A Muslims Attempt of Addressing the issue of the Holy Spirit being Gabriel
And Why He fell Short
While surfing the net I discovered a rebuttal (*) to my response to Jalal Abualrubs attempt of proving from the Quran that the Holy Spirit is the angel Gabriel (*).
The style of writing is quite similar to the material of Umar, one of the writers of www.answering-christianity.com. In fact, the url itself contains Umars name. Since we expect that this rebuttal will be appearing on Answering Christianity we have decided to rebut this material now, by Gods grace, instead of waiting for it to show up on Osama Abdallahs site.
Here is how Umar responds to my use of specific texts which distinguish the Spirit from the angels, which thereby supports the position that he is not the angel Gabriel:
The above in no way whatsoever refutes what Brother Jalaal wrote, all it does is show how badly Shamoun diverted away from the main points.
But to have more fun, lets show him exactly what the commentators of the Holy Quran say about Sura 70 Ayat 4:
To Him, to the place in the heaven to which His command descends, ascend (read [feminine person] ta'ruju or [masculine person] ya'ruju) the angels and the Spirit, Gabriel, .
((Whereby) the angels and the Spirit) i.e. Gabriel (ascend unto Him) unto Allah
(Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn Abbâs)
Sam fails to realize that Jibreel IS distinguished (in this case) from the rest of the angels in the verse as the commentaries say, and he (Jibreel) has the title of Ruh Al Quds.
This in no way refutes the above. All Sam is trying to do here is confuse his readers into agreeing with his point of view.
I understand that Umar thinks that my points did not refute Abualrub, but that is because he didnt understand my argument. When we consider that the Spirit is distinguished from the angels in the above texts and compare them with passages where Allah and the angels are distinguished from one another, this only makes the case against the Muslim claim that Gabriel is the Holy Spirit much stronger. When we also add to these references the rest of what the Quran says about the Spirit then the Muslim position becomes all the more unlikely and even indefensible. Citing scholars who happened to identify the Spirit with Gabriel, despite the fact that the Spirit is presented as a separate entity from the angels in these very passages, doesnt prove Umars point. It only proves that these Muslim commentators, much like Umar and Abualrub, simply ignored the plain reading and meaning of the teachings of the Quran. More on this below.
Next, he responds to my criticism of Abualrubs use of Sura 2:97 to prove that Gabriel is the Spirit by quoting Ibn Kathir, after which he asks:
Need we say more?
Umar is going to definitely need to say more since citing scholars who believed that Gabriel is the Spirit does absolutely nothing to prove that this is an accurate reflection of what the Quran actually teaches on this subject. Umar is going to need to first prove that the Quran does indeed identify Allahs Spirit, the Holy Spirit, the Faithful Spirit etc., as Gabriel before he quotes scholars who happened to share this same mistaken view that Gabriel is the Holy Spirit. At this point, Umar is doing nothing more than simply committing the fallacies of appealing to authority (ad verecundiam) and to the majority (ad populum), as well as committing the fallacy of straw man argumentation since I never denied or set out to disprove that the majority of Muslim scholars and exegetes believed that the Spirit and Gabriel are one and the same entity.
After addressing the circular nature of Abualrubs attempt of identifying the Spirit as Gabriel on the grounds that specific verses say that the Spirit and Gabriel brought down the revelation, Umar responds with the following:
Thats basically how it is. To Muslims, we either say Angel Jibreel, or just the Holy Spirit. Its as if I say:
"Bob went to the post office to drop a parcel for Mr. Kenny".
But Bobs dad says:
"Robert went to the post office to drop a parcel for Mr. Kenny"
We both are still referring to the same person, just using different titles for him.
So what do we conclude from this:
Bob went to the post office to drop something for Mr. Kenny ( Similarly, the Holy Spirit brought the Revelation of the Holy Quran upon the heart of the Holy Prophet (S)
Robert went to the post office to drop a parcel for Mr. Kenny ( Again, Angel Jibreel brought the Revelation of the Holy Quran upon the heart of the Holy Prophet (S).
