The upshot is that references in the Qur'an to the "Holy Spirit," "Allah's spirit," "Spirit," or the like are not references to Allah as Allah, but are references either to created entities or Allah's commands. There is no place in the Qur'an where the "Spirit" is of the same substance as Allah. In all instances in the Qur'an, the "Spirit" is without question subordinate to Allah. In the Qur'an, God the Holy Spirit is horribly demoted from God to creature.
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - "I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified. He has spoken through the Prophets," the Christian says in the Nicene Creed.
As the Third Person of the Holy Trinity, the Holy Spirit is God. The Athanasian Creed states it in unqualified terms: "the Godhead [Divinity] of Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, is all one (una est divinitas)."
The Holy Spirit is central to the life of the Christian. "If Christ is the Head of the Church," wrote Leo XIII in his encyclical Divinum illud munus, "the Holy Spirit is her soul." One cannot imagine a Christian life without the Holy Spirit any more than a live human body without soul. With respect to the Holy Spirit, the Catechism (# 688) says:
"The Church, a communion living in the faith of the apostles which she transmits, is the place where we know the Holy Spirit: in the Scriptures he inspired; in the Tradition, to which the Church Fathers are always timely witnesses; in the Church's Magisterium, which he assists; in the sacramental liturgy, through its words and symbols, in which the Holy Spirit puts us into communion with Christ;in prayer, wherein he intercedes for us; in the charisms and ministries by which the Church is built up; in the signs of apostolic and missionary life; in the witness of saints through whom he manifests his holiness and continues the work of salvation."
The divinity of the Holy Spirit is assumed by the Scriptures, and a number of "proof texts" can be cited to that effect, including Matt. 12:31 (one can be guilty of blaspheming God by blaspheming the Holy Spirit), Luke 12:10 (same), John 4:24 (God is Spirit), Acts 5:3-4, 9 (lying to the Holy Spirit is lying to God). Moreover, it is clear that the Apostles equate the Holy Spirit with God interchangeably using the term Holy Spirit with God. E.g., Rom. 8:11 v. Gal. 1:1 (The "Spirit" raised Jesus from the dead, and "God the Father" raised Jesus from the dead); 1 Cor. 3:16 v. 1 Cor. 6:19 (Christians are the temples of God, and Christians are temples of the Holy Spirit); 1 Peter 1:2 v. 1 Thess. 5:23 (the Spirit sanctifies Christians v. the God of peace sanctifies).
The Catechism tells us that one of the titles of God the Holy Spirit is "Paraclete." (See John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7; 1 John 2:1) It is the term used by Jesus when he proclaims and promises the Holy Spirit to his followers. Paraclete, which in Greek is parakletos, is "he who is called to one's side, advocatus," which means helper or advocate, or even counselor or comforter. (CCC § 691)
Where does Muhammad stand regarding the Holy Spirit as revealed doctrine?
Now, there are certain parts of the Qur'an where we encounter a theological muddle. The Qur'an's teachings regarding the Holy Spirit, Allah's Spirit, and the like is one of those areas. We need not get into subtleties, however. The upshot is that references in the Qur'an to the "Holy Spirit" (ar-Ruh al-Quds), or Allah's spirit " (ar-Ruh-ul Lah), or Spirit (ar-Ruh) are not references to Allah as Allah, but are references either to created entities or Allah's commands.
There is no place in the Qur'an where the "Spirit" is equated to Allah. In all instances in the Qur'an, the Spirit is without question subordinate to Allah. In the Qur'an, God the Holy Spirit is horribly demoted from God to creature.
The term "Holy Spirit" (ar-Ruh al-Quds) in the Qur'an, the term most like our term for Holy Spirit, is generally held to refer to the Archangel Gabriel (known as Jibril in Arabic). It was the angel Gabriel whom Muhammad alleged gave him his revelations, and the identity of Gabriel with the "Holy Spirit" is confirmed in Qur'an 16:102: "Say, the Holy Spirit (Ruh- ul-Qudus) has brought the Revelation [The Qur'an] from thy Lord in Truth, in order to strengthen those who believe, and as a Guide and Glad Tidings to Muslims."
The ahadith (early reports of Muhammad by his followers) clarify that Muhammad claimed to have received his messages from Gabriel. As a consequence, Muslims scholars equate the two. As Ibn Kathir succinctly puts it in the Tafsir relating to this verse, "Ruh-ul-Qudus (the "Holy Spirit") here means Jibril (Gabriel)."
The term "Allah's spirit" (Ruh-ul-Lah) or its equivalent is something different from the Qur'anic Holy Spirit (ar-Ruh al-Quds). The term is generally held to refer to a created entity, not unlike "Allah's messenger," (Ras-ul-Lah) or "Allah's house" (Bait ul-Lah). Oftentimes it is used to refer to the created soul, as, for example, in Qur'an 32:9 "But He fashioned him [man] in due proportion, and breathed into him something of His Spirit. And He gave you (the faculties of) hearing and sight and feeling (and understanding): little thanks do ye give!" (see also Qur'an 15:29, 21:91, 38:72, 66:12).
Finally, the term "spirit" (ar-Ruh) is used within the context of command. For example, in Qur'an 40:15: "Raised high above ranks (or degrees). (He is) the Lord of the Throne (of Authority): by His Command does He send the Spirit of His command (ar-ruha min amrihi) to any of his servants he pleases, to warn (men) of the Day of the Meeting." Indeed, this is the definition clearly given in Qur'an 17:85 ("They ask thee concerning the Spirit (ar-ruhi) (of inspiration). Say: "The Spirit (cometh) by command (ar-ruhu min amri) of my Lord: of knowledge it is only a little that is communicated to you, (O men!)."
