The Holy Spirit (Arabic: روح القدس Ruh al-Qudus, "the holy spirit") is mentioned four times in the Quran, where it acts as an agent of divine action or communication. The Muslim interpretation of the Holy Spirit is generally consistent with other interpretations based upon the Old and the New Testaments. Further, the Quran refers to rūḥ as Ruh al-qudus (Arabic: روح القدس, "the holy spirit" or "spirit of holiness") and al-ruh al-amin ("the faithful/trustworthy spirit"). The holy spirit is more commonly known as archangel Gabriel (Arabic: جبريل the messenger to all the prophets.
In Sufism, rūḥ (Arabic: روح; plural arwah) is a person's immortal, essential self — pneuma, i.e. the "spirit" or "soul". The Quran itself does not describe rūḥ as the immortal self. Nevertheless, in some contexts, it animates inanimate matter. Further, it appears to be a metaphorical being, such as an angel. In one instance, rūḥ refers to Jesus.
Among the al-Laṭaʾif as-sitta (Arabic: اللطائف الستة) it is the third purity.
Rūḥ al-qudus (Arabic: روح القدس, "the holy spirit" or "spirit of holiness"), al-rūḥ al-ʼamin (Arabic: الروح الأمين, "the faithful/trustworthy spirit"), and rūḥ "spirit" are Quranic expressions that describe a source or means of prophetic revelations, commonly identified with the angel Gabriel. Quranic commentators disagreed in their identification of Gabriel with various uses of the word rūḥ.
In the Quran
The phrase rūḥ al-qudus, commonly translated as the "holy spirit" or the "spirit of holiness", occurs four times in the Quran, in Surah Al-Baqarah verse 87and 253, Al-Ma'idah verse 110, and An-Nahl verse 102. In three instances, it is described as the means by which God "strengthened" Jesus, and in the fourth it is identified as the one brought down God's truth to his prophet.
Some Muslim commentators connected this expression with the "faithful/trustworthy spirit" (al-ruh al-amin) who is said to have brought down the Quran in verse 26:193, and identified with Gabriel.
Other Muslim commentators viewed it as identical with the created spirit described in other Quranic verses as the means by which God brought Adam to life (e.g., 15:29), made Mary conceive Jesus 21:91 and inspired angels and prophets (e.g., 17:85). The spirit who together with "the angels" descends and ascends to God (16:2, 70:4, 97:4) was also identified with Gabriel in Quranic commentaries. Thus, the figure of Gabriel became a focus of theological reflection on the content of revelation and the nature of cognition itself, with distinctions articulated between reason, prophetic revelation, and mystical knowledge.
In Shia Islam
In Shia Islam, rūḥ is described as "a creature (khalq) of God, grander than Gabriel or Michael", who was sent to inform and guide Muhammad and is now with the Imams. In some Shia traditions, ruh al-qudus (spirit of holiness) is one of the five spirits possessed by the Imam. Unlike the other four spirits, it is always vigilant and available to inform the Imam on any issue. There is disagreement on whether ruh is an angel.
As interpreted to refer to the Archangel Gabriel
The term Rūḥ al-Qudus is also an epithet referring to the Archangel Gabriel, who is related as the Angel of revelation and was assigned by God to reveal the Qurʼan to the prophet Muhammad and who delivered the Annunciation to Mary.
It appears to be indicated by the Quran in sura Maryam, ayat 16–21, that it was the angel Gabriel who gave to Mary the tidings that she was to have a son as a virgin:
She chose to seclude herself (from her people); then we sent to her Our Spirit, and he appeared before her in the form of a man in all respects. She said: "Verily! I seek refuge with the Most Beneficent (God) from you, if you do fear God." (The man) said: "I am only a messenger from your Lord, (to announce) to you the gift of a righteous son." She said: "How can I have a son, when no man has touched me, nor am I unchaste?" He said: "So (it will be), your Lord said: 'That is easy for me (God): And (we wish) to appoint him as a sign to mankind and a mercy from us (God), and it is a matter (already) decreed (by God).' " [Quran 19:17]
It is narrated in hadith that the angel Gabriel accompanied Muhammad during the Mi'raj, an ascension to the heavens in which Muhammad is said to have met other messengers of God and was instructed about the manner of Islamic prayer (sujud). (Bukhari Sahih al-Bukhari, 1:8:345.) It is also held by Muslims that the angel Gabriel descends to Earth on the night of Laylat al-Qadr, a night in the last ten days of the holy month of Ramadan, which is said to be the night on which the Qurʼan was first revealed.
God is believed to endow humans with rūḥ and nafs (نَفْس, psyche, i.e. ego or "(inner) soul"). The rūḥ "drives" the nafs, which comprises temporal desires and sensory perceptions. The nafs can assume control of the body if the rūḥ surrenders to bodily urges. The nafs is subject to bodily desire, whereas the rūḥ is a person's immaterial essence, beyond the emotions and instincts shared by humans and other animals; rūḥ makes the body alive. Some arwah (pl. spirits) dwell in the seventh heaven. Unlike the angels, they are supposed to eat and drink. An angel called Ar-Rūḥ (the spirit) is responsible for them.
Perfection of the Rūh through the Awakening of the Lataif-e-sitta (organs of spiritual perception)
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To attain Tajalli ar-rūḥ, (the ultimate manifestation of divine truth in the human soul) the Salik (Sufi aspirant), must cultivate the following 13 spiritual qualities or virtuous practices, thus facilitating the gradual awakening in order of the various centres or subtle plexuses of his/her jism latif (subtle body).
- Irādah or Commitment to God
- Istiqāmah or Steadfastness in the way with God
- Hāya or Shame in committing evil
- Ḥurīyyah or Freedom: Ibrahim Bin Adham said, "A free man is one who abandons the world before he leaves the world". Yaḥyā Bin Maz said, "Those who serve the people of the world are slaves, and those who serve the people of ʾĀkhirah are the free ones". Abū ʿAlī Daqāq said, "Remember, real freedom is in total obedience. Therefore if someone has total obedience in God, he will be free from the slavery of non God"
- Fatoot or Manliness: Abū ʿAlī Daqāq said, "Manliness is in one's being of continuous service to others. This is a form of etiquette that was perfected by the Prophet Muhammad alone".
- Ḥub or Love for God
- Aboodiyah or Slavery under God
- Maraqiba or Complete Focus on God
- Duʿāʾ or Prayer
- Faqar or Abandoning of materialism
- Tasawwuf or Wearing a dress of no material significance
- Suhbat or Company of the righteous ones
- Adab or Following Protocols of respect for the great ones
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