Bob is Robert, and the Holy Spirit is Angel Gabriel.
The discerning reader should be able to see that Umars example is nothing more than a false analogy since it is based on the circular assumption that Gabriel and the Spirit are two titles for the same entity. But that is the whole point of this debate, namely that the Muslims need to first prove that Gabriel and the Spirit are one and the same, not simply assume that they are. Lets modify Umars example to see how it can backfire against him:
"Bob went to the post office to drop a parcel for Mr. Kenny".
But Bobs dad says:
"Jennifer went to the post office to drop a parcel for Mr. Kenny"
It is apparent that we are no longer referring to one and the same person. Bob and Jennifer are not interchangeable names denoting the same entity since one of the names obviously refers to a male figure whereas the other to a female one.
Here are some possible reasons for the conflict within these accounts:
- The simple explanation is that we have two contradictory reports.
- These are not conflicting versions but rather complimentary accounts. There are two ways of reconciling these stories:
- It may be that Bob either has a friend, wife or possibly a sister named Jennifer that accompanied him. Therefore, Bob wasnt alone when he went to drop the parcel since Jennifer went with him.
- It is also possible that these accounts are referring to two different events. It turns out that there were actually two parcels which needed to be delivered for Mr. Kenny. Bob delivered the first parcel but forgot to take the second one, and Jenny had to therefore deliver it for Mr. Kenny.
So we conclude from this that:
Just as Bob and Jennifer are not the same person, the Holy Spirit who is supposed to have brought down the revelations is not the same entity known as Gabriel. And since the Quran claims that Gabriel also supposedly brought down the Quran we are left with one of two explanations:
- The Quran is contradicting itself.
- The conflicting versions can be reconciled in the following manner:
- Both the Holy Spirit and Gabriel brought down the Quran together.
- Or they brought down the Quran separately, i.e. on specific occasions it was the Spirit who brought it down whereas on other occasions it was Gabriel.
- Or a combination of both (a) and (b), that at times they brought down the Quran together, and on other occasions they brought it down separately.
Umar goes on to say:
Sam Shamoun is in haste of sloppy scholarship forgot about the previous verses cited. Here they are again:
He then cites Q. 26:192-194, 16:102, 2:97, all of which I have addressed both here and elsewhere (1, 2, 3, 4), and none of which identify the Holy Spirit as Gabriel. He simply repeats the same blunder of assuming that since one text says the Spirit brought down the revelation whereas another verse says it was Gabriel that this somehow means that they are one and the same entity!
He then proceeds to quote the commentaries of several Islamic exegetes such as Ibn Kathir, Ibn Abbas etc., and says:
Already mentioned above that there is no dispute among the scholars of Islam regarding if the Holy Spirit is Gabriel or not. They all agree that Angel Gabriel is indeed the Holy Spirit, the only one who brought down the Holy Quran to the Holy Prophet (S)!
And as we already mentioned, the view of these scholars fails to prove that this is a Quranic teaching. To therefore quote scholar after scholar will not provide evidence that the Spirit is in fact the angel Gabriel according to the teachings of the Quran. All this simply shows is that scholars believed that the Spirit and Gabriel are one and the same individual, in spite of there being absolutely no Quranic evidence to support this. As we also noted, this is nothing more than the fallacy of appealing to authority.
Piling up many quotations of early and later Muslim commentators of the Quran merely proves that this misunderstanding is widespread and that it started early, but being early and widespread does not turn an error into truth.
Here is how he responds to my appeal to Q. 17:85:
This still does not answer Brother Jalaals points properly! Infact, Sheikh Abdullah Yusuf Ali, who even noticed this verse, still commented on it by referring to Gabriel as the Spirit!:
Not only does it answer Jalals claim, but also refutes it soundly! It shows that even the author of the Quran didnt go so far as to identify Gabriel with the Spirit.
