confirms that there are at least two divine beings, namely Allah and his eternal Spirit, whom the Islamic scripture describes as Co-Creator and Life-giver that emanates from Allah himself as his very own divine breath, and who is further depicted as a being that is subordinate to the Muslim deity.

Lord willing, I will be posting some more errors from Christian apologists such as James White, which need to be addressed lest Christians mistakenly assume that these misrepresentations accurately present what the primary sources of Islam actually teach on these matters. This will hopefully insure that believers, who are listening and reading what these apologists are teaching in respect to Islam, will avoid spreading such misinformation to others.

With that said please proceed to the second section of this specific part of the series https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2017/01/23/correcting-some-common-christian-misrepresentations-of-islam-pt-1b/.

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