In short, the "Spirit" is never equated with Allah or God in Islam. We can therefore conclude that Muhammad, in his supposed revelations, rejected any notion of the divine personhood of the Holy Spirit.
While Muhammad rejected the divine personality of the Holy Spirit, his followers have not scrupled to attribute to Muhammad one of the titles of the Holy Spirit: the Paraclete.
The efforts of his followers stem from the problems arising out of Muhammad's declaration (in Qur'an 7:157) that the Gospels supposedly prophesied of the coming of an illiterate prophet: "Those who follow the messenger, the unlettered Prophet, whom they find mentioned in their own (scriptures),--in the law and the Gospel;--for he commands them what is just and forbids them what is evil . . . ."
In Qur'an 61:6, it is supposedly Jesus who promises such a thing: "And remember, Jesus, the son of Mary, said: 'O Children of Israel! I am the messenger of Allah (sent) to you, confirming the Law (which came) before me, and giving Glad Tidings of a Messenger to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad [a variant of the name Muhammad, meaning "praiseworthy one"] . . . .'"
The problem for Muslim scholars is that the Gospel nowhere predicts the coming of a prophet whose name means "praiseworthy one," much less an illiterate prophet with that name. The absence of such a prophecy in the Gospels (which is quite damaging to the authenticity of the Qur'an and its claim regarding Muhammad) has led to a desperate dual strategy on the part of Muslim apologists.
First, Muslim apologists implausibly suggest that Muhammad was the promised "Paraclete" of the Gospel of John. (See John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7; 1 John 2:1) Second, because the word "paraclete" (in Greek, parakletos) does not mean "praiseworthy one," but counselor or advocate, they argue that the Greek term parakletos was corrupted by the Christians, and that the original word was periklytos, supposedly a Greek word that means "praiseworthy one."
The argument is, in a word, nonsense. Not only does it fly in the face of the unchanging Tradition of the Church which understood the "Paraclete" to refer to the Holy Spirit, it is unsupportable contextually, historically, and textually.
First, the context expressly ties in the "Paraclete" to the Holy Spirit, and not a prophet. "But the Paraclete, 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." (John 14:26) Contextually, the claim is hogwash.
This sense that the Holy Spirit--the Paraclete--was the soul of the Church and not any prophet to come is found beautifully expressed by St. Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and God of all encouragement (paraklesis), who encourages (parakaleo) us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to encourage (parakaleo) those who are in any affliction with the encouragement (paraklesis) with which we ourselves are encouraged (parakaleo) by God." (2 Cor. 1:3-4).
These verses from St. Paul's epistle literally drip with the notion of the Holy Spirit as the Paraclete, the Helper, the Encourager, the Comforter, the Advocate. This is how the Church understood it from the beginning. It is disingenuous in the extreme to construe Christ's promise of the Paraclete as referring to a prophet coming hundreds of years hence.
Second, there is no historical evidence that the word parakletos was ever anything but parakletos. The earliest extant manuscripts of the Gospel of John show "parakletos." There is no variant of any surviving manuscript of John's Gospel that uses the term "periklytos." There is no Apostolic or Church Father that ever read "periklytos" instead of "parakletos" or that understood this reference in John's Gospel to refer to an illiterate prophet. Rather, monolithically and unanimously, the promised Paraclete is always regarded as a reference to the gift of the Holy Spirit enjoyed by the Church and her members, and which was received by the Apostles after Christ's Ascension on the Jewish feast of Pentecost.
Third, the word periklytos (which is used nowhere in the Greek translation of the Old Testament known as the Septuagint, but is used in classical Greek) does not mean "praiseworthy one," but rather it means famous or renowned. The word for praised one in Greek is epainos, not periklytos.
One cannot help but wonder whether Muhammad's denial of the divinity of the Holy Spirit and the arrogation of the Holy Spirit's office as Paraclete--this "speaking against the Holy Spirit"--is not that "fearful thing written in the Gospel," in the words of St. Cyril of Jerusalem in his Catechetical Lectures, known as blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. (Matt. 12:30-32; Mark 3:29; Luke 12:8-10)
"But if any one should deny the dignity, majesty, and eternal power of the Holy Spirit," says St. Ambrose in his treatise on the Holy Spirit (I.3.54) (which is exactly what Muhammad does in his supposed revelations), "there is fullness of sacrilege," ubi sacrilegi plenitudo est.
An authentic prophet would not be guilty of sacrilege, much less the fullness of sacrilege, though one moved by the spirit of antichrist would. Muhammad's teachings which impugn the divinity of the Holy Spirit, and his assumption of the Holy Spirit's title and office, is just another brick in the wall of evidence that supports the thesis of this series of articles that the spirit of antichrist is in Muhammad.
In our next article, we will address the Qur'anic rejection of the Blessed Trinity. We will then turn from God to God's interaction with humanity, specifically addressing issues relating to the Christian doctrine of salvation--the heart of the Good News of Jesus Christ--sadly rejected by Muhammad along with the God as revealed in Jesus and the New Testament.
Andrew M. Greenwell is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, practicing in Corpus Christi, Texas. He is married with three children. He maintains a blog entirely devoted to the natural law called Lex Christianorum. You can contact Andrew at email@example.com.
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