"What is the nature of inspiration? Who brings it? Can it ask its Bringer questions? Can we ask anything which we wish? These are the sort of questions always asked when inspiration is called in question. The answer is given here. Inspiration is one of those high spiritual mysteries which cannot be explained in the terms of our every-day human experience. It is spiritual. The Spirit (Gabriel) does not come of his own will. He comes by the command of God, and reveals what God commands him to reveal. Of the sum-total of true spiritual knowledge what a small part it is that ordinary mortals can understand! They can be only given that which they can understand however dimly. We are not in a position to ask anything that we wish. If we did so, it would only make us look foolish, for the guidance comes from Gods Wisdom, not from our worldly knowledge.
(Source: The Quran: Text, Translation and Commentary by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, Fourth U.S. Edition, 2002)
Thus, even though the Quran says the knowledge concerning the Rooh is only with Allah SWT, it also clearly says (when one uses his head) that the Rooh is Angel Gabriel, and there is no dispute among the scholars concerning this issue!
Therefore, all Shamoun managed to do was throw a red herring.
Alis comments provide absolutely no substantiation for the claim that Gabriel and the Spirit are the same entity. He is simply another scholar who erroneously assumed that they were without proving his case from the Quran.
Moreover, Ali was clearly confused since, in the above comments, he expressly identifies the inspiration with the Spirit and the Spirit with Gabriel, which makes Gabriel identical to the inspiration which came to Muhammad! Yet this contradicts the Quran which distinguishes the inspiration from Gabriel who supposedly brought it:
Say: 'Whosoever is an enemy to Gabriel -- he it was that brought IT down upon thy heart by the leave of God, confirming what was before it, and for a guidance and good tidings to the believers. S. 2:97
Ali was, therefore, clearly wrong.
More importantly, Alis notes go against the plain reading of the text in question:
They will question thee concerning the Spirit. Say: 'The Spirit is of the bidding of my Lord. You have been given of knowledge nothing except a little.' S. 17:85
The author of the Quran didnt answer the question posed to him regarding the Spirit by identifying it/him as Gabriel, which he could have clearly done, but unashamedly admitted that only a little knowledge has been given of who and what the Spirit is. It seems that Umar, Abualrub and Yusuf Ali know more about the Spirit than the author of the Quran did!
Also, there are two additional problems with the assertion that the Holy Spirit is another name for Gabriel. First, the Quran claims to confirm the previous revelation, which in this case means the Holy Bible:
He hath revealed unto thee (Muhammad) the Scripture with truth, confirming that which was (revealed) before it, even as He revealed the Torah and the Gospel. S. 3:3 Pickthall
This Koran could not have been forged apart from God; but it is a confirmation of what IS before it, and a distinguishing of the Book, wherein is no doubt, from the Lord of all Being. S. 10:37 Arberry
The previous Scriptures clearly differentiate the Holy Spirit from Gabriel:
"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. Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end. How will this be, Mary asked the angel, since I am a virgin? The angel answered, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God." Luke 1:26-35
Here, Gabriel tells Mary that she will conceive Christ by the Holy Spirit, showing a clear distinction and differentiation between them. Hence, by confirming the previous inspired books the Quran is basically agreeing with these revealed sources that the Holy Spirit is not the angel Gabriel. Otherwise, if it disagrees with them regarding this point then this means that the Quran is wrong since it does not confirm the previous revelations given through the prophets and messengers.
Secondly, the Quran ascribes the following qualities to the Spirit:
Thus, if Gabriel is in fact the Holy Spirit then Gabriel must be God since he is the creator and giver of life, having all of Gods essential omni-attributes!
In conclusion we must say that Umars "response" is another failed attempt of trying to connect the Holy Spirit with Gabriel. Both Gods true Word, the Holy Bible, and the Quran never make this identification but do expressly differentiate between them, showing that the Holy Spirit is not the angel Gabriel.
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